How to get $30,000 Worth of Expert Advice for Less Than $20

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 2:58 PM EDT

I received an email the other day that both bothered and baffled me. The email was from a fan of my work. Normally I'm very quick to reply to emails -- especially from people who enjoy my writing -- but it took me several days to send a response. Read the email and think about how you'd respond, and then you can read my reply below.

hello Robert, I'm not employed at the moment...Just got the boot due to my company's "restructuring strategies"...I like all the things you say. To be forthright, would you be able to gift me your book? Can you please let me know?
I can appreciate his situation. For anyone who is unemployed, it makes sense to cut back on any unnecessary expenses. If I was selling a $1,700 weekend workshop, I could understand the hesitation. If I was selling a $170 DVD course, I could understand the hesitation. But we're talking about a $17 book. Dinner for two at McDonalds costs more money. A movie and popcorn costs more money.

I think books are the single greatest bargain today, and it's not just because I've written a few. I've always been a huge book buyer and reader. I grew up outside of Portland, Oregon and practically spent my youth inside Powell's Books -- the mega bookstore that takes up an entire city block. Now I joke that I keep Amazon in business because there aren't too many days that pass when I don't have a brown box waiting for me at home.

Why have I always been fascinated by books (besides from not having many dates when I was younger)? Because they are a steal! Where else can anyone, anywhere get access to thought leaders and experts for less than $20? My attorney is $450 an hour. My CPA is $350 an hour. My computer guy is $120 an hour.

Companies pay authors and experts $25,000+ to give an hour and a half keynote speech that only provides a surface-level overview of their topic. For less than $20, you get that expert in your living room for the weekend. You get that expert in your car during your commute for the next month.

The publishing industry is in trouble. People are not buying and reading books like they used to, and that's a shame. There is no more cost-effective way to learn from experts than reading their books. The return on a good book can be 1,000% or more if you learn just one thing.

As far as I know, nobody ever went bankrupt from buying too many books. But I can guarantee there have been many who have avoided bankruptcy, landed a new promotion, invested their nest egg more wisely, received a raise, improved their health, lost weight, reduced their anxiety, and enhanced their marriage from reading a book.

This leads me back to that email I received. Here was my reply:

Thanks for your email. I'm sorry to hear you got laid off--that's not an easy position to be in and I hope you're able to land a new job soon.
Regarding my book, allow me to be forthright. This book can radically improve your finances and your life. If your life and finances depended on it, could you find a way to get the book? Skip a meal or two. Go to the library. Read it in your local bookstore. Do what you have to, but make sure you don't let $17 stand in the way to a richer life.
Now it's your turn. Go read a book. It might cost you $20, but the value to your career, health, finances, and life could be priceless.

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(Book image by Philgarlic, CC 2.0)
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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.