Why I Read this Book: The importance of a father and his lessons can never be appreciated enough. This reminded me of how grateful so many of us shoul...moreWhy I Read this Book: The importance of a father and his lessons can never be appreciated enough. This reminded me of how grateful so many of us should be.
* The importance of family and relationships * Showing gratitude and appreciation * Removing negative emotions
Few of us know a stronger or more unique bond than that with our fathers. As I read through this book, I experienced just about every emotion on the map from happiness to sadness to gratitude to excitement and even a bit of regret, to name a few. Think back and try to remember a book that elicited such a range of emotions. I could not think of a better read to bring to your attention just after Thanksgiving as we get into the holidays.
A great friend, father and mentor of mine recommend this book to me a few years ago. He mentioned how only after getting pages into it, did the tears start streaming down his face. I was used to getting business book recommendations from him so this one struck me as a bit unique. I suspect that as fathers, this book will have an even stronger emotional effect than on sons and daughters but for now I will only be coming from the perspective of a son. Although after reading, I look forward to this perspective changing.
Tim Russert has the reputation as an amazing father and an amazing son. He wrote this book as a tribute to his father “Big Russ” as a follow on to his first book Big Russ and Me. The book takes an interesting style in that the author has written very little of it. Instead, the majority is stories about fathers around the nation, written by sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. The neat thing is that with stories covering the happy times, the sad times and everything in between, most any reader can relate to at least a story or two. The lessons learned through relationships with fathers are indeed endless, yet so often we don’t realize them until much later.
Some lessons that stood out were:
* Keeping your word * Staying true to yourself * Showing the people in your life your appreciation * Honesty and integrity over all else * A father’s love for his mother * Not taking love or its expression for granted * Creating a family full of friendship
As I experienced Thanksgiving week last week (for my family and for me, it has always been more of a week-long celebration), I thought back on what meant the most in my life. There was no doubt that my family came first. And having a look back through this book reminded me specifically of my dad, who is still a great friend and teacher of mine, and it gave me this feeling of incredible gratitude. He (and my mother) has taught me some of the most fundamental building blocks of my life; be it integrity, focus, the importance of family, patience, as well as countless business lessons. I see more each day how incredibly grand the role of a father is.
As always, there is a ton to think about over the next month as we move through Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Many of us get caught up in our own individual goals for the year and being sure we can call this year a successful one. While our own goals are at the top of our priority list, I hope you took last week as a moment, day or hopefully longer, to feel, experience and show the gratitude that you have in your life. Gratitude is an amazing emotion. When you feel intense feelings of gratitude, the body and mind cannot experience negative emotions like fear or stress, which so many of us tend to feel at the end of the year. I try to spend at least a few minutes each morning while on a jog or just after I get up, letting all the things I’m grateful for flow through my mind and body. If this is not already a daily ritual of yours, I challenge you to give it a try. You will not believe the experience.
I am convinced that everyone has at least something to be grateful for and the majority of us could write an endless list. The key is taking the time to realize those things and focus on why you’re grateful. Sometimes it takes some digging but it’s worth it to experience true gratitude. Wisdom of Our Fathers forces us all to think about one part of our lives that I hope all of us can share. I am not saying that you have to have a perfect relationship with your father. In fact some of us may feel the opposite. But no matter your relationship, think for a minute about what you’ve learned and how you are better because of the effect your father has had on you. It could be your blood father, or a father figure. Or perhaps now you are the father and this book relates you back to your relationship with your son or daughter. Whatever the case may be, take a minute to just be grateful for the hand you were dealt. It will make you better for the day, the month and for the life of the others with whom you interact.
As I get around to writing this review, years after first picking up the book (I try to thumb through it each year), I am saddened to say that it has now become a tribute to Tim and the relationship to his son Luke. Tim passed away only a few months ago, much earlier than he should have. After seeing Luke’s reaction to his passing, in television interviews and articles, it’s clear that a legend has been left and a torch has been passed. In the days after Tim’s death, all Luke could express was gratitude for what his father had created in him.
Sometimes we need a tool to help us realize the things that are right under our nose. Think of this book as a way to reconnect with what’s most important on our journey towards success. I hope you agree that it is the interactions, relationships and learning that set a great life apart from the others. Those are the building blocks that create success and fulfillment. In this instance we focus on the father figure, but this goes for any important figure in your life. I, as much as anyone, understand the importance of a mother as well, and I promise to pay a further tribute to her in a future review. The two go hand in hand and everyday I am grateful for both.
Enjoy the memories these stories bring to life as you read through them. Realize how you relate, and most importantly let yourself be reminded of the people that put you where you are. Take the time to feel and show your gratitude. Both of you will be so much better for the experience.
Why I Read this Book: Warren Buffet became the successful man he is today greatly as a result of what he learned from the man who wrote this book. We...moreWhy I Read this Book: Warren Buffet became the successful man he is today greatly as a result of what he learned from the man who wrote this book. We have the chance to read exactly what he read.
Whether you are an avid investor with a complex understanding of the markets or a beginner who is yet to start learning, there is little doubt that you have heard of Warren Buffet. He represents a level of success that very few people ever reach. Most of us know Buffet as the second richest man in the world, but many of us do not stop to think that he has build his great fortune solely off of investing. He has not invented anything or built any specific business. He has gotten to where he is by nothing more than diligent value and principle based investing (with very little debt I might add).
I apologize for the long rant on Buffet especially since he only wrote the first few pages of this edition. The man behind this book’s genius is Benjamin Graham. It was many of his fundamentals and principles that got Buffet started with a foundation that soon grew to be insurmountable. The amazing thing is that anyone interested in these principles has the opportunity to buy a copy of this book for less than twenty dollars. It continues to blow me away; the amount of success-related knowledge that is available to us for the learning.
To be very honest up front, this is not the easiest read. It is written by a 20th century economist and quite frankly it often reads just like that. But to that note one should not pick this book up for humor and entertainment as much as he should to learn. Although there will be times when you will find yourself laughing or smiling at some of the stories told and how they ring true even today in our ever more sophisticated world. One such example is the concept of emotional investing, one of which most all of us have been guilty at one time or another. It is worth mentioning that for every bit of hard theory, this particular revised addition of the book has just about as much digestible commentary (courtesy of Jason Zweig) to help the reader through. This commentary is crucial to the level of satisfaction of the read.
I would not dare to get into the specifics of this book as I would not do them justice and I feel that the above should be more than enough reason to read the full edition. However I will comment on the over all tone of it. The book (as well as Buffet’s proven strategy) is based on a fundamental set of principles. These principles are something that, no matter what the circumstances, is never to be broken. This is how the rigor of an “intelligent investor” is maintained. I believe this to be the real difference between Graham and Buffet and the rest of the investment community (If you have not already, you should be sure to read Buffet’ s 13 principles on Berkshire’s website). Both these men display an inhumane level of disciple to stick to the very principles they have developed.
Having a principle-based investment strategy is something that will prove to be of much value as one progresses along his career (or hobby) of successful investing. If you are able to decide on a set of principles (be them your own or those of others) and stick to them at all costs, decisions suddenly become much more fluid and easy to make. How else do you think Buffet can make a $4 billon investment before lunch time?
The real reason I mention this is that it has a much greater underlying message. If principle based investing has proven so successful (provided your principles are sound of course) then imagine what can be accomplished in the overall success of ones life if you live by a firm set of principles and core values. This quickly becomes clear once you read through some of the top rated books in my personal development section. By now I hope you have already developed your set of core values by which to live. Now take advantage of this book to establish a similar set of values by which to judge personal investments. The added long term financial success will be explicit. Then again I guess you could just buy Berkshire, but perhaps you should make that decision for yourself after reading the book that helped create it.
Why I Read this Book: There is nothing more important in my life than the relationships that fill it. The relationship with my significant other is at...moreWhy I Read this Book: There is nothing more important in my life than the relationships that fill it. The relationship with my significant other is at the top of that list. This book leads that relationship to greatness.
Not long ago I was chatting with an Anthony Robbins life coach. This was a first experience for me but coaching had come so highly recommended by others in my life that it would have been foolish to not at least explore. One of the main topics of our conversation was of course the woman I have been in a relationship with for over four years. We had recently been put into a long distance scenario due to a change in my career. For those of you who have been there, you know how difficult communication can be between you and your loved one. Unfortunately some of you I am sure also know how much more complex that communication can be when you cannot physically be close to each other. This coach saw my pain and having read The Five Love Languages, she recommended it for Chelsea and me.
The thing about relationships is that when they are good it is as if there is nothing in the world that can be bad. Everything just seems to fall into place perfectly. The contrary is that when things are not right with the person you love, you are in for a lot of hardship. All of a sudden the other nice things in your life do not seem to matter so much any more. There are practically infinite reasons why something can go wrong between two people in a relationship, but believe it or not, the great majority of the time it boils down to a “simple” issue of communication or lack thereof. I cannot begin to count the times that miscommunication and misinterpretation has been the root of relationship problems of mine and others with whom I am close.
Gary Chapman has spent many years on this topic of communication between loved ones. Out of all the possible forms of communication or miscommunication, he has come up with five different categories for communication, which he has dubbed The Five Love Languages. These categories are: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical touch. The reason I am not hesitant to tell you these before you read the book is because they are clearly noted on the outside cover. Please remember that to know the five languages is nothing without understanding what they mean by reading the book. Over the years Gary has counseled thousands of couples and has learned that so often the problem comes from the fact that each member of the relationship speaks a different primary love language.
As you may have noticed from some of my other reviews, one of the main things that makes the difference between a good book and a great book are the examples used. Given Gary’s life background as a marriage coach and counselor, he has some of the most powerful examples from his past. They so clearly show the effectiveness of the concepts in his book. More than anything these examples show that the five love languages are real. To me there is nothing more powerful.
Gary’s research and life experience shows that it is very rare for two people in a relationship to speak the same love language. For that reason, it is fundamental both people understand their love language and that of their loved one so that they can communicate in a way that is effective and conducive with the one they love. I know it sounds simple and to be honest it is. But that is the case with most of these books. Sure it makes perfect sense once you finish the last page of a book, but you have to remember that often it is the words in the book that brings common sense into your conscious. That is the sign of a great book and author.
This book has changed my life with Chelsea. I read it months ago and realized many things that now seem so obvious. For so long I felt I was expressing what I wanted to her, but it was not until reading this book that I understood the simple things that keep us from seeing the things that were most important to each other. I bought this book the day that coach mentioned it to me. As you may know by now, any time someone I respect recommends a book that has personally affected them in a positive way; I make it a priority on my reading list. How could I not?
This book was an extremely easy read. Part of that was because the author was so right on with his stories and examples and the other part was because it was written in short digestible chapters. It’s the type of book that could be finished in a nice weekend if you wanted. There are also great activities included in the back to help better understand your love language. One warning I will offer is that this book is written with the married audience in mind. This can be a turnoff to many and at first it was to me because I am not married. This is not a book just for people in a marriage. It is for anyone who is in a serious relationship or is serious about relationships.
Chelsea and I are now starting to read this book again, together. We have not been this happy in a long time and I have Gary to sincerely thank for that. There are some things in life that can make it the very best or the very worst. Often times it is the little things that can make a world of difference. Understanding your love language and more importantly that of your significant other is that little thing. Are you willing to spend a day, a weekend or a week understanding this, or to at least to get started? Those of you who have been there will surely answer yes, and those of you who have not will be there one day. This is the chance to make that difference. As Gary says, “Remember that what ever the quality of your relationship now, it can always be better.” That’s what keeps us all interested. Have fun with your new language.
Why I Read this Book: I wanted to understand the great effect that technology and globalization has been and continues to have on our lives and the wo...moreWhy I Read this Book: I wanted to understand the great effect that technology and globalization has been and continues to have on our lives and the world. This book opened my eyes wider than I thought possible.
Well who would have thought? So it’s flat again is it? As far as I am concerned, the title is quite witty. This book changed my view on the world and I believe it will do the same for you. Let me make a quick note that this is Friedman’s first edition of the book. I have yet to find the time to read his updated version, but something tells me I ought to and I am sure I will.
I have long heard talk of a force that is leveling the global playing field and removing a lot of our competitive advantages as American citizens. If one wants any chance of preparing themselves for what is in store, I suggest you to start with understanding where we are today and what it means for our future. Enter The World Is Flat.
The subtitle of this book, “A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century,” is very appropriately named. It is astounding all that has gone on in the past century, even the past decade, and Thomas Friedman manages to touch on all of it. He starts with his “Ten Forces That Flattened the World.” Think you know what they are? You might be very surprised. He then uses these ten forces to help us better understand the rest of his explanations throughout the book.
The biggest takeaway for me is that this book is a call to action. Friedman’s description of the ever- flattening world is a way of him slapping America (and anyone else in the developed world) in the face and telling us that it is time to do something, because if we don’t then we will be left in the proverbial dust for the “hungry” nations to do as they please.
Friedman’s puts a lot of focus on India and China with relation to the United States. The U.S. is in a very dangerous position. We are in a state of complacency. I guess that is what being the most powerful nation in the world will do to you. As is mention elsewhere on this site, satisfied goals do not motivate. That is certainly no excuse. We may be at the top now but China and India are on their way up, and when you get the momentum of a couple billion people, it gets pretty tough to stop. Asian countries are now graduating 8 times as many bachelor engineers as the U.S. I think we are stating to see Friedman’s point.
Insourcing and outsourcing are becoming more and more of a threat as technology makes it all but seamless to have the majority of one’s labor and operations done in other countries. If you think you have not seen it and do not experience it, you’re wrong. The average Dell computer sees around four hundred companies in three continents before it hits your doorstep. Next time you call tech support for your favorite product, try having a little fun by asking the rep where he is. You would be foolish to expect them to be in a location anywhere near your current time zone or continent for that matter. It’s not only happening with customer service and call centers though. It is happening with accounting, taxes and engineering too. And it does not stop there. Hell you can even get your own executive assistant in Bangalore to take care of all your presentations, research and any other dirty work for as little as $1,500 a month (probably even cheaper by now). I am sure some of us would have liked that in university.
The most important idea that I took from this book is that if any of us want to have a chance at competing with the new opponents on this globally flat playing field, then we need to take our personal and professional development very seriously. We need to find our niches and become the experts. Whether or not we do this is up to us, but there is one thing that is for sure. There are over a billion people out there who are taking this very seriously. The key is positioning us to offer something valuable that cannot be found elsewhere. The question is what might that something be? Reading through Friedman’s thoughts will get you off to a great start.
Why I Read this Book: Warren Buffett is the epitome of success in many ways for a lot of people. I had to find out the real story.
* Mo...moreWhy I Read this Book: Warren Buffett is the epitome of success in many ways for a lot of people. I had to find out the real story.
* Modeling * Internal Values * Value Investing * Trade offs of various forms of success * Understanding your purpose and priorities * Importance of Relationships
I preordered my copy of Snowball through Amazon the day it was announced. I will warn you that I am a fanatic. I make it out to Omaha each year for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and it’s one of my favorite weekends learning lessons on life, business and of course investing. The foundation of my investment firm is based on the principles he made famous. Needless to say, I could not wait to get my copy.
Nearly two months later, I have finally turned the last page. One thing is for sure, Alice Schroder managed not to spare a detail in the 830 odd pages. No doubt that the length of this biography is a symbol of the depth and fanatics of Warren’s life, which becomes clearer with each page. I believe that Alice could have spared some of the detail so be prepared for a dense read.
I have been a student of Buffett and his approach for years, which made Snowball a logical progression in my ever-growing investing curriculum. Although for those of you looking for deep insight into Warren’s investment approach and steps on how to mimic it, you have come to the wrong place. There are hundreds of other titles that do a much better job of that (some of which you will see on my site). That value in this book instead was to get a window on the mind, life and thinking of the most financially successful person of our time.
For years I have had my question prepared for Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, but I have yet to awaken early enough to secure a place in line. Shareholders and attendees willing to stand in line starting at around 3am are granted one question on a topic of their choosing. Mine is along the lines of “What was it that you told yourself, thought about and visualized when you were younger that made you certain that you would be one of the wealthiest people in the world one day? We have heard of your physical routine, but what about your psychology?” I believe The Snowball is my answer (although I hope to ask him again in Omaha next year).
Snowball brings up plenty of realizations and surprises of Warren’s life, but for me more than anything, this was a lesson in modeling. Modeling is one of the most valuable tools available for success. Early on, the likes of Ben Franklin, Benjamin Graham and plenty more, discovered that if you learn how someone lives their life and the beliefs they possess, it is possible to model their actions and thinking to achieve similar results. Tony Robbins is the biggest promoter and teacher of this technique in today’s world. This tool is incredibly valuable in anyone’s tool chest to success. It’s a huge handicap to not put it to use on your journey. That is essentially what ReadingForYourSuccess comes down to. A guide on how to model the most successful authors, people and approaches I come across.
Anyone looking to model Warren Buffett (and I know there are a lot of you out there) must read Snowball. Over the years I have worked hard to model what I’ve learned about Warren’s approach to investing and life. Outwardly it seems doable, but after spending two months and 830 pages peering through the window on his life, it has become glaringly clear why there is only one Warren Buffett.
From the early years of childhood, Warren has had a one track mind about collecting as much money as possible. This has come at the regrettable sacrifice of various family interactions and relationships throughout his life. I wont get into the specifics but the eye-opener for me was that when it comes down to success, never forget that trade off’s exist around every corner. Only a true understanding of your life’s mission, purpose and definition of success will allow you to properly choose as these issues are presented. For Warren, he loved nothing more than analyzing businesses and building wealth. He obviously did not care about what it could buy, since he is still quite frugal and is giving it all back to society, but he loves the accumulation. This has taken top priority and there’s little doubt that he could have achieved what he has without the inhuman discipline that he’s displayed in his 78 years.
* Discipline is one on of the most valuable traits one can possess * There is no substitute for a firm set of values * The importance of giving back and philanthropy—there’s no pride in being the richest guy in the graveyard * ake every opportunity to teach, develop and give knowledge to others * Desire and commit to never stop learning
This was a fundamental learning for me and I hope it presents a valuable example for you as well. While, building a successful investment business is very important to me, it does not rank as high as my health and my relationships and interactions with my family, friends and the love of my life. I am willing to accept this as I set my goals and expectations for my business and all other things important to me.
Snowball is a wonderful guide to what it would really take to model the success of Warren Buffett. And just as it took an incredibly unique individual to become who Warren is today, it would take just as much to model him. You wonder though, even if you could model Warren, would you really want to? After learning the details provided by Schroder, I have a feeling fewer would be up to the task. This is a fantastic realization however. It is up to you to choose what traits and qualities you want to model about a mentor or teacher. Just as important as what you choose to model, is what you choose to leave behind. We do this everyday without knowing it, whether it’s with our parents, friends or significant others. Common sense says to take the desirable and leave the rest. As you reevaluate your modeling for this new year, keep this close in mind.
We are all uniquely fortunate to be living and learning among the likes of such business and financial greatness. Never before have we seen a man with an internal set of rules and convictions (an “internal yardstick” as Buffett would call it) so strong that no one would be successful in throwing him off his finely calculated path to the top. Generations to come will listen in envy as we tell them of what we learned as we witnessed Warren amass his Snowball in real time. All the while giving those willing to listen, some of the most fundamental and priceless lessons on life, values, philanthropy, business and investing ever provided. If you have not taken advantage of these real time lessons, it’s not too late, but sadly that will not always be the case. If you’re up to it, dig into Snowball, but if not then you need not look further than any book store or a month’s worth of news papers to begin seeing all that Warren has been providing to us and society. The years are limited where it will still be real time. There is a strong dose to be had every year out in Omaha. Perhaps I’ll see you out there in 2009.
Why I Read this Book: I’ve always made it a priority to stay up to date on major world and environmental issues. This sums up some things we might wan...moreWhy I Read this Book: I’ve always made it a priority to stay up to date on major world and environmental issues. This sums up some things we might want to be thinking (and worrying) about.
* Environmental Consciousness * Environmental Degradation * Global Warming * Going Green
My mind was racing as soon as I finished the first chapter. It was almost painful. It was not a feeling of excitement that I get from many of the books I review, but instead a heavy feeling of responsibility. If I had to quickly sum it up, Speth’s thesis is as follows: as a result of an incredible desire to grow and consume as a country, an economy and a planet, our world is heading down a very dangerous path to environmental destruction, and the time is right this second to start doing something about it. I know it sounds extreme but you won’t believe the intensity of the statistics regarding population growth, fresh water use, polution, vehicle use, climate changes, temperature increase, and the list goes on. One thing is for sure. The author has done his research. It must have taken him years to put this together.
My good mate from Dubai was out visiting a few weeks back and gave me this book as a gift. He said it had a profound effect on him and felt it was his duty to offer me the same experience. I’m not sure whether to thank him or not… What a gift. As I read through the staggering statistics of how we are using, growing and consuming much too fast for our own good, I felt this massive call to action. The last time I really felt this way from a global perspective was after reading Thomas Friedman’s, The World is Flat a number of years ago. The only difference was that back then the call to action felt more like motivation to be as great as we (the U.S.) have been in the years and decades past. I was inspired, by both fear and excitement, to be better. Speth has taken more the approach of extreme fear and guilt to encourage action and I think he’s done it. From what I’ve heard, Friedman’s newest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded takes a much more drastic approach as Speth has here. Be expecting a review on that shortly.
As the book reads, Speth begins with the major problems and potential upcoming disasters of the environment to get the reader legitimately frightened. He then covers some of the key causes to give the reader some understanding, and finally closes with some thoughtful approaches on what can be done about it to give the reader some action steps. The layout seemed to flow well, although for most of the book I kept thinking to myself, what the heck can I, as one person, do about these major issues. To my satisfaction, those ideas were eventually covered.
Something specific that stood out to me was the blame that he has put on modern day capitalism. As wonderful as capitalism has been as a tool to inspire great financial success and unparalleled innovation, it has left some terrible undoing in the dust. We have become so focused on economic growth at absolutely any cost that Corporate America has sacrificed the very thing that keeps it alive, mother earth. I must say it’s hard to blame them given the world is shoulder deep in a race to see who can be the biggest and the strongest, but it’s still no excuse. It’s a global issue and should be approached that way. There are so many standards for how a corporation operates and recognizes profits but there has been next to no accountability for the wake of their environmental impact.
Speth’s point is that as much as our current definition of capitalism has done for our country and world, it is glaringly clear that this same form of capitalism is anything but sustainable in the future. He then goes on to propose the shifts that should and need to be made in order to keep our quest for growth from destroying what makes life worth living–clean air, fresh water, a healthy family and so many other things we take for granted.
What really hit home for me was that Speth did not stop at the economy at large. He dug right into the reader’s core by identifying the very things each of us (as well as our society as a whole) have become accustomed to. It all starts with our addiction for over-consumption. The idea of not just being satisfied with “enough”, but instead needing and consuming “too much”. Most anyone of us reading this is guilty of it. Consumerism and materialism has taken over our society to a point where we often don’t even realize that half the things we buy are totally unnecessary. The problem is that as soon as we’ve convinced ourselves that we need them to be happy, we have fallen into the trap.
Gone seem the days of entertainment from simple time with friends, a nice book or a walk along the beach. That walk has turned into bike ride on a few thousand dollar bike. That time with friends has turned into a couple hundred dollar meal and drinks out on the town. And that book sadly has turned into cable TV or video games. The more we consume, the more we feel entitled to consume. Even if it’s totally irrational, that entitlement is still there. People talk about budgeting in this tight economy yet they are still going out to nice meals or grabbing their daily Starbucks. Since when are those not treats and privileges, but instead our rights?
The point is that all this adds up. It may not seem like much as one consumer. But have a look through your house, closet or credit card bill and make a list of things you could have easily done without. Now imagine a list like that times 300 or so million people. The materialism and entitlement adds up and quickly trickles into corporations motivations and before long you can see why this country and this world are running so terribly low on resources. Something must be done or it’s not going to end well.
Over the years, we have been brainwashed to think that success is directly related to the amount of money we have and the things we own. Hopefully by now, as avid readers of Reading For Your Success and these books, you have realized that couldn’t be further from the truth. Success is a dynamic concept in our minds that constantly changes as we learn and become aware of new ideas and priorities in our own lives and in the world in which we live. Please do not let your preconceived definitions of success blind you of the priorities of today. Our definition should be constantly growing and refining with every new thought that comes up, and I encourage you to always use the latest tools and minds to open up yours. The Bridge at the Edge of the World is just one of those tools.
This book is James Speth’s gift to our environment and our culture to get us fired up to do something about it so that there’s something left for our children and theirs. Without massive change, it looks as if we’ll continue down a pretty scary road. Speth is hoping he can inspire us enough to create a bridge to take us across to a more socially and environmentally conscious world and it will no doubt require the work of the whole crowd. At this point you should be wondering what you can do, or perhaps what you are already doing, to lend a hand. Might it be something as simple as starting to recycle or riding your bike to work, or perhaps more deep-rooted like focusing your life’s quest for success as an individual, entrepreneur, businessperson, mother or father in a way that will really change things. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the opportunities are practically untapped when it comes to doing your part. I’d say it’s never too late, but at some point it will be.
Why I Read this Book: Travel and exploration is an essential part of the development of a successful and fulfilled life. Rolf provides an awesome and...moreWhy I Read this Book: Travel and exploration is an essential part of the development of a successful and fulfilled life. Rolf provides an awesome and inspirational guide.
All I can think of is travel right now. Not just travel, but moreso exploring, adventure and discovery. Where will my next adventure be? I have that excited feeling right now that only the best possibilities bring us. You know, that one we used to all feel the night before Christmas? Something like that, but for adults. My long term travel adventures have been occurring off and on for the past few years ever since spending eighteen months exploring the south of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Since then the addiction has taken over, and Rolf Potts has fully fired me up again with Vagabonding.
When I first saw the title of this book, Vagabonding, An uncommon guide to the art of long-term world travel, I thought it was a joke, as unfortunately most people probably did. But the truth is, this should be required reading for anyone about to enter the real world after university. In fact it should be required for everyone period. Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week, first recommeneded it to me and given my great admiration for him, Vagabonding was the next book on my list.
Excitement and inspiration are some of the words that come to mind to describe the feelings that go through the reader’s body as they hear of Rolf’s adventures throughout the world. Whether it was his 9-month adventure through Southern Asia, his experience hitch-hiking through Russia or simply a curious conversation he had a with a farmer in Africa (there’s no doubt he has done all of these), there is something to learn from each. Some of his stories are extreme and have you reading in disbelief whereas just as many make you realize the simplicities in life that we so often let pass us by.
Travel is not something that should be reserved for one or two weeks out of the year where you blow through 10 attractions in just as many days. It is a time to go out and learn from those whom you’ve never come in contact. A time to get out of your comfort zone and be a stanger as you learn how others approach life. To you that might mean spending six months or a year on a beach in Thailand contemplating the “simple life”, or to the more adventurous, it may mean spending a few months with nomads wandering through the Sahara. Or it could be anything in between.
The point is that travel and exploration are a fundamental part of life and development. We can only understand and learn so much from what we read, see on TV or experience in a class room. It is hard to have true compassion and understanding for life outside of your life if you never get out there. My mind was first opened on six month study abroad adventure in Spain and England. I can’t tell you how close I was to not going because I thought I’d be ‘missing’ something back home. I’m grateful for making the right decision ever since. In fact, study and experience abroad should be a requirement in our socitey as far as I’m concerned, but that’s another topic. For those in question, I have simple advice. If you are ever on the fence about going somewhere, just go. You won’t regret it.
The wonderful thing is that these opportunities are available to everyone. They are are not just for the mega-rich as so many of us have been trained to believe. In fact, often times it is overabundance that causes us to lose those first-hand experiences with other cultures. As nice as a five-star hotel is in Oman, it is showing you next to nothing about the Omani culture. Quite often one or two-week long travelers, especially the wealthy, travel far and wide to experience the same nice comforts and amenities and even people as at home. Why not just save the travel time and stay home?
Part of what’s so inspiring about this book is the way Rolf explains the incredible possibilities that exist for long-term travel regardless of our economic situation. Did you hear that? Please read it over again to let it sink in. Regardless of our our economic situation. He often travels on five or 10 dollars a day. How many of you could afford that? Could you imagine traveling using only your daily Starbucks budget? The next time you head out for a party-filled weekend, think of how far that $250 could go at $5/day in Indonesia. That’s almost two months of pure and original exploring! So think about the the next time you tell someone (or worse off, yourself) that you don’t have the money to travel. We all have the money, it’s just a matter of knowing what exists and making it a priority. No excuses. And if you have happen to doubt it, Rolf is quite convincing in his first-hand accounts as well as his seemingly endless resources he provides to guide you through making it possible. Whether that means tips on the cheapest countries and towns, or how to get quick international jobs here and there to fund your way through, you’ll find the advice you need.
I am saddened by the ever-growing frequency and list of excuses that so many young people have. If I had a euro or pent (or whatever currency is relevant on your next journey), for every time I heard someone say “I wish I could do what he’s (or she’s) doing, but…”, I would spend every last day of my life traveling and exploring the world. Then again, maybe I’ll do that anyway.
It is so easy to have excuses for inactivity and simply revert to the norm, especially when our institutions and generations before us tend to tell us that things like vagabonding just aren’t possible. Well it’s becoming clear that they are, and it is those very things that lead to truly great success. I challenge you to find someone who has experienced genuine and extreme success and fulfillment by always listening to others. That’s just it. Be different. Learn from different people, places, things and experiences. After all, our life is made up of one experience to the next. Why not make them unique and wonderful? You, and the people you touch, will no doubt be better for having done it. And the wonderful thing about travel is the more you do it, the more you have to do it. If only all personal development could be like that.
Rolf has given us the inspiration, tools and stories to guide us on an endless string of journey’s. We all have the resources if we want them. So this leaves us only with the important questions. Where will you be heading for the next six months, a year, or more? Who might you meet? How might your life be changed for the better?
Where ever it is, I look forward to running into you.
Why I Read this Book: With the intensity of today’s market, I wanted a quick recap of true value investing. This hit all the key points.
Whether...moreWhy I Read this Book: With the intensity of today’s market, I wanted a quick recap of true value investing. This hit all the key points.
Whether you are a savvy investor or are just beginning, this is a great book to pick up. You reading this post shows me that you most likely have a keen interest in investing which leads me to believe you have been following the market lately. It’d be very hard not to given all that’s gone on. At times it seems like the market is falling apart. Many of you may know the feeling of checking one of your investments over the past couple weeks and feeling incredible excitement or total dread as you watched it’s price drop by 10 or 20% or jump by an equal amount. It really is hard to digest. This is when it’s most important to remember what value investing really is.
This little book of value helps us remember where we should and should not be focusing our investment time and effort (or stress and anxiety for that matter). I will be the first to say that with today’s incredibly volatile and potentially gut-wrenching market, I could use a call back to the basics. This short, easy read was a huge help. Simply stated, what this book and so many other value investing books will tell you is to stop spending your time worrying about all this short-term chaos. If you focus on buying great, proven businesses and keeping them for years on end, these short-term fluctuations should be nothing but excitement that your favorite businesses may be going on sale. Tell me anyone who doesn’t like it when their favorite products go on a huge sale. The stock market is no different.
The ‘Little Book’ series has been a great supplement to my ever-growing value investing education. I am always open to new thoughts and ideas and when it comes to investing, especially value investing. I am all ears to hear new explanations. What’s so nice and refreshing about value investing is that no matter who describes it, the same few simple ideas come up. On one hand you could say that once you have read one book on the subject, you have read it all, but it’s not until you really dig into the subtleties of one’s approach that you start to see what makes great value investors. For most of you, this material is nothing too new, but some nice reinforcement is important from time to time.
Christopher Browne has had a very successful career that dates back to the days when Ben Graham and Warren Buffett were running their own money and their own funds. His stories and experiences with the investment greats of the past century go a long way in hammering home his points. You will find a new spin on all the classic fundamentals of margin of safety, Mr. Market, focusing on earnings and profitability over sexiness and popularity, only buying when prices are cheap, and most importantly, keeping a good head and sound discipline when investing the way in which it was meant to be done.
Value investing happens to be a great passion of mine, which is why my partner and I founded our own value fund, Cumbre Capital Partners. Even with all we have learned, done and experienced over the years, I can’t tell you the importance of continuing to reinforce the basic fundamentals as Browne touches upon here. More than anything, value investing is a huge test of will and discipline. It’s easy to buy and sell whatever is ‘hot’ or ’sexy’ at the time, but it is entirely different to have the conviction and discipline to stand behind an investment and approach, when everyone else is telling you why you’re wrong and why your ideas will fail. It still blows me away why the most proven investment approach of all time is still so rarely adopted in practice but I think the answer comes down to one word, discipline.
And it’s no coincidence that this is one word that the most successful people in the world have in common. Whether the space be investing, personal coaching, relationships, professional sports, the arts or anything else, rock solid determination is what has lead to success beyond what most thought was possible. As you journey down the road less traveled to success, at times it will seem like everyone wants you to fail or has lost hope in you, and it is then when you find out what true success is made of. This is one of the reasons I love value investing. It is the discipline and ability to swim against the current with complete certainty, despite what others tell you.
Now more than ever is this the case in a value investor’s career. We are being severely tested. If any of you search for articles of Warren Buffett in the late 1990’s, you would have seen reports indicating ‘Warren has lost his touch’ and that ‘he doesn’t understand this technology stuff’. What did he do in response? He kept doing exactly what he’d done for past 50 years while he watched the dot com bubble burst in everyone’s face. And look at him now. His value approach has put him in a better place than anyone in today’s daunting market, so remember that as these volatile times test your conviction. And no matter your experience level, do not be afraid to pick up a new book to reinforce what you have already learned so many times in the past. It may be just what you need to remind you of the incredible opportunity these times are presenting. If nothing else, hopefully it will get you to shut off Google Finance for a few hours or a few weeks and to sit tight with the wonderful businesses you probably already own. After all, time is the dear friend of the great business. See you in the market.
Why I Read this Book: I needed a call to action back to the simplicity and importance of life. Walden is it.
Simplicity should be a simple thing...moreWhy I Read this Book: I needed a call to action back to the simplicity and importance of life. Walden is it.
Simplicity should be a simple thing, don’t you think? Sometimes I feel like so many of us get caught up in a wicked spiral of complexity in today’s society. I unfortunately think this is especially the case for those of us really striving for success. Sometimes a reminder of life’s wonderful simplicities is exaclty what we need. Henry David Thoreau takes us right back to the basics in Walden.
Somehow I went the first 25 years of my life without ever knowing of this incredible literary work. It was not until a few months ago when a well respected friend, and wonderful liver of life, recommended I read Walden, slowly. I have received plenty of book recommendations in the past but never before has someone recommended the pace at which I read. I took his advice and spent the summer doing just that. I was facing a big career transition and just about to leave for a trip to Dubai to see what some new parts of the world had to offer. What perfect timing. Since then I cannot list the number of successful mentors and authors of our time who have recommended Walden.
As we so often see, it is the presently popular pieces written generations back (in this case over a hundreds years ago) that really have the lasting and timeless impact on society. In the mid 1800’s, Thoreau set off on a quest to get back to basics. And his journey took him to Walden Pond. There he spent a couple years living life as one would if they were not continuously acting upon the ever growing social pressures of life.
Thoreau went to Walden to focus on needs instead of society-generated desires. How about growing and eating just what our body needs (and really wants) to survive instead of filling our bodies with extra meat, fat and alcohol? Or maybe consuming and wearing clothes that first and foremost do what they were first intended to do; keep us warm and comfortable, as opposed to keeping up with what’s hot in the shop windows? I know it’s hard to imagine while we are wearing our newest Seven jeans but this is what he wanted to remind himself of out at Walden Pond. In these 150 odd pages, he simply tells us of his experiences and realizations of life and his surroundings. Be prepaired for details of the things that we usually take for granted and expect to spend some time with his experiences. They will likely make you do some thinking of your own.
Walden puts forth an invaluable message that resonates in every part of life. We should not live and judge the quality of our lives by the things that others have and say we should have. We should not judge our success based upon what those around us consider to be success. I have said it so many times. We are successful because we say we are, we believe are and feel we are. Not because anyone else tells us we are or aren’t. Success is something only you can realize inside yourself. It is unfortunate that we get scrutinized for giving up that ‘wonderful’ corporate job to be a writer or a yoga teacher or maybe even a waiter. Maybe we love people. Maybe we want to better help others or better communicate with others. Who knows what the reason is. In fact no body really knows the reason except you, the one making the decision. We should all be encouraged to do exactly what we want to be doing and feel we are meant to do. You can bet that Thoreau received plenty of bad press for taking off to Walden Pond for those two years, but in exchange for some superficial and temporary popularity, what did he stand to gain? How about confidence and pride in doing what’s most important to him? And gaining the ability to be present in a world that continues to try to think about ten things at once and fifty steps ahead? What would that be worth to you?
If Thoreau could see how much more intense our society has gotten today compared to when he retreated to Walden, I am not sure he would know what to think. And the pressures are only growing. Of course I am not telling you to skip town and go widdle sticks in the woods for a couple years. But how about just taking some time to yourself and writing down what’s really important? Why do you feel you need to make this much money or have that job or wear these clothes? Is it because you truly value all these things or is it perhaps because you have been trained to think and feel this way? What pressure and stress do these misunderstood priorities have on you?
I took my trip to Walden a few years ago. It was in the form of living in Spain for 18 months and it has changed me ever since. I task you with the same exploration. Take Walden and a journal with you for a weekend or maybe even a fun longer trip to a new place with all new people. Consider doing it alone and try to take a trip back to simplicity. It’s the kind of life therapy that would do us all well.
So enjoy the ride and when in doubt, try to take it slow and stay simple. There is no hurry but the one we put upon ourselves. Let me know what you learn.
Why I Read this Book: Pabrai has proven his application of value investing to be hugely successful. I wanted to learn what made it real for him. He ha...moreWhy I Read this Book: Pabrai has proven his application of value investing to be hugely successful. I wanted to learn what made it real for him. He has been a great teacher.
I just finished The Dhandho Investor for the second time, and doubt it will be my last. A quick and inspiring read that will have anyone believing value investing is the only true way to amass significant wealth in the market over the long run. At 18.8% a year since 1999, the author has the track record to prove it.
I have had the pleasure of spending time with Mohnish on two occasions, first in Omaha this year and the most recent being his annual shareholders meeting in Huntington Beach, CA. First off, no I am not a Pabrai Funds shareholder, but as one of the many demonstrations of Mohnish’s appreciation for people and helping them in their quests for success, he extended me an invitation. As a value fund manager, relatively new to the professional space, attending the meeting was an incredible experience.
Since I first began reading about Mohnish a few years ago, I have been in awe, first due to his intense love for life and the people around him, and second for his incredible achievements as a businessman and value investor. In the investment space he is one of my most admired mentors. He has taken an approach that has been proven more successful than any other over the long term and knocked it out of the park. This approach is focused long-term value investing inspired by the likes of Warren Buffett and Ben Graham. You’d think mimicking this approach would be a common occurrence. Especially given that we know how powerful modeling someone more successful than you has proven in the past. But for one reason or another, few have really followed in Buffett’s shoes. My guess is it has a great deal to do with the lack of excitement and activity that goes with his strategy. When it comes down to it, most would prefer the excitement of gambling than to conservatively investing in great businesses over the long term.
Not the case for Mohnish. He wrote The Dhandho Investor to describe it how he’s experienced it. The beauty of the book is that he writes in a way that is simple and understanding enough for any everyday person to digest, which makes this a great place for even the newest investor to start learning.
Throughout the book Pabrai does a superb job of using examples from his India culture to subtly get the basic points across to us. The main thesis is finding investments that put the investor in a scenario where, as related to a coin toss, “Heads I win. Tales I don’t lose much”. The constant reference to this point through his various examples from life and the famous businesses of our day, hammers home the novel idea that there is a way to get satisfactory returns in the market without having to put yourself at high risk.
Traditional investment has always taught that if you want a higher rate of return, you have to settle for a higher level of risk. Mohnish shows us that with value investing, that is not the case. Warren Buffett has proven this for decades as he invests with the number one rule of “don’t lose money”. Sounds pretty ridiculous and most people tend to just dismiss it. But the truth is that you can do your homework and find businesses that have a ‘durable’ competitive advantage, have proven themselves through years of profitable business and have strong assets and the future ability to make great money. And it is when these great businesses are selling at a low and attractive price, that this low-risk/high-return scenario becomes available.
These characteristics bundled up all in one business are not necessarily easy to find, but they are out there and the patient investors like Pabrai are out there to find them. The average person, or even a savvy investor would be blown away at some of these low risk opportunities that present themselves from time to time, especially in wild markets like today’s. It is very possible to find a great company with a stock price significantly below the sale value of its assets alone. Just recently I came across a retail business that owned real estate worth 2-3 times the value of its stock. Now that is a margin of safety. Worst-case scenario, the company could sell the real estate and double or triple its value.
Chapter by chapter, Mohnish goes through the characteristics of his investment style and how it has worked so well for him over the past nine years. Keep in mind the guy has averaged 18.8% a year since 1999 when the markets have returned close to 1%! He even spends time showing the reader where to find these businesses, what resources to use and the simple calculations used to value them. He does everything short of giving you his latest investment picks. But after this book you find those on your own.
Second to incredibly valuable investment knowledge, this book screams generosity and gratitude both to those who have taught him and to those whom he is now teaching. Pabrai knows that life is not just about making great money but more importantly about spending the time with those he loves and giving back the knowledge that was so graciously given to him by the investment greats who have put him where he is today.
Humility is a strong and rarely appropriate word. It also happens to be a core ingredient to lasting success and fulfillment. We can all learn a great deal from Mohnish. Read a copy of Dhandho to become a great investor and leave with a great feeling of how to become a better person.
Dhandho gives you the tools needed to find great businesses and beat the market, now it’s on you to put it to use. I certainly know I have.
Why I Read this Book: With how busy and often stressful our lives are, I was in search of a remedy. Meditation turn out to be a great starting point.
T...moreWhy I Read this Book: With how busy and often stressful our lives are, I was in search of a remedy. Meditation turn out to be a great starting point.
* How to meditate * Stress and anxiety reduction * Calmness of mind * Better sleep * The power of a directed mind and heart * The mind’s effect on the body
A cure for stress, I think I’ll take one of those please. It seems like stress is the buzzword of the decade. It’s no surprise with the millions of things we each have going on. But just because it’s been socially accepted as a part of life, does not mean that there’s nothing you can do about it. At the beginning of this year, I found myself at the mercy of what had become an incredibly stressful mind, body and life. I needed a solution. Slowly but surely learning to take the time to meditate became one of the great remedies. I am only starting to scratch the surface and I already am beginning to feel the benefits. And to think, all I really needed was some time to myself.
After many years of thinking it was a bunch of hocus pocus, meditation first caught my interest a few years back when a good friend of mine told me about his experiences with a meditation school in New Zealand. After seeing my interest he let me borrow Learn to Meditate as an introduction. I dove right in. Soon after that I read about Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the importance of clearing your head in The Four Hour Work Week. In fact Never Eat Alone even spoke of it in its closing chapter. And it has always been a part of Tony Robbins material. I was beginning to see a pattern. And my increasing yoga practice and fiancée being a teacher didn’t hurt the cause either.
Before I knew it I was on a roll. Next was The Power of Now, then How to Practice by the Dalai Lama and just last week I read Saltwater Buddha, which relates Zen and meditation to surfing (recommended by the same friend who gave me this book). The author happens to be a really nice guy my age living right in San Francisco. Then things really kicked into gear this year when three things happened. First, I realized how incredibly stressed and constantly anxious I was as a result of the business I had recently launched. Then I found myself at a week-long wellness retreat with my family in Mexico that had a huge focus on meditation. And finally just last month, I saw the Dalai Lama live in Santa Barbara. Before I knew it, I was a major believer. I had to find a solution to my non-stop, stress-filled life (self-induced of course) and meditation seemed like a reasonable spot to turn. It seems to have worked for thousands of years for people in other parts of the world so why should we be any different?
Many people hear the word meditation and a pile of stereotypes come to mind. Over the years western society has given it that feel, although I think now people are finally starting to come around. I am hardly one to talk since I only started seeing its value a couple years ago and it finally took me having serious day-to-day discomfort (stress) to really dig into it.
The benefits of meditation range all over the place from better sleep, calmness of mind, stress reduction, improved relationships, reduction in fear and even cited medical benefits. In fact, if you read enough you will find someone linking the benefits of meditation to just about everything in life. Drs. Andrew Weil and John Kabat-Zinn have made great strides in linking the health and medical benefits of meditation and mindfulness to the body via scientific studies. There are finally starting to be proven relationships between the mind and body and its affects on one another. Eventually people might just start paying attention to all this.
If you have ever been curious about meditation but are not sure how to take the first step (or perhaps were embarrassed to admit it to others), Learn to Meditate is the perfect place to start. I will warn you that it is very much an introductory book, although I have a feeling most experience levels would still find value.
I am grateful to have been given this at the perfect time a few years back when I was just opening up to learn. The extremely short chapters touch on just about every form of mediation so you can get a feel for what works best. I remember the first exercise I did left me feeling more calm and at peace than I think I had ever felt before. To this day that first experience was the most intense and I can’t guarantee you similar reactions but I am pretty certain you’ll have some neat distinctions.
Key points to take away:
* Consistent meditation has the power to significantly reduce or even remove stress and anxiety * The benefits of mediation can be received from as little as a few minutes a day * Meditation ranges from concentrated breathing to extended periods of focused thoughtlessness * Our busy lives cause our minds and bodies to crave time alone to get clear and refresh * Time to yourself can be the best daily gift you can give your mind and body * Meditation can act as the perfect natural sleeping pill * A common misconception is that if people spend less time doing things and more time clearing their mind, they will get less done–this could not be further from the truth
To me meditation is similar to throwing a stone into a pond and then throwing another one in only moments later. Almost immediately the rings of water intersect and create other rings at a pace much too fast to count. You may not see an immediate and direct effect of meditation on your life but as you progress you will likely start to notice the rings of a calm mind rippling through every part of your life making all kinds of improvements here and there. Some small and some large, but all of them beneficial.
This is not meant to be a book to power through. It should be enjoyed slowly and is designed to be read only one section, a few pages, per sitting. With each section comes instruction of how to practice various forms of meditation. This makes it great for beginners because dozens of techniques and styles are covered. And there are beautiful pictures to go along with most pages. Read it at your leisure and be sure to leave 5-20 minutes to practice the techniques that perk your interest. By the end of the book you will likely find a few that click and warrant further exploration.
It’s funny that meditation is not more popular in the states. When you think about it we all meditate. I think Dr. Kabat-Zinn defines meditation in its most basic form as directed concentration. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had experience with this. Be it trying to ride a bike as a child, cramming for a difficult mid-term or giving a presentation to your superiors. Tiger Woods does it every time he hits a golf shot. Michael Jordan used to do it before every game when he focused on himself winning a thousand times over. Think about the things to which you give total and complete focus. I had a short experience with it in setting up to a birdie putt on the golf course just today. That’s all meditation. As Eckhart Tolle puts it in The Power of Now, it is presence. Being absolutely and completely in the present moment. I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done, right?
At first glance you’d think it would be easy. That’s what I thought. Just sitting still and thinking about, well, nothing at all. But I quickly found it to be quite the opposite. We have been so trained in our society to be constantly multitasking and focused on getting things done. And even when we are alone with nothing around us we quickly pick up a book or worse yet our phone and call someone or check email for the 30th time that hour. We go so fast that at the end of it all we have left no time just for ourselves. No time to think and definitely no time to not think. Reserving a few minutes each day to just sit and be can have huge benefits even if it’s just that you are taking a pause from sprinting on to the next task. And that’s at the very least. A lot of us don’t even remember what’s it’s like to not have something pressing on our mind or to not feel stressed or anxious. It has just become a part of life. An unfortunate given.
So I encourage you to take this as a chance to reclaim some of that time for yourself. It may benefit you and those around you in ways you could not imagine. After all it’s very difficult to be truly successful without a clear mind as your guide. Whatever your reason for looking into meditation, I encourage you to start here. And if not here, then start somewhere. Maybe for you that means just taking a few deep breaths throughout the day to get centered or perhaps it means sitting in silence for hours on end. You pick. I started with 5 minutes every few days and now I strive for a couple 20 minutes sessions a day if possible. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. Just do what works.
It’s hard to know what you will get out of it. But if all you end up with is a little extra time to yourself each day, that isn’t such a bad thing either. That’s where some of the most powerful things can begin…in a room alone with nothing but a clear mind. I think you’ll enjoy the feeling.
Why I Read this Book: This book touches on the fundamentals of personal finance and reminds us of the simplicity and discipline that have proven succe...moreWhy I Read this Book: This book touches on the fundamentals of personal finance and reminds us of the simplicity and discipline that have proven successful for thousands of years.
* Personal Finance * Money Management * Conservative Value Investment
Generally I like to read and review the most recent books, but from time to time I am lured into a true classic. My guess is that many of us on our path to success have already stumbled upon this one and that’s just why I’ve reviewed it. If you’ve read it in the past, it’s worth another glance. Its lessons are more relevant than ever as many of those around us face difficult economic times. Perhaps our country wouldn’t be where it is today if we had all heeded the lessons of fundamental personal finance and investment that George Clason laid out for us almost 100 years ago.
Clason takes a creative, yet simple story-telling approach to teach the reader the basics and the foundation of how to conservatively build wealth over time and become financially successful. The story takes place in Babylon some 6,000 years ago where the significance of financial wealth, gold in this case, was as important as ever. As much as I hate to admit it, we live in a society that only seems to put more and more importance on money. I hope and trust that you readers are driven and motivated by your own definitions of success, but our culture as a whole still has a long way to go.
In Babylon there is a man who is wealthier than all and there is another poor man deeply interested in how he has achieved such status so he begins to make daily visits to his house on the hill, bringing others along, to learn the lessons that created such wealth. The man is open to share his keys to success and the others intently listens as he tells stories and experiences in his life that get across the most fundamental techniques of personal money management, savings and investment.
At times I found myself so deep into the stories being told that I had to step back to realize the significance of the seemingly simple lessons. To be honest, most of us have surely heard these in one form or another but most likely not in the form of such an engaging playbook.
Some of the core lessons include:
* Part of what you earn is yours to keep–Save 10% * Control thy expenses * Don’t borrow unwisely or unnecessarily * Make gold multiply–invest wisely and prudently * Guard against loss–invest with a margin of safety * Understand where you invest
At first glace it’s easy to discredit these as simple common sense. But the thing we should all be aware of at this point is that common sense is not common practice. As I reread through some of these key points, I realized that they have so much in common with many of the wealthy men of our time. Take Charlie Munger (who’s recommendation first turned me onto this book), Benjamin Graham or Warren Buffett. These guys have followed these points closer than you’d think possible and they are known to be the best investors of all time, not to mention quite wealthy. I have been reading Warren Buffett’s biography, Snowball (which you’ll see a review on shortly) and it has reaffirmed how incredibly fanatic Warren has been from day one to do everything mentioned above. He has been saving money since he could walk and to this day he controls expenses more stringently than even the great majority of the middle class, yet he is worth some $60 billion. And we should all know that he’s followed the last three. That’s what keeps him from investing in so many of the things that lead to ruin. And his mentor, Ben Graham, made famous the idea of guarding against loss in his concept of a margin of safety. He wouldn’t touch an investment unless it possessed something that insured against the downside–which often meant investing in a company with a strong balance sheet and a ton of cash.
My point in mentioning these guys is that they are famous for their wealth creation and while George Clason and the richest man in Babylon (if he really did exist), are not quite as well known, their lessons teach us the things that will all but guarantee the strict follower to become far wealthier than necessary. Proof is riddled throughout history. But yet what continues to blow my mind is that despite this historical evidence, most everyone around us is still over-spending and in up to their ears in debt. Even those who make half a million or a million a year still manage to let their expenses run wild and don’t possess the discipline to save. Granted everyone else around them is in the same rat race–Make money so you can spend more money so you need to make more money; all so you can look good to others. The truth is that the answer is simpler than any of us would like to imagine but it takes more discipline than most anyone wants to put forth.
As these lessons become more and more relevant, the discipline required to really execute on them only gets larger. Our culture seems to be convinced that spending and material accumulation is the way to success. It’s true that it may be the way to outward and superficial success, but that won’t take you much farther than a couple compliments at your first few cocktail parties. Sooner rather than later it will catch up to you, as it has done to our country as a whole. And at that point it will become necessary to dust off your ‘internal yardstick’ and start measuring yourself, your actions and your success by what you know to be proven and true. This goes for your financial success as well as success in every other part of your life. Measuring yourself against the superficial standards of others and society will only lead to disappointment and further you from your own fulfillment.
Take this read not only as a chance to relearn the simplicity and discipline that goes into financial success but also as a reminder that the road to success of all sorts is often not lined with a bunch of spectators following the crowd. If you have your own conviction and discipline of what creates results, that crowd will be anything but necessary as your travel down your own road to achievement. The wealth–be it gold, happiness or anything in between, will certainly follow.
Why I Read this Book: I was told practicing the power of now has the ability to remove stress and anxiety from your life. Turns out it’s true!
W...moreWhy I Read this Book: I was told practicing the power of now has the ability to remove stress and anxiety from your life. Turns out it’s true!
What are you thinking about right now? You might think the answer would be easy. You say, “well obviously I am thinking about this book review as I read it.” But when you address the question with a bit more depth and perhaps some added honesty, you very likely might realize that you’re really thinking about the 10 things you have to do before the end of the day, what you wish you didn’t say in that job interview last week, the fact that the stock market is plummeting, or perhaps something as simple as what to have for dinner tonight. It does not really matter what’s on your mind. My point is that your mind is rarely with what you’re doing in the present moment. And it’s those wandering thoughts that happen to be the root of most stress and anxiety.
I really hadn’t noticed much about my wandering thoughts, let alone their impact on my life, until I picked up The Power of Now. Eckhart Tolle turned the world on it’s head when he decided to write about the “now” a few years back. I don’t know how it took so long for me to discover it, but better late than never I guess. Within three days I had two separate people, whom I greatly respect, tell me this was the most influential book they’d read in years, if not ever. That’s all it takes to put it at the top of my list.
If you’ve done much meditation or yoga, you are most likely already familiar with the idea of being “present”. It seems like presence is the big buzz word these days. Despite having heard it over and over, the concept did not resonate until I picked up this book. Tolle calls it “the now”, others call it presence or meditation or consciousness, but once you read into it, you see that everyone is talking about the same thing.
This book had me thinking drastically differently from the first few pages. The only problem is that just about every sentence is so profound that it took me an extra week or two to really digest it. And I suspect it will take the rest of my life to fully apply it.
In his creative question and answer format Tolle conveys his core thesis of living in the now and its countless applications to our lives. Simply put, Tolle wants us to realize that life is about right now. Not about yesterday or last year or tomorrow. We cannot change things that have happened in the past and we cannot get into our future. We can only cope with what is going on right now. The now is all we can effect in this moment. Yet we spend the great majority of our lives thinking about everything that we cannot do anything about. Could get confusing don’t you think? With this lack of attention to present comes stress, fear and so much other negative energy that tends to drive our lives and emotions. A true master of the power of now has the ability to remove this energy completely. Maybe meditation does make sense afterall.
Think about your life for a minute. When was the last time you were stressed or felt anxious? Given today’s society, the odds are that you’re feeling that right now. So what’s the cause? You will realize that these negative feelings very rarely come from something occurring right this moment. Many of them come from unknown potential events in the future or regrets of the past. The root of all this negative energy comes from not being able to live in “the now”. If we could live life totally present and focused on this current moment in our lives, so many of these feelings would disappear.
I am sure you have all had moments where you’ve felt the benefits of being in the now. A lot of us have times of presence without knowing it. Such as when we are involved in a really extreme sport like sky diving or rock climbing (when lack of presence could cause some major injury) or doing what we love with people we love. Think back on those times. Remember feeling that unexplainable rush? How relaxed and at peace or genuinely happy or excited did you feel? Where was the stress or the dread? Those fade away in the power of the now.
From my brief experience I can tell you that being present feels incredible and opens limitless doors of possibility. Next time you are listening to your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, try intently focusing on the words they are saying and what they mean to them and to you. Push out anything else on your mind and just be there. (As a side note, “just being there” tends to go over very well in a relationship) They will feel it and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the response. So is the case with anything in your life whether it’s with others or with yourself. Give it your full attention and the rewards will be grand.
Unfortunately, for most of our lives, we have been trained to be anything but present. Worst of all, we have been taught this to be a good thing and the way to be “productive”. In an age where multitasking and thinking about ten things at once is encouraged and almost forced, it is hard to completely clear your head and be present. Just like anything, it takes work. Unfortunately, it seems so rare these days that anyone wants to spend time on something so inwardly beneficial as harnessing the power of now. So many of us are disciplined to go to the gym and work on our physical, outward body, yet that discipline is totally lost when it comes to internal growth and improvement.
My guess, and hope, is that you readers are the few who see it differently. I don’t think you’d be here if it wasn’t the case. But if you haven’t already, I encourage you to make that committment to internal growth and improvement, not for the sake of what others percieve of you, but for how it will make you feel. I made that vow years ago and the rewards continue to blow my mind. The Power of Now will put you deep into the heart of one of the most valuable internal journeys. I have a feeling that once you realize how magical it feels to truly be in the now (as difficult as it is at first), you will be changed. It is a lifelong endeavor, but when is Now a good time to start?