The Reason Why I Keep Two Books in a Safety Deposit Box
I place $37.31 worth of books alongside some of the most important items in my family's life.
For the past few months, I’ve been running a weekly Clubhouse room (a platform described in a 2021 Entrepreneur article linked below as “an interactive audio-based social network”) wherein people share books that have helped them succeed in business or in life. As its moderator, I come ready with a few books to share, and over the hour we usually end up with a list of 10 to 12 worth adding to our Amazon Wish List. Among the many tips and ideas I’ve shared, the one people find most interesting is that I keep two books in a safety deposit box at the bank — two volumes under lock and key alongside items like land deeds, financial records, gold, passports and jewelry.
Why bother putting $37.31 worth of literature next to all the things my family has spent a lifetime gathering? To understand, we need to go back to 2004.
Just another day
My wife and I were vacationing in Thailand when the tsunami that ravaged South East Asia rolled ashore. We had a front-row seat as our bungalow imploded from the sheer force of water. Through a series of coincidences, somehow, we not only survived but escaped relatively unscathed.
In my childhood I had almost drowned twice, but Thailand was different; we were completely at the mercy of the wave. Very quickly, I comprehended my mortality — that on any day, at any place, we may have just taken our last breath. As you might expect, that event changed my life. I had an epiphany, reevaluated my trajectory and made some drastic changes.
One simple habit
I went to work on myself — went from being an English teacher to where I am today, a best-selling author, time management expert, consultant and the creator of the One-Bite Time Management System. It’s been a crazy ride, one that started with a single, simple habit: reading. Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! was the first business book I bought, and a desire to learn more grew quickly. Today, my library numbers in the thousands: mostly digital, but I do pick up paperbacks of ones I find most valuable. The tips and strategies I read helped me turn around my business and build another, but their biggest impact was upon my philosophy. Each book helped open my eyes to a new way of approaching business, life and relationships.
The deposit box
Now, I have no plan of going anywhere just yet: recently passed a check-up with flying colors. However, I know full well that anything can happen at any time — that at some point my son will inherit everything I have. When that happens, he’ll get access to my safety deposit box. I only wish I could be there to see his face when he opens it. Understanding the value of most of the things inside it is easy to understand. The books, however, are a different matter.
I could tell him which books to read on my shelves, but how often do teens listen to their parents? Instead, finding just those two will, I hope, make him curious. In any case, these volumes were instrumental in shaping my philosophy.
Now you know the “Why”, the obvious question is “Which”?
Before I share those choices, some other worthy contenders:
Rich Dad's CASHFLOW Quadrant: Rich Dad's Guide to Financial Freedom, by Robert Kiyosaki
The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Scientific Advertising: 21 Advertising, Headline and Copywriting Techniques, by Claude C. Hopkins
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey
The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen M.R. Covey
The Lessons of History, by William and Ariel Durant
He Can Who Thinks He Can, by Orison Swett Marden
Leading an Inspired Life, by Jim Rohn
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini
My two winners
Jim Rohn used to tell his audiences that he had one of the rare hardback covers of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, that he picked up at a secondhand bookstore. It cost him less than 50¢, and he goes on to say that that book made him several hundred thousand dollars. While that’s certainly a classic, for me, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, and Triggers, by Joseph Sugarman, are head and shoulders above the rest.
Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders. But all leaders are readers.” Ask nearly every successful person what helped them become successful and influential, and you’ll likely hear books identified as prime movers. My solution is to choose just two and put them beside your most valuable belongings.
I suggest you find yours.