Oct 212012
 

Today, I want to address a topic that can be sensitive to many, especially living in the economic times that we do here in the US, and that is the crucial difference between investment & expense(s).

This post will not go in depth into the textbook definitions, nor will it serve as a step by step guide, however, my goal is to just blow up a few myths and bad, or even obsolete, information re: these, and ideally, help you think deeply when it comes to your money.

First, high high level.  What is an expense?  I define it as something that you exchange your money for that doesn’t offer any long term value, return (ROI), or which grows your wealth or reduces your debt burden.  Let’s briefly cover each of these:

1. Long term value. Many excellent authors/business owners/entrepreneurs have made crystal clear that money is NOT something you simply trade in exchange for a good or object; it is much more – money should create memories, and most definitely, bring something back to you that doesn’t simply last for a day, a week, or a month. What you get back must have value that carries on a least a year, and even better, a decade or more.

2. Return ( ROI ). Rate of return, for the purposes of this post, is simply summed up as —  did/will you receive something of value back, over an adult time frame, for what you spent your money on?  ROI is not necessarily just measured in financial terms (such as if you were able to pay down debt quicker by buying a financial pack to apply principles that you were never taught); it can also be measured intangibly: Did you sign up any new clients in your consulting business due to that seminar on people skills you attended?  Have you been able to get on the career path/track that you wanted after pursuing more credentialist based (professional track) education?

3. Reduction of debt / Growth in wealth. Growing one’s wealth/assets runs inversely to lowering one’s debt(s)/liabilities. And, keep in mind, a mortgaged home is a LIABILITY, not an asset, unless you have rented it out and are receiving recurring rental income. From that perspective, expenses need to be reduced, including paying off consumer debt, and eventually investing in ‘hard’ assets, like bullion metals, later on down the line. Growing one’s wealth requires buying back time, having a systems based model, understanding the power of compounding (of interest, of invested monies, et al.), & delaying expense based gratification until you can truly pay or whatever you want in cash based equivalent(s).

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Now, let’s move on to investments. Investment is not what you may think!  Let’s start w/ understanding that investment in one’s mind most definitely counts just as much as investment in something paper-based ( like stocks, mutual funds, bonds, or REITs ). The vehicle of a 401(k) or its functional equivalent has only been around for 30+ years, yet it seems like it, or the becoming obsolete pension plan gets mentioned most when this word is discussed in the mainstream of society.

Don’t get me wrong:  these are all investments, however, how much stronger is your mental fitness if you just put 10% of your W-2 income into a 401(k)?   Will you be closer to true wealth?  Unlimited time & money choices?   Perhaps a step or two, or ten, yet think bigger and more metaphorical (in depth):  what about directing some of these monies into your mind?   That’s a key threshold to cross when it comes to understanding even better the critical distinction b/w expenses and investment.

Here are some examples of investment now that we’ve set this foundation in place:

1.  Building a library.  Whether its a virtual (read: e-book) library, meaning you invest in an e-reader/tablet & download books online or via app, or the other way, where you buy paperbacks or subscribe to receive them monthly, this is a perfect starter example for someone who wants to invest in the mind.  We’re all worth minimum wage from the neck down; all the great leaders of history, from Napoleon, to Teddy Roosevelt, to Thomas Jefferson — they read. A LOT. Books matter. They expand your horizons, expose you to lessons you can learn from by living someone elses’ experiences, and you can apply what you read to your life immediately.

2.  Audio Learning.  Subscribing to, or buying audio material – whether books, podcast downloads, mp3’s, CDs from seminars – they all count. Audio is an excellent complement to reading, as it engages different areas of  your brain, and rounds out further the investment in your mental fitness.

3. Attending Seminars / Streaming webinars. Association with other climbers, those who are on the success curve of life, and whom understand the critical importance of ‘You, Inc’ investing, know that being around others who are growing from the inside out, who value personal change, will put monies into this category.

4. DVD / web videos ( YouTube ).  Another option as technology continues to evolve is to purchase, subscribe, or click on a link to have vids sent to you to watch. Visual learning on your own time is still another investment vehicle that will pay great dividends on your leadership development/self help journey.

5. The final one I’ll list is a BIG one. I would strongly and unequivocally urge everyone to do this:  Start a business. Own something, an asset that is yours, which will generate income that is not subject to a third party and will allow you to direct monies away from expenses and into the above options I listed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To put a capper on this post:  I wholeheartedly believe that entrepreneurship and self-directed learning, investment understood in a much different way than what is the “CW” , and outside the realm of pure ‘credentialist’ institutions, is a crucial element to being able to maintain freedom (see my earlier blog posts) & to strengthen your financial standing in our internet/connected/information age world. The industrial age is gone, regardless of what the politicians are saying in this election cycle; the sooner you invest in ‘You, Inc’, and turbo-boost your mental fitness, the better off you will be.

All the very best & God Bless.

Oct 172012
 
Optimism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2G8sfMU17XM#!

This is a very interesting short vid.

While pure, unfiltered optimism should always be tempered by having a scoreboard in life (Resolution 6) & a solid understanding of the ‘Stockdale Paradox’, there’s no question that we need to surround ourselves with climbers. Positive association is so very important, and being able to have this kind of perspective, as Mr. Silva describes, is very helpful to counter-act the negativity, cynicism, skepticism, moral fears, & doubt that one runs into often.

Blessings & all best regards!

Oct 132012
 
Legacy & the Laws - Resolve to Avoid Decline

I had the privilege & great fortune to read the ‘full version’ of this landmark book, appropriately named ‘Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE’ about 9 mos ago (my full review/recommendation is found on my second blog )

Now, the author, Mr. Orrin Woodward, has released a ‘Primer’ version, which will serve to further spread the crucial message of how important it is for modern day citizens to again build a foundation base on the core principles (resolutions) = those such as Purpose, Character, Vision, Leadership, & Adversity Quotient, to name just a handful.

Today’s post is focused squarely on the capstone resolution, #13 in both editions/versions = Legacy.

Legacy was also discussed in Mr. Woodward & Mr. Chris Brady‘s best-seller (on multiple well known lists!), LLR , as being part & parcel of Level 3 motivation.

In this chapter/resolution, we, the readers, are exposed to a topic that needs a LOT more attention in the world as we know it today, with societies and cultures in many cases declining due to various root causes – such as a lack of leadership, hubris, financial illiteracy, an excessive ‘peace & affluence’ mentality, too much cynicism/doubt, & too much of a focus on credentialism instead of true education. Mr. Woodward has come up with Five/5 Laws of Decline based on the thousands of books he has read, the thousands upon thousands of people he has met, and the many US states, Canadian provinces, and other nations of our world that he has visited.

Below is my brief commentary on these Laws (there’s no way I could top Mr. Woodward’s scholarship 😀 ) & how they tie back into entrepreneurship, freedom values, & setting your purpose to be laser focused on servant leadership & ownership.

5 Laws of Societal Decline 

1. Sturgeon’s Law

– Simply put, 90% of anything is substandard & doesn’t have ‘value add’ — the proverbial “noise” , the chaff to the wheat, to coin a couple simple ways to reframe what Mr. Sturgeon stated back in the 1950’s.  This clearly applies to leadership — how often we associate the word ‘leader’ too loosely to a person with simply a ‘credential’ , a flashy title, a ranked ‘position’ in society.  Once you apply this law, you end up finding out that only 10% of those ‘leaders’ are actually LEADERS. (caps intended for emphasis)

2.   Bastiat’s Law

– I had vaguely heard of Mr. Bastiat back during my professional track (i.e., under-grad) education, however, it took this excellent book to truly bring out how valuable of a contribution he made! I have a ton more to learn about him, needless to say 🙂  In short, though, this law states that the average man or woman will seek to satisfy his/her wants by putting exploitation and ease ahead of earning it through hard/smart work, over time. Therefore, you see how quite a few, sadly, respond emotionally to appeals of non leader politicians who use crass class warfare to pit class against class.

3. Gresham’s Law

– This one is deep!  And, oh so obvious when applied to the institutions that many of us are a part of, deal with, or must interact with daily. It states that non quality/unproductive will triumph over quality/productive; and, furthermore, what’s rewarded will increase over what’s not. There are several great examples in this chapter, however, my favorite, which is very timely, is how the value of the US Dollar, the world’s reserve (fiat) currency, continues to decline, since the Federal Reserve (‘Fed’) continues to devalue it every time they print more to buy more bonds – so, consumption and debt/financing (“money as a master” to Mr. & Mrs. Jones are being rewarded over production and savings/investment (“money as a slave”) to the same folks.

4. Law of Diminishing Returns

– I love the succinct description of this law:  Quantity up, quality down ( once a certain threshold is hit/exceeded.).  How true this is!  This is one reason why there’s so much discontent with large institutions in present day society;  think of it:  how effective is a large governmental agency?  how many mergers can a large corporation go through before its performance and quality of work, let alone the products/services offered show signs of less value add?   That’s why I personally no longer put any confidence in big business, big labor (unions), big government, or big educational institutions. The future is in tribal leadership, communities, entrepreneurship, & leadership/liber education.

5. Law of Inertia

– I am far from a scientist, nor was I a systems engineer like Mr. Woodward in his pre-leadership days 😀   In my eyes, this law is simple – unless you do something that is opposite from the crowd/herd, or more colloquially, the ‘sheep’ , you will run smack into this natural, universal law!  Another way to sum up:  Whatever the ‘CW’ (conventional wisdom’) says is the “right” thing to do – think of the popped ‘bubble’ in the housing market, or the quickly developing ‘bubble’ in professional track education, it’s much better to head the other way.  Sam Walton touched on this in Chapter 17 of his book:  Rule ’10’ , Swim Upstream.

I see a direct correlation from these laws back into having a defined purpose and being an owner/entrepreneur. An entrepreneur builds something to go from problem identified to problem solved, by offering a service to bridge the ‘opportunity’ gap in the middle.  Only entrepreneurs will be able to counter-act/balance these natural laws from causing irreversible decline as they continue to chip away at our societies. The freedom values of ingenuity, initiative, innovation, & tenacity rarely are found in any of the ‘big’ institutions discussed above; however, you’ll find them in abundance when you move into tribes (Seth Godin & Oliver DeMille discuss this in depth: read their books), communities (mini-‘factories’ , little platoons), and in the realm of leadership education .

Readers, please strongly consider investment in yourself – be an owner, build an asset, join a community/tribe, and pursuea add’t self-directed education outside of the ‘credentialist’ big institutions. When you have a purpose of serving others and being a 10% (read: true) leader, you will have taken big steps down the journey of moving against, and not towards/with, the 5 Laws so vividly discussed in this incredible book.

All the very best & many blessings to one and all.

Oct 082012
 
Manifestos - Value to the Eye, Value to the Heart, & Value to the Mind

Today, I chose to post a blog about the value of manifestos in our modern times. This is by no means a comprehensive study – just a compilation of my favorites, with a snapshot & a link to where you can buy my all time #1 to hang on your wall 😀

So, what is the value, you might ask?

My answer is multi-faceted.  First, I’d start with saying that without foundational principles and truth to build upon, the house you live in will not withstand the buffeting winds of circumstances, events, & distractions. Second, knowing why you believe what you believe is very crucial.  Next, having a core theme/thesis to wrap your vision around, to anchor dreams to … let alone shape your legacy:  that’s purpose.  If you can sum things up in a manifesto, you’ve put words and images side by side, and are appealing to both your conscious and subconscious minds.  Lastly, a manifesto’s value today is priceless in that it puts priorities ahead of urgencies, and long term thinking ahead of the next shiny (short term) object/distraction:  You’ll notice that with the manifestos on my list.

To sum up, here’s my list (ever evolving and sure to grow!) of manifestos.  I hope one, several, or all of them appeal to your mind, heart, & will/spirit!

ALL TIME FAV :

Rascal Manifesto

REST OF TOP 5 :

(in no particular ranked order)

Seth Godin’s Education Manifesto

Producer’s Manifesto

Entrepreneur’s Manifesto

Leave a Legacy Manifesto

AND, here are several others that deserve (very) honourable mention :

Leadership Education Manifesto

Live Extraordinary Manifesto

 

All best regards!  As always, thank you for visiting & reading!

Oct 062012
 
Book Review & Recommendation | from the Service Before Self Leadership bookshelf

( Author: Colonel Jeff O’Leary )

Just had the great fortune to finish this fantastic book to wrap up the month of September, and I am thrilled to be able to share my recommendation in the blogosphere.

Colonel O’Leary hit so many high notes with this book; it rings like a tuning fork for someone who enjoys history ( the way it SHOULD be learned/taught! i.e., not just colorless dates/times & names ) and how that genre and leadership can and do completely overlap.

The introduction & the final Chapter (11) focused exclusively on the Roman centurion; Mr. O’Leary neatly opens the narrative & closes it focusing on his core thesis – the traits, principles, and choices that a centurion leader can, must, and will make to reach the pinnacle of historical leadership.

Of the other ten chapters, each dedicated to a different historical Centurion leader, my favorites (all essentially tied) were 1-4. I am enthralled with European history, and reading his write ups of Hannibal, Alexander the Great, & Joan de (of) Arc taught me SO much more than what I learned in conveyor belt education; let alone being introduced to Scipio ‘Africanus’ , whom I had never heard of.

Anyone who aspires to begin, continue, or refocus/tune up their leadership journey needs to have this book on their shelf & refer to its fountain of wisdom filled pages.  I could cite many quotes, factoids, and lessons here, however, I’ll save additional words in my review to give the reader of my blog something to ponder when it comes time to add to your collection.

Oct 012012
 
From the self-directed education | leadership bookshelf/library : Now Reading ...

Comments from any who visit my blog who have read this book are most welcome ( * so long as … NO spoilers!  Am about 1/3 of the way through in one night 😀 )