The Financier by Theodore Dreiser: Book Summary

In this book summary of The Financier by Theodore Dreiser, you’ll find my notes, high-level ideas, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

The Financier Summary

Try new experiences to learn what you’re interested in. Once you find your passion, stick with it and you’ll find success.

Always continue to seek learning and gaining experience in your industry.

Use your family and friend’s connections if possible. They will be the ones to most likely help you out in the beginning, when you need it most.

Deliver more value than what you’re getting paid, and it will be easy to climb the ranks.

Your network is often your net worth. It helps to surround yourself with successful, motivated people.

Confidence is contagious and a magnificent tool in social situations to get what you want.

If you want to make a fortune, you need to take sound risks.

You’re going to make the most money working for yourself and being a sole owner of a business—nothing else will pay as well.

An extremely profitable skill is to know what’s going to be valuable in the future and then buy it in advance.

Money does bring power with it.

If you’re truly great at what you do, you shouldn’t need to cheat to get ahead. Cheaters never prosper, which is exemplified by the problems of the main character Frank.

Being unfaithful to your spouse is going to bring a world of problems, hurt, and misery with it from all angles: personal, family, social, business, and politics.

Society will punish you if you don’t play by its established rules.

The legal system is only human’s best shot at justice, but it isn’t anywhere near perfectly just.

Lawyers, like people in many other professions, are tools that are used and then forgotten about by financiers.

Parents are often blind to their children’s faults and evil. Even when the evidence is there, parents will hold onto their naive beliefs about their kid.

There are no ways to perfectly solve the difficulties and trials of life.

Remember the lessons from your past failures. Because when they come around a second time, you’ll have new experience that will help you win.

If you never give up, failure is only a temporary state until you succeed.

Mini Summary

Life, and the people around you, is often what you make it.

Each person is made up of good and evil. No person is all the way good or all the way evil.

There are going to be trials along the away. But you can never be defeated if you keep hope, stay mentally strong, and remain committed to your personal vision.

Three Favorite Quotes

“The squid couldn’t kill the lobster—he had no weapon. The lobster could kill the squid—he was heavily armed. There was nothing for the squid to feed on; the lobster had the squid as prey. What was the result to be?”

“A man, a real man, must never be an agent, a tool, or a gambler—acting for himself or for others—he must employ such. A real man—a financier—was never a tool. He used tools. He created. He led.”

“The most futile thing in this world is any attempt, perhaps, at exact definition of character. All individuals are a bundle of contradictions—none more so than the most capable.”

Action Steps For You

My action step for you is to be aggressive in what you want. Take risks. Know that you’re going to face challenges, but continue to be on the offensive of what you want.

Now the main character does have plenty of faults. He’s a terrible husband, weak father, and questionably corrupt businessman. But, taking it out of context, you have to give him credit for knowing what he wants and aggressively going after it. That’s one positive trait he has going for him.

If you can implement this same habit in your life, you’ll not only reach your goals—but you’ll reach them faster.

What does aggression look like in life?

Say you’re a college student who really wants an internship at Nike. Be aggressive in your pursuits by researching the company, messaging current employees on LinkedIn, responding to company social media posts, and gaining work experience that translates well to what Nike is looking for. By aggressively putting in the work, you’ll far increase your chances of employment at the shoe giant.

Say an attractive male or female has your attention. Say hi to them and strike up a conversation right there. Ask for their number to get coffee sometime. Follow up by phone to see how they’re doing and if you can schedule a time to meet up. Be aggressively persistent and you could end up marrying this person. At the worst, you’ll know they’re not for you.

Say you want to retire by 50. To do that, be aggressive in taking on more hours of work to increase your income. Then increase your savings rate, which won’t be easy on your lifestyle but it’s worth it to reach your goal. And then seek out knowledge so your investments make you money. Follow an aggressive financial strategy, and you can retire earlier than 50. Do things passively, and you’ll be working until you’re 65.

I’ve found that only good things, and sometimes great scenarios, happen when you’re aggressive. It just speeds up the process in about every area of life (work, health, friendships, wealth, romantic life) when you’re seeking success.

Make it a priority to be aggressive in life, and you’ll win in the end.

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Brian Robben

Brian Robben is the founder of Take Your Success, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs grow a profitable business and reach freedom. For in-depth training, visit:

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. 1 down, 51 to go! This one will go on my list for sure… too many good books, not enough time 🙂

    Adding to your takeaways, being aggressive in life is like trying to break out of your comfort zone. By continuously seeking improvement, you can grow exponentially.

    From “The Miracle Morning” and one of my favorite quotes: “Your level of success will rarely surpass your level of personal development, because success is what you attract by the person you become.”

    Have a good weekend Brian,


    1. Brian Robben

      That’s right, 51 to go but I’m excited for each and every one of them. Have a great weekend too Erik.

  2. Mustard Seed Money

    This looks like a terrific book and based on your notes a great read. I have to admit that I need to be a little more aggressive in life. I’m slowly taking the steps necessary but there’s always room for improvement. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Brian Robben

      If you care at all about finance you’ll enjoy it. Some parts are slow, but overall a great read.

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