• Exposes the damage to our political discourse and policy choices caused by the myth of the “self-made man”
  • Offers testimony from a variety of business leaders about the full range of contributions to their success
  • Spells out actions we must take to lay the foundation for a renewed prosperity in America
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The Self-Made Myth challenges the by-your-own-bootstraps narrative enshrined in American tradition and beloved by antigovernment activists to offer a more holistic view of the success of business leaders and entrepreneurs. While acknowledging the importance of hard work, creativity, and leadership, it highlights several crucial, often unrecognized factors, with a particular emphasis on the ways government and society help individuals: public education, research and development grants, social services, roads and highways, laws and regulations that establish a stable business environment, and many more.

Miller and Lapham explore the historic roots of the self-made myth and reveal the societal damage it continues to cause. They present profiles of business leaders who, in their own words, identify the kinds of support and assistance that were crucial to their success, including Warren Buffett, Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s, New Belgium Brewery’s Kim Jordan, and philanthropist, filmmaker, and heiress Abigail Disney. They also disprove the arguments of individuals such as Donald Trump and Ross Perot who have helped perpetuate their own self-made success myths.  

How we view the creation of wealth and individual success shapes our choices on taxes, regulations, public investments in schools and vital infrastructure, the legitimacy of extravagant CEO pay, and more. The Self-Made Myth acknowledges and celebrates the truth of society’s contribution. It takes a village to raise a business—it’s time to recognize that fact.

“It is critical to change the conversation about how wealth is created, who creates it, and the role of government, and this book does that effectively and importantly. And it couldn’t be more timely. I urge you to read this book and get engaged in the debate about progressive taxes.”

—Bill Gates Sr.