When I was in high school, one of my best friends was Henry Mendelsohn, one of the few Jewish kids at my school. I really liked Henry a lot, and one of the reasons why was because we both wanted to someday own our own businesses. As I got to know Henry better, he would sometimes talk about the things the other Jewish men at Temple Beth El were teaching him about business. He told me they promised to help him get started when he was older and ready to launch his own company. I had never heard talk like that before, and I thought it was very intriguing. It did seem like all of my Jewish friends and acquaintances had very successful dads who made a lot of money. It made me think, at the time, that they must be very good at business, and I wondered what they knew that the rest of us didn’t.
Recently, I had the good fortune of stumbling onto a book about Jewish economics and business practices called Thou Shall Prosper: 10 Commandments for Making Money. When I heard about this book, I immediately went to Amazon.com and ordered it. It has been a very interesting read, and I highly recommend it.
The author, Daniel Lapin, is a Jewish Rabbi, and in this book he sets out to share the formula for success that has helped Jewish people achieve prosperity in business throughout the ages. Before outlining the 10 principles of this formula, Lapin affirms the assertion that Jews are disproportionately successful when it comes to making money and debunks a few myths about how this Jewish success in business comes about.
To illustrate that the Jewish people really are disproportionally more successful in business, Lapin provides several facts. One statistic in particular speaks volumes: “Jews constitute about 2.3 percent of the U.S. population. That means there should be about nine Jews on the Forbes 400 list [Forbes’ annual list of the 400 richest Americans]. In reality, depending on the year, there are between 60 and 100 Jews on this prestigious list. Similar data for the more average population reveals that the percentage of Jewish households with income greater than $50,000 is double that of non-Jews.”
So what’s the secret behind this Jewish success in business? Well, that’s what this book explains. And Lapin does a marvelous job. He doesn’t provide his readers with some get-rich-quick formula. Instead, he outlines 10 broad principles that undergird the Jewish approach to money and wealth. Within each principle are multiple subsets of principles. And, as is the nature of principles, Lapin ends up basically sharing with his audience a mindset that pervades the Jewish culture–a worldview and a way of life that has brought about a disproportionate level of success in business to the Jewish community in all places at all times.
I think this book provides a really helpful construct about how business owners can indeed make more money. The 10 chapters in the book are interesting, but they do ramble a little bit at times. Each chapter ends with an excellent, five-star overview of the topics covered in that particular chapter. This may sound kind of odd, but I would recommend that you read the highlights of each chapter first. After you’ve read the book in this manner, you will be very inspired to go back and read through and study the details.
It seems like it’s so easy to shove a book or a video in front of somebody and say read this or watch this, and I promise I won’t do it too often. But I have to sincerely tell you that reading this book could have a very positive, long-term impact on your success as a business owner.