three takeaways from george s. clason's the richest man in babylon



~2 min read


385 words

My three biggest takeaways from George S. Clason’s The Richest Man In Babylon:

  1. Simple observations can make all the Difference
  2. Not all advice is equal
  3. Not all advice ages well, but more does than we probably expect

Simple Observations Can Make All The Difference

A part of all you earn is yours to keep. — George S. Clason, Pg. 33

Most of the book is focused on helping the reader realize how to build a path toward wealth through frugalness and industry. Wealth is built incrementally and overtime, but it cannot happen until you spend less than you earn. Clason offers a simple observation to help reader’s see the feasability of this: keep a little of what you earn. Pay yourself first.

I like this rule because it feels like a linchpin. On the surface it feels like anothe rule, but it unlocks so many other paths that would be unavailable otherwise.

Not All Advice Is Equal

A recurring theme in The Richest Man In Babylon is that advice should be sought freely and often, but it should be listened to only when the giver has the necessary experience or competence to offer sound advice. In a world that’s as noisy as ours is, with platforms offering microphones to everyone, this feels like an even more important skill to have.

Not All Advice Ages Well, But More Does Than We Probably Expect

Finally, this book is a collection of parables first published by Clason in 1926 to teach thrift and financial success. The context is important because many of the stories seem to promote an idealized world where meritocracy and justice rule, persistence is rewarded, and everyone can thrive if they just work hard. As sympathetic as I am to these ideas, I have a hard time believing Clason would write the same book today.

That said, many of the lessons do seem reasonable and relevant. So, don’t dismiss simply because of some dated references. Instead, find the wisdom within it and keep that.

And when youth comes to age for advice he receives the wisdom of years. But too often does youth think that age knows only the wisdom of days that are gone, and therefore profits not. — George S. Clason, Pg. 25

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