Local authors offer up financial, life advice with new book

Danko, Van Ness publish 'Richer Than a Millionaire: A Path to True Prosperity'
Richard J. Van Ness (left) and William D. Danko have co-authored “Richer Than a Millionaire.”
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Richard J. Van Ness (left) and William D. Danko have co-authored “Richer Than a Millionaire.”

Two local professors-turned-authors are taking teaching out of the classroom. 

William D. Danko, a retired University at Albany professor and co-author of New York Times bestseller “The Millionaire Next Door,” and  retired Schenectady Community College professor Richard J. Van Ness are used to students asking them for help.

However with their book “Richer Than a Millionaire: A Path to True Prosperity,” they hope to continue answering questions, this time not just for students. 

“Since we’re no longer teaching, we’ve got a larger audience,” Danko said. 

The duo began working on the book over a decade ago when they began to notice just how many students seemed to be struggling with financial and career planning.  

“One of the things I noticed during our teaching careers was that many [students] think ‘I just have to get a job,’” Van Ness said. 

But being “rich” involves a lot more than having a steady income, according to Danko and Van Ness. In fact, they warn that being extremely successful financially doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness or what they refer to as true prosperity. Within their book, which they published in late October, they delve into what it means to be prosperous on many levels. 

Danko said that health, values, religion and an ideal lifestyle also play into building up ‘riches.’

“. . . get a job and a career that’s sustainable with your lifestyle,” Danko said. 

For some, that could mean having enough money and time to donate and/or volunteer. 

“The more people give, the happier they tend to be,” Van Ness said. 

For others, it might mean they want to save up to travel and live comfortably. 

The book is 50 percent secondary research, collected from various financial publications and other works, and 50 percent vignettes from people that have written to or approached Van Ness and Danko with questions over the years.

Many of the stories help to put the data into perspective or into accessible terms. The authors also include adages from Benjamin Franklin, Aristotle and other philosophers to put the data into perspective. Since both Danko and Van Ness are Roman Catholic, they frequently quote the Bible, expanding on their anecdotes with adages like “pray as if all is in the hands of God but work as if all is in our hands.”

Because faith and/or religion can play a large role in one’s ideal lifestyle, Van Ness and Danko wanted to weave it into the book. 

“We offer, throughout the book, opportunities for self-evaluation,” Van Ness said. 

There are, of course, many financial and life lessons Danko and Van Ness hope readers come away with (“You can’t afford to not save,” “Investing in America is a winning game,” etc.). But overall, the duo wants to inspire people to take a look and evaluate what their ideal lifestyles are and whether or not they’re on the path to living their richest lives. 

“This is the land of opportunity,” Danko said, “[but] there are people who don’t take hold of the opportunity,” Danko said. 

In a brief vignette in “Richer Than a Millionaire,” the authors discuss the story of Enrique, an immigrant from Mexico who began working in the United States as a piano tuner and salesman. He was eventually able to save up enough money to invest in real estate and is drawing income from both of his jobs. According to Danko and Van Ness, Enrique’s story is important because he was able to take advantage of a financial opportunity and make it work for his lifestyle.  

His story is not out of the ordinary, but it is exemplary of various opportunities that people can take advantage of if they know how said Van Ness. Many of those opportunities are included in “Richer Than a Millionaire: The Path to True Prosperity.”

To learn more about the book, visit Amazon.com or RicherThanAMillionaire.com.  

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