I Am What I Read: 7 Self-Help Books That Changed My LIfe.


School is never out. 

In fact, for most successful people education only starts when school is over.

I often get asked what books I recommend, so here’s the list. Seven self-help books that changed everything for me. All of these books that had a massive impact on how I live my life:

7. The Richest Man in Babylon

Author: George S. Clason

This intriguing story will teach you the basics of walking the path towards financial freedom. It’s amazing how little has changed over time. The fundamental lessons of this story still work today. In my opinion, this book should be taught in every school. I wish I had read this book when I was 18.

The answers I was looking for:
I was looking for methods that would improve the way I handle my personal finances.

What I got out of it:
The 70-20-10 rule. When you get income, pay yourself first.

Keep at least 10% of your income separate from the rest, no matter how little you earn. Invest this money, so that it makes money for you.

Save up 20% of your income to either pay off your debts, or – if you don’t have any debts – to fund your dreams.

Only 70% should be used to cover expenses (rent, clothes, food, transportation, vacation etc.). Apply this rule consistently to get closer to financial independence, one step at the time.

6. Who Moved My Cheese?

Author: Dr. Spencer Johnson

A bit of an odd one, since the book can be read within the time-span of one hour. The book tells the story about two mice and two little people living in a labyrinth, looking for cheese. It teaches important lessons on how to deal with change.

The answers I was looking for:
This is one of the books that was recommended in Tools of Titans (number 3 on this list). I was looking to learn more about how to deal with change.

What I got out of it:
How it’s necessary to anticipate, accept and adapt to change – before it’s too late. You can’t always control your environment, but you can control how you react.

5. Never Split the Difference

Author: Chris Voss

Buy this book and read it twice. You’ll earn back the money this book cost within the first few weeks. Chris is a master negotiator and his methods are not too difficult to memorize and apply.

The answers I was looking for:
I believe everybody should learn how to negotiate. It’ll save you plenty of money over a lifetime, in places you didn’t even think it was possible to do so. I was hoping Chris would show me the way and he did not disappoint.

What I got out of it:
After reading this book I gave it a try buying supplements from an online nutrition store I’d never placed an order before. I negotiated the total checkout price down from 255 USD, to 215 USD using their chat functionality, saving me 40 bucks within 5 minutes. Chris’ techniques saved me well over 2,500 USD within the two years after reading it. ‘No’ is the start of a negotiation, not the end.

4. Principles

Author: Ray Dalio

Not an easy read, but if you’re willing to plough through it, you’ll find plenty of lessons that’ll stick with you for the rest of your life. Ray’s book will teach you how to analyse and tackle the roots of your biggest holdbacks that – often unknowingly – stop you from achieving your goals. It’ll teach you how to deal with challenges and how to make consistent decisions that align with your core values.

The answers I was looking for:
I was looking for the principles that could guide me towards success.

What I got out of it:
The book taught me how to use my own principles to guide my decision making and improve the ‘machine’ that gets me closer to my dream goals. Most people react to roadblocks with inaction or by running away from them (consciously or unconsciously). Instead, face your problems and design a plan to solve them or go around them. Success is defined by how you act when facing difficulties.

3. Tools of Titans

Tim Ferriss

Tim is always on the lookout for the routines and methods that get him to the next level, whether that’s physically or mentally. ‘Tools of Titans’ is his absolute best. It’s like looking into his personal archive of notes, made during his interviews with people from all walks of life who achieved extraordinary things in one way or another.

The answers I was looking for:
I was looking for the routines and methods of extraordinary achievers I could adopt, in the hope these would help me achieve my dreams.

What I got out of it:
Tim’s book is full of practical tips regarding health, wealth and wisdom. It also includes tons of great book recommendations. Learn from the best, to be the best.

2. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen Covey

What a book! ‘Seven Habits’ will guide you through the mindset changes that are needed to spend your time more effectively in order to achieve success in life. I strongly believe that if the lessons in this book were taught in every school, the world would be a much better place.

The answers I was looking for:
I was looking for advanced methods to become more productive on the work floor. Stephen’s book got me much more than that.

What I got out of it:
If you’re about to start the journey to success (whatever that means for you), start here. By the time I actually read the book, I learned most of its lessons the hard way and I wish I had read this book a lot earlier than I did. 

1. Unlimited Power

Author: Tony Robbins

Unlimited Power was one of the first books I read coming out of school. One of my biggest struggles at the time was self-confidence. Tony’s book welcomed me into the world of self-development that got me where I am today. Therefore, this book has to be my number 1. 

The answers I was looking for:
Before buying this book, I read about the potential of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). The answer I expected to find in Tony’s books was how to use positive self-talk to gain self-confidence.

What I got out of it:
After reading this book, I gained a strong belief that anything is possible if you’re willing to ‘go all-in’ when it comes to discovering your full potential. Tony shares the tactics and methods used by top-performers and how the reader can use them to achieve their dream goals. The book encouraged me to keep facing my fears until there’s nothing left of them.

That’s the list. 

My hope is that some of these books will help you progress in life, the same way they helped me progress in life.

Honorable mentions that didn’t make the top 7: Rework, Man’s Search for Meaning, On the Shortness of Life, The Art of War and Zero to One

Self-help books that are on my ‘to read’ list.

The three business books that might make it in the top 7 in the coming few months are ‘Atomic Habits’ (I am reading this one now and it already taught me many things regarding behaviour change), ‘Million Dollar Coach’ (I listened to the audio book and it taught me many things about leadership), and ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ (I read so many summaries, it’s time to read the actual work itself to learn more about personal finance).

Knowledge is power. The power to change your own destiny.

Never stop learning.

Want an easy start? Download my book ‘Further North: 21 Golden Rules for Personal Goal Setting‘ below.

It’s free and it only takes one hour to read. I promise you’ll learn a ton.

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About the author

Wesley van der Hoop

Dutchman living in The Bahamas. I get excited about digital marketing, writing, traveling, surfing and learning new things.

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