The Accidental Millionaire: How to Succeed in Life Without Really Trying is the memoir of Gary Fong, would-be slacker who revolutionized wedding photography, inventor of popular photography aids, entrepreneur, contrarian, bon vivant and a man who really, really didn’t want to become a doctor. A first-generation Chinese-American, Gary was raised in one of Los Angeles’ least-desirable neighborhoods and was forced to deal—in his own quirky and often very funny way—with the burdens of poverty, crime and his parents’ relentless aspirations. These issues almost overwhelmed him until he had a dramatic epiphany. Spotting a bumper sticker that read “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better,” Gary promptly did just that.
He stopped trying and started succeeding. At turns hilarious, insightful and instructive, The Accidental Millionaire is Horatio Alger-meets-David Sedaris. Turning the traditional self-help principles upside down, The Accidental Millionaire disdains the goal-oriented approaches of traditional self-help philosophies. Sometimes not knowing where you are going is the best possible way to get there.
Read an Excerpt!
My life has not gone according to “The Plan.”
The Plan was for me to go to medical school and eventually pull down a respectable salary of about $150,000 a year.
Had I gone with The Plan, by this point in my life (I’m in my mid-forties) I probably would have just finished paying off my student loans and would be eyeing that thirty-two-foot Catalina sailboat with the FOR SALE sign that I passed every night on my way home from the clinic. I’d be settled into a comfortable home in the ‘burbs, with my wife of twenty years and my 2.3 kids, driving a Lexus sedan. And living the life of my dreams.
Well, my parents’ dreams.
Which I tried, for a time, to convince myself were my dreams too.
Following The Plan made me cry a lot. Eventually I found myself with a literal gun to my own head. That’s when I ran from The Plan and began an adventure into uncharted territory.
Uncharted territory goes completely against the grain of my upbringin.
My parents were first-generation Asian immigrants. Their lives’ territory was very well charted. And they’d charted mine too. My destiny was determined before I was born, and I had absolutely no say in it. My parents didn’t know (or particularly care) if I was going to be gay or blind or a violent psychopath. All they knew was that I was going to be a doctor. Secondarily to that, of course, I would be married at a young age to a nice Chinese girl whom my mother endorsed, and I would deliver my mother numerous grandchildren for her to spoil. ASAP.
While I was growing up, my family suffered through sobering bouts of poverty. My parents sacrificed everything to ensure that I could get a good education. All they wanted was for me to not have to face the same financial struggles that they had. As a side benefit, they also weren’t going to mind the privilege of saying, “My son, the doctor.”
I didn’t want to live in poverty either, so I gave The Plan a go for many years. I even got a degree in pharmacology in my attempt to become a physician.
And what did I do instead? I became a wedding photographer.
You can imagine the songs of joy this caused to leap from my parents’ hearts.
And yet, spring-boarding from that career, which began with moving back into my parents’ apartment and shooting weddings for $150 each, I became a multi-millionaire within a fairly short period of time. And it happened due to one improbable accident after another.
Read the Reviews!
"This is not your typical “how to get rich” book. This is the story of a man’s life; an illustration of the major events that influenced his thinking and behavior. Fong’s story includes not only his successes, but also his failures in business and his personal life that drove him to constantly reassess his approach. This is a book that will shake up your way of being in the world, maybe even crack open a door for a few accidents of your own to tumble through. I highly recommend it."
– Melissa Levine, Independent Book Reviewers
"Fong has succeeded in narrating a gripping success story that offers insight after business insight. It is more than a tale about a shrewd businessman, but rather a story about a visionary that will inspire readers to think creatively and individually, and not be prevented from taking action by limited resources."
– Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor Bookpleasures
"It certainly is not an accident Gary Fong has succeeded in life, and has earned millions of dollars. A person of his wit, self-confidence, and integrity exemplifies the “American Dream” in our “Land of Opportunity.” Opposed to ego flaunting books of success by guys like Donald Trump, Gary Fong takes the humble route, full of self-mockery and modest remarks, as he casts his fate to the wind to free himself and let life lead his path. He is very unlike the Jack Welch type of millionaire that professes the full control of cognitive evaluation of risk approach, or the scores of books offering money making formulas investing in real estate."
–Pacific Book Review
"This book is one that I would highly recommend...the style of writing is extremely fluid and full of humor, intelligence, and the drive to succeed."
--Review from Here
Gary Fong is a world-renowned photographer, inventor and entrepreneur who has made multiple fortunes in business and real estate. From his inauspicious beginnings in a tiny, hairspray-saturated apartment that doubled as his parents’ wig studio, he went on to become, at a very young age, one of the world’s most successful wedding photographers. After making millions by revolutionizing an industry traditionally reserved for small businessmen, he “stumbled” upon serial successes in photo printing, software, real estate and camera accessories by making unconventional decisions based on his own quirky impulses. Gary has photographed celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone, Paul McCartney and Ronald Reagan, invented and marketed the Lightsphere, and co-founded Pictage, which became the largest dedicated online digital/web solution in the United States and sold for $29 million.
His latest book is The Accidental Millionaire: How to Succeed in Life Without Really Trying.