The Science of Getting Rich can be summarized in exactly 15 words.
Before I share what those 15 words are, here’s a little backstory.
I first heard about The Science of Getting Rich from James Altucher.
A few years ago, James released his own book, FAQ ME.
FAQ ME is a witty collection of answers that James had put together after his followers asked him random questions on Twitter.
In the book, one person asks: “What are the best books for entrepreneurs?”
James answers with a list of a few titles, but only one of his responses stood out to me:
Wallace Wattles: The Science of Getting Rich. Forget Napoleon Hill. Forget “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Forget the “Law of Attraction” or “The Secret.” The source of all of these books is a book written in 1900 by a relatively unknown, Wattles.”
So I immediately downloaded a copy of The Science of Getting Rich on my Kindle and read it in one sitting.
If you’re into the New Thought genre (personally, I’m not that into it, but definitely believe in the power of positive thinking), this is probably one of the better books out there.
I’m not going to go into a detailed review of the book. That’s not the point here (you might consider buying it and reading it though).
What I do want to talk about are those 15 words that I think sum up the entire philosophy of getting rich.
Here they are:
Give every man more in use value than you take from him in cash value
– Wallace Wattles
The entire foundation of doing any successful business transaction can be summed up in those 15 words.
I like to call it the 15-word rule.
If you consistently give every person more in use value than you take from them in cash value, you will get rich.
Here are a few takeaways about the rule.
The 15-Word Rule: 3 Takeaways
1) It’s Cash And/Or Time
I’m pretty sure that Wattles wanted to say “cash and/or time value” instead of just “cash value,” but that would have been an awkward sentence. Especially in 1900.
To get rich, you have to consider the total price that a customer is paying you, and that includes both their money and their time.
If you’re offering something for free, your customers are still paying you with their time, so it’s not really free.
(Read that last statement again.)
The core reason why there’s a lot of junk online is that people who produce “free” content don’t respect the idea that consumers are still paying them with their time.
If you’re a writer, you should respect your readers’ expensive time and realize that there are 10,000 other things they can be doing. So make sure you create excellent content that gives your readers a lot more use value than they’re paying you in time value, and you will get rich.
Similarly, if you’re selling an iPhone App for $0.99 or a Web App for $24.99 per month, your customers are not just spending their money. They are also paying you with their time in learning and using your products. If it takes them ages to do either, and you’re not providing enough use value, you’re going out of business.
The same principle applies if you’re a coach, product developer, or any other type of business owner. Always think about both the cash and time value that you’re asking someone to invest in what you have to offer.
2) The Difference is What Matters
The difference between what you get in cash/ time value and what you give in use value is what counts. It doesn’t matter how high you price your product or service; as long you make the use value a lot more than the cash/time value, then you’re on the right track.
And the greater the difference, the faster you’ll get rich.
Aiming for at least a 10X difference (e.g., if someone pays you $3, you give them at least $30 in use value) will make a lot of people talk about your product or service, and that’s how you get free word-of-mouth advertising.
3) Be Honest about Use Value
Figuring out the exact use value that a customer will get from you is not always easy, but you have to be honest with yourself about what you’re really providing.
Snake oil salespeople don’t become millionaires.
Think about it this way: you want the other person to become “richer” as well. You should give them a deal that they’re super happy about, and never make them feel like they got fooled by you.
Also, keep in mind that use value is how your customers or readers see it, not how you see it. So it’s perceived value on their end.
Here’s an excellent example by Wattles that explains what this means:
Let us suppose that I own a picture by one of the great artists, which, in any civilized community, is worth thousands of dollars. I take it to Baffin Bay, and by “salesmanship” induce an Eskimo to give a bundle of furs worth $500 for it. I have really wronged him, for he has no use for the picture; it has no use value to him; it will not add to his life.
But suppose I give him a gun worth $50 for his furs; then he has made a good bargain. He has use for the gun; it will get him many more furs and much food; it will add to his life in every way; it will make him rich.
The Science of Getting Rich for Authors
As an author, you should continuously consider the 15-word rule in your writings.
Are you giving your readers more in use value than they paid you in cash and/or time?
In other words, are they getting a good deal for the price they paid for your book and the time they spent reading it?
Did you put enough effort into refining your words so that the difference is large enough where they feel like they’re pleased with the outcome?
And finally, were you honest with yourself about the value you’re providing?
If it’s a yes on all those questions, then you’re on the right path.
Here is the 15-word rule again:
Give every man more in use value than you take from him in cash value – Wallace Wattles
P.S. I wrote a version of this post a few years ago on a (now-deleted) blog that I used to run, and I thought there’s no better way to launch my new blog than with this article.
It’s the foundational mindset that every writer should have.
P.P.S. If you’re a full-time employee and are considering writing a nonfiction book yourself (but don’t have a lot of time, and don’t know where to start), then subscribe to my “Writer on the Side” podcast.