Monthly Archives: October 2010

Self Knowledge Enables Financial Wealth

What do most successful business owners have in common?

Or just successful people in general for that matter?

They have in common an understanding of what it is that they want, and the ability to get it.

This idea actually comes from the Financial Philosopher in his post entitled Accidental Influence.

If you want a blog that always keeps you thinking about financial philosophies then that is the blog to read.

Back to self-knowledge…

This is something that takes a long time to establish. You have to become as objective of your life as possible and look at the whole picture.

Often we are caught up in the mundane and common tasks of our daily lives. We have no ability to be objective. We have no time to look at the big picture.

Ability comes from practicing over time, and time comes from making a pursuit of self-knowledge a priority.

If getting to know yourself is not a priority. If all you are after is financial gain. Then you might make it. You might pull off a quick buck here or there.

However, you will just as quickly lose it. It takes a lot of integrity to run a business. And integrity comes from self-knowledge.

Who are you? What are you doing? Where are you going? What are your plans, dreams, goals, etc.? What are your priorities?

Self knowledge springs from these questions like a seed planted in the ground. If it is watered and well maintained it will produce fruit. That fruit being true wealth in the form of good relationships, good habits, and wisdom gained through experience. Financial wealth will come out of the true wealth you are producing as a result.

If you get your foundation right, a foundation built on self knowledge, all other things will follow…

Warren Buffett – Speech at University of Florida

Three most important things needed for success…

1. Integrity
2. Intelligence
3. Energy

Of the three, the most important is Integrity, because you really don’t want to do business with someone who is intelligent, energetic, but lacking integrity.

87 minute video: Warren Buffett

Warren really just spews wisdom… (Hope you don’t mind the word picture) 😉

Some good points…

1. More money doesn’t do much. Warren lives much like we live even though he is much richer.
2. Take a job that you would take even if you were independently wealthy.
3. Warren likes businesses he can understand… which narrows it down about 90%
4. If you are right about WHAT, then you don’t have to focus too much on the WHEN.

Information Overload Will Kill Your Business

I have to admit I am an information junkie. I love to read anything and everything. A lot of it ends up being entertainment, a lot of it is worthless, and perhaps less than 1% is useful.

I just read an article called “Why I Threw Away Thousands of Dollars of Information Products

Bud’s main point in the article is that information overload breeds inaction.

He couldn’t be more right…

You see I’ve spent a lot of time reading anything I could get my hands on about business… and economics… and psychology… and investing… and this… and that… and …. It gets tiresome after awhile. And after a bit it becomes a pointless waste of time when you think about how much of that information I am actually making use of.

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” – Albert Einstein

I think I may be reaching that certain age… Some of what I read sounds exactly like what I have already read in the past… This is why I believe reading the classics will always be best…

The best thing for any business or person to do is to find what works and stick with it. Pursue it relentlessly. When it stops working find what else will work in it’s place. This is where you will search for new information, but once you find it, you just continue to execute and create until the cows come home.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. ” – Gertrude Stein

How The Stock Market And The Economy Really Work

I found an interesting article on the mises.org website today. It is a really long read, but an interesting insight into libertarian economic theory.

Mainly Kel Kelly talks about how money supply really affects the stock market and the economy. With an increase in money supply comes inflation. And he argues that this isn’t normal consumer products inflation because the money never really makes it to the consumer.

Instead the new money added by the government tends to flow into the financial markets.

This increases prices for things such as houses and other asset classes, but it doesn’t seem to affect normal consumer items such as food or gas. I would argue that it would if people could continually take out home equity loans. We should almost be thankful that home prices stopped their insane climb.

How The Stock Market and the Economy Really Work

If you want to educate yourself more on this topic take the time to read the full article. It is worth it!

How To Retire Early

A lot of people are curious about this topic. A lot of people wish they could do it. Only a few are.

Retiring Early is deceptively easy, but it takes a lot of what I would call personal development. You have to have the self-discipline necessary. You have to do the emotional work that goes along with it….

How to Retire Early

  1. Work to Make Your Money – This is the only way to do it unless you end up inheriting or winning a ton of money. You have to work to make money. And it actually doesn’t matter how much you make. People have retired early with high and low incomes. It just takes a good strategy to help you retire early.
  2. Be Efficient with Your Money – And by efficient I mean you need to live, or learn to live, frugally. This means that you live below your means. You must make the most of what you have so you won’t need any more than is necessary and you won’t waste your time or money.
  3. Save Your Money – If you spend everything you earn you won’t ever be able to retire. It seems like most people are able to eventually save 10% of there money if they work at it. Many are able to save more. Some are able to save substantially more. Upwards of 70-80%. The more you save the earlier you can retire.
  4. Spend Your Money – Get yourself to the point where you buy only necessary things with the most value. With value equaling a good return for your hard earned money. Buy the least expensive housing, transportation, and food that will meet your needs. Spend your money on educating yourself about how to retire early and live the lifestyle you desire. Refuse to spend money on things that will not improve your life.
  5. Invest Your Money – Money that isn’t doing anything is just paper. Once you have saved and invested enough money (capital) to have the earnings (returns) support your lifestyle, you have successfully retired. This is the concept of a 401k, pension, etc. You no longer work for money, you have Your Money work for you!

Noticed how I capitalized “Your Money”? I do this to emphasize the fact that you are the only one who will get yourself to early retirement. You have the ability to do it. The more you learn, the more able you will be to retire early.

Good luck! Please comment with your success stories below!

Resources: Stories & Learning Opportunities

  1. Joe Dominguez retires at 31
  2. Paul & Vicki Terhorst retire at 35 to become Perpetual Travelers
  3. Billy & Akaisha Kaderli Retire at 38 to also become Perpetual World Travelers
  4. Jacob Fisker Retires at 32 and starts his new work educating people how to retire early themselves.

China, Ambassador Jon Huntsman, and Sidney Rittenberg

Last night I had the privilege of watching a live teleconference with The U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, and hear Sidney Rittenberg speak live courtesy of The National Committee on United States-China Relations.

Rather then offer up my own opinions on the evening, I will just list some of the major points made by both parties.

Jon Huntsman

  1. The U.S. debt to China has never really played into the trade discussions he has with China.
  2. Since China has allowed the their currency to float (reference), we have seen on average a 1% appreciation of the Yuan per month.
  3. With the 2001 entry into the WTO China has started to go by the rule of law, instead of the rule by man. They are using the current laws to help establish their case in many instances.
  4. We only got to see about 15 minutes of the telecast because the uplink from China died, but the moderator happened to mention that he thinks we might see Jon run for president eventually. (sidenote: Jon has already served in numerous government positions, including Governor of Utah, so this could very well prove true.)

Sidney Rittenberg

  1. Sidney is probably one of the only Americans left alive who has met every Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
  2. His take on yuan appreciation is that it doesn’t matter a whole lot. And that more jobs depend on trade with China then in putting tariffs up.
  3. He states that China is much better off today then when he was because of the new regime. He states that your average person in China used to have a life expectancy of 32 years, but today life expectancy is 73 years old.
  4. He cited Colin Powell as saying, “There system (China’s) works better for them then our system works for us.” I haven’t been able to find a published source of this. His main point here was that we shouldn’t assume we know what’s best for China.
  5. 800 million cell phone users, 400 millions internet users, something to think about.
  6. China has to figure out how it will switch from government investment to capital investment.
  7. China also has to find ways to allow for more free speech and freedom of the press. He says that this is the valve that lets off the steam in any country. They are better off letting this go. He says any young Chinese person can find out anything they want to on the internet anyhow.
  8. Government must also protect whistle blowers to help end the corruption.
  9. There is a great disconnect between central government policy and it’s execution in the local governments.
  10. Most Chinese aren’t worried about the central government as they are about getting the local despots off their backs.
  11. Chinese have a lot of freedoms. The only freedom they don’t have is the ability to criticize the government. Local government despots are the biggest violators of human rights. Not the central government.
  12. Quotes Wen Jiabao as saying that political reform has to come before economic reform. Told a story of how Wen Jiabao was traveling through the countryside with the local officials and said he had to get out to “commune with nature” He then used the opportunity to run over to the local village to get the true story from the villagers. He asked questions like were they receiving payments for the fact that their spouse died in the war, etc…
  13. General consensus in China is that Tibet is ungrateful for all the investment China has put in Tibet. The Dalai Lama has stated that the 17 point agreement they worked out with China would work if everyone followed it.
  14. Law now requires 2 companies, a foreign and a domestic one, to audit a Chinese company. Deloitte is one of the biggest companies doing this now.
  15. If you want to find a Chinese partner to do business with look for the 3 C’s: Character, Competence, and Connections. Do your Due Diligence.
  16. Recommended books on doing business in China: Jim McGregor’s One Billion Customers, Mr. China by Tim Clissold, and Beijing Jeep by Jim Mann.
  17. Mentioned that Christianity is welcome in China because Christians tend to be good law abiding citizens.

Most of Sidney’s remarks revolved around the idea that we need to cooperate with China and find common interest through dialogue. And that we should avoid all the press that attempts to demonize China.

With China gaining power and influence over the world, it pays to keep abreast of current events going on. I will continue to talk about some of the more interesting things happening in China so please subscribe to keep updated. Thanks!

How Do You Know When To Cut Your Losses?

How do you know when to cut your losses?

When your exit strategy says so…

Oh, you didn’t make an exit strategy when you got into it?

Better start making an exit strategy for all plans and projects in the future…

How do you make an exit strategy?

Decide what you are willing to lose ahead of time and put it in writing…

Is a 10% loss worth getting out, how about a 20% loss?

Learn how to count your intangibles too such as lost sleep, stress, and anything else that damages your health or well-being, or even intangibles such as your reputation.

It is wise to make the decision ahead of time, of when you will cut your losses. Because if you try to decide in the moment, your emotions will often get the best of you.

Don’t let a 100% loss fill you with regret…

Decide beforehand when you will cut your losses, make an exit strategy, and start getting some nice relaxing sleep at night.

Then execute your exit strategy with the confidence that you are making the right decision.

Simon Black – International Investor

I just wanted to take the time to mention a very intriguing new website I found.

It is called Sovereign Man and it is written by a guy named Simon Black who does a daily report from the field (currently Nigeria) about economics, investing, and international business.

I love the site, and I have subscribed to it.

It is a whole let better than reading the normal international business news sites like CNN.

It is a much more intimate look into what’s happening in the local economies of a bunch of different countries and it is well worth the read if you are doing any kind of international investing at all.

Check it out, it’s well worth the visit…

Sovereignman.com

How To Promote Teamwork

This subject is something that I have dedicated a lot of my life to learning. How to function better in a team environment. How to make the acronym T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) true.

I had a long discussion with the owner of our company today about why people can’t seem to work well in a team, and why everyone in our company can’t see our teammates as part of the team.

We had a discussion this morning and had to go on to do other things, but it left me thinking long and hard about it.

After an hour or two I texted him a 3 step process that I have found to work for me. There is obviously more to effective teamwork then just this, but I think it’s a great starting point for anyone…

Steps to Promote Teamwork

  1. Kill Them With Kindness – This phrase may be a bit overused (mostly because we don’t know how to do this), but it is true. Most of what keeps people from working together are poor attitudes and personality problems. If you can learn to be kind to people, in other words, professional with people, then you will go a long way in promoting good teamwork with that person.
  2. Never Compromise Your Integrity – Part of being a teammate is having a healthy respect for both your integrity and your co-workers. If you compromise your integrity, what you believe is right, then you will start to resent other people for what they believe. The key here is to get it all out on the table so you can work with it. Don’t ignore the problem. Let your co-worker know that you need to figure out a solution to the problem. And one of the hardest parts with this is to get anyone to recognize that their is a problem in the first place. Word of advice… If anyone has a problem, it’s everyone’s problem. Help them solve it by working together on it.
  3. Keep reminding people of why we are here – No matter how good you are or how good you think you are, you still need to be reminded about the important things. And probably the most important thing you need to remember is why you are working as a team in the first place. The owner of my company made a good point today. You can either choose to work with people or leave the company. We are all in it together. I tried to compromise by saying that we could split people up who don’t get along with each other. My owner’s response was that we want to treat people like adults, and help them learn and grow. It does no good for them or the company to simply separate them. And my response to him, after the light bulb on my head turned on, was that growth does happen in adversity. We have to face our problems head on, and strive to solve them. In the process we really will learn and go, and be able to handle similar situations much better in the future.

Think hard about these three things the next time you want to promote more teamwork in your organization. These ideas, if implemented correctly, will go a long way toward making your team into the well-oiled machine they deserve to be.

Great Product is the New Marketing

I’ve been trying to keep up to date about what everyone in the publishing industry is talking about…

So… here is a quick link to a good little article about how you need to let the product market itself and let your readers be your sales team.

I’ve seen this strategy work great in a lot of companies, including my current one, and I highly recommend it.

Great Product is the New Marketing

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