BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

So, that's how you get to be all those things ...

I've been following Wayne Allyn Root on social media for quite a while … I'm not sure if he was particularly on my radar prior to his run for the Libertarian Party's candidacy for President (and eventual role as the V.P. Candidate), but I've certainly been paying attention since 2008. While my main point of intersection with Mr. Root has been in the realm of Libertarian political thought, he has a bunch of “irons in” various “fires” … much of which is extensively detailed in his new book The Power of Relentless: 7 Secrets to Achieving Mega-Success, Financial Freedom, and the Life of Your Dreams (a review copy of which I got via a direct request to his publisher, the good folks at Regnery). While the thrust of the book is his “relentless” life approach, this also serves as something of an auto-biography, as he illustrates the various phases (the “7 Secrets” of the subtitle) with examples out of his life – be that surviving his school years as a scrawny kid in a bad neighborhood, or wooing his former Miss Oklahoma wife (who he claims had been a “lead singer” with Emerson, Lake & Palmer – a data point I, frankly, could find zero support for). Oddly, the auto-biographical material reminded me of G. Gordon Liddy's Will, a favorite from my youth.

I doubt that anybody has ever accused Root of being a shrinking violet or overly modest … and some of what he claims here is easily in the “a bit hard to take” file, from claiming that “This book completes Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking, and The Secret.” {!}, to his further elaboration: “What you are about to read is like the perfect marriage of Mike Tyson, Mother Teresa and Napoleon Hill!”. If I wasn't a long-time fan (and familiar with his rather boisterous personality), I might have not gotten past that part of the Introduction … so be forewarned that one really needs to approach this with a supply of salt to dole out “pinch” by pinch as one works through this, as one soon comes to assume that there is a level of elaboration in most of his stories equivalent to what appears that he's added to his wife's biography!

The book is pretty much in two parts – the 7 “Principles of Relentless”: Heart, Chutzpah, Ambition and Goal Setting, Preparation, Branding, Storytelling, and Aggressive Action, each getting a chapter, plus a “bonus” add-on of “Energy, Contagious Enthusiasm, and Never-Ending Optimism” – and a list of what Root calls “Positive Addictions”, of which there are 12: Early Mornings, Home and Family, Mindfulness, “Prayer, Gratitude, and Forgiveness”, Affirmation and Visualization, Physical Fitness, Healthy Diet, Vitamins and Nutrition, Charity, Inspiration and Empowerment, Smiling and Saying Yes, and Motion. Needless to say, you can get the general arc of the book in this, with each element being more-or-less fleshed out by biographical stories.

He starts out with “Heart”, which is primarily a story about how his ailing mother, on the east coast, had slipped into an essentially brain-dead state, and the doctors were telling him not to bother flying out, but his sister told him to come immediately … his mom maintained a heart beat long enough for Wayne to get there from the west coast and say his goodbyes, as which point she flatlined. He has a rather worthwhile paragraph about “heart” here, but it's long and I'll leave it for you to check out.

The second “Principle” is the Yiddish term Chutzpah, which Root translates as “audacity” (I believe there is a subtle jab at one of his fellow Columbia poli-sci classmates in that word choice). He says that he's “a blue collar son of a butcher from a dead end street on the Bronx borderline” with no special talents, but with “relentless chutzpah”, which he claims to come by naturally. He raises an interesting point, that I'd not been aware of regarding the Chinese …
      I am very proud of my Jewish heritage. I am also bursting with pride for the people of Israel. But the question for you is: Can anyone learn RELENTLESS CHUTZPAH?
      The answer is a resounding YES. The Chinese are obsessed with learning how to succeed and obtain wealth. Over one third of the books sold in China are about financial success. And a large portion of those books are about Jewish success.
He then list several bestsellers in China that deal with “the traits that have made the Jews so remarkably successful”. I find it ironic that Root is “proud” about his Jewish heritage (and spends a couple of pages highlighting “remarkable facts” about Israel), but evidently converted to being a born-again Christian (no doubt for his wife's benefit, as he mentions that about her when describing their first encounter), although to his credit, he's not “preachy” about that stuff here. He goes on to present “The Nine Rules of Relentless Chutzpah”, unfortunately, these are more discursive than bullet-points, so I'll just note that they range from “stop complaining” to “be fearless” and “take risks”. Root holds that getting told “NO” is “merely the start of a negotiation”!

The third principle is “Ambition”, and he's certainly a font of that. Early on in his career he wanted to be the next “Jimmy the Greek”, and held onto that for a couple of decades, until there he was, co-hosting a show with his idol. However, the main illustrative story here is about his daughter Dakota, who was home-schooled but made it into Harvard (after turning down an early-admission offer from Yale) and Oxford. He introduces a 12-step process for goal setting, here, which has a lot of “standard” stuff on it (a “vision board”, “write your own obituary”, etc.), but has some rather unique elements as well, such as #6 – Keep a “Black Box” … this is basically a journal that he puts in his “mistakes, frustrations, rejections, failures, defeats” on a weekly basis … allowing him to review what didn't work and learn from it. Another good one is something of an extended “to-do” list, #7 – Make a Daily “Hit List” … a charting of specific actions that you need to take, crossing off the ones you complete, rolling into the next day (ala the line from a recent movie: “I always close my contracts!”) the ones you don't.

In the fourth principle, “Preparation”, Root details what he calls “The Relentless Triad”, which is a scheduling regimen that he uses to start his day. This involves getting up early, and devoting a half-hour each to mental, physical, and financial tasks … a half hour of reading, a half hour of exercise, and a half hour of career-centric activity (such as adding names to contact to the aforementioned “hit list”) - but he only uses that time “for creating new ideas, opportunities, clients or careers”, rather than dealing with any current work. He notes that if you are able to average 4 new actions/contacts per day (six days a week), that's 24 per week, 96 per month, 1,152 per year … and probably represents activities that are not being done by your competition. Root says that working from home allows him to devote an hour to each of those functions (from 6:00am to 9:00am) … plus he recommends to schedule a 15-minute time for review of the day every evening. Yes, it sounds awfully driven, but that's where the “Relentless” thing comes in.

The fifth principle is “Branding”, and the main story he goes into here was taking his wife's 92 year-old grandfather up on a request – he wanted Wayne to “make him famous” before he died. Root pulled out all his media savvy and “branded” a sky-diving adventure he was taking “Grandpa Norm” on as Throw Grandpa from the Plane … the press ate it up, they got on a bunch of shows, and Norm got to meet a number of his favorite actresses in a whirlwind media junket. This chapter also talks about sports stars such as Floyd Mayweather, Joe Namath, and others examples such as Ralph Lifshitz (better known as Ralph Lauren), Matt Drudge (who runs his billion-dollar web site with just two employees), and even counter-examples such as the guy who was later lionized as “the father of legalized casino gambling” in Las Vegas, who shunned the limelight, and ended up dying penniless as a simple ranch hand. Root frames branding this way: “"Hooks" are how you stand out in a crowded field. The reality is that you are either a "talented hooker" or you're just screwing yourself! … Your name, "hook", or brand is what people remember and pay for.”

“Storytelling” is Root's sixth principle, and by storytelling, he means “video”. Personally, I hate that message, because I can “get the sense of” an on-line text article in 5-10 seconds of scanning, but when you hit a video (or audio, for that matter) posting, you're stuck with it until it either gets to the point or wastes a chunk of your day/life. However, I'm reminded of the famed Hunter S. Thompson quote: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.” because, as much a I can't stand video, Root makes a pretty good case for using it in an extensive bit on “Ten Miracles Brought to You by Relentless Video”, where he shows how he used video at various points in his life, from getting into Columbia, to getting his grandfather on national TV shows. He also swings into the political realm for a few pages, discussing how the current POTUS has used video to push his disastrous agenda on the country.

The final, numbered, Principle here is “Aggressive Action”, which starts off with a rather choice bit:
      The greatest lie ever told is “Opportunity only knocks once.” The truth is, opportunity doesn't knock at all. You have to search for it like a heat-seeking missile, attack it, knock it over the head with a club, seize it, and drag it home like a caveman!
      The real world is brutal. Opportunity is not sitting around waiting for you. It's not knocking. You have to create and seize opportunity by taking aggressive action. Nothing good comes from sitting still, waiting, or procrastinating. Good things only come from action and motivation.
Here Root discusses several individuals who took relentless action – from a family friend who was looking for a husband, to a New York realtor who was able to not only maintain her business, but build it, when deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan as a Navy specialist. His “personal story” here is how he met his wife at a Grammy party at a nightclub in L.A. - she had a hard-and-fast rule to not date anybody she met in a nightclub, but Root was “relentless”, and kept pushing, eventually the gal called up her best friend in New York, asking if she should break this rule … her friend asked the name, and miraculously it turns out that she was Wayne's cousin (making him “like family”) … but his now-wife would never have made that phone call if he'd not been in “aggressive action” (which he notes is like advertisers having to consistently make impressions to keep their products in people's awareness) mode.

In the “bonus principle” chapter, the most notable thing is the “Always Say "Yes"” section:
... I try to say “YES” to everyone, not just the media. If you say “NO”, nothing good can happen. Good comes from the word “YES.” Opportunity, wealth, or fame can never come from a deal you didn't do. “YES” doesn't guarantee success, but it does make it possible that magic can happen. There is always hope this time will be the home run. With “YES” there is possibility. With “NO” there is zero possibility.
      You just never know which deal you turn down was fated to be “the one” that would have changed your life, that would have made your dreams come true. So, I try to say “YES” to everyone.
Obviously, this goes against a recent trend (especially of those of us who spend most of our lives on the web) of trying to say “no” more … because it's impossible to sit through every webinar, read every blog, check out every video … but it's part of Root's philosophy. How accurate a part, I have some personal questions about … having tried to get answers from him on a couple of questions I had about an early part of the book, which not only went unanswered, but totally unacknowledged … hardly a “YES” move there.

Anyway, The Power of Relentless was just released a couple of weeks back, so it should be out prominently in the bigger brick-and-mortar book vendors in your area. However, at the moment, the on-line big boys have the hardcover at a whopping 45% off of cover price, which is quite a deal. While I had “issues” with parts of this, I really enjoyed reading it, and while I am (just being who I am) highly unlikely to implement the whole program Root presents, there are certainly bits and pieces that I'm going to be grabbing for my own purposes. While this is very much Wayne “tooting his own horn”, with some parts of it being “bigger than real”, it's a fascinating look at how a wildly successful guy sees as the path involved to getting him to that level of achievement – which he's set out in a system that you might very well be able to follow.

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Tags: book review
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