Book Review: Black Fortunes

Wills bagged a winner with Black Fortunes-The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires. As the title suggests, the author portrayed the stories of six people: Mary Ellen Pleasant, Robert Church Reed, O.W. Gurley, Hannah Elias, Annie Turnbo Malone, and Madam C.J. Walker. While some are familiar with the story of Madam’s hair care empire, I believe the stories of her predecessors are just as fascinating.

What makes the book a page turner? You see the determination, ingenuity, courage, brilliance, and faith of people who despite their beginnings pursued their dreams; as a result, they amassed a fortune – enduring unspeakable circumstances. You’re engaged from beginning to end. This article discusses some of the benefits that I think any reader will gain.

5 Benefits

· History

Burke asserted that, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Black Fortune packs a ton of American history. You name it – slavery, reconstruction, segregation, Jim Crow, growth of the west, the resettling of Native Americans, business, real estate, housing, government, interracial dating/relations, and you’ll find it. Furthermore, find out how the millionaires used their money to support abolitionists.

In effect, I suggest that both high school and college instructors consider making this book required reading for history or business classes. In addition to acquiring knowledge that has been kept from history books, students will draw connections between the past and present. How can you avoid repeating what you don’t know?

· Case Studies

Along with the benefit of a unique historical perspective, the book provides six amazing case studies. Despite the conditions each person unearthed a way to survive and thrive. Like many affluent African Americans today, these individuals used their prosperity to support worthy causes. Hence, their stories present lessons on building business (marketing, research, recruiting talent, business expansion, raising capital, investing, product development, community involvement, and more). Simply put, the rise of Black Wall Street merits close analysis. You’re bound to evoke a range of emotions and lively discussions.

· Insight

At the same time, Black Fortunes offers insight for entrepreneurs. The trail blazers shared a keen intuitiveness as well as a knack for taking risks. Unlike many who shriek with fear in the face of adversity, this bunch searched for opportunities. Furthermore, they devised strategies to leverage products and services.

Are you an entrepreneur? If you answered in the affirmative, you need a copy. By reading a chapter or two on days when things seem impossible, you’re assured to attain understanding and encouragement.

· Inspiration

When you look at what these six individuals endured, anyone will be inspired to live a life of purpose, especially people of color. How does someone barely out of slavery not only pull him or herself up but surpass the people who oppressed them? They had less to work with, they faced insurmountable odds, and they could not openly enjoy the fruits of their labor. In short, they proved everyone wrong by dismantling stereotypes. So, if the six individuals featured in this book achieved what they did then, today we can achieve more.

· Entertainment

Someone said, “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either”. In my opinion this book makes a good movie; it teaches and inspires.

Book Review – Think Like a Billionaire by Donald Trump

When I first picked up Donald Trump’s book titled, “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire,” I thought the book would be an insightful and easy read. The book was very easy to read, but not too insightful. Trump has divided this book into 100 or so chapters of about two or three pages each which describe a different tip or aspect of a billionaire’s life.

Trump gives tips on every aspect of life, from finding an attorney, to which golf clubs to play with, to romance, to keeping up your appearances in the business world. He basically tells you how to live life like he does. Trump gives you his tips and tricks in five different chapters. Chapter one deals with real estate. Some of the topics in this chapter are how to get an appraisal and inspection on your property, how to deal with a broker and attorney, how to landscape, how to pick an interest rate and down payment, and how to find a good office.

Chapter two deals with the topic of money management. Trump gives you tips on topics such as how to divide up your portfolio, how to pinch pennies, how to save and pay for college, how to decide how much risk you should consider, and how to plan for retirement. This chapter is shorter and less informative than the real estate chapter. Donald Trump is the undisputed master of real estate buying and developing so it is expected that his real estate chapter should be the best of this book.

Chapter three is titled, “The Business of Life.” This chapter is mostly about how to present your self and make the most out of life. Some of the topics Trump covers are how to make good friends, how to love your job, how to behave in a meeting, how to dress and present yourself at work, and how to balance work and pleasure. This section gives some interesting advice from a perspective many people do not know about. For example, how many of us really know what its like to dress like a billionaire and balance life at a billion dollar business with a personal life consisting of a model wife and super mansion? This chapter more than the others, gives a glimpse into the personal life and tastes of a billionaire.

Chapter four is titled, “Slices of the Billionaire’s Life.” This chapter is basically a hodge-podge of advice and organizations Trump is involved in. He speaks on topics such as the Statue of Liberty, Columbia University’s land problems, beauty pageants, the value of audacity, the Mar-a-Lago beach club, and most importantly to Trump, hosting Saturday Night Live. The Saturday Night Live portion of the book is interesting as he takes you through what a host must endure during rehearsal, being asked to do the show, and the endless punishment the actors on Saturday Night Live delivered to Trump. This is one of the lighter and more entertaining sections of the book. Following this, Trump dedicates about thirty to forty pages to describing a week in his life. He tells the reader how he gets up early, stays at work for twelve hours, takes conference calls and attends meetings all day, and goes home to do more business and see his wife.

The final chapter is all about a former season of The Apprentice. Trump is very excited and praises his show repeatedly, and takes the reader through the logistics of his reality show. He even gives a brief background of all the upcoming contestants and why they qualified for his show and how they have all succeeded on their own outside of the show. Donald Trump will take you through a week in his life during filming of The Apprentice and how even a billionaire with overwhelming confidence can really become nervous before filming.

While reading this book the reader will realize that Donald Trump’s number one fan is Donald Trump. He has all the confidence in the world and it shows easily in his writing. Not only does he praise his business decisions, but he praises his Mar-a-Lago club repeatedly. He has a large amount of power and capability as a billionaire, and it is easy to see in this book that he truly enjoys the power. Personally, I would not recommend this book. The advice Trump provides is not unique, and when given in only two or three pages at a time, you do not get a true sense of how to take advantage of his advice. He only skims the surface of all of his topics, where all of the topics could really use at least a chapter to explain. If you are looking for a glimpse into a powerful billionaire’s life, then this book is for you. If you are looking for business advice and how to be a more successful person, you would be better off reading something else.

Secrets Of A Millionaire Landlord – Book Review

By: Robert Shemin, ESQ. (2002)

ISBN 0-7931-4825-1

Book Price: $28.95

Prominent real estate investor

Robert Shemin is a nationally recognized landlord expert in the U.S.A. and is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who became a millionaire in his early 30’s investing in real estate. Shem earned law and MBA degrees from Emory University, Atlanta. He has put together more than 450 deals in real estate and owns 100 properties.

Sharing his secrets

Robert Shemin provides 12 chapters sharing his millionaire landlord secrets. He discusses, getting started as a landlord (Ch. 3), finding good tenants (Ch. 5), collecting all of the rent, all of the time (Ch. 7), keeping good tenants (Ch. 9), evictions… how to avoid them (Ch. 10), protecting your interests with insurance (Ch. 12), and more.

Sound, practical, experiential, advice

Robert Shemin is personable and concise in his presentation; sharing valuable keys freely as he relays his journey, stating, “The first thing I learned about tenants… Most believe they are not treated very well. They dislike their landlords… this all spelled “big opportunity.” And,”… a workable plan includes treating tenants like valued customers.”

Robert’s information is practical; he has learned principles by experience. Following his rules should lead to success. He expresses, “I strongly favor low-end duplexes and two-bedroom homes for highest profitability. They have lower initial costs and lower maintenance costs… they’re easier to rent in a down economy… do your research.”

When Shemin gives advice it is presented in a relaxed manner. He shares on ideal renters, saying, “… the best renters are people who are older and who… are likely to stay in one place and live quietly… target… older people.”

Robert displays positive business characteristics that are transferable to all businesses for success. He informs, “To prevent tenants from leaving, set up a Tenant Retention Program that is based on how you treat them-a theme throughout this book and throughout business… We also provide rewards when they move in… “

Shemin defines terms before addressing them. He presents, “”Rent-to-own” means the tenant rents your property with an option to buy it… I think you are always better off doing rent-to-own/lease option with houses and duplexes… “

Proven strategy for success in real estate

Robert Shemin lays out a workable and proven strategy for success in real estate investing for landlords.