Jul 292013
 
Habits do make (or break) you ...

… in this case, financially.

I recently came upon a post in social media-land that made me stop, read, bookmark it, print it off, and begin to share w/ others.  That’s saying something, in a virtual oasis of information that never ends! There is so much information out there in our modern world, much of which eludes our eyeballs. In many cases, this is for the better, since the information is of 90% (below par) quality per Sturgeon’s Law (Five Levels of Decline/FLD), however, I’d say what I’m going to reference and point the readers to below fits into the 10%.

What do the rich do daily that leads them to financial success that the unsuccessful don’t? Mr. Corley+ lists 20 separate things (see below URL/link for the citation). For the purposes of this post, am going to pick several of them that stood out to me based on my ongoing personal/professional/leadership journeys.

First, let’s use a disclaimer. If you listen to too many politicians, or those who lack results, you may think that the rich are to be disdained. Certainly, some of them lack people skills and don’t properly manage their wealth/good fortune; others earned it through less than admirable means; and a small handful inherited their money, and likely have zero per cent appreciation for where it came from. Put these 3 categories aside. This post has nothing at all to do w/ them.

Onto the list >>>>>>>>>

First:  63% of the wealthy listen to audio books during their commute v. 5% of the poor.

* Personal testimonial. I used to be part of the latter. Now, I always use my vehicle and commute time, regardless of time spent (3 min. drive, or many hours) as a rolling university. Over the past 3 years, I’ve listened to somewhere b/w 500 and 1,000 audios, inc. numerous books. What it’s done for my thinking, habits, and results is very clear.

Second: 88% of the wealthy read 30 mins. or more each day for education / career reasons v. 2% of the poor.

* Personal testimonial. Again, I was part of the latter. I would read a book here & there, usually a political ‘screed’ that just made me angry at one politician, party, or law, or sometimes a fiction book. Now, I read from many different genres: I presently have 4 books in progress:  1 economics; 1 finances; 1 leadership/history; and 1 human relations/people skills. And, over the past 3+ years, I’ve read over 100 different books, several of them multiple times. Again, the difference that it’s made is beyond obvious.

Third: 67% of wealthy watch one/1 hour or less of TV/daily v. 23% for poor.

* Personal testimonial. Up until 2 1/2 years ago, I watched (or had in the background for sound) roughly 4 hours of TV most days, and sometimes, 8-12 hours if I was home and didn’t have anything else to do. (!?!?!) – and in that time, my financial success was very limited. Programming, advertising/PR, and marketing only encourage consumption and you’d have to search far and long to find anything on the tube that teaches wealth principles. Now, I watch zero hours of TV/day, and with very limited exceptions due to the mobile web & the internet, I do not miss it. And, I’ve learned a ton of principles, lessons, and nuggets that will lead to far better financial results.

Fourth: 79% of the wealthy network 5/five or more hours/month v. 16% of the poor.

* Personal testimonial. The value add for focused networking is unquestioned. Meeting new people leads to bigger networks, and in the connected age in which we live ( read Godin and Gladwell to better understand. ), this is a crucial component of growing wealth. I used to watch all that TV — see above — and my circles of influence were stagnant. Now, I have stacks of business cards, numerous new friends, and I am out there at various events on a recurring basis.

Fifth [ and last, for this post. ] : 86% of wealthy folks believe in life-long educational self improvement vs. 5% for poor folks.

* Personal testimonial. This is tough to hear for those who have minds that are finite – perhaps they made excuses for their situation; or, they believe that their credentials (degrees, certifications) mean they have “arrived” and there’s nothing else to know/learn; or, they have a fixed mindset (instead of one of growth). Any of these can easily be overcome, however, it will take changing the information at the front end x increasing humility x adding honeability. Toss in a bonus of understanding the crucial difference between investment and expense, and you will easily grasp that learning and deep seated education, which is often self-directed, never ends. ‘What we know is but a drop, and what we don’t know is an ocean.’

 

I hope you, the reader, found this post to be very insightful!  Learn from it, and make the changes right away – don’t “try” them, just “do” them!   All the best at all times!

——-

+ http://www.richhabitsinstitute.com/ = Mr. Corley’s site ( the article URL was cited by Dave Ramsey )

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).

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 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.