When I was a kid, I distinctly remember listening to non-fiction self-help-ish audiobooks as my dad drove us to karate class, the zoo, or wherever else. Alongside the likes of Zig Ziglar was Tony Robbins — a gruff-voiced guru coach who’d talk not only about motivation but also money. Cut to 25 years later and, as I scroll Audible, I see that Tony has a new book out with co-author Peter Mallouk. More accurately, The Path: Accelerating Your Journey to Financial Freedom is authored by Mallouk and featuring Robbins. So, while it’s been a long while since I’ve checked in on Tony (aside from watching the Netflix documentary about him), I decided to download The Path audiobook and give it a listen.
Normally I start off my book reviews by sharing what I liked about the book before jumping into some criticism. However, I’m gonna switch that around this time as that better reflects my experience while listening to this book. After a few chapters, I had some major doubts about The Path that ranged from the content to the quality of the audiobook narration. For one, I felt like the early chapters merely skimmed the surface of savings and investing, offering little in the way of new insights or information. Of course, I know that having these basics down is essential and that my position as a regular reviewer of such books taints my perspective, but I couldn’t help but feel bored to begin with.
Speaking of feeling bored, I also wasn’t too impressed with Mallouk’s audio presentation of his material as he sounded borderline disinterested in what he was reading. On the whole, I’d say that I like the idea of authors reading their own audiobooks, but that doesn’t seem to apply in this case. Mallouk did seem very eager about one thing, however: promoting his business. A couple of chapters end with not just plugs for his Creative Planning services but what sounded like straight-up ad copy. I understand a certain level of this in a book of this nature but had to cringe a bit at how overt this instance was.
Meanwhile, those coming to the book for Tony Robbins should know that the famed speaker only pens three chapters for the book and reads just one of them for the audiobook. What’s more, he admits in his intro that a lot of material found in this work may seem repetitive to those who’ve consumed his past works. This actually brings me to my next critique as it seems as though this book was rushed — or at least that’s the case for the audiobook as there were even flubs that weren’t edited out (e.g. you’d hear Mallouk start a sentence, stop, and then repeat himself). To some degree, the project must have been hurried as the book makes several references to the pandemic, weeks of lockdowns, and the initial market recovery. Granted, we are in month eight or so of the crisis, but that’s still a fairly short turn around for a book.
Luckily, as I continued to listen past those initial stumbling blocks, my enjoyment of and interest in The Path grew immensely in subsequent chapters. While I still may not love Mallouk’s narration chops, I did come to appreciate his writing style — especially the footnotes that regularly injected humor into even the driest of financial subjects. What’s more, the topics covered began to break away from the “finance 101” review that started the book. In particular, I was intrigued by the deep dives on different types of bonds, alternative investments, and even estate planning. Sure, many of the other books I’ve reviewed at least touch on these topics, but not really to this degree. Plus, to his credit, I’ll note that the commercials for Creative Planning decreased as well.
Another aspect of The Path that I enjoyed was how Mallouk looked at the mental aspects of investing — including the mistakes investors make because of their emotions. Although this may be a well-worn topic (especially after I just reviewed The Psychology of Money), I did think that the author brought up some interesting points and examples. He also managed to insert some “hot takes” that I think I actually agree with. Again, in each case, Mallouk’s witty inserts also helped elevate his insights and made it much more than just a lecture.
All things considered, I did end up enjoying The Path and do think it has value for readers. At the same time, I believe there are other titles out there — such as Financial Freedom or Work Optional — that have more to offer overall. Additionally, while the bad taste that the poor production, editing mishaps, and commercial plugging I endured at the beginning of the audiobook wore off by the time I reached the end, in hindsight, they did clearly rub me the wrong way. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a broad look at what it means to be financially independent and how you can manage your money better, Mallouk does deliver. For those reasons, while I can’t give The Path: Accelerating Your Journey to Financial Freedom a whole-hearted endorsement, I also wouldn’t actively avoid it if you saw it on sale.
Originally published at Dyer News.