Title: The Way to Wealth
Plot: Poverty is the result of poor thinking and bad habits. Franklin explains the formula/habits that produce wealth
Listen to "The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin [12 Mins]" on Spreaker.
My UK listener appears to be making a move. That’s right he doubled his number of listens overnight. Drumroll please
He doubled his number of listens 2 from 1.
Now I’m not mocking you my UK friend. Oh contrare! I have been waiting for you to make your move. And now that have. I will prove my great love for you by attempting my English accent.
Before I do, I should warn everyone that I learned my English accent back in my nerd days when I was watching Star Trek the Next Generation with Patrick Stewart.
So here we go:
Well, I can see that you are trouble. My English friend. Welcome to our party! Tea Earl Gray. Hot. Engage.
Now I discovered an interesting thing when I did that accent. While I love Patrick Stewart’s tone and voice inflections, somehow using that voice made me boring. I couldn’t think of anything funny to say while using it. So effective immediately. I’m banishing it. I’m going to try something more complicated.
This next impression this is a native Russian, speaking with a Scottish accent. That’s right ladies and gentlemen! This is my interpretation of Sean Connery playing a Russian submarine commander on The Hunt for Red October. And apparently concluding he didn’t give a damn about their accent and so he decided to use his own.
What gives you the right to fire on my ship? Your signal said nothing of a torpedo.
Now as if that impersonation wasn’t complex enough, I’m going to double down on it! This next impression is that of an American born man who has no accent at least not from my perspective, impersonating a native Russian who speaks with a Scottish accent.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen! This next impersonation is of Alec Baldwin on the Hunt for Red October impersonating Sean Connery.
Not many things in here react too well to bullets, Ryan.
Woo hoo! Wow! I know what your thinking Ladies and Gentleman, and Sheilas and Blokes, You’re thinking: “How does he do it?” Sometimes I amaze even myself.
Okay, Today we are reviewing the Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin. At 40 pages this is a very easy afternoon read. I gave it four stars.
The key to reading a book written by Benjamin Franklin is to turn it into a calendar and read one quotation per day. You may recall that I’m doing a similar exercise with Aesop’s fables because of Benjamin Franklin. What this means is that I’m adjusting my normal rating system to his writing style. From time to time I make allowances because I know there are different strokes for different folks. Benjamin Franklin and I are nothing alike. I value a strong opening and closing and a story style structure and he values a poetry proverb style.
You may recall the expression a stitch in time saves nine. That’s how he writes. Everything everything he writes that I’ve read so far is a poem and the poems are strung together into a story and it irritates the hell out of me.
However there is tremendous value in his proverbs, which he himself admitted he gathered from a collection of earlier writers.
The way to wealth is the most pleasant writing style of his that I have come across so far.
Ironically, the book opens with him saying, “I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others.”
I did give him four stars, in my defense, I gave him four stars...
And then the book essentially tells the story of Ben Franklin stopping his horse near a great number of people and listening to a man quoting him from Richard’s Almanac. Since he used a penn name, presumably the crowd didn’t realize that the author was in fact listening in on their conversation.
I haven’t read Pour Richard’s Almanac myself, but I assume it’s like the others based on the story he tells in this book.
It would seem that the man was informing the crowd about the Way to Wealth while Franklin took copious notes (hence this book).
The book’s chapters are these:
- avoid debt,
- piety & charity,
- Learn from experience and
Now I noted them in the description of this podcast. So you don't have to remember them or write them down.
If you’re reading between the lines, and taking notes and keeping score as I do. What he has done with this book is to re-write Pour Richard’s Almanac arranging the proverbs into new category groups and furnishing them with the new title: The Way to Wealth.
Implying that the way to wealth is to write one popular book and then rewrite that same book organizing it differently. Stephen Covey obviously read his work. But Ben Franklin didn't mention that anywhere in this book himself.
Now that might just be my interpretation, let’s give you some examples:
Chapter one on industry opens with: “Our taxes are very heavy and if those imposed by the government were the only ones they might be bearable, but there are others. We are taxed twice as much by idleness, three times by pride, and four times by our folly.”
And the rest of the book conforms to that structure by the way. First he focuses on laziness, then pride and then folly.
Now I’ll give you the highlight proverbs of chapter 1 if you will
- Don’t squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of
- He that lives upon hopes will die fasting
- At the working man’s house hunger looks in but dares not enter.
- Now by the way, I’ve seen this myself. Someone who comes to borrow money sees me working and fears I’ll ask for help so he runs away.
- Meaning gloves are for keeping your hands warm, but they get in the way of working.
What I like about this particular book is that instead of hitting you with proverb after proverb, or poem after poem, he has inserted these pearls of wisdom into a speech supposedly given by a fan of his other book.
It makes me wonder if he received feedback that slamming all of his poem proverbs together was annoying and so he broke them up embedding them into this speech. And it is a huge improvement even though he was minimalistic about it. I'll read you an example so you understand:
This is an example of a paragraph that strings three proverbs together. Here we go:
It would be thought a hard government that would tax its people one tenth part of their time to be employed in its service, but idleness taxes many of us much more. Sloth by bringing on diseases absolutely shortens life. (So now we're gonna have the first proverb) Sloth like rust consumes faster than labor wears; (and here comes the second proverb) while the used key is always bright as pour Richard says. If dost thou love life, then (proverb #3) do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of, as pour Richard says.
His proverbs are great because some of them make you think, and others make you laugh. So really I’m just giving you fair warning to be cautious about running out and loading up on Ben Franklin books. If you can find a Ben Franklin quote a day calendar, I would buy that. Or go ahead and buy one of his books, but unless it’s like this one, don’t try to read it all at once or you might throw it across the room like I did with his book titled, Wit and Wisdom.
So now that I have established that understanding, let's look at the book one chapter at a time.
The best proverbs in chapter 2 on Self-Mastery are
- Flee pleasures and they will follow you.
- Not to oversee workmen is to leave your purse open
- A little neglect may breed great mischief.
By the way this is a long one, but a good one:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for want of a little care about a horse-shoe nail.
I made my own proverb years ago that goes like this:
“Sometimes being cheap is very expensive”
Highlights of chapter three on Avoid Debt are:
- A man who doesn’t know how to save as he gets, keeps his nose to the grindstone.
- What maintains one vice would fund two children
- Beware of little expenses a small leak sinks a great ship
- When you run in debt you give another power over your liberty
The next two chapters are just a half page each:
In the chapter four on Piety and Charity he says comfort and help those in need so heaven doesn’t forget you.
Chapter five Learn from experience, he says:
They that will not be counseled cannot be helped
Finally, chapter six the conclusion, it was good. Essentially he said that after the people heard the message the auction began and they bought extravagantly. And though he had come to buy a new coat, he realized the one he had would suffice and so he went home.
Implying that no one learned anything from his message except for him. Yes ladies and gentlemen; Sheila’s and Blokes, Benjamin Franklin did made a joke.
Good job old boy!
And then the book continues. Surprise!
Time is money
- A creditor who catches you working will give you more time, but if he catches you playing he will demand repayment tomorrow.
- He says that money begets money. Money at interest grows by the day so long as you watch your spending.
The idea is try to spend out of your interest, not out of your principle
The next and final chapter (for real this time) is called the Path of Virtue.
We’ve been running into this word virtue a lot lately I've noticed.
This chapter opens with him revealing that he wanted to replace all of his bad habits with good ones to become perfectly moral. But that he was surprised at how difficult the task was. So he made a plan.
Through his studies he devised a table of 13 columns and rows. He populated the table with 13 virtues that he defined: I’ll read them to you now:
- chastity and
Now he defined each of those virtues in a concrete way that enabled him to measure his results. And he dedicated 13 weeks working on each virtue one at a time with his goal to be total elimination of all of his flaws.
He reasoned that he would focus on one at a time and logging his results in the table throughout a week. And then taking occasional rest breaks as needed.
He bases by the way his wealth and success in life on that practice. And suggested that we emulate it if we want similar success.
I confess I thought he was building to a joke and he would report that keeping the standards he set for himself was impossible. Most of his virtue definitions were good. Some were arguable. For example he felt like it was virtuous to avoid trifling conversation and he made no unnecessary expenses. Certainly it is good to avoid gossip, but too much fragility is bad. Remember, earlier I said sometimes being cheap is very expensive.
However, I was surprised to hear that he did this at all. And it encourages me to hear that someone did and was successful in it. Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to make a standard, write it down, and track our progress against it. With the goal being maybe not total elimination of all flaws, but reduction. We can always reduce, we can always improve.
Once again I gave this book four stars. It is worth the paper it’s printed on. As always. Thank you for listening. Y’all come back now. Ya here.