Zac Bissonnette is a personal finance writer who has always had an irreverent take on conventional wisdom. His first book, "Debt-Free U," covered how to get through college without taking out student loans (which he did). He followed that with, "How to Be Richer, Smarter and Better-Looking Than Your Parents."
Now Bissonette has taken his unflinching style to a new topic -- highlighting the hypocrisy of some of fallen icons of the past. "Good Advice from Bad People," features many financial figures, including Donald Trump, Bernie Madoff and others, briefly profiled next to a selected quote. CBS MoneyWatch talked to Bissonnette about his book and what we can learn from famous people with sullied reputations.
CBS MoneyWatch: What gave you the idea for this topic?
Zac Bissonnette: It was really watching Lance Armstrong's cloying, pathetic apology tour last year. This was a guy we'd been told was such a hero and such a role model. Everyone told their kids to look up to him and yet: What exactly did we know about this guy? Very, very little. It's become very easy to become an inspirational role model, and I think the result of that is that lot of the people elevated to that role really, really don't deserve it.
MW: Do you think readers will learn how to make smarter financial decisions from reading the book?
ZB: Yes! To see a great quote about making good financial decisions accompanied by a cautionary tale about what happens if you don't follow the advice has value, I think. That the quote and the cautionary tale are both the same person I think is good.
MW: What is your favorite piece of advice in the book?
ZB: "When you know what you are talking about, others will follow you because it's safe to follow you." -- Richard Fuld, former Lehman Brothers CEO.
MW: Since it was published in late April, have you had any reaction from anyone included in the book?
ZB: No, not yet!
MW: Why do you think there are so many examples in the personal finance area of famous people saying one thing and doing the exact opposite?
ZB: I think it's that giving good advice is easy. Following it is the hard part. So much of this stuff is behavioral.
MW: What is your next book about and when will we see it?
ZB: In November! The inside, never-before-told story of the Beanie Babies mania of the 1990s.