My Life in Books: Adam Fayed

7 min read

We are delighted to welcome Adam Fayed - a financial consultant who runs an Online Financial Advisory Firm - for the latest installment in our My Life in Books series.

We asked Adam to tell us about some of the non-fiction books that have significantly impacted his life. Read on to discover which books made his list!

Daniel Priestley - Oversubscribed

Daniel Priestley - Oversubscribed

One of the most underrated modern business books is Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley. The book explains why some businesses, and people, have customers lining up to do business with them.

This is usually without forcing things on people by pushing. In comparison, the majority of businesses struggle or just do OK. What is significant about the book is something which I have always believed in; you don't have to be all things to all people.

A successful vegan restaurant doesn't care if meat eaters are offended, and an all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurant which has "crude" competitions also doesn't care if they cause offence.

What matters is that enough people want to do business with you. Not clearly defining your ideal client also causes problems long-term, so it is better to reject some clients, than be everything to everybody.

As an example, if somebody doesn't want to work with me due to one typo on my website, I am glad I don't need to work with such a character, as they clearly aren't my ideal client in terms of their character. Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides, as Margaret Thatcher said.

Fooled By Randomness - Nassim Taleb

Fooled By Randomness - Nassim Taleb

This is perhaps less famous than his best-selling book The Black Swan. This work focuses on random events. What is significant about Taleb's work is he studies probability rather than statistics.

This led him to getting the coronavirus pandemic correct. When countless "experts" in masks and statistics were telling us all in March and April that masks only made a 0.1%-1% difference, Taleb made the point that compound probability would result in "mask wearing countries" seeing an 85%+ reduction in cases.

What is also significant about Taleb's work is how he shows that many so-called experts, especially in government, have less (useful) knowledge than the average granny about risk. This is perhaps due to the fact they don't have skin in the game, and giant corporations often influence the regulatory procedure, creating moral hazard in the process.

So, despite being a risk specialist, Taleb is anti most regulations, unless the regulators are very targeted and create a system where players have skin in the game. This is a good read for any academic, regulator or politician.

These people Taleb calls 'faux experts' - people that don't pay for their actions. These thoughts have influenced how I run businesses and do investments, alongside my huge scepticism of government and regulators.

One of my favourite recent quotes from Taleb is "Millennials think that joining an NGO is a great way to save the world. ... We did not pull 2 billion people out of poverty thanks to NGOs and bureaucrats — we pulled them out thanks to capitalism, by generating economic growth." Reading his books will make you realize how he came to these conclusions.

Although my scepticism of conventional norms far predates reading books like this.

It started from business school and later studying politics, and seeing how academia works.

Your Money and Your Brain - Jason Zweig

Your Money and Your Brain - Jason Zweig

Most people think that the best investors have better technical knowledge. That can be sometimes true, yet in reality, controlling your emotions is often more important.

What is more, many of the smartest people, including financial professionals, can get lower returns due to emotional impulses. We see that on a regular basis whenever stock markets crash. People assume that "this time is different."

This book, alongside Chris MacKay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, is a good read when it comes to behavioural finance, even though MacKay's book is less financially focused.

How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie

This book might surprise you, as most of the other books listed here aren't conventional books. Yet there can be no doubt that this classic is one of the best books on human nature, and that human nature itself is more emotional than rational.

Rich Dad Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki

I don't like this book for the obvious reasons. In fact, technically speaking, it is perhaps a weak financial book. I have criticized some aspects of this book online.

However, this book is important for two main reason - it shows that being universally popular isn't important, nor is having great technical knowledge in all situations.

Kiyosaki is hated and disliked by many, and there are some factual errors in his book, but that hasn't stopped him earning more money than countless PHDs in portfolio theory, and he has sold more copies of his book than even Warren Buffett has.

There is a lesson in that. There is still no such thing as bad publicity, it is a myth that social media has changed that. Moreover, being known by hundreds of millions, and being hated by some and loved by others, is far more effective than being popular amongst the residents of your local village.

Being unknown is a far bigger problem for most businesses. We see similar things with social media influencers like Tai Lopez.

Most are hated, or disliked, by the majority of people that see their content, but they have built great businesses regardless of how many "scandals" there have been - today's scandal is tomorrow's fish and chip paper anyway.

The market isn't always fair early. Is it fair that a man with little technical knowledge (like Kiyosaki) has sold more books than people that know far more than him?

No, but life isn't always fair. If Kiyoasaki had written a dry academic book, and boasted about his financial qualification, he would have sold a handful of books. Instead, he sold emotion, and benefited from that.

Yet so many financial professions think people care about the acronyms put after your name on LinkedIn. A case in point. I once did a YouTube video where I criticized financial qualifications and said most were BS.

Most of my clients loved it, as did many potential ones. Yet most advisors that saw it thought it was scandalous.

The point being, successful books like this one taught me not to be "in the bubble".

What the market wants (in this case Kiyosaki's book) isn't always the same as what people "in the bubble" think is correct.

About Adam

Adam is a financial consultant in the fields of wealth management and financial planning. His money advice service aims to help his clients achieve financial independence, regardless of location.

As well as offering individualised services, Adam actively shares his knowledege online. One of the reasons for reaching out to Adam in the first place was because we love reading his answers on Quora. You can also find more content from Adam on his website, on his Youtube channel and you can buy his book - 6 Steps to Financial Freedom - on Amazon.

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