Man finds secret to living rich

April 3, 2009 7:21:24 PM PDT
There's a man who has something of a different take on the economy. It's kind of a "you're as rich as you feel" philosophy about money and wealth. He is also pitching it in a rather unconventional way.

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Clem Stein has a good job, by any standard. He lives in Oakland and goes to what he calls "work" if he wants, when he wants, and where he wants.

"I've got my entire office in my trunk," says Stein.

One day he went to Frank Ogawa Plaza. You might think of Mr. Stein as a traveling salesman. A guy with just a chair, a table and a suitcase packed with books for anyone open to his pitch.

"You never know where you will run into financial street wisdom," says Stein.

"Hello, just stop and give me 30 seconds," says Stein to a woman passing by.

"Come back and talk to me after lunch," he says to another person.

"Do you take it personally?" asks ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
"Absolutely not," says Stein.

The book is called "Life's Street-Smart Money Manual." Chances are, you have never heard of it, but in Frank Ogawa Plaza, at least, it is a best seller.

"How many books have you sold?" asks Freedman. "A couple of hundred," said Stein.

Once you see Clem Stein's elegant home, it becomes eminently clear that he did not do this for the money.

"I got to say what I wanted," said Stein.

Plenty of people intend to write books, fewer begin them, and fewer still finish or publish them. So, here's a retired real estate man with a message for people who dream themselves into debt, due to what he calls unrealistic expectations.

"Chapter 31: The Cost of Daily Bread. If you spend 20 or 30 minutes to figure out what it cost you every day to put your feet on the floor, you will look at economics in a way you have never done," says Stein.

These are lessons Stein says he first learned as a kid mowing lawns.

"Financial independence has nothing to do with wealth, but how you think of yourself," says Stein to a woman looking at his book.

It's a set of values that stands alone from profits and loss. It's common sense stuff about succeeding in life by following your bliss.

"Do what you do, help other people get what they want, and you will get everything you want," says Stein.

On this day, that would be sales number 201 and 202.

"I'm going to tell everybody at BART. I'm going to sell your book!" says a woman.

And in the free market of Frank Ogawa Plaza, this day, that's as good as an endorsement from the New York Times. Either way, it was a matter of quality trumping quantity.

"Some days, I just get a nice suntan," says Stein.

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