Darrah Brustein, Founder of Network Under 40, Talks Favorite Books & How to Make Time for Reading

Darrah Brustein is an entrepreneur and voracious reader, on a quest to always be learning. A writer, consultant and relationship-building expert, Darrah gets the most joy from helping others get closer to their goals.

Almost 10 years ago, she co-founded and grew an electronic payments company called Equitable Payments into 38 states together with Garrett, her twin brother.

At a young age, her parents layed the grounds of financial education through allowance and chore systems, savings programs, investments, and giving back. It wasn’t until Darrah’s first fulltime job, after graduating from University, that she realized how she was an exception and many of her peers weren’t equipped with the vital tools to navigate their independent finances. That’s when she chose to make a difference and help children learn valuable financial lessons. She published a kids’ book series on financial literacy, where she used fun and engaging illustrated stories to teach them the foundation.

Darrah also owns and runs Network Under 40, one of the fastest-growing networking organization for young professional, which now serves 30,000+ people. Under the belief that the foundation to career success hinges on genuine relationships and friendships with real people, Network Under 40 mixes business with pleasure. Their first event was born in 2011, in Atlanta, and since then they’ve expanded into other cities as well (DC, Baltimore, Nashville, Austin, Dallas). In 2014, a sister organization for its ‘graduates’ was initiated: Network Over 40.

She’s currently focused on running Life By Design, Not By Default, a 3-days free virtual summit with 45 speakers and 20+ hours of content. It will take place online between 12 and 14th September, register here.

You can read her educational entrepreneurship articles on several publications where she’s a contributing writer, such as Forbes, Entrepreneur.com and ThriveGlobal.

From our interview you’ll learn more about Darrah’s favorite books, the one that helped her grow her company and make better business decisions.


What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

My favorite book is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a seemingly short and sweet read that overviews four agreements you should make with yourself to live your best life. But like most things, simple isn’t actually that way. It’s a deeply profound challenge to oneself to grow. I read it a couple times a year because each time, one agreement leaps out as the one ares on which I should put my focus. This is both my personal and business recommendation because they’re not separable. Who you are is at the core of everything you do.


Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

The first time I read Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited, I was just starting my first company and it opened my eyes to the difference to between working IN your company and working ON your company. I realized that I needed to strategize all of my decisions in my business to support me not being the cog in the middle of it, but to be sure it could function well without me.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Certainly The Four Agreements for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Others include The Power Of Now which is powerful reminder that all we have is the present and helps give you meaningful ways to live in it, not in the past or the future. Another is Designing Your Life by two Stanford professors who teach a course on how to create your life. I deeply believe in the necessity and purpose of this, and the book had actionable tools to help me get there in a moment where I was rejiggering my path.


What five books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

All of the above, as well as Give And Take by Adam Grant which shares evidence to support why being a giver is the best path to success.


I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I read in spurts. Sometimes daily, other times primarily just when I travel (which is half of each month). When I travel I read on my ipad, at home I read paperback, which is my preference.


How do you make time for reading?

We all have the same amount of time, it’s a matter of aligning it with your priorities and values. I value learning, so I carve out time to read.


Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m currently reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It really highlights how we’ve created a world that celebrates extroverts and helps me to better see how to create environments in work and play for introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts!



Links where you can follow Darrah Brustein or find out more about her projects:



All books mentioned by Darrah Brustein in this interview:

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