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Summary: Happy Sexy Millionaire: Unexpected Truths about Fulfillment, Love, and Success by Steven Bartlett

Key Takeaways

  • Do you want to be a happy, sexy, millionaire? If you answered yes, you might want to read this book. But be warned, it might not be what you expect.
  • If you are curious to find out how Steven Bartlett became a millionaire at 25, why he was unhappy, and what he did to change his life, then you should read this book. You will learn the unexpected truths about fulfillment, love, and success, and how you can apply them to your own life.

Happy Sexy Millionaire (2021) is part unfiltered memoir, part practical guide, and part desperate plea to today’s connected generation. Challenging pervasive narratives around what we “should” be chasing, it posits that fulfillment, genuine relationships, and intrinsic success are the true markers of a life well lived, and offers a range of strategies to get you on your way.

Introduction: Think success is being a happy sexy millionaire? Think again

Picture this: you’re 25 years old and the CEO of a lucrative startup. Your net worth is in the six figures, as is your social media following. At least once a week, you leave your plush New York pad to travel internationally – first-class and five-star only, of course.

Then, one day, you wake up to the news that your company has just listed on the stock exchange for $200,000,000. How do you feel?

In 2019, this was Steven Bartlett’s reality, and in his case, he felt nothing. Instead, Bartlett found himself questioning everything he believed to be true about life and what truly matters.

At first glance, Steven Bartlett seems to epitomize the rags-to-riches narrative. Born in a small village in Botswana, Africa, Bartlett grew up in a black, bankrupt household in the UK. He was kicked out of school, dropped out of university, and disowned by his mom. At 18, as he scavenged fast-food joints for leftovers while hustling non-stop to build his first company, he scrawled down his ultimate goal in a diary: to become a happy sexy millionaire.

Seven years later, he was exactly that – to the outside world, at least. Inside, he felt as empty and lacking as ever.

In the years since, Bartlett has come to realize that he’d got his initial goals wrong – led astray by the siren songs of societal expectations. What his 18-year-old self really wanted was fulfillment, love, and success. And today, he’s found them – just not where he was told he would.

If you’re ready to leave the “happy sexy millionaire” lie behind, too, you’re in the right place. Buckle up. Let Bartlett steer you toward the truly fulfilled, loved, and successful person you are!

Summary: Happy Sexy Millionaire: Unexpected Truths about Fulfillment, Love, and Success by Steven Bartlett

Kill comparison

Had Bartlett’s family stayed in their small village in Botswana, Bartlett would have grown up with a very different notion of “enough” and what truly matters. After all, the average life expectancy there was just 49 in the early 2000s.

But, instead of a life perched at the top of the social ladder in Botswana, Bartlett experienced a life at the very bottom in the UK. As comedian Dave Chapelle once said of himself – and this hit home with Bartlett the instant he heard it – “My parents did just well enough so that I could grow up poor around rich white people.” Like Chappelle, Bartlett inevitably contrasted his family’s stressed existence with that of the better-off people around him..

Our brains are wired to compare. As we can’t possibly assimilate all the information we’re bombarded by at every moment, our brains use relativity – comparing and contrasting – to make quick decisions as we go about our day.

On the one hand, we’re incredibly fortunate we have the ability to do this. The alternative would be so laborious and draining that we’d be exhausted by lunchtime.

On the other hand, it’s a behavioral pattern causing us serious harm in today’s hyper-connected age. No longer are we judging ourselves against those only in physical proximity; Instagram and the internet mean we’re just as likely racing to keep up with the Kardashians as the Joneses.

The solution? Strive to compare yourself only to the person you were yesterday. Instead of measuring your growth and progress from the distance between you and some social media influencer, measure yourself from where you started. Few of us take the time to recognize how far we’ve already come, and it’s a practice we’d be better for.

If necessary (and it often is), mute or unfollow these people online, and do the figurative equivalent in real life.

If you’d like to keep inspiring figures and role models in your life – virtual or otherwise – go for it – but seek out only a handful, and make sure they’re real individuals who promote healthy ideals rather than their latest sponsorship.

Center around connection

Bartlett doesn’t believe that marriage, cohabiting relationships, or kids are for everyone. But both he and a great deal of science do believe that everyone needs genuine human connection.

In a recent study of adults from Western countries, nearly half of the 20,000 people surveyed said they felt alone and lacked meaningful social interaction. Further, this entire generation – the “connected” generation – is considered the loneliest ever recorded, which is concerning, as loneliness has been linked to early death and susceptibility to disease.

This is a lesson Bartlett and his two so-called hustle-porn friends, Dom and Anthony, learned the hard way.

Bartlett started his second company at 21, and his life for the next five years would look like this: glamorous 16-hour days spent staring at a screen, alone in an office, often sleeping there overnight to make it easier to rinse and repeat the next day. Bartlett may have been a top dog in the social media business, but his existence was anything but social.

Dom and Anthony’s lives looked the same. The three turned their noses up at anyone who wasn’t burning the entrepreneur candle at both ends. It wasn’t until Dom was diagnosed as a functioning alcoholic and Anthony developed anxiety and depression that Bartlett was forced to take a hard look at their work-above-all-else lives.

To be clear, Bartlett isn’t on the “work is inherently evil” bandwagon currently speeding through our social feeds. For Bartlett and co., work was a tremendous source of stimulation and joy. Work itself wasn’t the problem; the problem was what they had to sacrifice for it.

Just as ignoring our physical needs causes physical sickness, ignoring our psychological needs causes psychological sickness.

There’ll never be a perfect time to commit to a romantic relationship, double down on your friends, or see more of your family – so you may as well start today.

For Bartlett, this has meant prioritizing time with friends, calls to his mom, and concentrated efforts to kindle an intimate relationship despite the formidable demands of his work schedule. He doesn’t say it’s been easy. Few good things are. But he does acknowledge it’s turned his – and Dom and Anthony’s – lives around for the better.

Don’t “follow your passion”

Here’s something you mightn’t expect: Bartlett thinks the “follow your passion” spiel is BS. And surprisingly, there’s research to suggest he may be right.

In general, we’re terrible at predicting what will make us happy, and even worse at appreciating our ineptitude in this arena. Remember the moment Bartlett became one of the richest under-30-year-olds in the UK? Case in point.

Traditional career counseling asks us to envision our “dream job,” assuming that we all know what this is and then expecting the stars to suddenly align because we wrote our best guess down on paper. Bartlett believes this is nonsense. From his experience – and from observing the experiences of his most fulfilled, successful peers – Bartlett believes we need to create our passion.

Admittedly, “create your passion” is somewhat less tweetable than the current mantra, and implies more heavy lifting on our part. Not the easiest sell to a generation that wants it all and right away.

Fortunately, however, from his time deep in the trenches of business and entrepreneurship, Bartlett has identified five ingredients that seem to combine reliably to create a meaningful career. These are task engagement, opportunity to serve, alignment with skills, supportive colleagues, and work/life harmony.

The precise portions of each will vary from person to person and sometimes even from year to year. But take a moment to consider where your current day job ranks across these metrics. Are any of them completely absent? Is there anything you can do to improve one or more of your scores? If you’re between jobs, can you use these five factors as filters in your search?

Now, this isn’t a rallying cry for mass resignation or a call to snub traditional jobs in favor of becoming a TikTok influencer. On the contrary, Bartlett is encouraging us to recognize that our “dream job” could be right where we are – if we put in the effort to shape it as such. After all, the grass is ultimately greener where we water it, not where it’s been filtered for Instagram.

Stack instead of specialize

Bartlett is the first to acknowledge how surprising his entrepreneurial success may seem, given he was expelled from high school and left university after one lecture. He’s also the first to admit he isn’t “the best” in his field – despite winning awards that would suggest otherwise.

Nonetheless, Bartlett has enjoyed what by any measure is great success, and he attributes this to his skill stack – the unique array of diverse yet complementary competencies he’s honed and articulated.

In today’s hyper-globalized world, it’s more effective – and fun – to be in the top 10 percent across a handful of different skills than the best at just one. This is called skill stacking, and it makes your work both infinitely more valuable and significantly more satisfying.

When we define and develop a skill stack singular to us, we free ourselves from the increasing pressure to compete in a race to the bottom with our colleagues or peers and instead enjoy riding the virtuous upward spiral of operating in a class of one.

Fortunately, building a personal skill stack is simple. It only requires a little self-reflection.

Begin by taking stock of the skills you already have. List anything in which you feel you’d rank in or near the top 10 percent. Cooking and gardening are responses as valid as teaching or marketing.

Next, identify the top two or three skills accepted as essential to your industry. For an artist, this might include photography and drawing. For an author, this might be writing and editing.

Once you’ve specified those relevant to you, honestly evaluate whether you’d currently sit in or near the top 10% in each. If not, don’t stress. Just make it a priority to double down on these core proficiencies in the coming months.

Finally, consider what competencies uncommon to your profession could set you well apart from everyone else. That is, brainstorm skills or traits you rarely see in your workplace. An example might be public speaking if you’re a software programmer, or coding if you’re a salesperson. Commit to making one or two of these your secret side missions once your core proficiencies are closer to the top 10 percent.

It’s easy to complain about how hard it is to survive in our uber-competitive age, but in truth, success has become a whole lot more accessible. We no longer need to be “the best” at anything to be the best at something.

Prize time

Let’s assume you live to be 80 years old. That gives you around 700,000 hours – or 500,000 active hours, given you’ll spend roughly 33 years in bed.

For Bartlett, fully metabolizing this helped put life in perspective. And to maintain this perspective, he keeps a specific image top of mind.

Picture standing at a giant roulette table. This roulette table is called life, and it has a unique set of rules. We come to the table with 500,000 chips, and every hour, we each throw in one. Fortunately, we get to choose where we place our chips – on work, family time, or exercise, for example. Unfortunately, once we’ve placed a chip, we can’t get it back – and we can’t win more. As such, it becomes crucial that we spend those we have wisely.

Bartlett isn’t alone in keeping his acknowledgment of mortality in mind. Steve Jobs once said, “Remembering I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” And 2,000 years earlier, Marcus Aurelius advised himself, “Live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

We don’t have to be CEOs of revolutionary companies or emperors of dominant civilizations to prize our time highly. We all have more or less the same number of chips at the roulette table. Every one of us should be getting crystal clear on our values and priorities and using those – and only those – to guide our behaviors and actions today. What mountains do you consider worth the climb? What marathons do you deem worth the run? Place as many chips as physically possible on reaching these few peaks or finish lines.

Another strategy Bartlett recommends is setting an aspirational hourly wage and making daily decisions with this rate in mind. For example, say you decide your time is worth $100 an hour. Through this lens, you can determine whether cooking dinner every night or cleaning your home all weekend is worthwhile. Perhaps it is, but perhaps you could outsource these tasks for less than your hourly rate and instead “spend” this time on one of your core mountains or marathons.

Remember, the house always wins. None of us walks away with chips in hand. True success, then, lies in making intentional, inherently satisfying bets while we can.


True fulfillment, love, and success aren’t found in becoming happy, sexy millionaires, but rather, in mental well-being, genuine relationships, and personal growth.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with pursuing rock-hard abs or a seven-figure net worth – just know that nothing in the external world will ever fully satisfy our internal world.

Fortunately, we can spare ourselves years learning this the hard way, and instead take a leaf or two from Bartlett’s book. Adopt even one of the mindsets or strategies he offers, and you’ll inevitably find yourself closer to the fulfilled, loved, and successful person you truly are.

About the Author

Steven Bartlett


Personal Development, Biography, Memoir, Self-help, Entrepreneurship, Happiness, Success, Psychology, Non-fiction, Inspirational, Motivational.


Happy Sexy Millionaire is a self-help book that challenges the conventional wisdom about happiness, success, and love. The author, Steven Bartlett, is a young entrepreneur who achieved his childhood dream of becoming a millionaire by the age of 25, but realized that money and fame did not bring him the fulfillment he expected.

He shares his personal journey of discovering the lies that society tells us about what makes us happy, and the truths that he learned from his own experience and research. He also offers practical advice and exercises to help readers overcome their limiting beliefs, cultivate gratitude, embrace uncertainty, and find their true purpose and passion in life.

Happy Sexy Millionaire is an inspiring and refreshing book that offers a different perspective on happiness and success. The author writes with honesty, humor, and vulnerability, sharing his own struggles and insights with the reader. He does not shy away from addressing the dark side of social media, consumerism, and comparison, and how they can affect our mental health and well-being.

He also provides scientific evidence and real-life examples to back up his claims and suggestions. The book is not a typical self-help book that promises a quick fix or a formula for success. Rather, it is a personal and authentic story that invites the reader to question their own assumptions and beliefs, and to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and growth.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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