- Danny Baldus-Strauss credits some of his financial success to the books he read throughout his 20s.
- One of his top picks is “Atomic Habits,” which helped him build his Twitter following and personal brand.
- He also likes “The Daily Stoic,” “The Psychology of Money,” and “The War of Art.”
Self-made millionaire Danny Baldus-Strauss credits some of his financial success to the books he read throughout his 20s.
“For the first five years of my career, I spent a lot of my off time reading,” Baldus-Strauss, who worked at IBM until quitting in 2020 to work for himself, told Insider. Towards the end of his career, he started putting the concepts he read and learned about into practice. “I focused on building income streams.”
Today, the 31-year-old has a variety of revenue streams and earns more than he did at IBM, he said. He does sales consulting, cryptocurrency mining, runs an e-commerce store, and he rents out his home on Airbnb. He’s also spent years building his own brand, Backpacker Finance. He has over 97,000 followers on Twitter makes money through affiliate marketing.
Here are four of Baldus-Strauss’s top book recommendations for anyone looking to get ahead financially and build wealth. Most of them are mindset-related, he noted, as it’s equally important to fix your mindset around money as it is to fix your financial habits.
If you’re not sure where to find time in your day to read, try what Baldus-Strauss does: He reads about 10 pages per night and listens to 30 minutes of an audiobook while working out five times per week. It’s not a ton of time, but the consistency is enough to get him through 30 or more books a year.
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
At the beginning of 2020, the year Baldus-Strauss left corporate America, he read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It’s what inspired him to build his Twitter following, which is now a key revenue driver for him.
“I knew that Twitter would be a tool I could eventually monetize by creating a big enough following that I could then either team up with brands or build out courses,” he explained. “I knew that I needed to build a following first and then there would be monetization opportunities, so I started by just writing and tweeting every day.”
Clear’s book emphasizes that “small, consistent actions can create a big result,” he said. “So, every single day, I consistently tweeted.”
As with most things in life, success doesn’t happen overnight. “There were times when I was at 3,000 or 4,000 followers, doubting that I would ever get there because it took so much work to build content. I would spend two hours on a thread and it would get like seven likes, but I just didn’t stop and eventually, that consistency built a following. Eventually, my message started to resonate.”
Regardless of what you’re trying to build or achieve, Clear’s book will help you form good habits and break bad ones, he said.
“The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday
Every morning, Baldus-Strauss reads an excerpt of “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. It compiles 366 Stoic insights, one for each day of the year, from ancient philosophers like Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the playwright Seneca.
The Stoic philosophy is 2,000 years old, but still relevant today, he said: “Each page has a bit of a life lesson, typically around the idea of, you can’t always control what happens — but you can control your reactions to it.”
This philosophy helps him stay calm during market downturns, including the major one in 2020, when his net worth dropped by “multiple six-figures,” he said. While he can’t control what’s happening in the markets, he can control how he responds. (In this particular instance, he chooses not to respond and, instead, stay the course rather than pull money out.)
“The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel
In “The Psychology of Money,” author Morgan Housel dives into how people think about money, and how their personal experiences with money shape their behavior towards it.
For example, “If you happened to grow up when the stock market was strong, you invested more of your money in stocks later in life compared to those who grew up when stocks were weak,” Housel writes.
Housel’s main point is that mastering your money isn’t necessarily about what or how much you know; it’s about how you behave.
“He goes through the biases and the fear that we have towards money,” said Baldus-Strauss. “And how we see investing based on the time period that we grew up in. This book is an excellent way to build some mental models around money and investing.”
“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield
Baldus-Strauss says that Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” is his favorite among the dozens of books he’s read. (Not to be confused with “The Art of War,” an ancient Chinese military treatsie that has been applied to investing.)
“It’s about the concept of resistance,” he explained. “Every day, you’re going to wake up and you’re going to have some form of resistance.”
Pressfield’s book describes resistance as the greatest enemy — it’s what holds you back from doing what you really want to do, whether that’s writing or creating content or starting a business — and offers advice on how to overcome it.
“It helped a lot when I was growing my Twitter account,” said Baldus-Strauss. “There were a lot of times when I felt like giving up — when I was putting so much time and effort into building threads and writing newsletters and creating free content, not knowing if I’d be rewarded in the future. I had doubts and woke up almost every day with some level of resistance.”
Whether you’re trying to build a side hustle or save a little bit of money each day to make a down payment on a property, Pressfield’s book will keep you motivated.
As the author puts it: “It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”