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The Most Valuable Investment Ever

I’ve decided to publish my first self-development book, Self-Made Success: Ivy League Shark Tank Entrepreneur Reveals 48 Secrets To Live a Happier, Healthier, and Wealthier Life. You can order it here. I release an excerpt from the book every Sunday as a series of blog posts called “Self-Made Sundays.” Below is the sixth blog post. Read the last one here.

Self-Made Strategy – Listen To Audiobooks

To rapidly increase your knowledge, productivity, and wealth, listen to audiobooks during your daily commute. No matter how busy you are, you should be able to read at least one book per week — or 50 books per year. Audiobooks are the best investment you can make. Every $10-$15 audiobook that I read leads to thousands of dollars in increased revenue for Prep Expert or significantly improves my quality of life. Of course, the only better ROI  (Return On Investment) is a Prep Expert SAT Class! Just ask Neal Bhanderi who won $1.4 million in college scholarships after taking our $799 SAT Course — an ROI of 140,000%. But I digress.

Given how many books I reference throughout Self-Made Success, you might think that I am a bookworm. But nothing could be further from the truth. I used to hate reading. As a teenager, I would even be so naive as to brag about how I didn’t read anything outside of what was assigned for school (this is probably why I initially struggled with the SAT Reading section so much). Even for books that were assigned for school, I often didn’t read them (SparkNotes was my best friend). Yes, teenager Shaan was an idiot. Now I realize that reading books outside of school is not only interesting and fun, but it is also essential to becoming a better person.

I have always been a iverow reader. This is part of the reason that I disliked reading so much. Combine the fact that teachers often assigned books that I was not interested in reading in school with the fact that I was a slow reader to begin with, and it makes sense as to why I was not a fan of books.

In addition, I also have very little extra free time to read for leisure. But this is everyone’s excuse as to why they don’t read more. So I figured out the way to read a massive number of books without taking any extra time out of my day: audiobooks.

I used to listen to music in the car, on the train, on my walk to school, on a plane, etc. Now, I listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks have expanded my mind across every discipline. I cannot believe how much more progress I have made in the last two years towards becoming a happier, healthier, and wealthier person than I did during the first twenty-four years of life. My only regret is not taking up leisure reading earlier in life.

Self-Made Success Book by Shaan Patel

Reading blogs or listening to a podcast can certainly be helpful, but is in no way more insightful than full-length books. Authors spend much more time and effort creating books than they do writing blogs or taping podcasts. And the quality of content that you find in books reflects that.

What is the best investment you can make? Books. The best investment you can make is not real estate, stocks, bonds, gold, etc. Instead, the best investment you can possibly make is in yourself. With every other investment, you rely on someone else to create value so that you can capture a small slice of the pie. But when you invest in yourself, you are responsible for creating the pie so that you can capture all of the value. And books are by far the best way to invest in yourself. I cannot tell you how many books have sparked ideas that I implemented in my business Prep Expert that have led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue — now that’s an ROI.

The most successful people in the world are voracious readers. Mark Cuban reads 3 hours everyday. Bill Gates reads a book every week. Warren Buffet spends 80% of his day reading. It’s no coincidence that the most incredibly successful people on this planet read all the time. You have to consume new information constantly to stay ahead of the curve.

Now I understand that you likely go to work or school full-time and don’t have a lot of time for reading. But that’s the beauty of listening to audiobooks during your commute — you can get the benefit of reading books without spending any extra time doing so.

Success Example

I primarily listen to nonfiction books and think you should too. Although fiction books are generally more popular for leisure reading, they don’t spark the same number of life and business hacking ideas as nonfiction books. Sure, fiction books have life takeaways. But these implicit lessons are few and far between compared to the explicit tools of nonfiction books.

I primarily listen to self-help and business books. Self-help books help me grow as a person — mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Business books help me grow my company to increase revenue, reach, and customer satisfaction. Combined, I have seen tangible improvements in all my aspects of my life.

Of course, I do occasionally read other books as well. Here is a complete list of the audiobooks that I have listened to this past year (I would recommend all of them):

(1) The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck
(2) The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
(3) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
(4) Tribes by Seth Godin
(5) The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
(6) Platform by Michael Hyatt
(7) The Road to Character by David Brooks
(8) Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi & Tahi Raz
(9) Ask by Ryan Levesque
(10) MONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins
(11) The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
(12) How To Win At The Sport Of Business by Mark Cuban
(13) The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto
(14) Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
(15) Coupon Crazy by Mary Potter Kenyon
(16) The 48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene
(17) Choose Yourself! by James Altucher
(18) Free Marketing by Jim Cockrum
(19) The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
(20) Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
(21) The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
(22) SEO 2016 by R.L. Adams
(23) The Confidence Gap by Steven Hayes
(24) The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
(25) Google AdWords for Beginners by Corey Rabazinski
(26) Mark Cuban: The Maverick Billionaire by Sean Huff
(27) E-mail Marketing That Doesn’t Suck by Michael Clarke
(28) The Bhagavad Gita by Ekanth Easwaran
(29) Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
(30) Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews
(31) The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
(32) The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
(33) Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch
(34) Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell
(35) The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
(36) The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
(37) Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan
(38) The Worry Cure by Robert Leahy
(39) Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
(40) Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
(41) Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
(42) Scrum by JJ Sutherland
(43) How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
(44) How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie
(45) The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch
(46) Zero To One by Peter Thiel
(47) Purple Cow by Seth Godin
(48) The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
(49) Hooked by Nir Eyal
(50) Book Launch by Chandler Bolt
(51) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
(52) David And Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell  

Success Practice

To practically implement listening to audiobooks into your life, start by figuring out what you’re interested in. Go on Amazon and search topics that interest you. For example, I may search terms such as “internet marketing,” “spiritual growth,” or “entrepreneurship.” Look for books in the bestseller lists since you know through social validation that these will likely be good reads. In addition, books on bestseller lists are typically offered in audiobook format.

Once you have identified an audiobook you would like to listen to, purchase it from Amazon. You will need an Audible account in order to listen to the book, so create one. If you are first-time Audible user, Amazon will usually give you the first audiobook for free!

Now download the Audible app onto your smartphone. Once you login to your Audible account in the app, you should see the book that you purchased. The last step is to change the speed at which the book is played. I typically can remember and understand a book if it is played at 1.5x speed. This will help increase your efficiency. The other great thing about the Audible app is that it keeps your place when you click pause on an audiobook. It was always annoying trying to find my spot again on audiobooks that I used to listen to in MP3 format on iTunes. That problem is gone with the Audible app!

The average American commute is one hour. The average audiobook length is 6 hours. If you listen to audiobooks at 1.5x speed, you can finish a book every four days. Of course, if you don’t have a 30-minute commute to and from school/work (for a total of 1 hour of listening a day), you will need to find some other time in the day to do some listening. Start today!

Success Review

Which previous Success Strategy did you notice while I was discussing this one?

Work Harder & Smarter

Listening to audiobooks is just one example of the Work Harder And Smarter philosophy. Listening to audiobooks requires you to work harder because you are reading more books than 99% of the population. Listening to audiobooks also requires you to work smarter because you are not losing any time out of your day by simply listening to audiobooks during your commute.

The above is an excerpt from Self-Made Success  Ivy League Shark Tank Entrepreneur Reveals 48 Secret Strategies To Live Happier, Healthier, and Wealthier. You can order it here.



Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation (formerly 2400 Expert), a #1 bestselling SAT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC's Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect and teaches students his methods in an online SAT prep class.