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How to succeed during a time of crisis

Succeeding has never been easy. But sometimes, it’s harder than others. This is one of those times.

New 3rd edition of Succeeding

The new third edition of my top-selling book came off the press on 12/6/11. I added new chapters on:

World changed since the last edition in 2008

Also, the previous second edition of Succeeding was written in 2008. As you know, the financial world turned upside down that year and has not gotten much better since. Consequently, I had to almost totally rewrite the chapters on:

Rejecting "Little old me-ism"

Don't be a "weed"
A landscaping analogy for your career path

All Youtube videos of John T. Reed

Reviewed every word of prior edition

When the second edition of Succeeding sold out in September 2011, I reread every word of the book and changed and improved it wherever needed.

More bold-type rules to follow

The old second edition frequently restated principles previously discussed in a bold-type call out, but not always. In the new, third edition, I tried to put every such principle in the book into a call-out, bold-type restatement. Giving readers such succinct, emphasized rules greatly increases they chances they will remember and follow the principle in question.

‘I wish I had this book when I was young’

This is one of the most common comments I heard from readers about Succeeding. My response is, “Me, too.” Although I wrote Succeeding, I could not have written it until after I was in my fifties. I had to try all the things I tried in a rather varied life and see what worked and what did not.

I graduated from West Point and Harvard Business School, was an airborne ranger platoon leader and company commander in the military and the Vietnam war, worked for the government and private companies and myself, coached dozens of athletic teams, met an extraordinary number of attractive women through The System a friend and I invented and which is described in detail in Succeeding, appeared on TV shows like 60 Minutes and Good Morning America, got married to my current and only wife 36 years ago, raised three sons who are now adult college grads, tended bar, invested in real estate in three different states, written 34 books and over 5,000 articles. I have succeeded and failed many times and watched my family, college and grad school classmates, and many others do the same. I have read thousands of books, attended hundreds of seminars and clinics and speeches, etc. etc. trying to figure out the bast ways to do all sorts of life’s challenges.

The real world stuff grown-ups were too embarrassed about to teach you

People tell you that all you need to succeed is an education, that is studying some subject like chemical engineering or business management. Bull! The world is not a college or a high school. Most success in organizations stems from your ability to play office politics, not your knowledge of your college major. If you want to be judged on your merit, not your ability to suck up, read Succeeding. It tells you how to succeed on your real merits either in your own business or working for others—but in the right organizational and incentive structure where your true value will be recognized and rewarded.

My top seller

Succeeding has been the book I sell the most of since the first edition came out in 2003. I now sell a bunch of different books. 20 are about real estate investment; 8 about football and baseball coaching; one about self-publishing; one about hyperinflation and deflation; and Succeeding.

Many people who have bought one copy of Succeeding subsequently buy multiple copies for friends or relatives. It is popular as a Christmas and graduation gift.

Succeeding in today’s world did not get any easier in the eight years since 2003 when I wrote the first edition of the book. We have been hit by the subprime crisis, a dramatic shift in the balance of political power in the U.S., financial crises in Europe and the U.S., unemployment, lack of growth, and we are probably on the cusp of a recession or worse.

Far more competitive world

But the more important reason why Succeeding is needed is that the world is far more competitive than it was eight years ago. Globalization, astonishing leaps in communications, the Internet, and technology, unemployment, foreclosures, emerging countries, are changing all the rules.

Bureaucracy did not become any more fun in the last eight years. And corporations did not become any more loyal to their employees. More than ever before in modern times, you are on your own. Your children and grandchildren are going to be on their own. More than at any time in recent memory, we need the best possible advice on how to make the most of our strengths in order to prosper.

Don’t try to change your personality

Millions of people are wasting huge amounts of time trying to change their personality to please their boss or their girlfriend or boyfriend.

Number one, you cannot change your personality. All you will accomplish is turning yourself into a phony. Secondly, and more important, you don’t have to change your personality. What you do have to change, if your personality clashes, is your boss or your career or your girlfriend or boyfriend.

Your success and happiness require that you recognize those things about you that you can change and those you cannot. And you are going to know which they are because I put lists of each in the newer editions. I also discuss item by item how you change the things that can be changed, for example, when moving to a new geographic location is advisable and when it will not solve the problem in question.

Don’t forget to spend your wealth

With regard to wealth accumulation, I have noticed that most people tend to forget the purpose of wealth. It’s to spend it! They accumulate, then accumulate more and more, then they die. The third edition says to make sure you remember the purpose of money is to spend it. Your goals schedule of accumulating it should also include a schedule for liquidating and spending it.

Two ways to wealth

There are two ways to accumulate money: saving/investment and building equity in a business. As stated above, the 3rd edition has four rewritten chapters on financial matters.


“If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.” That saying is wrong. There’s a lot more to life than being healthy. But the converse IS true. If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters. Poor health prevents you from succeeding and from enjoying success if you succeed. To be a wealth millionaire, and enjoy it, you need to be a health millionaire as well.

The new chapter on health tells you that good health comes from:

But that list alone is not enough. You need to know the details of what good health habits are.

Your world is full of public service announcements and doctors telling you to do more of this and less of that. I would not say anything on the subject if I had nothing new to say. But I researched this subject extensively recently and found a lot of stuff that most people do not know but need to know.

In 2005, I turned 59 and was bothered by the fact that the next birthday would start with a 6. Between my 59th and 60th birthdays, I lost 30 pounds. In the 3rd edition of Succeeding, I tell how.

Eating less better than exercise

Will exercise cause you to lose weight? Absolutely, but it’s the harder, dumber way. If you are some sort of masochist, you can exercise your way to a proper weight. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to do it with diet. For example, if you drink a can of Coke, you need to walk a mile to get rid of those calories. It’s faster and easier not to drink the Coke to begin with.

The less you eat, the more important the quality of your diet becomes. Succeeding discusses the mainstream supplements you should take—vitamins and minerals. I am not into any kooky or “alternative” medical stuff.

Being overweight is a habit. So is being a healthy weight. Neither is harder than the other, although the transition from overweight to healthy weight takes a little effort.

Cardiovascular and strength fitness

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not against all exercise. Indeed, you need to exercise for good health—both aerobic cardio (I ride an exercise bicycle every other day)—and weight training (I do upper or lower body weight lifting every other day).

The only exercise I discourage is exercise designed to counter the effects of over-eating. Don’t over-eat to begin with. For one thing, if you are ambitious to succeed, you do not have time to over eat or to exercise for hours a day to remove the resulting fat.

You also need to be careful not to overdo exercise. Too much exercise can cause over-use or acute injuries. Also, I have found in my own life that I occasionally set overly ambitious exercise goals. The result usually is that I stop exercising altogether. Because the session becomes too daunting. Better you should set more modest goals and actually achieve them religiously than set unrealistic goals on paper and end up getting no exercise at all.

Tricks of the health ‘trade’

As with diet, there are a number of tricks to optimizing your exercise. Succeeding tells you about setting goals, exercising as you age, the correct kind of exercise, and so forth.

Playing sports, for example, can be a bad idea. It is too intense, affects too few muscles, and is likely to cause injury. After college, it’s hard to find teams at competitive levels that match your ability and age and to find compatible teammates. Team sports also usually require long commutes that take precious
time. Those and other revelations about healthy exercise are in the new edition of Succeeding.

Motivate you to be healthy

I try not to write rah rah stuff in Succeeding. I leave that to all the other authors on the subject. But I do recognize that most people need to be more motivated with regard to health. Rather than engage in rah rah, I instead lay out some hard facts designed to motivate you to take better care of yourself. Failure to do so adversely affects your love life and business relations with others.

Poor health also starts a chain of dominoes falling. Overweight leads to diabetes which leads to other diseases and limits the ability of doctors to treat other diseases and so forth. Too often, your friends and relatives do not tell you what you need to hear about your health or appearance because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Since you’ve read my books before, you know that I do tell you what you need to know regardless of whether it is what you want to know. Arguably, that makes me a better friend to you than those who won’t tell you what you need to know.


Another new chapter in the 3rd edition of Succeeding covers appearance. Many would say your appearance is not, or at least should not, be important. I won’t argue that it should not be as important as it is. But I disagree that it is not important. Numerous studies have shown that appearance is often decisive in the selection of presidents, executives, and spouses.

Your appearance does affect how others relate to you. If they can see you, that is. If unchangeable parts of your appearance—like skin color or handicap—adversely affect your ability to achieve success, consider media where you cannot be seen like radio, writing, Internet or direct-mail businesses, etc.

If they can see you, as is the case for most people, you need to make a favorable impression. You do that by taking care of yourself health wise including things like weight, muscle tone, and teeth. You also do it by posture, hair, dress, and other daily decisions.

The chapter on appearance covers both health and daily decisions with my usual practical details, not the rah rah, “empowering” psychobabble you normally get in success books.

Your appearance is perhaps most important to you. To the extent that improving your appearance boosts your self-confidence—and there is tons of evidence that it does—your chances of achieving your goals will increase—maybe dramatically.

Confidence is extremely important. Don’t let correctable appearance issues hold you back unnecessarily.

Succeeding today requires more precise matching

The main message of my book Succeeding is that you need to get a very accurate and complete handle on who you are, then match who you are with a career opportunity. The better you do that, the more successful you will be and the happier you will be with that success.

In today’s world, this is more important than ever before. A hundred years ago, the keys to success were believed to be working in your father’s business or the family farm, getting a “good” union job in a factory, or going to college. But in today’s world, where you must compete with others world wide, you’d better find the career that matches you better than any other so you have your best chance to compete.

Marriage is key to career and vice versa

Similarly, your marriage is key to your success. Your spouse must share your dreams and be able to tolerate the difficulties of your career. For example, if the best career match for you is a career with risks, and your spouse freaks out because of the risks, you have the wrong spouse.

It is also true that the quality and character of your spouse or lack thereof can doom you to misery even if he or she has no issues with things like your career choice or the difficulties of that career. You must match up well with your spouse in terms of consumption of alcohol and drugs, child-raising decisions, adultery, and so forth. Divorce rates are as high as they have ever been. Today, many children are being raised by their grandparents or a single parent. This is a very, very bad situation that can happen to anyone and you need to take more pains than previously to do better than that with your spouse choice.

The 3rd edition of Succeeding’s second longest chapter is the “Spouse choice” chapter. (The “Career choice” chapter is a little longer.) Most success books say little or nothing about spouse choice. They figure it just happens by chance as you go about your life. That is a formula for disaster.

Here are some other web pages related to my Succeeding book:

Warning: Book stores falsely tell you they can sell you my books. I am the sole author and publisher. I do not sell to any library or book store including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and so forth. Therefore, they have no new books of mine to sell you.
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