Eric Tyson Speaker & Booking Information

Co-Author of "Home Buying For Dummies"
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The sum total of that training is a quiet self-confidence when the subject is money. "I have a pretty good sense of the financial issues that people are struggling with and how to get them the right answers," says Tyson. It's an assessment now shared by countless others who have heeded his advice and made Tyson one of the most widely read authors on personal finance that you may well never have heard of.

In the past decade he has written or coauthored eight books in the "Dummies" series, bearing such titles as Personal Finance for Dummies, Investing for Dummies, and Home Buying for Dummies. Tyson's books, many of them now in their second and third editions, have sold more than 4 million copies. At one point in 1999 he boasted no less than four books on BusinessWeek's best-seller list.

Kathy Welton, a 1978 Stanford graduate and Eric Tyson's longtime publisher at IDG Books, recalls the response to his books as "phenomenally positive." At one point IDG had an entire office filled with reader response cards clipped from the books. Welton, who read much of that correspondence, says she was struck by the range of enthusiastic readers, from college students to corporate CFOs, eager to snap up Tyson's next offering. "Eric's very good at connecting with the needs of his audience," she says. "He's passionate about what he does, and he doesn't talk down to people." Welton adds that the publishing genius of Tyson's books lies in how the range of the audience fits that of the works themselves. They can either be read cover to cover in one sitting or get pulled from the shelf time and time again as reference sources. The result, says Welton, is trust and comfort. "Eric's books give people the feeling that they can take control of their financial lives."

After earning his B.S. from Yale in 1984, Tyson stepped onto the fast track, working as a budding management consultant with Bain & Co. That stint segued to B-school at Stanford, which he entered in 1987 with the expectation that he would return to the consulting game that much smarter and that much better paid. But Tyson passed on the brass ring. Instead, he went underground, relatively speaking, and taught a continuing education class at night in Berkeley while slowly building a client list of everyday people seeking commonsense advice about money.

Fate subsequently rewarded Tyson for following his muse when he landed work doing benefits and financial counseling for employees at IDG Books in Foster City, Calif. IDG at the time was becoming increasingly well known for its tongue-in-cheek, and hot selling, Dummies series of books aimed at the burgeoning ranks of people ensnared in love-hate relationships with their personal computers. Soon enough, the light bulb went on. Isn't money just as mysterious, as maddening, and as ubiquitous as the PC? And didn't Tyson's series of lectures sound very much like chapters to a book?

IDG signed Tyson to write Personal Finance for Dummies. Published in 1993, it was the first non-computer book in the series. It has since sold more than 1 million copies and is now in its fourth edition.

Meeting this best-selling author in the flesh, you quickly understand that his success is nearly the antithesis of faddishness. He exudes awareness and sincerity, leavened with sufficient irony to save him from self-righteousness. The big numbers generated by his Dummies books impress him far less than the deeper meaning of those sales. "I make my living off the financial illiteracy of Americans," says Tyson, his tone appreciably more rueful than triumphant.

His is, above all, a soothing voice on a perennially loaded, and taboo, subject. Tyson points out that more couples argue over money than they do over sex.  The man may be sincere and sensitive, but that doesn't make him a worrier. Call him a happy contrarian always in search of perspective. "The last three years have been a real wake-up call for a lot of people," he says in gauging the frail health of the current economy. The recession is as severe as that of the early '70s, born of a witches' brew of stagflation, war, and Watergate. But having said that, Tyson adds this would be the wrong time to get out of stocks, the hot housing market is not a bubble, and, no, Social Security will not go bust when boomers start retiring in droves.

Tyson's main money concerns are really deeper and yet, strangely, more everyday. "Spending and consumption are such a big part of our culture," he laments. "People entrap themselves financially by getting caught up in buying things they don't really need or can't afford." He recalls frequent counseling sessions in California where clients confessed their auto-related anxieties to him. "People would tell me that their coworkers would say to them, 'Your car is trashing the parking lot.' People are shamed into buying things they can't afford," he says, shaking his head.

Focusing his perspective on the right pressure points in order to make a real difference seems almost a Tyson trademark, and his Dummies success isn't about to dull that drive. Tyson's next literary goal amounts to the self-help equivalent of scaling Everest. "I want to write a book that helps people break bad financial habits," he says. To prepare, he has been reading the scientific literature on compulsive and addictive behaviors. "There's a lot out there that has been written on this subject, but no one has really translated it into layman's language," he says. Given Tyson's track record as the man who demystified money for the masses, he seems as good a bet as any to do just that.

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