BOOK REVIEW: Thou Shalt Prosper; The Ten Commandments for Making Money by Daniel Lapin

This is one of the books I read in 2019. I wanted to seriously go through it and learn why Jews were bent towards making more money than the average person. What is it that gave them a head start in business?   This was one of the most interesting books that I read. This book was quite interesting especially for those who hold Christian belief because it dissects the place of belief in business and the religious rules that govern business. The book highlighted and explained why most of the people or a third of Forbes’ 100 rich list is made up of Jews, yet Jews are a small minority of the global population. It explored the factors and values that have made it possible for them to succeed. While the author acknowledges that there could be geographic and generational factors that make business success possible for different people. The author acknowledges that it is possible for everyone to succeed in business provided they adhere to several principles that guide business. Rabbi Daniel Lapin had condensed these principles into ten commandments that are similar to the commandments of Moses.  

The following were the 10 commandments of business which were explored by Daniel Lapin:

  1. Believe in the morality of business. Many people believe that business is bad. They believe that business people are greedy and that they are doing something to scam people in order to have money. There is no way you can succeed and prosper in business when having this kind of belief system. You can never succeed in business if you believe that making profit is doing something immoral. The Jewish belief system allows them to make profit and believes that making profit in one’s business is moral and ethical. This means going against the grain because the government and media tend to demonize business and Wall Street calling it greedy and immoral. Money is holy and is a legitimate component of divine redemption and prosperity. Jews possess a huge cultural reservoir that affirms the morality of business. The media has played a huge role in making many people believe that business is inherently bad and the effect of this belief is evident in the society. Many people believe that business prospers at the expense of customers. Be aware of the media’s tendency to make you feel immoral about profit making and engaging in business.
  2. Extend the network of your connectedness. Business is highly dependent on people and networks. Befriend as many people as possible. Some should be way above your financial level. Others should be below your financial level. Seek ways in which you can help out each of them. Build as many genuine friendships and relationships with people without expecting any reward. While there are many books on how to form friendships and influence people, your intention to relate with people should be genuine and sincere without intention of influencing them or taking any form of advantage from them. Actively find opportunities to become friendly with many people. This can be done in environments that do not expose your self-interest such as churches or volunteer organizations. You are more likely to find genuine business partners in such encounters than in business networking meeting. According to Lapin the networking events tend to attract those with hungry and lean looks and mostly attracts people with an intention to advertise their businesses.   Jews consider friendship as an ongoing obligation. They also view cities as better for wealth making than villages due to the huge network of people available in cities. Attend people’s events, if you are introverted make effort to go out and meet people.
  3. Know yourself. This is the third commandment. You have to know yourself for you to succeed in business. Take time to evaluate yourself. Become your harshest critic. Make those close to yourself realize that you are human and have weakness and make them commit to watch your back and help you out of your weaknesses. Evaluate how you spend your time and money because time is money.
  4. Do not pursue perfection. You should not neglect the imperfect but you should also not expend yourself in pursuit of perfection while ignoring less perfect circumstances. Life is not perfect, therefore always stay aware of the perfect but never allow it to sideline you. You must learn how to function in less ideal situations. People must learn to operate in less ideal situations because ideal perfection in unattainable by humans. The current economic systems are not perfect but there are no better alternatives at the moment. Individuals pursuing success in business have to learn how to exist in less perfect circumstances.
  5. Lead consistently and constantly. Leadership is the fifth commandment in business. Leadership is not something that you become, it is something that you do and you must frequently do. To be a leader you must also learn how to follow. You must have a clear goal and vision that you want to attain. To be a leader you must also embrace confrontation. To be a leader you must master faith and facts.
  6. Constantly change the changeable while steadfastly clinging on the unchangeable. Embrace innovation and change. Accept that innovation may bring pain to some people. Try to absorb change gradually, not instantly. Never embark on two changes simultaneously, as it may difficult for your mind and body to process. Keep in mind your core values. These are things that should never change.
  7. Learn to foretell the future.  Interpret events correctly. Ego is the enemy of forecasting. Learn to overcome it and you will be in a position where you can effectively foretell the future. To become successful in business and wealth creation you must have foresight concerning business. Learn to observe cues in the present that can tell you about the future. Learn to look backward in order to see future. Some future event is based on patterns that have already occurred in the past. Based on this you can easily predict the future. Recognize, identify, and scan external forces that may affect your business. In addition, Rabbi Lapin identified that you also need to block out noises when making forecasts. Dedicate time alone to forecast and analyze past events frequently.
  8. Know your money. Your money is an aggregation of your time, knowledge, skills and experiences. You must therefore constantly evaluate and account for your money as it forces to account for your skills, knowledge, relationships and capabilities. Have some accounting knowledge that helps keep records that are acceptable to everyone. Know that money represents value. Make effort to keep your money in three parts. Some of the money should be in real estate, a third should be cash and the third should be stocks and other near cash equivalents.
  9. Act Rich: Give 10% of your after tax income. Do not find a rational reason for giving out your money because none exists. Give for the sake of giving. Giving out money increasing your capability to invest because investing is much like giving away money to charity: it might never come back. With giving losses from investment may not have much impact on you and your mental health if you are giver.
  10. Never retire. Integrate your vocation with your life. There is a lie that exists that people become less productive as they age. This is inherently wrong because as people age the more skilled they become and the more they have a large network of trust.

The book sums up with a major epilogue that life is business and business is life. Once you learn one you have learnt the other.  This is a very interesting book that I would recommended anyone interested in business to read as it contain invaluable nuggets of wisdom based on rich Rabbinic and biblical wisdom concerning doing business.

You can get this book from Amazon based on this link:

Published by Samuel Ng'ang'a Mwangi

One day I had too much to tell but there was no one to tell the story. I had to write articles, print them and then give them out to anyone who cared to read. Author of "So You Want To Get Into Courtship?" A Guide To Purposeful Christian Courtship. I write and rewrite on my blog

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