TIME Markets

Investors Are Terrified Greece’s Economy Is Falling Apart

Investors are terrified Greece is falling apart

It’s not quite panic, but it still ain’t pretty.

U.S. stocks are bracing for a bad start to the week after Greece’s debt crisis spiraled out of control at the weekend.

In pre-market trading, futures on the S&P500, the Nasdaq and the Russel 2000 are all down by 1% or more, following the lead of European markets which have taken a much harder beating as the risk of a Eurozone breakup looms afresh.

The main stock indexes in Europe fell by up to 4% across the board on opening Monday, and are down by between 2.3% and 3.9% by lunchtime (Athens’ stock market, like its banks, is shut).

On any normal day, that would be called a bloodbath in Europe, but memories of 2010 and 2012, when the Eurozone crisis peaked, are still fresh, and there seems to be a palpable sense of “well, that could have been worse.” Most markets hit their intra-day lows immediately, the main difference being the degree to which they have recovered since (Germany faring better than Italy and Spain).

True, the yields on government bonds in some of the Eurozone’s weaker countries have spiked on ‘contagion’ fears, as markets price in the risk that a Greek exit from the Eurozone would lead to a broader breakup: Italy’s 10-year yield has risen 21 basis points to 2.37%, Spain’s is up 20 basis points at 2.32%, and Portugal’s is up 31 basis points at 3.03% (a basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point).

Those are big changes, but the absolute levels are still a long way from 2012, when markets seemed on the verge of forcing all of those countries out of the Eurozone until ECB President Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the Eurozone. Spain’s yields peaked at over 7.75%, Italy’s at over 7.5%.

Panic is still a long way away: Spain's 10-year bond yield since 2011.

“This story won’t get too out of hand unless we start to see any evidence that the Greeks are likely to vote No (at their referendum) on Sunday,” said Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid. “At this point the sell-off could get messy. If this doesn’t happen, the negativity may well be contained even if the story will be far from over.”

This market reaction won’t be to the liking of the Greeks, who’ll have been hoping for something stronger to underline the risks of a breakup,” said Christian Odendahl, chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London. “But it won’t be much comfort to the Europeans either, because it shows the markets are worried about what ‘Grexit’ would mean for the future of the Eurozone.”

Away from Europe, there is more nasty mood music coming from China, where the Shanghai market continued to unravel despite a cut in interest rates and reserve requirements from the central bank at the weekend. The Shanghai Composite closed down 3.3% after a 7.4% shellacking on Friday, amid reports that the army of retail punters who had driven the market up 150% since July are struggling to meet ‘margin’ calls on leveraged accounts.

Amid the carnage, investors looked for the safe haven of the dollar, as usual, but its rally early Monday has also now largely unwound. The euro is trading at $1.1118, down less than a cent from its close on Friday. Meanwhile, in the commodities markets, crude oil futures hit their lowest in three weeks on fears that financial market volatility could again hit global growth and, consequently, energy demand. By 0900 ET, they were at $58.61 a barrel, down around a dollar from late Friday.

TIME Web

Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search

Study finds Google is promoting its own content

New research claims that Google is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors.

Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team.

And yes, Yelp, which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past. Perhaps more to the point, Tim Wu is a former advisor to the Federal Trade Commission, which settled a suit with Google in 2013. In January 2013, Wu defended the FTC’s decision to settle, writing that Google won search results because it was a better search engine, not because of its wealth and influence in Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. power corridors, according to Re/Code.

Wu, has changed his mind about that, citing changes in how Google search works.

He told Re/Code:

“The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers … “This is the closest I’ve seen Google come to [being] the Microsoft case.”

Those are very strong words. In 2001, a federal judge ruled that Microsoft acted in anti-competitive ways by parlaying its monopoly power in Windows into other areas of computing, namely web browsers. This judgement was thrown out on appeal, in part because the judge talked to the media while still hearing the case.

This research comes at a touchy time for Google which faces an antitrust investigation by the European Union.

Fortune reached out to Google for comment and will update this story as needed.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME

Joseph Stiglitz to Greece’s Creditors: Abandon Austerity Or Face Global Fallout

Nobel laureate tells TIME that the institutions and countries that have enforced cost-cutting on Greece "have criminal responsibility"

A few years ago, when Greece was still at the start of its slide into an economic depression, the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz remembers discussing the crisis with Greek officials. What they wanted was a stimulus package to boost growth and create jobs, and Stiglitz, who had just produced an influential report for the United Nations on how to deal with the global financial crisis, agreed that this would be the best way forward. Instead, Greece’s foreign creditors imposed a strict program of austerity. The Greek economy has shrunk by about 25% since 2010. The cost-cutting was an enormous mistake, Stiglitz says, and it’s time for the creditors to admit it.

“They have criminal responsibility,” he says of the so-called troika of financial institutions that bailed out the Greek economy in 2010, namely the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. “It’s a kind of criminal responsibility for causing a major recession,” Stiglitz tells TIME in a phone interview.

Along with a growing number of the world’s most influential economists, Stiglitz has begun to urge the troika to forgive Greece’s debt – estimated to be worth close to $300 billion in bailouts – and to offer the stimulus money that two successive Greek governments have been requesting.

Failure to do so, Stiglitz argues, would not only worsen the recession in Greece – already deeper and more prolonged than the Great Depression in the U.S. – it would also wreck the credibility of Europe’s common currency, the euro, and put the global economy at risk of contagion.

So far Greece’s creditors have downplayed those risks. In recent years they have repeatedly insisted that European banks and global markets do not face any serious fallout from Greece abandoning the euro, as they have had plenty of time to insulate themselves from such an outcome. But Stiglitz, who served as the chief economist of the World Bank from 1997 to 2000, says no such firewall of protection can exist in a globalized economy, where the connections between events and institutions are often impossible to predict. “We don’t know all the linkings,” he says.

Many countries in Eastern Europe, for instance, are still heavily reliant on Greek banks, and if those banks collapse the European Union faces the risk of a chain reaction of financial turmoil that could easily spread to the rest of the global economy. “There is a lack of transparency in financial markets that makes it impossible to know exactly what the consequences are,” says Stiglitz. “Anybody who says they do obviously doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Over the weekend the prospect of Greece abandoning the euro drew closer than ever, as talks between the Greek government and its creditors broke down. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was elected in January on a promise to end austerity, announced on Saturday that he could not accept the troika’s “insulting” demands for more tax hikes and pension cuts, and he called a referendum for July 5 to let voters decide how the government should handle the negotiations going forward. If a majority of Greeks vote to reject the troika’s terms for continued assistance, Greece could be forced to default on its debt and pull out of the currency union.

Stiglitz sees two possible outcomes to that scenario – neither of them pleasant for the European Union. If the Greek economy recovers after abandoning the euro, it would “certainly increase the impetus for anti-euro politics,” encouraging other struggling economies to drop the common currency and go it alone. If the Greek economy collapses without the euro, “you have on the edge of Europe a failed state,” Stiglitz says. “That’s when the geopolitics become very ugly.”

By providing financial aid, Russia and China would then be able to undermine Greece’s allegiance to the E.U. and its foreign policy decisions, creating what Stiglitz calls “an enemy within.” There is no way to predict the long-term consequences of such a break in the E.U.’s political cohesion, but it would likely be more costly than offering Greece a break on its loans, he says.

“The creditors should admit that the policies that they put forward over the last five years are flawed,” says Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University.What they asked for caused a deep depression with long-standing effects, and I don’t think there is any way that Europe’s and Germany’s hands are clean. My own view is that they ought to recognize their complicity and say, ‘Look, the past is the past. We made mistakes. How do we go on from here?’”

The most reasonable solution Stiglitz sees is a write-off of Greece’s debt, or at least a deal that would not require any payments for the next ten or 15 years. In that time, Greece should be given additional aid to jumpstart its economy and return to growth. But the first step would be for the troika to make a painful yet obvious admission: “Austerity hasn’t worked,” Stiglitz says.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Surprising Secret That Can Make You Happier at Work

woman-office-computer-cheering
Getty Images

You might achieve more when you care less

Inc. logo

The number of hours in the day stays constant, but your to-do list is ever expanding.

You start the day worrying about how you’ll get everything you need to do finished, and end it by worrying if everything you’ve accomplished is up to your standards.

Your daily stress is only interrupted by occasional spikes of anger at your colleagues, boss, or employees and their unreasonable expectations or inability to take some of this mountain of work off your plate.

Does this sound like you? If so, author and blogger Kelly O’Laughlin has some advice for you. Recently on the blog Quiet Revolution, which accompanies Susan Cain’s hit book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, O’Laughlin shared the story of her friend who, like many entrepreneurs, found herself utterly overwhelmed by her work–so overwhelmed, in fact, that she was seriously considering quitting.

O’Laughlin had another suggestion, however. Don’t leave; just care less.

You are probably trying too hard

Wait, what? How could phoning it in be good advice?

O’Laughlin points out that if you’re the type to be so stressed about your work in the first place, your phoning it in is probably the same as others’ measured consideration of the right level of effort. “If you relate to this story [of her overworked friend],” she writes, “I’m willing to bet that your 80 percent of effort is most people’s 100 percent. So, by caring less, you’re actually caring just enough.”

Perfectionism, she goes on to say, isn’t just bad for the perfectionist herself (though it can, of course, be miserable for those afflicted). Counterintuitively, it’s also often bad for your work.

“It’s great to want to be helpful and make a difference at work, but you have to take care of yourself first,” O’Laughlin explains. “You aren’t helping anyone if you burn out and quit. Putting in slightly less effort in times of high stress doesn’t mean you don’t care about your job; it means you care about yourself more.”

She adds: “And here’s a bonus: You might achieve more when you care less. When you reduce the pressure on yourself to attain perfection, you can flow more quickly and easily through your tasks. Trust that your intuition and experience will guide you. Freedom from the weight of perfection can be creatively liberating.”

What’s your ‘minimum effective dose’?

O’Laughlin’s prescription might seem heretical to some stressed-out strivers, but she’s not the only expert urging those overwhelmed by work to take a long, hard look at whether their intense levels of effort are really necessary. Dr. Christine Carter, an author and happiness expert, has pushed a similar idea, the ‘minimum effective dose.’

“We need to accept that more is not necessarily better,” she has written. “The first step in dialing back the busyness of everyday life is to figure out your minimum effective dose of everything. Figure out how much time you actually need to spend on your email, going to meetings, driving your kids to their activities, etc., in order to be effective at home and at work.”

Are you brave enough to try simply caring a little bit less?

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com.

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TIME Greece

Everything to Know About Greece’s Economic Crisis

How Greece and the eurozone ended up in this mess, and where they go from here

Q. How did we get here?

A. Long story. Greece’s economy was never strong enough to share a currency with Germany’s, but both sides pretended it was, as it satisfied Greek pride and Germany’s ambitions (suffused with war guilt) of building an ‘Ever Closer Union’ in a new, democratic Europe. Reckless lending by French and German banks allowed the Greeks to finance widening budget and current account deficits for six years, but private capital flows dried up sharply after the 2008 crisis, forcing Greece to seek help from Eurozone governments and the International Monetary Fund in 2010.

Q. But all that was 5 years ago. How has Greece not managed to turn the corner since then, when every other Eurozone country that took a bailout has?

A. Greece was the first country to ask for help, and the Eurozone was totally unprepared for it on all levels–political, technological, emotional, whatever. The IMF, too, had no experience of dealing with a country in a monetary union. Consequently, the bailout was badly conceived (a point admitted at the weekend by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was head of the IMF at the time), focusing too much on the budget balance and not enough on fixing Greece’s uniquely dysfunctional state apparatus. In a normal recession, government spending can offset the negative effects of private demand contracting, but in this case, the budgetary austerity drove Greece into a vicious spiral. The economy contracted by 25% between 2010 and 2014, fatally weakening Greece’s ability ever to repay its debts.

Q. But didn’t Greece already get a load of debt relief?

A. Yes, €107 billion of it in a 2012 debt restructuring, the biggest in history. But it was only private creditors–i.e., bondholders–who took the hit. The Eurozone and IMF refused to write down their claims (although they did soften the repayment terms), and the new bailout agreement was based on more assumptions (since exposed as too rose-tinted) that Greece could grow itself out of its troubles. The economy continued to shrink in absolute terms and unemployment shot over 25%, forcing an ever bigger burden of taxation onto fewer and fewer shoulders. That created the political environment for this year’s crisis.

Q. You make it sound like this year is different from the previous four…

A. Victory for the radical left-wing Syriza party at elections in January completely changed the political dynamic. Previous governments had come from the political mainstream, and reluctantly played along with rules dictated in Brussels and, indirectly, Berlin. Syriza didn’t have any truck with that. It has campaigned for a 50% write-off of its debts and a relaxation of its budget targets. It has been openly confrontational and reversed key reforms made by the previous governments, despite promising the creditors in February that it wouldn’t. Syriza’s tactics–embodied by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, an economics professor specializing in Game Theory–have been a gamble that the Eurozone would rather make concessions than risk the economic havoc caused by a Greek exit.

5. That gamble has failed, hasn’t it?

As of today, yes. It’s Greece, yet again, which is bearing the burden of everything: the economy had shown signs of bottoming out before Syriza came to power, with business sentiment at its highest in seven years after a very good tourist season in 2014. But the brinkmanship has destroyed confidence, and caused a sharp rise in government arrears and deposit flight, capped now by capital controls and a week-long closure of the banking system. Eurozone financial markets aren’t taking it well, but the prospect of a ‘shock and awe’ intervention by the ECB is keeping the sell-off within limits Monday morning. A real “Grexit” may yet wreak havoc on the Eurozone too, but it’s unlikely that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be around that long to reap the political rewards.

Q. Aren’t the creditors to blame too?

A. For sure, there’s plenty of blame to go round. Most people now recognize that the banks that had lent to Greece pre-crisis should have been forced to take more losses in 2009/2010. Now the Eurozone has effectively swapped the private loans for public ones, any debt write-offs have enormous political costs at home. But governments in Germany and elsewhere have made a rod for their own back by being so stubborn. When Greece defaults, they’re going to lose billions anyway, and the cost of their posturing will become clear to taxpayers who have only been told half the story. They have squandered a host of opportunities to manage that loss in a more orderly way. By failing to accommodate more willing (if still inadequate) Greek governments with debt relief earlier, they prepared the ground for Syriza’s rise.

Q. What happens next?

A. Greece will miss a payment to the IMF Tuesday, and its bailout will expire the same day. The ECB seems likely to ignore the default at least until the planned referendum on Sunday, anxious to avoid responsibility for precipitating the total collapse of the financial system. The creditors are hoping the Greek government will capitulate under the pressure, and be replaced by a new ‘government of national unity’. There’s no sign of that happening yet.

Q. But how long can the current situation go on?

A. The banks are closed until July 7, after the referendum. As long as they still have the lifeline of the ECB’s emergency credit facility (over €85 billion), the banks and the government can continue to operate, albeit in a very restricted fashion. But the government is due to repay €3.5 billion in debts to the ECB on July 20, and if it can’t do that, then the ECB will have to accept that the Greek state is bankrupt, and cancel that credit line. At that point, the banks will be insolvent, and it will only be possible to restore their solvency by re-denominating the rest of their liabilities (i.e. deposits) in a new Greek currency.

Q. How, legally, does Greece leave the Eurozone?

A. Nobody knows. Like Cortes burning his boats after arriving in Mexico, the E.U. deliberately chose not to draft rules for that eventuality when it formed its currency union. There are rules for leaving the E.U., but even Syriza doesn’t want to do that. We will be, as Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said at the weekend, “in completely uncharted waters.”

They’ll be damned choppy waters, too.

This article was originally published in Fortune.com

TIME Autos

Check Out the World’s First 3-D Printed Supercar

Divergent Microfactories

It has a chassis about 90% lighter than the average car

The “Blade” is light, sleek and — at an acceleration of 0-60 m.p.h. in 2.2 seconds — incredibly fast, just like you’d want any supercar to be. But a few things set this wondrous machine apart from others of its kind, foremost among them its method of manufacture.

The car, made by San Francisco–based startup Divergent Microfactories, has a chassis created entirely using a 3-D printer, Engadget reports. The 3-D printing reduces the overall weight of the car by 90%, the manufacturer claims, coupled with the use of carbon fiber for most of the car’s body rather than steel or aluminum. As a result, the whole vehicle weighs just under 1,400 lb.

“How we make things is much more important than how we fuel them and whether they have a tailpipe or not,” Kevin Czinger, CEO of Divergent, said in an interview with Forbes.

Czinger has also put some thought into how the car is fueled, however, with Blade carrying a 700HP engine that can run on compressed natural gas — thereby also making it one of the most environment-friendly automobiles around.

The company will produce a certain number of cars initially, but eventually plans to sell its technology to smaller manufacturers to make their own vehicles.

“We have got to rethink how we manufacture, because — when we go from 2 billion cars today to 6 billion cars in a couple of decades — if we don’t do that, we’re going to destroy the planet,” Czinger adds.

TIME China

China-Backed Development Bank Holds Signing Ceremony in Beijing

China-led AIIB members ink accord for its inception by year's end
AP—Kyodo Delegates from more than 50 countries gathered to sign the articles of agreement that specifies the new lender's initial capital and other details of its structure.

Conspicuously absent from the ceremony was the U.S., which declined to join the bank

Delegates from 57 founding member states gathered in Beijing on Monday to finalize and ratify the terms of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the China-backed multilateral development bank seen by some as a strategic rival to the World Bank and similar international financial institutions.

The signing ceremony comes eight months after Beijing officially launched AIIB, which intends to “focus on the development of infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia” and “promote interconnectivity and economic integration in the region,” according to its mission statement. It will begin with a $50 billion capital base, the BBC reports.

Of its founding members — which include Australia, Russia and Germany — China will be the largest shareholder, with 25% to 30% of all votes. Conspicuously absent from the roster is the U.S., which in October expressed concern over the bank proposal’s “ambiguous nature.” While World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has praised the new institution, citing the “massive need” for fresh investments in Asia, some critics see its establishment as a self-serving exercise in Chinese soft power.

TIME remembrance

Watch Sheryl Sandberg Pay Tribute to Her Late Husband in Commencement Speech

The Facebook COO spoke Saturday at Beijing's Tsinghua School of Economics and Management

Sheryl Sandberg paid tribute to her late husband Dave Goldberg in her commencement address Saturday at Beijing’s Tsinghua School of Economics and Management.

The Facebook COO offered four key points of leadership in her speech, one of which is that nothing should ever solely be someone else’s problem.

“Yes, people will do what their bosses tell them to do in most organizations,” Sandberg said. “But great leaders do not just want to secure compliance. They want to elicit genuine enthusiasm, complete trust and real dedication. They don’t just win the minds of their teams, they win their hearts.”

“No one won more hearts than my beloved husband Dave Goldberg, who passed away suddenly two months ago,” she continued about Goldberg, who was 47 at the time of his death. “Dave was a truly inspiring leader. He was kind. He was generous. He was thoughtful. He raised the level of performance of everyone around him. He did it as CEO of SurveyMonkey, an amazing company that he helped build. He did it for me and for our children.”

Sandberg shared a quote from a friend who described Goldberg as having “showed us all exactly what being a great human being looks like … but it was never frustrating because Dave’s greatness was not competitive or threatening. It was gentle, inspirational and egoless. He was the quintessential standard for the notion of leading by example.”

This article was originally published in the Hollywood Reporter

TIME LGBT

Ben & Jerry’s Just Renamed This Ice Cream Flavor in Honor of Gay Marriage

iDough-iDough-pint
Ben & Jerry's

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough has a new name

Ben & Jerry’s, a longstanding corporate champion of gay rights, is celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage throughout the U.S. by renaming one of its ice cream flavors. During the summer the chain will rename its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to “I Dough, I Dough” at participating stores. Proceeds from the ice cream sales will go to the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT rights.

This is not the first time Ben & Jerry’s has been a vocal supporter of gay rights. In 1989 the company was the first major employer in Vermont to offer health insurance to same-sex partners of employees. More recently Ben & Jerry’s joined a petition of major businesses asking the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans across the U.S.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Powerful Books to Improve Your Life

A book is a powerful external force that can change everything about who you are

Quiz time: Can you name Newton’s first law of motion?

No? (Don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too.)

Newton declared, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”

In other words, if you are flying in the International Space Station and toss an apple out the window (come on, use your imagination), it will keep going in that same direction forever, unless something stops it (like a planet, gravity or alien life form).

Although Newton was talking about physics, little did he know he was also describing life.

People tend to move in the same direction as they always have unless some external force is applied. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my life to be lived in a straight line. I want to change, to improve, to crush it.

This is why I read.

A book is a powerful external force that can completely knock your life off its mundane straight line and change everything about who you are. The following are five books that did just that in my life.

  • 1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad

    rich-dad-poor-dad-cover
    Goldmann TB

    Something was eating me alive inside. (No, it wasn’t a parasite.) It was an idea.

    Something about work, life, money, wealth and freedom — but I couldn’t quite say what that idea was. For months it weighed on me, but I couldn’t find words to express it.

    Then came Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

    Finally, there were words for the internal dialogue that was taking place every minute of my life. I could finally form my abstract thoughts about money into actual speech — and it changed my life forever.

    It’s hard to say exactly what Rich Dad, Poor Dad is because it means so many different things to so many different people. But the gist of it is this: The poor work for their money, but the rich make their money work for them. It’s a mindset book more than anything, but with enough stories and examples to keep you captivated. It’s no wonder this book is hands down the most popular book recommended by guests on The BiggerPockets Podcast that I co-host each week.

    Kiyosaki taught me to stop saying, “It can’t be done,” and start asking, “How can it be done?” in every area of life. He started me on a journey that led me to buy my first rental property, followed by dozens of other investment properties that got me out of the “rat race” by the time I was 27.

    For the first time, I began to see that wealth is not an accident, but an action. (Yes, I expect you to tweet that! I worked hard on that line!)

    Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad this week.

  • 2. The Total Money Makeover

    total-money-makeover-cover
    Thomas Nelson Publishing

    A year after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a friend from church recommended I read through Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover, and once again, my life took a turn for the better after a rude awakening: my spending was out of control!

    I was spending $1,000 a month more than I was making. How did I not realize this?

    The Total Money Makeover helped me to look at my personal finances with more seriousness and gave me a passion to pay off debt, live more frugally, and save more money.

    Suddenly, having a budget didn’t seem like a chore, it felt like I finally had a reign on my wallet. I was in control of my spending. My spending was not in control of me.

    As an entrepreneur, some months are financially better than others. However, because of the lessons I learned from The Total Money Makeover, I’m better prepared to handle the difficult times because I have a strong personal finance foundation.

  • 3. The 4-Hour Workweek

    4-hour-workweek-cover
    Crown Publishers, Inc.

    No, I don’t work four hours a week. No, I don’t travel to exotic countries to salsa dance. I don’t even know what Chinese kickboxing is.

    But Tim Ferriss’ story and philosophy about business and life resonated with me in a powerful way that altered my life, my relationships, my free time and my purpose.

    Whereas Rich Dad, Poor Dad taught me that wealth was mine for the taking, The 4-Hour Workweek taught me that life was mine for the taking.

    I don’t need to wait until I’m 62 to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I don’t need to have $1,000,000 in the bank to achieve the life that millionaires brag about. I don’t need to slave away at a job I hate just to pay the bills.

    There is another way.

    Part productivity handbook, part inspirational and part lesson in entrepreneurship, The 4-Hour Workweek refuses to be classified as anything but what it truly is: life-changing.

    I think critics of The 4-Hour Workweek tend to focus too much on the specifics of the book. “I can’t do that in my job” or “I don’t want to travel the world like Ferriss.” They are missing the point and can’t see the forest for the trees.

    You don’t need to hire a virtual assistant for $2 an hour to change your life (though, I did). You don’t need to start an online business that generates passive income (though, I did). You don’t even need to backpack Europe like a hippy (though, I did). However, there are ways you can improve your business and life through efficiency and optimization.

    For example, I hate talking on the phone with tenants, so after reading The 4-Hour Workweek, I hired someone part time to answer phones for me and show vacant units. The cost to me is tiny compared the amount of mental space it cleared up in my life, time that I could spend doing business activities I actually enjoy doing.

    To sum up The 4-Hour Workweek: Find things in life that make you passionate, pursue them with all your soul, and enjoy a glass of red wine while you are at it.

  • 4. The Lean Startup

    lean-startup_book-cover
    Crown Business

    The fourth book to cross my path at just the right time was The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

    I had used real estate investing to get out of the rat race and was able to jump into my passion: teaching real estate to others. BiggerPockets was a small company at the time, with just the CEO and one developer. When I came on board, suddenly I was over my head in a world I knew nothing about: startup culture.

    This is when The Lean Startup changed everything for me. No doubt, you’ve heard of this book, as the entire startup world has been transformed by lean methodology. Rather than building something that I want, why not build something everyone will want?

    The Lean Startup got me excited about building a business that mattered, not just a business that made some money.

  • 5. The One Thing

    the-one-thing-cover
    Bard Press

    Life gets hectic, does it not?

    I was working 100 hours a week between managing my rental properties, flipping houses, working at BiggerPockets and working on side projects as well. And I was burning out.

    That’s when this final book book took me by the shoulders and gave me a good, hard shake. The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is an easy to read but profound book that helped me to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing in all areas of my life.

    The One Thing asks, “What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

    By asking this question a dozen times a day, I am finding more time in my day to work calmly, taking less work home with me at night, fielding fewer emails and producing more income each month. It’s like magic.

    Are you ready to escape the “straight-line life” and allow books to change who you are? If so, I highly recommend starting with these five books.

    This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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