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January 5, 2006

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: The Number

By: Jack @ 8:53 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life By Lee Eisenberg, Free Press, 288 Pages, $26.00 Hardcover, January 2006, ISBN 0743270312 In spring of 2005, I was interviewed for an article in the Financial Times. The article was about the success of Blink, Freakonomics, and The World is Flat. I spoke about how the new business book was not so much about how to run a company as it was about how to look at the world differently. This is a classic book in that genre. Another thing that sets these aforementioned books apart is the writing. The books are full of examples to which we can immediately relate and incredibly well-written. This book is about the "Number" (in dollars) that we carry in our head; it is the amount we need to retire and live as we desire. As the author states:
The Number is about net worth. Most people think of it that way. But the Number is also about self-worth, which is something many people don't like to admit. Because I have so little money, I'm a failure. Or, because my house is small, even if it's on the right shore of Long Island, I'm a failure.
The author talks about how we have tried to increase our "stuff" to make us feel better. "Debt Warp" is how he states it:
Debt Warp is a silent Number Killer that afflicts young and old, rich and poor. It works at the high end of the marketplace, it thrives at the low. According to the Federal Reserve studies, the richest 1% of all American's held just 6% of the nation's debt; the poorest 90% held 70%. Debt Wrap brings the illusion of equalization. It lurks beneath and has been misguidedly heralded as the 'democratization of luxury'.
What got me hooked on the book was reading the first five pages. Eisenberg is a storyteller. For example, read the way the author illustrates a letter written to a wealthy individual:
...and the letter applies to you as well as the man who is rich enough to have somebody read it to him, peeling his grapes at the same time.
The book tells really amazing stories about how Americans have been preparing poorly for retirement. Go into your local bookstore and read the first couple of pages; see if I am right. If you would like to receive the monthly Jack Covert Selects Newsletter, please visit the Newsletters area of our website. Then, sign in and check the boxes of the newsletters that interest you.