learning

DIY, DIFM, or In-Between

photo shows a picture of a desktop with wooden letters saying "DIY," scissors, block, beads, and other craft supplies

In many industries, people distinguish between DIY and DIFM: “do-it-yourself” versus “do-it-for-me.” The same is true of investing and financial planning.

Whether you are trying to build a deck or a retirement portfolio, the internet is full of pertinent information to help you on your way. You may not be a carpenter, but you may have the tools and skills to build a deck. Add some information, time, and motivation, perhaps that new deck will appear in your backyard through your own efforts.

A successful DIYer has all of those things. It does not always work out, but when it does, someone has used their own skills and efforts to do something many others pay for.

When the do-it-for-me or DIFM route works out, people trade money for the time and abilities of professionals in order to get what they want and need. I’ve mentioned before that I mow my lawn with a checkbook—a textbook case of DIFM.

When it comes to plans and financial planning, we believe that is either a DIY thing—you are the expert on your plans and planning—or a collaborative process of discovery. We may support your efforts, help you define or refine what you’re trying to do, maybe do some arithmetic, but you are still the expert.

On the investment front, though, we operate on a DIFM basis. We strive to grow the buckets: we research investments and manage portfolios for those who do not want to go the do-it-yourself route. DIYers have plenty of resources available other places; we’re busy trying to grow the buckets for those who say “do it for me.”

(Of course, our perspectives on everything from planning to investing are available online 24/7 to anyone with an interest in reading our blogs, listening to the podcasts, or watching the videos. There are some DIYers who check in regularly there. But our one-to-one efforts all go to investment services on a DIFM basis.)

Anybody could be a DIYer, in any number of areas… but it doesn’t mean you have to DIY. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


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Play the audio version of this post below:

How to Get It Right

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The world is full of advice, from self-help resources to lists, “listicles,” and everything in between. (Incidentally, check back next week for our post “48 Ways to Know that You’re Not Famous Enough Yet!”)

We’ve noticed that a lot of this content focuses on the things to avoid. Getting familiar with common mistakes sounds logical enough on the surface, but we’re also contrarians… so we’ve been thinking about this for a while.

This is the model that’s just about always been used in our schools and even our pastimes. Our work is returned to us with the errors marked so that we can correct them, review, and push on. When a team loses, even by a small margin, the plays get scrutinized so that the team can learn from the defeat. Makes a certain kind of sense.

But there are a million ways to mess something up. More finite, however, is the list of ways to really shine at something. How often do we stop to consider what went right? We suggest we should be learning from our successes, too.

“Was this success a win or a fluke?”

“What made Company X a strong one?”

“In this project, I’m glad I paid attention to…”

These are just a few ideas for prompts, because goodness knows we don’t need any more lists about “how to not get it wrong.” We’d like to know more about how to get it right.

Clients, when you’re ready to chat, please write or call.


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NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

photo shows gold key in a lock hole

The secrets to success aren’t locked in the past, but they also aren’t waiting to be revealed in some crystal ball. History and context have plenty to teach us, and we ought to prepare as best we can for the future.

But success depends on our ability to move among the past, present, and future. That’s the key.

Imagine if we relied solely on the past. Human tendency leads us to believe current trends will continue. We are masters at spotting patterns and weaving details into coherent tapestries. (Those are the moves that kept us alive when our main job was to avoid predators and find sustenance.)

Today our brains try to do the same thing—to a fault, sometimes. Economic information surrounds us, and we want to find the story in it quickly. The brain wants to spot the pattern and react. When we learn that a company is finding some early success, for example, we want to conclude, “It’s a rocket ship, look at it go!”

Understanding the current trajectory is important, but the patterns of history are especially useful. Every age has fallen prey to some sort of mania. Tulips in 16th century Holland? Tech stocks in the 1990s? Not such different moments. There’s an edge in both knowing the history and being able to apply its lessons.

But what if that’s all we have, the wisdom of history? Well, we miss the big turning points, those moments of departure. We have to understand why and when a change might occur. The future will not be like the past: a proactive approach may keep us ahead of the pack.

In business, even when our past methods and processes have served you and us well, the world keeps spinning: we can expect change, which means we’d do well to keep an eye on potential opportunities, bargains, and possibilities.

My education includes a degree in history. When I was in college and developed a growing interest in business, I spent time on my own in the campus library with The Wall Street Journal and The Journal of Commerce. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s tough to say which has been more valuable to clients—the history studies or the business reading.

How we got here and where we’re going are two different conversations. So the secrets to success are neither here nor there—literally. They’re in the wisdom in between, and we have to keep perspective.

Clients, if you would like to discuss this or any other topic, please email us or call.

Enjoy Your Gift

pic for Enjoy Your Gift

You never know what’s going to send your heart soaring—but it’s nice to be open for moments like that.

Recently, a swell of gratitude snuck right up on us. We received a package from a popular online marketplace. It should’ve been a mundane activity to open the box. It was full of office supplies, after all.

We discovered, however, that we must have checked the option that this delivery was a “gift.” Inside the package was a slimmed-down receipt bearing the automatically-generated greeting.

“Enjoy your gift,” the note said. We were gobsmacked.

No, no, we’re not in love with our office supplies. (They get the job done, but it’s no love affair.) We realized that our supplies let us do our work. And our work? To be of service, to you.

“Enjoy your gift.” The note seemed to be cheering us on. “Share your talents, flourish, go!”

We firmly believe that we’re all better off when each of us is free to pursue our ambitions and put our skills to use.

How can we help you in your pursuits?

Clients, you know I’m aiming to work until I’m 92, and we’re filling the shop with other talented parties who can help this endeavor thrive. What a joy to witness this little shot of confidence from the universe. And we’re happy to share it with you now.

When you’d like to talk about this or anything else, please write or call.