Best Investment, Ever.

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Below is the best Investment Advice by Mr. Warren Buffet.

“Invest in as much of yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.” — Warren Buffett

Very True.

Sounds very cliched, heard many times. Some how, when we read quotes, watch inspiring video, read essay or some other inspiring materials, we know what it is or what should be Done. Intuitively, we connect to it, but that means, our automatic thinking, or system-1 as Mr. Daniel Kahneman succinctly puts into his brilliant book, Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow. To understand the meaning behind the words, we must engage – System – 2 or measured thinking. If you do not know about the two system of thinking,  read the book, I have referred or do some google search, its a first step towards, what I am writing hereinafter.

The difficult part of  reading all these life altering philosophy  is “How to do / How to Invest in One’ Self”.

Let us understand, How to Invest in Yourself.

I have no Idea about How, nor I gave serious consideration, so I am as much in game with you, as explorer and certainly not as sooth sayer. Most of us have completed 5, 10, 15 years or more of Employment Schooling after we obtained our “Graduation/Post Graduation or Degree”. Mostly, we have graduated in our Choosen Vocation/Profession. In school, we have grades, exams; In real life, we have challenges, promotion, earnings. In school, we are taught by teacher, whereas we are required to Learn by Self. So answer is simple, LEARN.

Thats where we could find Answer to HOW?

We can not take coaching, tuition or classes. If you are lucky, once in a while, you attend a conference. We do not have concept of Mentor. To me, its a primary step; looking forward to some one, who could guide us in taking right decision. Its an important but only Half of How to Learn.

Second half, depends upon; looking the work you are doing very objectively. Even if its mundane, automated, monotonous, you can still learn from it, Learn to improve your multiple skill sets.

The skills that comes immediately to mind;

@ Business Writing.

@ Basics of Finance, Accounts, Investment.

@ Comprehension.

@ Judgement and Decision Making.

@ Elementary Technology.

@ Elementary Economics.

@ Tenets of Management. Getting Things Done.

@ Sharpening Leadership.

@ Reading on diverse subject.

These all does not require any special attention or time. If one integrate all these in day to day Work Flow, learning is automated. I am sure, you are doing something or other thing to keep learning. Hence, question of How to Learn can be found in day to day work life. Iam not referring to  a structured learning, that does not mean, its not important or relevant. If you work demands constant updation of knowledge/skills it automatically forces you on the path of learning. Unfortunately, for most of us, including yours truly, it requires some effort. And thats where the Answer to HOW can be found. Doing everything with fresh perspective, trying to move beyond obvious, thinking why it is done and why can’t it be done differently, how to improve, can I draft a letter bit better? Am I using various mental tools available in my day to day decision making, can new techniques be learned, can I Improve on what I am doing… I am not giving lecture, its the natural question that popped into my conscious thinking, while drafting. So yes, its completely unedited version..In fact, it also opened up my thinking…

Thus, Mr Buffett’s Wisdom is clear: Learn as much as You can, thats best Investment you can make in Yourself.  Investment also to be done in Health, Relationship, Deep Habits, Financial Health…But thats topic for some other day.

Work Life Balance

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We aspire to be the Best Father/Mother/Son/Spouse etc..Tend to be pushing hard to manage expectations of every one. We are also supposed to get time for ourselves. To avoid burning out syndrom, to learn new skills, to stay ahead of curve. And yet, we question, Am I doing Right? Am I managing my priorities? Few days, back I had blogged, its not Time Management but Managing Your Energy should be your primary goal. To add to this, I must state, Work-Life Balance is Non Sense. This is a luxury bestowed upon us, generations who do not have to worry about earning like our parents, who had to work hard to meet two ends meet.

Does Work-Life balance is critical or can you achieve it, or its just an utopian event? While we all agree that working towards any extreme either Work or Life is not healthy, but some amount of imbalance would always remain.

A short video is useful reminder. I am not passing any judgement, see it for yourself.

 

Number one (#1) Priority : Maximise Your Energy – Remain Fully Engaged in Day to day Life.

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The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal – By Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr. 

Excerpt from the Book:

“We live in digital time. Our rhythms are rushed, rapid fire and relentless, our days carved up into bits and bytes. We celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We skim across the surface, alighting for brief moments at dozens of destinations but rarely remaining for long at any one. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go. We’re wired up but we’re melting down.

Most of us are just trying to do the best that we can. When demand exceeds our capacity, we begin to make expedient choices that get us through our days and nights, but take a toll over time. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work, we become short-tempered and easily distracted. We return home from long days at work feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.

We walk around with day planners and to-do lists, Palm Pilots and BlackBerries, instant pagers and pop-up reminders on our computers— all designed to help us manage our time better. We take pride in our ability to multitask, and we wear our willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term 24/ 7 describes a world in which work never ends.”

The Book was published in the year 2005, much before, Facebook/Linked In/ Whats app…I am amazed at the insight of the Authors…

So, what to do, in 24X7 connected world. Or what should be our priority.

Time Management.

Delegation.

Planning and Execution.

Digital detachment or no meeting days or such management none-sense.

According to Authors; Remain : Fully Engaged in Day to day life. Its not Time management

but Managing Energy should be the Top Priority.

Now a days people call it : Conscious Living or Mindfulness. However, no one knows, how to be mindful, or else its made so cliched; Think about what you are doing, enjoy the moment, live in present. For a layman, its easies said than done, just re read the excerpt. When you don’t have time even to reflect upon your day to day living, bringing mindfulness is like thinking about your breath, only when you are angry or you are doing Work out/Exercise, you know that you are breathing, else its consciously unconscious, because consciously we know we are Alive but Unconscious because we are not Living.

The authors, sums up the entire dichotomy and Answer to the Problem, very succulently. It reads, and I quote.

“To be fully engaged, we need to be fully present. To be fully present we must be “physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our own immediate self-interest.”

So, if you are

Physically Energised, by remaining little active.

Emotionally connected, with your family/friends and above all your vocation.

Mentally Focused, on the job/work in front of you. (I know thats the biggest problem..lack of focus)

Spiritually aligned, with some purpose or goals in your life.

These four corners, even acted in isolation or tandem, would certainly bring about consciousness into your living. Most importantly, it would create a mindset, to atleast think about all these, otherwise most of people, go from one motion to another even without realising. So if you are some one, who ponders over the questions about the purpose or meaning of life. Maximise your energy by focusing on these four quadrant, should be the priority.

You get more Energy, only if, you remain active in some way, scientifically, any form of physical exercise release a hormone called..endorphins..and it reduces stress…By remaining emotionally connected to your family, brings the purpose in your life, by becoming mentally focused, you achieve more in less time, it also begets a healthy mindset and resilience to get better at everything…And finally, spirituality means, you are connected to something more than you are…it could be god, it could be smallest pleasure in life..it has different connotion for every individual.

All these brings out more Energy…As scott adams, puts it, we Should develop a system that generates more energy. As we know, how a bad co-worker or unpleasent situation drains our energy out. Same way, lot of activites squeeze the energy out of us, every day, but if you focus on doing something which instead of depleting, increase your energy, you can accomplish more on any given day. This cannot be an action requiring mental focus else it will fall into trap of monotony, it needs to be conscious enough to be intervowen as habit into your life. In net result, it would keep your Energy Level through out day.

In nut shell, It is more important to maximise your Energy. Thats should be No-1 Priority. Every Single Day. Period.

Reference Courtesy : Farnamstreet Blog.

Decision Making : Fitness/Investment/Anything…

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Today, I read a very interesting article, drawing parallel on Investing and Fitness. Both requires,

Discipline

Regime

Very Strong will power

Resistance to temptation

Whether we like it or not, but the way we look at our fitness, it mirrors our investment style or any decision making process or vice versa. It all depends upon, at what angle you are looking at, if you are fitness enthusiast read the article from that perspective. Despite being very conservative, cautious and not so brawny about Investment or any other decisions we make in our life, we somehow aspire to have lean body, little fat and or chiseled torso. Knowing fully well that all these so called show off body could not be acquired by us or it looks only good in the picture, and rarely people have such fitness unless you are in Show Business. Similarly for investment or decisions, we aspire to get a supernormal return or a decision to be correct in every circumstance. In all the process, fundamentals are forgotten.

Like,

“People focus on growing their bank accounts, but they don’t want to pay attention to budgeting. It’s like a person who goes to the gym and presses 300 pounds, and then goes to McDonald’s.”

Money Saved equals to money earn. A budgeting, helping us save more, but we may control the desire of eating fatty food, but seldomly focus on Budgeting. We focus mostly on action, but some time Non Action is equally important.

Like,

“Just like you might be tempted to buy an additional bag of Oreos since they are ‘Buy two, get one free,’ saving in a well-allocated portfolio ensures you don’t chase the hot stock or mutual fund.”

Asset allocation, spreading risk both are fundamental to all investment decisions. Rarely we do recheck on risk allocation. Via Negative and optionality are two concepts that should be kept handy, sometime only by eliminating we get the result and if our decisions have redundancy built in, its much easier to navigate in difficult situation, as the chances of decision going wrong due to various random factors looms very large, and for want of redundancy, we may get stuck with a stale decision.

Like,

When I don’t have any willpower left, I will just do one tiny thing. I’ll do a few pushups, monitor my savings—anything—and this often replenishes a bit of willpower to resume tackling bigger and more important goals.”

To have a system that focus on larger picture is equally important. There are going to be days, when discipline may not work, we may give up to the temptation, better still to engage in the process is very critical. As Charlie Munger puts it, one must remain within the circle of competence. Question whether we have crossed our competence is to answer it.

So the ultimate answer lies in having consciousness and not make the process so automatic, we simply forget it.

Full Artilce on How to be Financially Fit

HBR – Professor Recommends Books

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Disclaimer : Three out of seven books, I have read and thus tempted to share the list with you…in some time, I plan to read all of them…

Mostly, we do not finish books, but I have come to realise that buy as many books as one can, and try and read them as many as possible…some time, best insights, motivation, thoughts, refreshing ideas come from these reading.

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Max Bazerman, a business psychology professor at Harvard Business School and the author of the best book on general decision making that I’ve ever read, “Judgment in Managerial Decision Making,” came out with 7 book recommendations.

I hadn’t heard of two of these, which I picked up.

1. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

I think we’ve all heard of this one. Bazerman says:

The development of decision research is the most pronounced influence of the social sciences on professional education and societal change that we have witness in the last half century. Kahneman is the greatest social scientist of our time, and” Thinking, Fast and Slow” provides an integrated history of the fields of behavioral decision research and behavioral economics, the role of our two different systems for processing information (System 1 vs. System 2), and the wonderful story of Kahneman’s relationship with Amos Tversky (Tversky would have shared Kahneman’s Nobel Prize had he not passed away at an early age).

2. “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness” by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein

This is another one I think most of you have heard of but it’s a classic. I once used this book as the foundation to make the case to a management team for hiring a group of behavioral psychologists. Along with “Thinking, Fast and Slow” it is part of the ultimate behavioral economics reading list.

Nudge takes the study of how humans depart from rational decision making and turns this work into a prescriptive strategy for action. Over the last 40 years, we have learned a great deal about the systematic and predictable ways in which the human mind departs from rational action. Yet, we have observed dozens of studies that show the limits of trying to de-bias the human mind. Nudge highlights that we do not need to de-bias humans, we simply need to understand humans, and create decision architectures with a realistic understanding of the human to guide humans to wise decisions. Nudge has emerged as the bible of behavioral insight teams that are transforming the ways countries help to devise wise policies.

3. “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis

Lewis is an amazing writer, with the talent to capture amazing features of how humans have the capacity to overcome common limitations. Moneyball (that would have been on the list, but I imposed a one book per author limit) was a fascinating look about how overcoming common human limits allowed baseball leaders to develop unique and effective leadership strategies. In The Big Short, Lewis shows how people can notice, even when most of us are failing to do so. Lewis shows that it was possible to notice vast problems with our economy by 2007, and tells the amazing account of those who did.

4. “Eyewitness To Power: The Essence of Leadership Nixon to Clinton” by David Gergen

This one looks fascinating.

David Gergen is an amazingly insightful intellect about so many things, including the nature of Presidential leadership. His writing is wonderful, and his ability to pull out the nuggets of effective leadership in his closing chapter is a lasting contribution. You will learn about four Presidents that have escaped you in the past, and in the process, learn some insights about leadership in your organization.

5. “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them” by Joshua Greene

This book has been recommended to me by so many smart people that there must be something to it.

Joshua Greene is a wonderful mix of insightful philosopher, careful psychologist, and keen observer of human morality. If you have ever been confronted with the famous “trolley problem”, and want to learn more, Moral Tribes is the place to go. Whether you are a philosopher looking for a new path, a psychologist looking for insight from a new direction, or simply a human who wants to understand your own morality, this book is terrific.

6. “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending” by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton

For decades, the study of consumer behavior has been dominated by the question of how marketers can understand consumers to sell their products and services. Dunn and Norton use contemporary social science to provide insight into what consumers can do to make themselves, rather than marketers, happy.

7. “The Art and Science of Negotiation” by Howard Raiffa

The Art and Science of Negotiation is where it all began from an intellectual standpoint, where Raiffa provides insight into how to think systematically in a world where you cannot count on the other side to do so.

 

HBR : How to make your self work when you don’t feel doing it

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Interesting read on HBR…on procrastination. Many a  time, we just don’t feel like doing lot many things…neither we could push that last ounce of energy that forces us to do something. This moments are very common place, it could be day or task or some unpleasant work..mostly, we don’t feel like having  motivation to do it…

The reasons could be endless…The articles illuminates the basic of what prevents that positive burst of energy, and how to get over the stumbling block…Its very academic but worth reading..

Read Here…

 

Notes : Bullet Journal

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If you use pen and paper to manage your to do list, you will find the website very interesting. It lays down, the steps to manage the work journal effectively. Nice way to explore the different way of capturing your ideas, thoughts, conversations, event and things to do.

We adopt the working style instinctively without every thinking about changing our habit to improve our style. Site gives refreshing perspective to entire not making exercise.

In nut shell, The Bullet Journal outlines the simple note taking process beautifully.

 

Gap between Ones Taste and Ones Skill

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“Problem is not that we aim too high and miss it, we aim too low and achieve it.” Michelangelo.

Unless you are successful, in today’s world, to continue your struggle is difficult. Those who aim too high, unless you are hard wired to accept defeat, situation is very difficult and no sooner than later, one quits…In real world, it means becoming Mediocre.

You may try too hard, find solace in stories of successful people, when they were novice, still deep down inside, a turmoil is brewing. Nothing succeed like success. To struggle everyday, for world to except your idea, thoughts and action, in the wake up top down corporate culture, where success and failure is determined more by your connectedness with superiors than your skills, is very depressing. For professional to work very hard awaiting recognition is really numbing.

To pull oneself, generate motivation to change the state quo, every one needs a dose of optimism cocktailed with realism.

Ira Glass, is an american public radio host and producer of radio/tv show. He once gave a very short interview. He talked about gap between your taste and your skill, and how to bridge that gap, when you are constantly struggling. The summary of his thoughts is produced in a beautifully crafted video by yet another struggling artist.

Watch Here.

250words.com

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Any one interested in getting updates on finance, economics, psychology, leadership, business and other varied subjects should subscribe to the new website called  250words.com.

Summary of the Website reads as under:

Welcome to 250 Words—a site dedicated to finding, sharing, and extolling the best business books.

The main component of 250 Words is an original daily essay—250 words long. These pieces are not summaries or reviews but intended to excavate useful anecdotes and interesting ideas from books on management, leadership, investing, finance, marketing, psychology, and any other topic that touches on business—no matter how tangentially. The emphasis is on wisdom and practical advice. We want to provide ideas that will help you rethink the world and your work within it.

The site will also feature ongoing contributions, of any length, from writers and journalists, academics and practitioners, executives and entrepreneurs. To get started, we’ve already published lists of recommended books from Alan Greenspan, Tyler Cowen and others in “Book Lists.” A section called “Interviews” features conversations with thinkers such as Tim Harford, Sheila Bair, and Phil Rosenzweig. “Novel Advice” features original thinking from novelists such as Amy Sohn and Jim Gavin. The first contribution from a section called “Opinion” is from the essayist Siri Hustvedt. We’ll also curate short videos from around the web, and “Coffee Break” provides daily links to book reviews, commentary, and other smart content.

Finally, we hope you will help us. Please subscribe to our daily email and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook. Executive editor Sam McNerney and the rest of the team welcome any suggestions for how to improve the site. And we hope you will write for us, in the comments section or with original pieces of your own. Email Sam at Sam@250words.com, with ideas, feedback, and contributions.

 

How to Draw Owl – Post by Seth Godin

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The problem with most business and leadership advice is that it’s a little like this:

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The two circles aren’t the point. Getting the two circles right is a good idea, but lots of people manage that part. No, the difficult part is learning to see what an owl looks like. Drawing an owl involves thousands of small decisions, each based on the answer to just one question, “what does the owl look like?” If you can’t see it (in your mind, not with your eyes), you can’t draw it.

There are hundreds of thousands of bullet points and rules of thumb about how to lead people, how to start and run a company, how to market, how to sell and how to do work that matters. Most of them involve drawing two circles. (HT to Stefano for the owl).

Before any of these step by step approaches work, it helps a lot to learn to see. When someone does this job well, what does it look like? When you’ve created a relationship that works, what does it feel like?

Incubator programs and coaching work their best not when they teach people which circles to draw, but when they engage in interactive learning after you’ve gone ahead and drawn your circle. The iterative process of drawing and erasing and drawing some more is how we learn to see the world.