Never Retire

Integrate your vocation and your identity by thinking of your life as a journey rather than a destination.

-Rabbi Daniel Lapin

journalist writing with typewriter

In his last commandment to making money Rabbi Lapin suggests retirement is a no go.  In fact, he points to the Jewish belief that hebrew is the language of God and therefore it is perfect.  Meaning that there is a word for everything that is real and timeless in it.  there is no word for retirement in Hebrew.  I have not come across a similar word in the Bible either.  Interesting.  What is retirement all about anyways?

When I was growing up my father told me a story, most likely very similar to a story you have heard.  It goes like this.  He had a friend who loved to write.  His friend, we will call him Jim, had two options for the next chapter in his career.  Option one was a corporate sales job that paid really well.  Option two was a writing job that did not.  Jim became a paid writer.  And because Jim went to work everyday with a smile on his face and a fantastic attitude he soon became a writer for a major publication and earned substantially more than he would have at the corporate job.  Because he was doing what he loved he naturally put his heart and soul into the work and that is a beautiful thing that is easy for everyone to see.  The old adage “do what you love and never work a day in your life” is true.  It is out there.  My challenge to you is to create margin in your life and seek it.  You will be happier.  Your family will be happier.  Your boss will be happier.  Everyone will be happier.

-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.

The Power of Giving in Secret

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

-Jesus Christ

Seljalandfoss Waterfall At Sunset In Hdr, Iceland

In his ninth commandment on making money Rabbi Lapin suggests that we should give away ten percent of our income.  He goes on to say that “charity is irrational” as a means to make money but “nevertheless, it benefits the giver in many ways.”

Since we are on the topic of giving I want to retell a story I recently heard Randall Wallace tell about giving in secret.  It goes like this.

Imagine you come home one day after work and park your car in the street.  The next morning you get up and realize someone has dinged your door.  There is no note.  As you leave for work that morning you can not help but look at your neighbors differently.  That little old lady who was once the nicest grandma in the world does not seem so sweet this morning.  The fine young man next door over is now feeling a lot more like a hooligan.  Those lovely little kids playing ball in the street seem a lot more suspicious this morning.

Now lets imagine you came home from work all the same.  After you finished dinner and were getting ready to sit down with a good book you look outside and notice your trash can blew over.  Trash was everywhere.  In one of your weaker moments you decide you will pick it up in the morning.  The next morning you get dressed and go outside to track down your trash.  But you find your trash can upright and your lawn and block free from trash.  Someone had picked it up for you.  Who did this?  Surely it was that little sweet old lady that now that you think of it always smiles at you, she really is the nicest person.  Or perhaps the fine young man who now that you think of it always says hello and remembers your name too, he really is going places.  Or was it the kiddos who are always playing ball in the street and who now that you think of it always see you coming and pause their game without making you wait, what great and considerate kids.

In the second scenario because one neighbor did something good in secret, they built up good will for the whole neighborhood – which by the way includes them too.  The same resources were deployed but the goodness that resulted was multiplied.  Cool.

A deed done in secret multiplies. Good or bad.


-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.

Know your money

Promise less than you deliver.

-Rabbi Hillel


When you write a check the proprietor will typically only accept it if they trust you have the money in the bank for the check to clear.  They will typically only accept it if they trust you. When Argentina gave notice to their creditors that they would not pay past $130 billion people no longer trusted them.  As a result people stopped accepting their currency.

Rabbi Lapin explains that the very word dollar comes from trust.  In the sixteenth century a highly trusted German count known for his high ethical standards started minting currency.  The coins were known as valley coins or thalers. Because the count maintained an extremely strict level of standards for weight and purity of silver people came to trust his currency and its reputation grew.  Thalers spread across Europe and each country pronounced it a little differently.  The Dutch called them daalders and eventually dallers.  Lapin makes a great point: “the lesson of the Thaler is still true; anyone with a reputation for reliability can create money.” Accepting a dollar is trust in a government.  Accepting a check is trust in a person.  Money is trust.  Could you create money if you needed to?


-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.



Learn to Fortell the Future

Who is wise? One who can tell what will be hatched from the egg that has been laid. Not he who can see the future — that is a prophet.  Wisdom is seeing tomorrow’s consequences of today’s events.

-Babylonian Talmund, tractate Tamid

Hot Air Balloon Flying over Dramatic Sunset Sky

Rabbi Lapin’s seventh commandment to making money is “learn to foretell the future.”  In this chapter Lapin gives a lot of advice that feels a lot like the traditional Porter’s five forces, SWOT and PEST analyses.  Look for trends and patterns in the marketplace.  Forces and how they came to be.  Are the forces present due to a lack of market influence or the presence of one and is the influence likely to continue or not?  Who seeks to gain from these influences?  How do the influencers make decisions?  What does that process look like?  When is it likely to happen? Etc.  All important things to consider when considering how things will play out.

The part that I liked the most about this chapter was an exercise to help your mind weigh all these elements.  An exercise in ‘foretelling the future’ (Cue cheesy sound effect here).  I have heard of a similar exercise in other books.  One that comes to mind is Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.  It goes like this.  Learn to flip the switch in your mind into receive mode when considering the future.  Find yourself a peaceful place apart from interruption.  Start by focusing intensely on a subject in the future.  Take all the data you have on the subject and weigh it from every conceivable angle.  From the top and then the bottom.  From one side then the next.  From within.  From the outside looking in.  From 10,000 feet then right along side it.  When you feel like the angles from which to consider the topic have been exhausted switch your mind to receive mode by focusing intently on the sound of the birds, or the wind, or the traffic, or whatever it is that surrounds you right in that moment.  Bounce from one stimuli to the next and let your mind grab hold of whatever comes its way.  Go back and forth between receive mode and problem solving mode several times.  Capture and consider the ideas that flash into your mind when in receive mode.  Cool.


-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.


Constantly Change the Changeable While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable

One of the most important distinctions you need to learn to make is between those things in your life that should be constant and unchangeable and the kind of change you should welcome.

-Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rear view of a male kayaker paddling through rapids

If an amateur canoeist unexpectedly finds himself in a raging rapid what do you suppose would come to his mind?  A new technique, a new way to lunge his paddle into the water? Or would his mind immediately flash back to the words of his instructor, “Dig in!”?  Where would your mind go in that situation?

Rabbi Lapin gives this advice. “The more things change, the more you must depend on things that never change.”  He suggests that the Jewish star, also known as the Star of David, shows how to balance change with a fixed frame of reference.  The triangle on its base represents things that should never change in life.  Lapin points to things such as your relationships with your Creator and your family.  The triangle on its apex represents being open to and benefiting from the opportunity that comes with change.  The relationship between the two suggests that a strong base of things that do not change allows you to deal with and even embrace the things that inevitably will.

Change will happen.  Your cheese will be moved.  Jim Collins, author of Built to Last, was asked how great companies get through tough times.  Collins suggested “In times of great duress, tumult, and uncertainty, you have to have moorings.”  A mooring refers to any permanent structure to which a vessel may be secured.

We’ve all heard the stories of famous coaches going back to the basics at points of change.  A college basketball coach that teaches his freshman all-state recruits their first lesson on his team – how to tie their shoes.  Vince Lombardi holds up a football as he addresses his team before the big game “Gentleman, this is a football.” Back to the basics.

I have even found that forcing change helps keep me sharp.  To keep my shot on I often shoot three pointers left handed.  If I want to even hit the backboard it has to be back to the basics.  Good lift, elbow above my shoulder at the top, elbow pointed at the rim, aim small – concentrate on the middle eyelet on the rim, reach for the cookie jar and let the it roll off my pointer finger last, focus on the eyelet – do not watch the ball in the air.  When I go back to my strong hand – my shot never felt more natural.

When you or your company face great change go back to the basics.  The blocking and tackling.  The things that your earlier victories were founded on.  Stand on this firm footing. With a strong base – take full advantage of the opportunity change presents.

-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.


Lead Consistently and Constantly

If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.
-Jesus Christ

Interior Of The Barbara Church In Pochaev Lavra, The Painting On The Walls - Jesus Christ Washes The

When I first graduated I had a very simple view of leadership. I thought the leader was the person who performed at the highest level. A mentor of mine took me aside and helped me compare the difference between the star player on a team and the coach. He asked me who I thought the leader was.

Rabbi Lapin’s fifth commandment to making money is to lead consistently and constantly. Lapin believes to lead others well is to always be following. Counterintuitive at first, he goes on to instruct leaders to align themselves under a greater purpose and follow it as others follow you. This can be a boss, a board of directors, a set of principles, an ideal, but not your own self interest. Never miss an opportunity to show that you are following something greater than yourself and you will become more and more worthy of following.

-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin


As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.



Do Not Pursue Perfection

I want you to grab hold of this principle because it will change your life — if you will simply make the most of where you are, God will do the rest.

-Tony Evans

romantic landscape

In his fourth commandment to making money Rabbi Lapin suggests that we should not pursue perfection, especially at the expense of the practical.  Do not let a fixation with a perfect future distract you from the next best thing, which is in fact, the best thing – since of course, perfection does not exist.

I remember the first time I had an idea for a company that I knew would change the world.  Looking back it was so, perfect.  Perfect in its conception and birth.  Perfect in its infancy and perfect all the way through to its maturity as I laughed my way to the bank.  Like many first time entrepreneurs, when I first had the idea my thoughts on next steps immediately turned to raising money.  A magical meeting.  The perfect pitch.  Rainbows and unicorns and little bunnies that go for afternoon tea with foxes.

In the real world bunnies that hang around foxes get eaten.  In the real world ideas that wait on a magical meetings die.  I was so naive.  When I was out looking for my magical meeting,  focusing on money I did not have, I was neglecting everything I did have.

I got my magical meeting.  The pitch was perfect.  And the result: I got my first “not right now, but lets stay in touch, ok?”  Most investors do not say ‘no’.  They say ‘not right now.’  Which I believe is their way of saying ‘no, but maybe if you actually do something good I might say yes.’  Key phrase here being ‘do something.’

Once I decided to do what I could with what I had, it worked. I had all I needed to get to the first step.  And when I got there, the things I needed to get to the next step were provided.

Sometimes I think we are too smart for our own good.  From the starting block we can see three or four steps out.  We can also see that we do not have what it will take to get past step three.  A smart person then says ‘why bother starting until I have what I need to get past step three?’  A wise person knows once you complete step one you often learn what you thought about the next steps will likely change.  What you thought you needed, how you might come to have what you need, or even what the next step is…

If you have an idea for a quicker, better, faster but the resources for the ultimate are not available right now: do not wait for them.  Hack it together.  There is always a way.  If it works at all, if it is at all useful – you will be surprised at how quickly what you need to take the idea to the next level will come.  He is faithful.

-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin


As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.