By Brad Thomason, CPA
What do Warren Buffett and Arnold Schwarzenegger have in common?
Not a lot, most likely. But at least one thing, which is sort of interesting.
Both were effectively “rich” before doing the thing that we know them for.
Schwarzenegger, as you know, spent a lot of time as a young man lifting weights. But in the off hours between sessions at the gym, he and his workout partners did construction work. As many of them were immigrants from Europe, they billed themselves as “old world craftsmen.” The well-to-do of the Los Angeles area apparently liked the idea of that, and he and his crew had all the work they could do. In time, Schwarzenegger started using the money he made doing construction to purchase properties which needed fixing up. More and more, he was both contractor and project owner. Such that by the time he got his first movie role, he was already a millionaire, by virtue of the value of his real estate holdings.
Warren Buffett bought his first share of Berkshire Hathaway in 1962. This would be the start of a long series of transactions which would eventually end in the control of the company, and its transition to the flagship for his ever-growing financial realm. But long before that, in 1956, at the age of 35, Buffett gave some serious thought to retiring. As recounted in the biography Snowball, Buffett had already amassed $174,000 by that point, and was living comfortably on $1,000 per month. You can multiply those amounts by 11 to get something approaching today’s dollars. Now, conventional wisdom would say that retiring at 35 is a silly idea, and to do so with only 15x what you spent each year would be risky. At least for the average investor. Which of course, Buffett was not. It’s a moot point, since as we know, he certainly did not retire back then – nor at any point since. But the facts are noteworthy.
What’s interesting about both of these cases is that they highlight the separation between having and growing wealth, versus earning a living and paying the bills.
There are a couple of useful interpretations here. If we come at it from the income angle, in both cases it appears in retrospect that neither had to spend too much time or effort checking that box. It’s almost as if they took for granted that covering the monthly budget needed to be gotten out of the way with as little attention as possible, so that the focus could be placed on growing the wealth base. Not that the income was unimportant; just that it wasn’t the only important thing.
Second, it really illustrates the idea that we all have two ledgers running at once, so to speak. Ledger number one deals with taking care of this year’s requirements with this year’s earnings, while ledger number two deals with the ever-accumulating (we hope) pool of assets which will someday be called upon to do the job when the effort-based income stops.
It’s not necessary to become a movie star or an investing god in order to benefit from these examples. Simply realize that a couple of very successful guys had basic needs squared away early so they could focus time and energy on building wealth. Certainly it helped that neither seems to have spent too lavishly along the way. But preserving and growing wealth requires that you have some to begin with. It is quite clear in both cases that having wealth was very much an intended consequence of the respective efforts; nor did either fellow let up on the gas once he had some.
In the moment, engaged in the weekly cycle of going to work, and the monthly cycle of paying bills, it is easy to get focused on the inflows and outflows. Just remember that the financial job has two pieces: today’s money and tomorrow’s money. It’s is well to remember to give some attention to both. It is even better to make it easy to do so by getting the first part squared away as soon as you can, so that you have plenty of time and attention span to devote to the second.
By Brad Thomason, CPA
Many years ago I attended some sort of event where the keynote speaker was a retired Army general. I don’t recall what the event was. But I remember clearly what his theme was.
The broad topic was being in a position of directing others, and understanding what the possibilities and limitations of leadership were.
But it was a detail he mentioned that really stuck with me. Like a lot of profound and important ideas, it was obvious at once just how fundamental it was. Yet I had never heard anyone put it in quite the words he used; nor had I ever quite formulated it the same way for myself.
I have found it to be a useful thing to remember. I thought I would share it with you today.
What the general said was this: you can delegate authority, but you can’t delegate responsibility.
Even if you tap someone else to help you out with an undertaking, even if you give that person broad latitude to act and make decisions, the thing which you can never transfer is responsibility for the outcome. If the outcome was your responsibility in minute-one of the story, it remains yours all the way until the end.
This is at once a cautionary statement about who you delegate authority to, and how closely you monitor their actions and enforce accountability. But more than that, it is a rigid reminder that bringing in other people cannot be the source of excuses for things which fail. It’s a cop-out you can’t let yourself consider.
In the personal finance world, people often engage advisors to help navigate the terrain. Under the right circumstances, this can be a good idea. But those right circumstances form situations in which the person who’s doing the engaging is working with the advisor as a peer or even a supervisor/manager in order to allow the professional’s input to enter the equation and enhance the other positive things which are already going on.
When the nature of the exchange is that the retiree capitulates control to the advisor, does whatever is proposed without thought or challenge, and ultimately seeks to blame the advisor when things don’t go well, then you do not have those right circumstances. You have a dysfunctional mess that is not good, and maybe disastrous.
To make matters worse, it may in fact be the incompetence of a poor advisor which led to the downfall. But in the end, that’s a secondary fact. Because the primary fact is that responsibility for a successful retirement was always yours, and only yours. If you invited the source of failure into the story, then the resulting failure is still on you.
You can delegate some of the job to others. You can seek the counsel of experts so that their contributions can add to your own, and make the process go more smoothly. But in the final analysis those are aspects of authority. Not responsibility.
Because while you can freely delegate the one, you can’t divest the other. Since you are always going to be responsible for the final outcome, it is best to remember that along the way. Failure to do so creates an illusion of shared obligation, and may create the reality of an unhealthy state of dependency. Neither will do you any good.
Retirement success is a big undertaking. Prudent selection of aid and assistance is fine. Just don’t forget who’s in charge. Because the universe is not going to forget who’s responsible.
By Brad Thomason, CPA
The other day I was doing some work on an old fishing boat. I like to fly fish sometimes, and there are certain things you need to do to a boat to make it most conducive to that activity. Fly line, being off the reel and lying at your feet in between casts, has a tendency to find literally everything which it can possibly get hung on. So the typical array of cleats, bolt eyes and other tie off hardware that is standard on most boats needs to be changed out.
But even that isn’t enough, as it takes nothing more than a crisp 90 degree corner sometimes for the line to get tangled, ruining a cast and maybe losing a shot at a fish. In addition to the other modifications and the overall de-junking of the bow, it pays to take the time to remove anything with sharp edges. Or at least smooth them down and round off the corners. Can’t really change the physics of how fly line behaves. So you have to adapt the arena to its peculiarities and hope for the best.
In a sense, your house serves the same type of function. Human beings have gotten pretty good at staying warm and snug while the wind is lashing and the rain is driving. We haven’t done this by making any changes to the operation of weather. Instead, we’ve gotten ever-better throughout the centuries at building structures which put some space between us and nature.
This theme of taming the unruly without making it go away plays out in the financial markets, too. As we saw last year, the Fed can raise rates if they want. But if the market wants to go the other way, the Fed will eventually have to yield (no pun intended) to the move. However, even if the Fed can’t actually force rates to remain at one level or another, the way it works mutes the kinds of wild interest rate moves, back and forth, which would be more likely in a completely open market, non-central-bank world. It makes for a more stable environment for commerce to occur in.
Individuals benefit from recognizing this theme and deploying analogous measures in their own financial dealings. The kinds of assets which are widely available to retail investors is not something that the masses have a lot of control over. Nor can we do much to change the inherent risk of particular investment assets. But we, the members of the mass, can make sensible decisions about how we react to this situation.
By diversifying our holdings across a suitable array of investment types and products we create a range of options for funding income needs through our withdrawals. Having many “buckets of money” lets us fine tune our decisions to the situation we’re facing at a particular time. Depending on the circumstances, we can pull money from the combination of accounts which makes the most sense this year. And if the circumstances change next year, we can use a different combination to cover those funding needs.
More broadly, as we age we can make an overall shift in risk level by reallocating capital away from growth assets to store-of-value assets, and considering insurance coverage for risks that we don’t have other good ways to make less threatening.
We all know that there’s a whole bunch of stuff out there that can interfere with our plans, at best; and in some cases wreck them altogether. But just because we can’t make them go away doesn’t mean we’re completely powerless. At times there are things we can do – often pretty straightforward things – which will serve to decrease the probability of a hiccup, or at least lessen the impact of it should one happen anyway. The extent to which we recognize these possibilities and take advantage of them can end up being a major plot development as our retirement story plays out.
By Brad Thomason, CPA
The fortune cookie said:
"To understand is hard. Once one understands, action is easy"
It's sort of humbling to see your whole operating philosophy summed up on a little slip of paper. But it's kind of cool, too.
I don't think a lot of elaboration is needed here. The term 'easy' is a bit fuzzy, and in my view should be interpreted as easy to figure out, if not actually easy to perform. But other than that, I don't find much else to add.
Please use the resources available on this site to help further your own understanding. That's what we put them up for. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or need clarification or assistance with getting the last pieces of the puzzle to drop into place.
But also please take confidence in the idea that if you put in the time to understand the issues and the way things fit together, the path to follow will reveal itself. That's the payoff for putting in the work, and the means by which you get the benefits that good planning and management can lead to.
The fortune cookie says so. So how can we argue with that?
By Brad Thomason, CPA
How was yesterday?
So what are you going to do differently today?
Such a simpleton’s perspective, and yet…
When we look around and don’t like what we see, it’s all too easy to assume we’re stuck with it. There’s probably not much you can do today about a job you don’t like, a financial difficulty (whether present-day, or looming out in the future, like an under-funded retirement), or stress about the people in your life. Even if you could do something today, in the strictest and most dramatic sense, you probably shouldn’t. Moves on those fronts, sort of like revenge, are best served cold and after much rumination.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all. Here are eight quick suggestions for things you can do today or tomorrow to slant the odds of being able to beat yesterday.
1. Get up early enough to watch the sunrise. Even though sunrises happen every day, fewer people see them than see sunsets. As such, the scarcity variable is met, and the experience seems somehow more valuable. If you see the sunrise you will feel that you are ahead of everyone who’s still in bed. You will probably also feel a little silly that something like that can give you a sense of superiority. But it will, and it does so without hurting anyone else. So that’s a pretty nice confluence of benefits.
2. Eat a big breakfast. The Mayo Clinic reports that a big breakfast, with plenty of protein and complex carbs (i.e. not three bowls of Fruit Loops), may help to moderate feelings of anxiety throughout the morning. Even if you get stressed out before the day is done, having it hit you in the morning is especially deflating. Buy yourself some time where you can get it.
3. Stay hydrated. Being even a little dehydrated can start to affect digestion and make you feel icky. Bad moods follow soon thereafter. Plenty of water keeps all of that stuff working like it should, and largely outside the realm of consciousness. One less thing to distract you can help you to endure the stuff you can’t control, for longer into the day.
4. Clean something. Same drill you gave your kids when they had to straighten up their rooms. Don’t worry about a plan, just find one thing that’s out of place and take care of it. Then find the next thing. Sometimes it’s amazing what you can do in 15 minutes; and when the 15 minutes are up you can move on to something else, within the glowing feeling of having made progress. In fact, you can get a long way into a day by rolling from one 15 minute task to the next, even if the only reason it’s a 15 minute task is because you arbitrarily stopped.
5. Exercise. But don’t be dramatic. Something, pretty much anything, is better than nothing. A big mistake that many people make when they start exercising is to think they can undo years of inactivity with a short six, or eight, or twelve week program. You can’t. So don’t even try. The benefits of exercise – like retirement assets – are composed of cumulative effect, received over a sustained period of time. What you do today, tomorrow, next week is not going to have a major impact long-term, so don’t even try. Well, not a major positive impact. Though you can certainly manufacture an injury with negative long-term impacts. To reiterate: something is better than nothing, even if it’s just a walk around the block or a single set of sit-ups or push-ups during a commercial while watching TV.
6. Make a list of things you need to do. This is one you win, irrespective of how long the list ends up being. A short list can leave you feeling like you’re not as far behind the eight ball as you feared. Even if it’s a long list, having it all captured in one spot is the first step to setting them up and knocking them down. A little organization goes a long way in settling the nerves and directing focus to where the attention and efforts need to be.
7. Make a second list of what you want to accomplish by the time the year is through. These are broad level objectives, which don’t require any detail right away. Rather, it serves to define a “body of work” for you to think about and progress toward as the coming weeks play out. Having such a document is very useful in those moments when you know you ought to do something, but can’t recall exactly what’s next in the line-up. Going back and touching the list every few weeks can help you get quickly re-centered, reminding you of decisions you made but which have drifted from top-of-mind amidst the daily ebb and flow of new information and developing/emerging situations (and annoyances).
8. Get to bed at a reasonable hour. Even if you just lie there and focus on relaxing and thinking back over the day. It is tough to force yourself to go to sleep earlier than you usually do. But if you know that going in, you can lie there without getting frustrated that you aren’t falling asleep. And as a result, don’t be surprised if you actually do fall asleep faster.
Big problems aren’t fixed quickly or simply. But addressing seemingly minor pieces of the puzzle can be an easy path to making sure that one bad day isn’t followed by another. Sometimes, breaking the string is all that’s needed to get into a better spot to be able to make some progress on the big stuff. Small investment, big return.
By Brad Thomason, CPA
Many people who own rental property as part of their investment portfolio are re-thinking that decision right now. Many tenants are not paying their rent, here in the midst of the pandemic.
As the whole purpose of income-producing real estate is to produce that rental income, it can be easy to view the whole exercise as pointless.
But like a lot of moments in life when a person is under stress, now may not be the best time to be too hasty about drawing big conclusions.
Obviously you would like to collect rent. You may even need to collect rent, either to service debt or for your own income. But be aware that the present moment is an opportunity to turn a temporary problem into a permanent decision. Something anyone should approach with wariness.
In addition to the rental income, real estate investing has other beneficial factors going for it, factors which are likely still just as present or possible as they ever were. If you decide to exit a property holding solely on the basis of how it performs on the income front for a few months, you may do so at the expense of these other factors.
A rental property represents a unit of productive capacity. Think about it like this: if you had a machine in your garage that spit out hundred dollar bills every few days, would you throw the machine away just because it blew a fuse or had a part go bad? Doubtful. Instead, you’d hang on to it until it could be put back into service; even if that took awhile or cost some money.
Rental property (like all real estate) also serves as a store of value, one which may increase simply because the ground it sits upon exists in a world where asset prices tend to creep higher over time.
Finally, if you have some debt on the property, rent payments provide a means for other people to pay the loan back. The result is that your equity position grows with time, even if the underlying property value is flat. The leveraged rental property provides you a means to tap into earning a financing spread, which is one of the prime ways that non-household entities earn money, the world over.
If you sell the property because of a hiatus in rent collection, you lose all of those benefits.
So before you pull that trigger, make sure you have done a full accounting. The rent – or lack thereof – may be what’s drawing your attention. But it is hardly the only important variable in the equation. And even if it was, the current situation, when viewed from the perspective of the decades over which retirement math plays out, is only temporary.
By Brad Thomason, CPA
There is a common response to learning what is actually involved in doing an adequate job of planning, preparing for, and managing a winning retirement effort.
That response is something along the lines of, “Man, this stuff is hard.”
What people mean when they say that is that it will be time consuming and it will require some effort. First you have to get a feel for all of the things you need to be paying attention to. Then you have to pay attention to them while making decisions, moving assets, reacting to life happening as the years go by.
So, yea. If hard is synonymous with not-easy, then I would agree: this stuff is hard.
But here’s the thing. So what?
Anyone who has been on the planet for forty or fifty years (or more) and has been even modestly successful at anything, has behind them a long record of working through things which were not easy.
I bet you have plenty of your own war stories that you could share.
Facing the prospect of doing something hard? How is that any different from what you have already been doing now for years?
We spend a lot of time and effort trying to provide resources to help you focus in quickly on the major moving parts, discuss the details as efficiently as we know how, and organize your thoughts as your knowledge base grows. But as much as we would like to, we can’t do a lot more than that. Retirement is a big thing: and in this context that’s not a reference to the importance of the impact, but just the sheer size of the quantity of stuff you have to deal with.
We can’t make the topic smaller. You can’t master the topic without putting in the time and effort. Doing so won’t be easy.
But you’re an old hand at not-easy, already. Plenty of hard things have already folded under your effort and persistence. You can handle this hard thing, too. Right?
By Brad Thomason, CPA
I’m about to make one of those broad, sweeping declarations which is so often misguided, mistaken, and just wrong. You folks get to decide if you think I’m right or wrong on this one. But I’m pretty sure I’m right.
Here goes: Most of the people who are interested enough in financial planning to actually engage in it, are people who already have some amount of wealth.
The hope of financial education and planning is that it can serve as a pathway to wealth creation for just about anyone who decides to put in the time and the effort.
The reality of it though is that it is primarily the domain of those who already have some money.
To further refine my statement, I would say that if you took all of the people who spend time engaged in purposeful financial activities, the majority would be those who already have some wealth, and the minority would be engaged for aspirational reasons.
Moreover, if you took the population of those who did not have money, the majority would be doing nothing, and again, only the minority would be those who engage for aspirational reasons.
So if that premise is true, and we start thinking about what that could imply, I think one of the plausible conclusions is this: part of the motivation for actual engagement is tied to the fear of losing what’s already been gained. Those with more to lose are less interested in losing, and as such, are willing to spend more time and attention on financial matters than those who don’t (from the perspective of owning a pool of assets) have anything to lose. Conversely, if the prospect of merely having more were sufficient motivation for the typical person, we would see the aspirational pathway clogged with a whole lot more travelers than is actually the case.
I think that matters, because people often react negatively to the idea that decisions are being made out of fear. I myself have even made such arguments on occasion. But whether we find it palatable or not, is a different matter than if we should allow ourselves to be so motivated. We may not find fear to be an attractive motivator, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate one.
To dig into that a bit further, now is probably a good place to point out that this discussion is one of those instances of a word in common use having a different connotation than it does in technical use. That word here, is fear. The term fear is often used as a stand-in for what psychologists and sociologists would actually refer to as loss. Loss, as a technical term, means either that you were hoping for something valuable and didn’t get it, or you had something valuable in the past and don’t anymore.
That’s really what we are talking about when the term fear is used in a financial discussion.
Or to restate the original premise with cleaned-up terminology, we as financial decision makers are often motivated by wanting to avoid loss.
Which seems like a pretty rational desire; and as such, a pretty legitimate motivator, doesn’t it?
There is good reason to not be ruled by the things we fear (or want to avoid, if you prefer that phrasing). Yet those sentiments come from somewhere, and it is not automatically certain that such sentiments are the simple products of irrationality or ‘being emotional.’ I can make a very good, totally objective argument for the notion that losing assets you spent decades accumulating is a bad thing. Bet you can too. The trick then, is to do the work of introspection necessary to determine if that fear that’s pushing you to do or not do something is just a case of bad nerves, or the result of being aware of potential loss which will do real and substantive damage should it come about.
So my suggestion is this: don’t worry about trying to shake off the feeling that fear is an unattractive motivator. If someone tells you fear is a bad motivator, just say ‘ok.’ You don’t have to move to the viewpoint that you like it. Just don’t let the fact that you don’t like it cause you to ignore your inner voice when it is telling you that there’s something that needs attention. If you assume out of hand that such feelings are simple paranoia, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a loss which you knew was shaping up, and which you knew how to avoid before the fact.
By Brad Thomason, CPA
When you think about the much-mentioned “1%,” you probably don’t immediately jump to the image of a slow-talking farmer from a little rural town in the South.
But he was most certainly a 1%-er. In addition to cattle and some row crops, he grew high quality sod on river-bottom land that had been in the family for several generations. This was back during the housing and golf course booms of the early oughts, and his sod was rolling out on trucks just as fast as they could grow it.
We were discussing his long-term plans, and a standard part of that discussion is based on questions about what a person wants to do in the future and how they plan to spend – and enjoy – their money.
I remember he smiled at me and said something to the effect that there were only two things he really needed to have an enjoyable life. The first was clean clothes to put on every morning – and he made a point of reiterating that they merely needed to be clean, not new. The second? Sharp razor blades.
After that, everything was extra.
He went on to say that he already had both of those, and as such he was already in the midst of what seemed to him like a pretty luxurious life.
Now to be sure, part of this exchange was theatrics, and he had a wry look on his face while answering the question. Nonetheless, he was also completely serious. Those were the things he really wanted, and with them attained, his zeal for any particular extra thing was not that high.
When we think about the future and the idea of luxury, as such, it is common to imagine many places and toys and experiences which all have the commonality that they cost a lot of money. That’s fine to a point, but when it comes to actually setting budget numbers for retirement income, it’s always better to have projections come as close to reality as possible.
I had a very different discussion with another person, who claimed a love for travel. The result? A line item in the permanent budget of $50,000 every year for trips. I told this person a story of some family friends, an older couple who also liked to go on several trips a year, but who, as they had gotten older, had come to look forward to supper on the first night back home as much as the trip itself. After a week or more eating restaurant food, they were ready for something different, and they always had the same thing on the day they got home: dry beans, cornbread, and a bit of country ham.
I concluded by saying that the odds of actually traveling enough every year for the rest of his life to spend that kind of money was highly unlikely. Many people who think they love to travel, pre-retirement, come to find out after three or four marquee trips, that they have a growing sense that they have checked that box on the list. They view the production of it all – even if they remain ok with the cost (which many don’t, by the way) – as more than they want to tackle. Turns out being away from home takes more of a toll than folks tend to factor in when the excitement of a coming big trip is all that they’ve got room to think about. You have an intrepid bunch who follows through on the plan to keep on moving all throughout their retirement years. But they are the minority. Most get the trip to Italy, or Alaska, or wherever out of the way, and slide one step closer to being decided home-bodies.
Well, so what? Is financial calamity going to ensue because you budget a bunch of money for something and then never spend it? Probably not.
But as I said, at a theoretical level, closer match between what gets put into the plan and what is most likely to actually happen, is better practice. And at the level of practice, do be aware that setting a particularly high bar for future income needs can affect you substantially, as a stressor, in the years leading up to retirement. Funding an actual $50,000 annual line item can require well over a million dollars in capital. So to set yourself the task of saving an extra million dollars on top of what you already need is a pretty steep hike. So much so that you could work yourself, and worry yourself, into a state of health that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the money even if you did managed to set it aside.
So balance, moderation, and realistic expectations about what the future is likely to look like. These are what we want to favor. Obviously we can’t predict everything. Yet there are still some possibilities which we can all look at in sober fashion and make a pretty close guess. If you didn’t spend your working years staying in thousand-dollar-a-night hotel rooms, driving European performance cars, or living out of a suitcase four months a year, you are unlikely to start doing so on a repetitive basis for the duration of your retirement years. You might do some of it to see what it’s like. But that’s an altogether different thing. One-time expenses, even rather large ones, affect financial models very differently than ongoing expenses.
In the end, it is a lot more sensible to look for the luxuries you will actually engage in. When you do, don’t be surprised if what rates as luxury to you makes you chuckle a little. Maybe not in embarrassment, per se. Just recognition that it might not be all that exciting to anyone else, even if it means the world to you.
A lot to be said for clean clothes and sharp razor blades. Freely admit, I’m a big fan of both, myself.
Do you have your own library? We do. It’s been particularly on my mind today because I have been having to re-shelve all of it.
A couple of months ago we were moved out of our long-time offices for temporary space nearby, due to a problem that the building had with water getting inside the roof structure and running down the back of the exterior walls, between the bricks and sheetrock. The restoration contractors wrapped up last week, so we’re in the process of moving back.
Since the pandemic alone wasn’t sufficiently disruptive…
Anyway, as you have probably noticed, education is a big part of our philosophy on how to do financial planning and retirement preparation. So it likely comes as no surprise that we would be cheerleaders for reading. In the spirit of making the case for more time reading (something Warren Buffett claims to do for several hours every day, by the way), here are a few thoughts that popped into my head as I was unpacking our many-hundred volumes this morning.
WHAT A BOOK IS
I like to think of a book as a distillation of the author’s thoughts. You can’t make it all the way to writing a book without meaning to, and part of that process entails contemplative time spent on what to say and how to say it. Being in the presence of thought has a consistent way of inspiring or prompting more thought. And who among us couldn’t benefit from a little more time spent thinking?
AGREEING WITH THE AUTHOR
It is not necessary that you agree with the author’s position in order to get the benefit of exposure to the author’s thinking. I would say that a lot of my most productive thinking over the years has come when I flatly disagreed with the point an author was asserting. Being comfortable with this occurrence has an interesting practical effect: you stop worrying about whether or not the book is going to be any good. As a result, I’m whatever the term is for the opposite of a book snob. We have titles in our library that would likely prompt you to roll your eyes or cast surprised glances back in my direction. We have some that are downright goofy, replete with “wisdom” and advice that no sane person would give any credence to. But they serve a purpose. There is nothing like an articulation of the absurd or off-base to inspire one to compose a lucid summation of the actual right way to look at something. Knowing what you believe and being able to articulate it are two different things, and the humorous levels of fury which a wacky author can induce is one of the best motivations I know of for putting your own thoughts in communicable form. Also pretty good at shining light on holes in your own logic that you never realized were there. An angry reviewer is a thorough reviewer.
SUBJECT DOESN’T MATTER
The other feature about our library which you would pick up on almost right away is the breadth of topic coverage. Of course we have all of the sections you would expect, dealing with investment, business management, and so on. But you’d also find history books, literature, guides on constructing wooden boats, religion, travel, psychology and a dozen other topics. Most of the world’s big ideas do not limit themselves to the topics which we humans invent to make it easier for our minds to organize information. The Law of Diminishing Return which is discussed in the economics book is just an example of the limit functions described in the mathematics book, and the reason that the physics book says you can’t fly faster than the speed of light (when you get going really fast, mass starts increasing so rapidly that you can’t find enough energy to keep the acceleration going). The characters that Plato met on the road, or the ones Moses found at the base of the mountain, are the same ones you will be interviewing for the new position at your office. And so on. The wider your reading becomes, the more you will become aware of just how few really core ideas are out there, and how they have a way of being a player in so many different things we think about and act upon.
So that’s my PSA for reading for this week. If you are not already a frequent reader, why not take a virtual stroll through the used book section of Amazon or Ebay? Take a few shots at random. Won’t cost you a lot of money, and you don’t even have to read them cover to cover. Just open one up and see how far you get before you find the bottom of your coffee cup. Try another one the next day. Never know what you might stumble across, and there’s no way to predict the resulting mental ricochets it may set off inside your noggin. A lot of value available, for not a lot of money. In other words, a pretty good investment.
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