This Book is For:

*Everyone who dreams of starting their own business or wants to grow the one they already have, and who wants to stack the probabilities of success in their favor by following a proven plan laid out by two successful, multimillionaire businesspeople who've done it all before.

*Business owners who have the self-awareness to realize that they are the impediments to their own success, and who want to learn the specific techniques and practices that will help them reach that next level.

*People who realize that there may actually be something important and valuable in things like visualization, affirmations, and similar ideas, but who want a more commonsense, science-based approach than what's usually offered, with a greater emphasis on practical application.

*Anyone who's interested in learning about the major psychological principles that drive all great human accomplishment, and about how to implement them on a practical level to achieve meaningful outcomes in their lives.


“If your conscious brain is a lot more limited than you realized, your nonconscious brain is vastly more powerful than you have ever imagined."

The Answer avoids some of the major objections I usually have to books like this, and falls right into some of the others. As a general rule, the people who teach "mindset" do so because they don't have anything practical to teach, but that's not true in this case.

It's actually kind of a 2-in-1 personal development and business book, with the first section making up for its many eye-roll-engendering references to the Law of Attraction by being wonderfully practical and wise, and the second part focusing on more on-the-ground business principles that will help anyone get started in business or grow the one they already have.

There are valid criticisms to be leveled against this book, and I'll deal with them in due time, but I was sufficiently impressed with the flashes of brilliance I found scattered within these pages to offer it up for your serious consideration here. It's a great book, extraordinarily helpful, and it could benefit you enormously to read and apply.

The two authors, John Assaraf and Murray Smith, are incredibly accomplished businesspeople with deep domain experience in the areas of business and personal development, and they share dozens of fantastic insights about the true power of the human mind, how to live up to your inherent potential, how to spot profitable business opportunities and capitalize on them, and more.

You can probably take the "quantum physics" stuff with a grain of salt, because that's not John Assaraf's area of expertise. His area of expertise is in helping people rewire their brains for extreme success and building the belief systems and processes that allow normal, everyday people to build extraordinary lives.

Together, the two authors tackle the beliefs, habits, thoughts, and actions that they used personally to build eighteen multimillion-dollar companies, and frankly, anyone who's done that must know a thing or two that most people don't.

The first part of the book explores the awesome untapped power of the subconscious mind and how it influences our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

It also covers limiting beliefs - which are deadly to have working against you - as well as specific practices that will help you amplify your mind's power to assist you in achieving your biggest goals. And if you doubt that things like visualization actually "work," just ask literally any Olympic athlete whether or not they've ever imagined themselves up on that podium before it actually happened. Every single one of them will tell you yes.

But here's what's different than all the other "vision boarding" books and the "you can do anything you put your mind to" life coaches who couldn't "manifest" themselves out of a paper bag: the authors repeatedly emphasize focused, massive, relentless action towards the accomplishment of your biggest goals.

I'm sorry, but it just doesn't happen any other way, and no amount of gratitude journaling will ever get you out of doing the hard, unglamorous work that it's going to take. The authors openly acknowledge that, and doing so earned my respect.

Of course, there's plenty of other great stuff in here about the vital importance of surrounding yourself with positive, supportive, ambitious people who want the best for you and who will inspire you to work harder and reach further.

But there's also this genuine affection for the reader, and a deep, avid interest in your success and fulfillment that's palpable on nearly every page.

It's something you feel as you read this book, that the authors are fully and completely on your side, and they have the knowledge and experience to guide you along the path to achievement. And yet, by the end of it, they'll also help you realize that The Answer has always been within you.

Key Ideas:

#1: Your Limitless Potential

“If you were to write out your brain's potential expressed by the number of possible neural connections it could make, it would take you seventy-five years to write out all the zeroes.

That's the level of power and capacity you have at your disposal every moment of every day. In other words, your potential to achieve what you want is essentially without limit."

Essentially without limit - and yet how many of us limit ourselves by not even realizing how much fantastic power we have at our disposal!

It's like what Bart Simpson once said:

"Most people use ten percent of their brains...I am now one of them."

Not that Bart was some great neurologist or anything (and the "10%" thing has some caveats, but he's directionally correct). There is tremendous, untapped power sitting right on top of our shoulders, and hardly anyone has made it their conscious focus to see exactly how deep that reservoir of power goes.

Human beings have supercomputers sitting on our shoulders, sure, but then we look outward to technologies, tools, and apps, thinking that the answers to greater productivity, success, and achievement are somewhere "out there" - when in reality, we've been sitting on acres of diamonds this whole time.

Several spectacular books have been written about the fact that human beings generally exist and operate well below our full potential: The Outsider, The War Against Sleep, Super Consciousness, etc. They're all worth reading, and I've written breakdowns on all of them.

But Colin Wilson really shook me up when he said that most human beings are like great big jet airplanes trying to fly on just one engine. If only we made the attempt to tap into that unlimited potential! To fire up all the engines and just see what's actually possible!

I personally believe that there's very little that's more meaningful than spending your life trying to find out what's not possible for you. What you can't do. What your actual limits are.

The work of your life is to explore this essentially limitless potential, tap into it fully, and do your absolute best to bring what's inside of you into the outside and help make this life better for all of us.

#2: Design Empowering Beliefs

“The first step is to accept the fact that you are in the driver's seat: Your life is your creation, and the principal tool you have used to create it is your beliefs. If you want to change things, then decide what beliefs you want to have."

If you want to find out what people truly believe, just look at their actions and their results. They'll tell you everything you need to know.

For one thing, it's virtually impossible to behave in a manner that's inconsistent with what we believe to be true about ourselves, our self-image - at least for long. Eventually, we'll always return to the habits, behaviors, and results that we believe are possible for us and represent "who we are."

Beliefs are everything, and they drive so many of our actions and outcomes, but we often forget that we can change what we believe if we truly want to achieve a different outcome. Beliefs are malleable, and subject to change.

For example, if you believe right now that you aren't good with money, then you'll continue to behave in such a way to "prove" to yourself that your belief is true. You'll overspend on things you don't need, forget to pay your credit card bill, and hold off on investing because you don't believe that you are the kind of person who can manage money.

If you don't take the actions that someone who's skilled at managing money would take, then you won't achieve the same results as that person would, which will then "confirm" your initial belief and allow you to stay the same. Poor, but the same.

But here's one of the most important realizations you could ever come across in your entire life, and I do NOT say this lightly: You get to choose what you believe. If your current beliefs aren't serving you and taking you in a direction you want to go, you can change them. You are empowered to edit your beliefs, and it is absolutely imperative that you do.

Today, I refuse to believe anything that robs me of my power to get what I want out of this life. I only choose - and consciously strengthen - beliefs that are actively working for me to help me get to where I want to go in life, and I categorically reject any belief that would hinder me from doing so.

I mean honestly, why on earth would you ever believe something that disempowers you? What's the point of that? I'm asking you.

So the important realization here is that you can design and reconfigure your own beliefs, and it's absolutely critical that you do. But what does that process actually look and feel like? Here's John Assaraf:

“If you want to achieve your goals, you have to take yourself through this process of designing the beliefs you want before you believe them.

You can't wait for all those new beliefs to feel genuine; they won't feel genuine until you believe them, and you won't really believe them until you've done what it takes to turn them into mental habits.

You must create the vision first, then create the belief's you'll need to match and support that vision, and then give your nonconscious brain the task of absorbing those new beliefs. At that point your conscious brain will feel comfortable."

You work backwards from your Ultimate Vision (I capitalize that phrase but you don't have to, of course), and consciously work out what kinds of beliefs you'd need to have in order to make that vision a reality.

If your vision is to become fit and healthy, for example, the beliefs you'd have to construct might include things like:

"I'm the kind of person who enjoys moving their body, and I always make sure to fit some form of physical activity into my schedule, no matter what."

"I never eat processed foods, and I possess the foresight to avoid them by not hanging out with people who do eat that type of food."

"I value my long-term health and longevity more than I value the temporary comfort of staying at home eating snacks."

Those are the beliefs of someone who's likely to be quite fit and healthy, but if those statements don't describe you at the moment, then it's going to be somewhat uncomfortable at first to adopt them. That's when you put your subconscious mind to work, which is always observing you when you make choices and take actions in the external world.

For the first little while - probably for a long while - those choices and actions are going to feel quite uncomfortable, because you'll be working against your current self-image and what you believe about yourself right now.

But then, as you keep making the hard choices, and therefore stacking up evidence of your new beliefs, your subconscious mind and your self-image will begin to catch up, and you will begin to feel more and more comfortable living inside your new identity.

#3: Stick Your Head in the Clouds

“If you want to build your dream business and create the most wonderful life for yourself, then you need to get your head right back up there in those clouds and exercise your imagination to its fullest. Imagination is the seat of your capacity to create anything: a thrilling career, your dream business, a wonderful home, a fulfilling relationship, a magnificent life."

Way back in 1854, in his incredible book describing the solitude of his self-imposed exile at Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau had this to say about imagination:

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Whatever you can imagine, you can start to build, but you have to see it first in your imagination.

Every single man-made thing you see around you today existed first inside the mind of the person who created it, and your dream business will exist in your imagination first before it ever becomes reality.

What Thoreau and the authors of The Answer are getting at, however, is that your castles cannot remain imaginary. They must exist, you have to make them real, and envisioning them beforehand is the necessary first step, and definitely not something to be disparaged.

Unfortunately, imagination tends to be one of the biggest casualties of adulthood. Children are little tiny creative geniuses, but as they grow into adults, the "real world" stifles their imaginations and causes their creative capacities to atrophy, until they become as boring and lifeless as the majority of other adults. So how do you stop this from happening, or even reverse it?

Continue to build castles in the sky for as long as you live. Refuse to allow your imagination to wither and die. Hold onto it with all your strength, even as you adopt grownup responsibilities and make your way in the world as an adult.

Grow up without every "growing up." There may be a "real world," but you don't have to live in the one that's presented to you. You can create your own.

#4: Your Dream Business Already Exists

“Everything you could possibly need to build your dream business, all the tools, resources, capital, people, ideas, expertise, everything, it all surrounds you today, right now - it just hasn't been gathered and assembled yet."

Assuming you've identified a real need and a real opportunity - something that real, actual people are likely to want and buy - then everything you need to start and grow a wildly profitable business already exists.

It's now your job to gather those resources together, assemble them into something you can bring to the market, and strike out in search of paying customers; people with valid credit cards who can and want to pay you.

The common misconception that people have is that they need to create desire for their products or services. But that's false. There are already people out there hiring video editors, paying for personal trainers, going out to restaurants, buying books, etc. They exist already, and it's your job to find them and make them aware of your existence.

Most of the tools you'll need to start and grow your business are freely available on the internet, or at very low cost. For example, in my business, I spend about $100 per month on to my email service provider (so I can send out my newsletter), $15 a month for Canva (for creating designs), $30 a month for Premiere Pro (to edit my videos), $17 a month for Envato Elements (for stock footage), $22 a month for my social media scheduling software - and that's pretty much it!

But you don't even have to spend that much to do what I do or something similar. There are free versions of nearly everything I just mentioned, as well as similar tools that people have used to grow their own dream businesses online.

Even for offline businesses, the people and money and resources already exist too. They are out there, and if you don't know how to find and use any of the tools or resources you need, you can just go to YouTube and find dozens of videos about how to do just that.

All of the traditional excuses people used to make about not being "allowed" to start their own business have been demolished by the internet and the rise of social media, and there's more money floating around in the world than there ever has been before. You seriously just have to strike out and take some of it.

Someone out there has your money. They have a pressing need or desire that you can find out about, that your business can fill; you can provide what they desperately want and are willing to exchange money for. Build it, yes, but don't wait for them to come. Get out there and take what's yours.

#5: The Three Laws

“The key point is to understand that these three laws work together: the Law of Attraction, the Law of Gestation, and the Law of Action. You might sum them up this way: Be purposeful, Be patient, and Be active."

I usually shudder involuntarily whenever I hear people talking about the "Law of Attraction," but as irritating as some of those people can be, they're also partly right.

Now, obviously, nothing will "work" until you work. I'll just say that right upfront so you don't think that I'm about to tell you that you can just sit around "manifesting" all day and wind up any different than you are right now.

I'll still probably never be able to say the words "thought energy" in a sentence with a straight face, but it's true: If you set up certain conditions in your life, then the corresponding circumstances, events, and yes, objects will start to enter your life. They will be attracted to you because you set up the conditions for their showing up in your life.

There's nothing magical about this at all. It's simply how the universe works. Everything operates by cause and effect, and if you continually repeat the causes of wealth and happiness, then you will be rewarded with the effects. That's basically the Law of Attraction, without all the quasi-mystical stuff.

There's also the Law of Gestation, by which John and Murray simply mean patience. Achieving anything worthwhile is probably going to take a lot longer - and be a lot harder - than you expect, and so you have to be willing to grind it out; you have to be willing to act, and act consistently, without necessarily witnessing the results of those actions until much further down the road.

Patience, in this way, is a kind of faith. You just need to have faith in what you're doing, faith in the plan, and faith in your ability to carry it out. Then you basically just have to find something to do in the meantime while all the invisible progress compounds in the background and you start seeing all the wonderful results of your consistent action-taking.

As my unofficial business mentor, Alex Hormozi, likes to say, advanced people never don't do the fundamentals. That's what makes them advanced. They find a good mentor of their own, adopt a winning strategy, and install the faith that if they keep showing up and doing the work, the results will come. That's the Law of Gestation.

Then there's the Law of Action, which is fairly self-explanatory. You'll have to be the Prime Mover, the cause of your life and not the effect. You have to actually get up, take action, and create the success that you want to experience. That's the part that most people don't want to hear, and that's what makes them "most people."

#6: The Power of Focus

“Imagine you’re outside on a beautiful sunny day, and you have in one hand a magnifying glass and in the other a dried oak leaf. Hold the magnifying glass a certain angle that focuses the sun's rays onto the leaf, and what happens?

The leaf catches fire and burns. That's the power of focus.

Take that same energy and focus it even further, and you have a laser that will cut effortlessly through steel. That's the power you have at your command when you learn to focus your ideas and intention.

This is the crucial importance of clarity. Sunlight diffused may cause the leaf to warm slightly; that same sunlight focused with a glass will make it burn.

When your thought energy takes only vague form, without a crystal clear focus, it can do no more than warm the leaf slightly; it certainly cannot cause it to catch fire and burn. You need the clarity and focus of the magnifying glass."

In this example, focus is the difference between the sun slightly warming the earth and the sun's rays igniting a massive forest fire. That's the power of focus. That could be the power of your focus, when intelligently directed towards meaningful work.

Maybe I shouldn't compare your dream business to a forest fire, but you get the idea!

There's that phrase again in the above quote - "thought energy" - which I've never once been able to say with a straight face. But really, all he means is focused attention on the fundamentals of growing your dream business, and executing on them consistently, every single day, until your momentum becomes a spark, and the spark becomes a roaring flame.

This means that you can't keep chasing all these shiny objects, jumping on the next trend or flashy new platform; you have to keep that magnifying glass pointed squarely at those few things you've identified as key levers in your business. We'll cover that in more depth later on in this breakdown, but it usually means focusing on those few things that will drive actual revenue.

At the end of the day, it's a very simple question you have to ask yourself:

Are you going to take a thousand steps in a thousand different directions, thus ending up exactly where you started? Or are you going to take a thousand steps in one direction and not stop until you get there?

#7: The Growth Zone

“Anytime you learn something new, whether it's riding a bicycle, making more money than you have ever made before, entering a brand-new relationship, or starting your first day of kindergarten, there's going to be a point of resistance, a point of fear where you will feel discomfort. Here's what that means: You're growing."

In Key Idea #2, we spoke about how it will likely be quite uncomfortable at first when you attempt to adopt new, empowering beliefs and drop the beliefs that were holding you back before.

The reality is that the start of any process, project, or journey is going to be slow going at the start. When you head out anywhere, you're going to have to overcome inertia and the desire to remain comfortable and safe.

But comfortable and safe never created any champions; they never brought any dream businesses into existence, and they're not going to help you build yours either. Comfort and safety are the enemies of growth, and if you want your future to look different than your past, you're going to need to leave these sirens behind.

Another reality of human life is that anything new and different is going to be viewed as a threat by your mind and body. "You" are generally comfortable in homeostasis, and even beneficial change can cause desperate internal resistance.

This desire for comfort, safety, and homeostasis can be overcome, but by definition it's going to be somewhat painful. Most people won't be able to handle it. They'll quit, give up, move on to something else. Again, that's why they're "most people."

But if you're able to recognize this ahead of time and lean into it - able to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty, and do so with faith and patience - then the limits of your growth and development are simply imaginary.

#8: The "Five Musts" of Major Success

“If all you do is sit around and visualize, the men in the overalls with the big trucks will come and take away your furniture."

I love that quote. And it's a big wakeup call to the Law of Attraction people who stop there and never bother to move on to the Law of Action.

Vision, Belief, and Imagination are the necessary foundation for outstanding success in building your dream business, but you cannot simply stop there.

The authors identify the five things you must do if you want to create massive success and start scoring some outstanding achievements in life, and they are:

*You must find something that stirs your soul: This is fairly self-explanatory, but if you don't have a love for what you're doing, you're going to find it extremely difficult to sustain the motivation to keep going, especially under challenging circumstances.

*You must become excellent at it: Having passion for something isn't enough. You have to be good enough at it to make people care, and good enough to be able to help them get what they need from you. You can have a passion for helping people write their first novel, but if you've never written one yourself, and you can't stay consistent with your own writing habit, then nobody will care to learn from you. Nor should they.

*You must recondition your mind to believe you can have it and achieve it: You will see it when you believe it! You must undo a lifetime of harmful, negative, pessimistic conditioning, and you have to install an unbreakable, damn-near delusional level of self-belief in your personal ability to achieve what you want in life.

*You must understand how to make money at it: It's simple economics. In my case, posting book reviews on Instagram was something I was good at and enjoyed doing, but in order to actually make money posting them, I had to approach it in a more professionalized manner: crafting promotional packages that were desirable to authors looking to market their books, etc. Anything can be a hobby, but to make money at it requires a much more intentional strategy.

*You must take daily action: There is no escaping this! This truth is referenced constantly in this breakdown, in this book, and you're also going to see it basically everywhere you look in life. To have you must act! You must do things out in the world, make your visions real, build the foundations underneath your castles in the sky! This is the truth. This is what we all must do to become successful at what we choose to do in life. This is what you must do as well.

#9: Visualization is a Hidden Superpower

“Create a vivid picture in your imagination of what that experience would be like - the feeling of standing up there on the podium with your national anthem playing, the crowd roaring their enthusiasm, the feeling of the blood pumping in your veins, the thrill and rush as the Olympic official reaches up and hangs the medal around your neck. Can you feel it?

When you imagine all that in such vivid detail, you are evoking that experience and exposing it to your nonconscious mind just as effectively as if you were actually standing on that podium with the whole world watching and that medal hanging around your neck.

Repeat this vividly and consistently enough, and pretty soon you aren't just imagining you are an Olympic gold medalist; on a very real, visceral level, you are becoming a gold medalist. And because you are, you'll start doing what a gold medalist does, taking the actions a gold medalist takes, living the way a gold medalist lives, and attracting those circumstances that a gold medalist attracts.

If this all sounds esoteric, all you have to do is ask any Olympic gold medalist if they ever spent any time visualizing themselves taking that top medal. You better believe they have - every single one of them, over and over, every day, for years. It's a recipe for outstanding achievement that every top athlete, every award-winning musician, actor, or dancer, every famous speaker, president, CEO, or super successful businessperson knows.

When you visualize something, you are literally creating a neural network or pattern within your brain that corresponds to what it is you want to achieve. You're creating the seed that is required to start attracting those resonant resources necessary to allow that blueprint to unfold into its physical manifestation.

It's as simple as this: No seed, no tree. You want a tree? Visualization is how you create the right seed."

#10: The Critical Few

“Growing your dream business - any dream business - is a systematic process that boils down to this: You need to know, out of all the possible things you could be doing, which are the critically important few actions that you must take. And you need to be doing those few things every single day."

As the famous rule states, 20 percent of the inputs are generally going to be what leads to 80 percent of the results. These are the critical few things you must focus on, while avoiding, minimizing, or deprioritizing the other 80 percent.

Most of the muscle you gain in the gym is going to come from the bench press, and from doing deadlifts and squats, not from the hundreds of other exercises that have been invented since then.

Most of the revenue in your business is going to come from specifically profit-generating activities like running sales calls and pitching your products and services, not in tweaking your website, updating your bio, changing the color scheme on your branding, or any of the thousands of things you could be doing.

Focus on the critical few and ignore everything else.

#11: The Three Questions

“In any business we have ever been involved in, there are three questions we ask ourselves every single day:

'How can we achieve more profits per sale?'

'How can we achieve more sales per customer?'

'How can we get more customers?'

Each of these questions corresponds to one of three basic ways to optimize the revenue-building capacity of your business. The first question looks for ways to optimize each sale; the second looks for ways to optimize each customer; and the last one looks for ways to optimize your entire business."

There are only three ways to increase the revenue of your business - of any business - and they are: selling more stuff, to more people, more times. That's it. I'll break down each one of them right here. It won't even take that long either.

In basic terms, the first thing you can do is sell more things to people who have already purchased from you, or are in the process of doing so. Instead of getting them to buy a computer and move on, you sell them a mouse, a printer, a webcam, an external hard drive, etc.

Second, you can get them to come back and buy from you more times. Once they buy a computer from you, they're invited to come back and buy newer versions of that computer, additional computers for their employees, etc. It's always much easier to get someone to buy from you a second time than it is to go out and find entirely new customers.

But then, of course, you can always just find more customers. That pretty much sums up all the ways you can derive maximum profit from your dream business. Higher profit per transaction, more transactions, and by more customers. Ask yourself how you can improve these three areas of your business every single day, and you'll never run out of profit-generating activities to pursue.

#12: What Are You Trading Your Life For?

"Every day, you are trading away the moments of your life for whatever it is you are creating and experiencing during those moments. What do you want to trade your life for? What is worth that trade? You get to choose; in fact, you have to.

With every breath you take, you are already choosing what it is you're getting in exchange for the moments you spend: the people you're spending time with, the activities you're engaged in, the thoughts you're having, and the experiences you're allowing to happen.

If you have chosen to spend that precious life in the pursuit of success in business, then don't let yourself settle for 'good.' Make that business a perfect expression of your values and purpose, the perfect expression of you.

Make it the business of your dreams - and then make those dreams come true. Devote yourself to the pursuit of the exceptional."

Book Notes:

“The undifferentiated ocean out of which energy arises appears to be a sea of pure consciousness, from which matter emerges in clustered localities here and there. Consciousness is what the universe is made of; matter and energy are just two of the forms that consciousness takes."

“We see what we are prepared to see, what we are conditioned to see.”

“The idea precedes the thing.”

“The two states of mind - victim thinking and entrepreneurship - are 100 percent incompatible and mutually exclusive. The word entrepreneur derives from the French word that refers to the source of the event, the one who initiates. Building and growing a successful business requires a commitment to being at cause, not at effect."

“This is the groundwork for every successful business that has ever been and ever will be: It starts with the power and precision of an idea. What you have to get good at doing is creating the seed of what you want with great precision. A vaguely formed, ambiguous seed will never sprout or take root. For a seed to flourish, it must be viable."

“The world around you is absolutely flooded with money, ready to flow toward you and nourish your sprouting business."

"The Law of Attraction cannot work effectively unless you also follow the Law of Action."

“When you pray, move your feet.”

"If you're going to be praying for potatoes, you better have a hoe ready."

“The human brain is the most complex, powerful machine in the universe. Your brain contains a network of about 100,000 miles of blood vessels and 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) neurons, with the capacity to perform some ten quadrillion operations per second.

Imagine the scope and complexity of every telephone system throughout the entire planet: Your brain embodies that same scale of complexity and capacity in each individual brain cell."

"Remember how often your conscious brain loses focus? Every six to ten seconds. Guess how often your nonconscious brain loses focus? Never. Not once. Not ever."

“Beliefs trump desires, every time.”

“Anything that can be measured can be transported to the brain, and if we can get it to the brain, the brain can learn how to use it."

“The brain processes over four hundred billion bits of information every second, yet we are aware of only about two thousand.

In other words, for each bit of information you are aware of, there are about two hundred million bits that your brain processes behind the veil of your awareness. So what determines which bit we will 'see' and which we will skip over?

That all-important, life-shaping decision is made moment to moment, all the time, day or night, awake or asleep, by a part of your brain called the reticular activating system (RAS).

The RAS is the scientific term for a network of nerve pathways at the base of your brain that connects the spinal cord, cerebellum, and cerebrum and acts as a filter for all the sensory input your brain draws from your external world. (Reticulum, from the Latin for 'little net,' simply means a netlike structure.)

Anything that you see, hear, feel, taste, or smell passes through this fine network, which then relays the signal or message on to the appropriate part of your brain for processing.

Your reticular formation stands guard at the doorway of your mind, sorting through the torrent of incoming information and searching for those specific bits that best match those information patterns already established in your brain.

Your reticular formation picks up all the sensory input from your environment and, if it's important to you, sends a signal to your conscious brain to alert you that something important is going on. And it does this at a speed eight hundred times faster than your conscious brain cells operate."

“Your RAS works so rapidly and efficiently, it makes Google seem like carving a stone tablet."

“The reticular formation is the most intelligent and sophisticated alarm system in the universe."

“You get what you’re looking for.”

“Worry is a prayer for what you don’t want.”

“When you write out your goals, don't write what you think you can achieve. Write what you want. The word desire has a wonderful derivation: It comes from the Latin de sidere, which means literally 'from the stars.'

What you want in life is something that arises in you from the infinite ocean of intelligence that is the source of all energy and matter. Your desires are an expression of the universe seeking realization and manifestation through the unique vehicle that is you.

If your social conditioning tells you that your desires are somehow unworthy, don't believe it! Don't be intimidated or skeptical of your true desires: acknowledge them; honor them. They come from the stars."

“A weakness is not a negative, it’s just an indication of strengths you’ll need to look for in other people.”

“One of the biggest secrets there is to being successful in business, and one of the most commonly ignored, is this: Find people who play at those things that for you are work."

“Manifest, by the way, comes from the Latin manus, for 'hand': It means 'placed in your hand.'"

“The universe is the limit.”

“But I had my vision, and the way I acted, spoke, planned, and went about doing everything I did reflected that vision."

“Whenever there’s a conflict between conscious and nonconscious, the nonconscious will always win. Always."

“There are three mysteries in the world: the air to the bird, the water to the fish, and man to himself."

-Hindu Expression

"If you are stressed out, pressured, never have enough time, then welcome to your belief, 'There is never enough time.'"

“Here’s what happens: When an event (whether 'real' or in your mind) evokes strong emotion, protein is released along with neurotransmitters as the neurons fire across the synaptic gap, and that causes the event to bind to that neural pathway much more strongly than if it was simply a neutral thought or memory.

When you relive that powerful event and bring back that old feeling, more of that protein is released all over again - and when you attach your new affirmation to that event, you are physically bonding that thought into this existing neural pathway."

“There is no force in the universe more powerful than intent.”

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for?"

-Robert Browning

“Be careful what you say to yourself in the back of your mind - because someone really important is listening!”

“Remember that you are dealing with a supercomputer of absolutely mind-boggling power. It has far more capacity than we give it credit for. Don't worry about giving it more than it can handle - you'll never use your full capacity in this lifetime."

“Young or old, no matter our demographics, our wants tend to be a much more powerful driving market force than our needs - and that's where you want to focus your marketing message."

“Extraordinary is mandatory.”

“In Hollywood, there's a saying about how to write a good screenplay: 'In Act I, you get your hero stuck up in a tree; in Act II, you throw rocks at him while he's up there; in Act III, you get him down again.'

A good elevator pitch is like a thirty-second movie: You get your hero up a tree, and then you miraculously get him safely down again. You've create a word picture of a problem - and of how you solve it. As they sometimes say in the advertising business, 'Wound 'em, then heal 'em.'"

“People buy based on emotions, and then they justify their purchases with logic.”

“Tap into a strong emotion, and prospective customers will pay attention to your Unique Selling Proposition.”

“Like fireworks arcing through the night sky, life arises and shines through the trajectory of our years before winking out and falling to the ground from which we arose."

“Our life may be temporary, but our visions are eternal.”

Million Dollar Habits, by Brian Tracy:

Habits can actually be exciting if you start thinking about them in the right way. Most people, and most books, make habits boring, but they certainly don't have to be.

Instead of thinking about all the routine, the deprivation, and the mundane repetition of basic actions, think about the freedom and the success that will come into your life as a result of embracing the habits of the world's most successful people. That's what Brian Tracy's book will help you do.

All these simple, seemingly inconsequential things you're going to be doing day to day may seem like they're not having much of an effect, but then the power of compounding takes over, and you start to reap the inevitable results of your great habits, until eventually, you're going to wish you started ten years ago.

Your past doesn't have to define your present or your future. You can make different choices today, and those choices will directly influence every single one of your tomorrows.

Successful people have ‘success habits’, and unsuccessful people do not. That's the reality. Yes, we absolutely start off in different places in life, but we can make one hell of a lot of progress, starting from the very day when we decide to consciously direct the course of our own lives by taking full and complete responsibility for the habits we perform on a daily basis.

All habits are learned as the result of practice and repetition, and you can learn any habit that you believe is either necessary or desirable. As Brian Tracy says, just as your good habits are responsible for most of your success and happiness today, your bad habits are responsible for most of your problems and frustrations. The key is to realize that you have learned your bad habits and that they can be unlearned as well.

These habits are easy to do, but they're also easy not to do. That's why we have to be intentional about building great habits and removing negative ones. It's rarely going to happen by accident. Taking responsibility is like placing both hands on the steering wheel of your own life, and that's where successful habit formation begins.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“You are where you are and what you are because of yourself. Everything you are today – or ever will be in the future – is up to you. Your life today is the sum total of your choices, decisions, and actions up to this point.

You can create your own future by changing your behaviors. You can make new choices and decisions that are more consistent with the person you want to be and the things you want to accomplish with your life.”

“Successful people expect – in advance – to be successful. Happy people expect to be happy. Popular people expect to be liked by others. They develop the habit of expecting that something good will happen in every situation. They expect to benefit from every occurrence – even temporary setbacks and failures. They expect the best of other people and always assume the best of intentions, and they are seldom disappointed.”

“No matter what you have done or failed to do in the past, at any time you can draw a line through your previous life and decide that your future is going to be different. You can begin thinking different thoughts, making different choices, taking different actions, and developing different habits that will lead you inevitably to the successes that are possible for you.”

Read the Full Breakdown: Million Dollar Habits, by Brian Tracy

The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman:

The legendary entrepreneur Derek Sivers called this book a “masterpiece,” and he says it’s now the one “START HERE” book he recommends to everybody interested in business.

The Personal MBA is a wide-ranging, comprehensive overview of everything you need to know to succeed as a business owner, and there’s a reason it’s sold more than a million copies. Fun Fact: Derek actually asked Josh Kaufman to be his personal coach and mentor after he finished reading it!

Not only that, but it also passes the “Investment Test” with flying colors. Ask yourself: If you were to trade 10 dollars and 10 hours of your time, and in exchange, you’d save one hour a week for the next two years, would you take that offer?

If you value your time at, say, just $10/hour (a gross underestimation, in my opinion), then after that time, you’d have saved $1,040 ($10/hour, for 104 weeks = $1,040, minus your initial investment). Yes, this book can save you a ton of time and frustration, but it goes much deeper than that, considering the exorbitant cost of business school today!

Attending one of the top three business schools (in America) will saddle you with around $150,000 worth of student debt, but you’ll also lose $100,000 or more (as an estimate) in lost salary or opportunity costs because you were in school “learning” when you could have been out in the real world earning.

At the time of this writing, there are eight different US business schools where the cost of an MBA exceeds $300,000. This book? The Personal MBA? You can get it for free from the library, for just a few dollars at a used book store or on Amazon, and this breakdown is included in your membership to the Stairway to Wisdom. Total savings for you? Nearly $400,000!

The fact is that MBA programs don’t have a monopoly on advanced business knowledge. You can learn these things without drowning in debt, and this book is an excellent start.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“Every successful business creates something of value. The world is full of opportunities to make other people’s lives better in some way, and your job as a businessperson is to identify things that people don’t have enough of, then find a way to provide them.”

“At the core, all successful businesses sell the promise of some combination of money, status, power, love, knowledge, protection, pleasure, and excitement. The better you articulate how your offer satisfies one or more of these drives, the more attractive your offer will become.”

“Good books, magazines, blogs, documentaries, and even competitors are valuable if they violate your expectations about what’s possible. When you discover that other people are doing something you once considered unrealistic or impossible, it changes your Reference Levels in a very useful way. All you need to know is that something you want is possible, and you’ll find a way to get it.”

Read the Full Breakdown: The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman

The Education of Millionaires, by Michael Ellsberg:

Just because some of the smartest and most successful individuals in the world dropped out of college or skipped college altogether, does that mean that you should too?

Not necessarily; but in this book, author Michael Ellsberg makes the case that most of what you'll need to learn in order to become successful - by anyone's standards - are skills that you'll never see taught in school.

Teaching any of those success skills would require dozens of books for each one, and Ellsberg doesn't claim to teach you everything you need to know on these pages. But he tells you where to start looking, and what's important to look for.

He doesn't just give you a fish, or even go too deep in teaching you how to fish; he simply explains why you absolutely have to learn to fish, and where to go in order to learn most effectively.

Not only that, but if you're missing any of these critical success skills, you're handicapping yourself horribly and holding yourself back from all that you could achieve and become.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“I am passionately pro-education. There are few things I care more about than reading and learning constantly. Yet, the lives of the people profiled in this book show conclusively that education is most certainly not the same thing as academic excellence. We’ve conflated them, at great cost to ourselves, our children, our economy, and our culture.”

“The breakthrough realization for you is that you are in the marketing business. You are not in the dry cleaning or restaurant or widget manufacturing or wedding planning or industrial chemicals business.

You are in the business of marketing dry cleaning services or restaurants or widgets or wedding planning or chemicals.

When you embrace this, it makes perfect sense to set your sights on marketing mastery. If you are going to make something your life’s work and chief activity and responsibility, why not do it exceptionally well?”

“The key to making money, and therefore living a life of less stress, is to cause someone to joyfully give you money in exchange for something that they perceive to be of greater value than the money they gave you.”

Read the Full Breakdown: The Education of Millionaires, by Michael Ellsberg

The Ten Pillars of Wealth, by Alex Becker:

Most people aren't wealthy. They may or may not be struggling financially, but the average person will never become rich, and this is because it's literally impossible both to remain average and make above-average money at the same time.

You must elevate your financial game if you wish to become wealthy, and that process starts with embracing the mindsets and thinking patterns of the world's wealthiest people.

Now, obviously, there's a huge difference between a person's value to society and their value to humanity itself. Each and every individual's value to humanity is literally infinite - there are no "extra" people on this planet. But your value to society is what directly affects what you get paid, and the amount of wealth you can accrue in your lifetime.

If you want to be rich, you must make yourself exceptionally valuable to society.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“By wanting to become wealthy, you are also saying that you want to accept the challenge to be better at making money than 99 percent of the people on this planet. Just by attempting this, you are going to have to accept the fact that you must not just be good, you must be incredible. If you think differently, then you are done before you even get started."

“People rarely become successful if they are comfortable in their current situation.”

“What we want to do is adopt the blind confidence of a moron while adopting the practicality of a rocket scientist.”

Read the Full Breakdown: The Ten Pillars of Wealth, by Alex Becker

The View from the Opposition:

No one's ideas are beyond questioning. In this section, I argue the case for the opposition and raise some points you might wish to evaluate for yourself while reading this book.

#1: Quantum Fields and GOYA Energy

It's fairly common to hear people use words that are two or three syllables too long, just to make them sound smarter, or to give their ideas more intellectual heft, and that's definitely true whenever personal development authors reference "quantum mechanics" as support for their arguments.

It's the same as someone using a word with "neuro" in it and thinking that they're quite intelligent. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

But the reality is that scientists who actually study things like quantum mechanics for their career are always kinda shaking their heads in disdain, listening to these people try to "explain" their discoveries in simple terms. I'll just say this: it's hard, and maybe downright impossible to explain quantum mechanics in "simple terms." And what's more, you don't even really need to.

All this is not to say that John Assaraf's main assertions aren't at least directionally correct. And the book is still worth reading, or else I wouldn't have spent 25+ hours reading it and writing this 12,000-word breakdown.

Another point in his favor is that he does repeatedly stress the absolute necessity of taking massive action to start your dream business and achieve your goals; he's definitely not one of those people who goes around telling people that they can "manifest abundance" just by sending him $100 or whatever.

Come to think of it, I liked his humorous reference to "goya," which is not, as some readers were undoubtedly thinking, some New Age protocol for getting in touch with "universal energies" or something. Instead, it stands for "get off your ass," which tends to be damn good advice for achieving pretty much anything.

#2: Business Basics 101

One legitimate criticism leveled against this book is that most people at least somewhat acquainted with basic business principles aren't going to find a whole lot that's necessarily new in the second part of the book.

Anyone who runs a business and has made it into, oh I don't know, Year 2, is going to have heard this marketing advice before, the stuff about target markets, ways to increase revenue, etc. That being said, it's still a good refresher on some of the key concepts, and even though I've been in business for a few years now, I didn't feel as though my time was wasted either.

It's probably not going to be revolutionary business insights that you gain from this book, and that's cool. Just take it for what it is, and at least become somewhat emboldened by the fact that these two extremely successful businesspeople are now confirming the strategies and advice you've heard from others.

This stuff works. They know it works, they've implemented these tactics and strategies to grow their own multimillion dollar businesses, and now they're passing it along to you for the price of this book. I'd say that's a pretty fair exchange.

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Questions to Stimulate Your Thinking:

The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. That's also how you get the absolute most out of any book that you decide to read:

You ask great questions the whole time - as though the book was on trial for its life.

Here in this section are a few questions that can help guide and stimulate your thinking, but try to come up with your own additional questions, especially if you decide to read this book the whole way through...

#1: "What does your future Dream Business look like? Have you ever thought about it? The office space you'll be inhabiting, if any? The types of products you'll have for sale? The way those products will look and feel in your hands? What about your future customers? Who are they? What do they look like? What do they value? And where can you find them? Can you start today?"

#2: "Do you tend to think of your life and your possibilities as unlimited or limited? Limited by what?"

#3: "Have you ever started off thinking that something was probably going to be impossible, but you started anyway? Did it ever get any easier? Did it somehow seem more possible as you made initial progress and gained more experience?"

#4: "What beliefs do you currently hold that aren't serving you? Have you ever truly wondered whether they are actually true or not?"

#5: "What beliefs would you need to have if you wanted to achieve all your goals? How can you start to adopt these beliefs today? Who else currently holds these beliefs and that you can emulate and/or spend time with? Who would you need to surround yourself with?"

#6: "Who has your money? Who currently needs or desires what you have to sell? How can you initiate the process of transferring their money into your bank account?"

#7: "Once you've identified who exactly is going to buying your products or services, how can you increase the amount of money they give to you per transaction? How can you get them to keep coming back and buying from you multiple times in the same year? How can you get more customers?"

#8: "What are the critical few things that you can do, tasks that you can perform or projects you can initiate, that will make the biggest difference to your bottom line? How can you spend more time doing those few things and just those few things?"

#9: "What is the one thing, or very few things that, if you did them 100 times a day, every single day, would make it extremely unlikely that you wouldn't succeed?"

#10: "Who would you have to become in order to lead your dream business and be virtually guaranteed of its eventual success?"

"Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers."

Action Steps:

So you've finished reading. What do you do now?

Reading for pleasure is great, and I wholeheartedly support it. However, I am intensely practical when I'm reading for a particular purpose. I want a result. I want to take what I've learned and apply it to my one and only life to make it better!

Because that's really what the Great Books all say. They all say: "You must change your life!" So here, below, are some suggestions for how you can apply the wisdom found in this breakdown to improve your actual life.

Please commit to taking massive action on this immediately! Acting on what you've learned here today will also help you solidify it in your long-term memory. So there's a double benefit! Let's begin...

#1: Envision Your Dream Business

Everything you see that was created by human beings first existed as an idea in someone's mind. It was imaginary, a vision, before it ever became real. The same is true for your dream business.

Even if it feels a little weird at first, try to envision - in as much detail as possible - what your dream business will look like. Bring in all your senses and emotions too:

Imagine yourself running your hand over the "Open" sign that you're eventually going to hang above the door. Smell the engine oil as you listen to the sounds of new customers bringing their cars into your automotive shop. The one that as yet exists only inside your own mind.

Strong emotion will help you make it more real as well. The pride and exhilaration you feel as you step into the unknown and begin to make sales calls to potential customers; the relief of knowing that you've made a bold step forward in securing your financial future; it all counts.

Envision literally everything you can about your dream business, who you will serve, where it will be located, what you will actually do all day...literally everything. Make it as rich and clear as you possibly can, and back it with extreme emotion and belief.

#2: Practice Neural Linking

One of my favorite exercises to help me remember how capable I truly am and to call up a rush of confidence and personal power is to establish reference experiences and bring them to mind before facing any challenge I may confront in the present.

By reference experience, I just mean any memory of a time where you were fully on; when you performed at the best of your ability and achieved some stunning success in your life. Attaching the memory - and the feelings and emotions associated with that event - to what you're doing in the present moment can help you smash through obstacles that would have stopped you in your tracks before.

For me, I think back to when I won a unanimous decision in my last boxing fight, or the way I felt driving my super fast and responsive Porsche down the highway, lit up with power and speed. For you, it could be anything, as long as it's a core memory from a time where you felt unstoppable.

Compiling a multitude of reference experiences is important because over time, you begin to stack up a pile of evidence that you are exactly who you say you are. You have real memories and experiences of times when you were capable and strong; when you won; when you accomplished something significant.

Possessing these memories, you also find that you possess the knowledge - the deep knowing - that you can do it again. You're strong enough. You're courageous enough. You've been here before. And you belong here now.

#3: Gather Inspiration and Review It Daily

Some people call it "vision boarding," and you definitely can if you want, but you don't really have to call it anything specific. It's basically just a collection of inspirational images that mean something to you, and that you can look at every day to remind yourself why you're doing this and/or what you're aiming for.

In John Assaraf's case, he's got this wild story of how he clipped out a photo of this house from a real estate magazine and put it on his vision board. He looked at it every single day while he was growing his dream business, all the while moving towards someday owning a house like that.

Years later, he's unpacking boxes after moving across the country into his new house, and he finds his old vision board. Maybe you see where I'm going with this: he had bought the exact same house as the one on his vision board. Not a similar house, or something that looked like it, but the exact same house. Now, plenty of other people have similar stories, and I'm not sure how many of them I believe, but I do actually believe that John's telling the truth in this case. Which is pretty insane when you think about it.

Whether you actually clip these photos out of a magazine, print them off from your computer, or whatever, it's the same idea. You're gathering visual representations of what you want to have appear in your life, and you review them each and every day, as you take massive action to make your dream business a reality.

I do this myself too. At the time I'm writing this, I plan to sell the Porsche I have now and buy a 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo. I looked up the exact one that I'm going to buy. It's sitting in a car lot in Houston, Texas, and I have the car advertisement bookmarked on my internet browser.

You don't have to use a car or a house - maybe it's a restaurant experience you've always wanted to have, or someplace you've always wanted to go on vacation. Maybe it's just a comfortable living space, decorated perfectly to suit your simple, unique tastes. It's completely up to you.

The important thing is to be able to see it, and to remind yourself that these possessions and experiences that you want are already out there. They exist, and now you just have to do the work to help them show up in your life.

#4: Recondition Your Beliefs

It's taken you your whole life to condition yourself with the beliefs you currently hold, and so it's going to take a substantial amount of time to unlearn them, and replace them with something new and more empowering.

It's made more difficult by virtue of the fact that subconscious beliefs are, literally by definition, beneath your conscious awareness.

It's like what the entrepreneur Alex Hormozi says, that we probably can replace any one of our beliefs relatively easily, except for those we truly believe. And those are the beliefs we never think to question.

However, it's not impossible. I'm not entirely convinced that you can completely uproot all of your beliefs, but you can certainly reinforce new ones, and in the process begin to unlearn old ones.

Whether they will ever completely disappear I'm not sure, but I know that you become what you think about most of the time, and so if you begin to bombard your mind with new, more empowering beliefs, then eventually your mind will begin to take on the color of those new beliefs.

It's also helpful to surround yourself with people who believe similar things. Obviously, this can be taken too far; you want to have diversity of thought, or else everybody just believes what everybody else believes and nobody can tell whether they're actually wrong.

But if you've identified a new, empowering belief that will likely expand the possibilities of your one and only life, then one of the best things you can do is get around people who will reinforce that belief in any future interaction they're likely to have with you.

#5: Take Massive Action

At this point, you've spent a lot of time envisioning your dream business, reconditioning your beliefs, attaching strong emotions to reference experiences, drawing up vision boards, etc. But what have you actually done?!

If you just followed the previous four steps, you'll probably feel better, but your outer life will look pretty much the same as it always has. There's a missing ingredient surprise...that missing ingredient is massive, unrelenting, focused action towards the accomplishment of your goals.

Nothing worth doing has a 100% chance of succeeding, of course, but you'll never find out unless you actually try. So don't wait; try. Make massive moves. Get up, identify the very next thing you need to do to make your dream business a reality, and don't stop until it's DONE!

"The path to success is to take massive, determined action."
-Tony Robbins

About the Authors:

John Assaraf (right) is one of the leading mindset and behavioral experts in the world. He's appeared numerous times on Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

John has built 5 multimillion dollar companies, written 2 New York Times Bestselling books, and has been featured in 8 movies.

Today, he is founder and CEO of NeuroGym, a company dedicated to using the most advanced technologies and evidence-based brain training methods to help individuals and corporations unlock and ignite their fullest potential.

Murray Smith (left) is a business advisor, entrepreneur, speaker, and author who loves helping people grow their business. He has turned around or started 13 different businesses and has helped thousands of others achieve success worldwide. He presently owns 3 companies dedicated to business growth.

As a testament to his abilities, he purchased the Indian Motorcycle trademark from bankruptcy (just the name) and built it into the second-largest US motorcycle company in the world, with sales in the first year of $75 million and with a business value of $300 million. Indian is one of the most published business stories in history.

Additional Resources: | Main Website

John Assaraf | Private Consulting and Mentoring

How to Set and Achieve Any Goal | YouTube

Strengthen Your Mind | NeuroGym Main Website

Complete Book Notes from 1,000+ Books | Patreon

This Book on Amazon:

The Answer, by John Assaraf and Murray Smith

If You Liked This Book:

Having It All, by John Assaraf

Innercise, by John Assaraf

Million Dollar Habits, by Brian Tracy

The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman

The Education of Millionaires, by Michael Ellsberg

The Ten Pillars of Wealth, by Alex Becker

Change Your Paradigm, Change Your Life, by Bob Proctor

The Creative Act, by Rick Rubin

Super Consciousness, by Colin Wilson

Rise of the Reader, by Nick Hutchison