success

Focus, people!

© Can Stock Photo / JohnKwan

We recently wrote about the meaning of money. Spoiler alert: we believe it may be a symbol of being worthwhile to the rest of society.

So today we are writing about the differences between entrepreneurs of middle class status, and those who have done better. Understand we are very big on being of service to our fellow humans, not so big on the pursuit of money for its own sake. We each define success in our own lives for our own selves. But there is a worthwhile lesson about being effective in our endeavors lurking in this topic.

Peter Schiff, author of Business Brilliant, identified in that book seven behaviors of highly successful entrepreneurs. Later he realized that just one trait dominated all the others. Its importance became apparent when he compared the behavior of less financially successful entrepreneurs to more successful entrepreneurs.

It turns out that, according to him, 45% of less successful entrepreneurs have no answer for the question, “Do you know what you are exceptionally good at that makes you money?” They believe they are excellent at six different things, on average. And 58% of them work to get better at things they are NOT exceptional at.

Meanwhile, 100% of more successful entrepreneurs know what they are exceptionally good at that makes money. They believe they are excellent at only two things, on average. And NONE of them work on their weaknesses; they spend all their time working with those things at which they excel.

When you think about the meaning of these three parameters, doesn’t it boil down to ‘focus?’ The more successful spend their energy on the two things at which they excel, because they know exactly how they are valuable to the rest of society. The less successful scatter their efforts across six things at which they believe they excel, plus they also spend time on their weaknesses.

It is no wonder that the group that consciously focuses more of their time on a narrower number of key things produces notable results. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet.

Bringing this closer to home, we believe there are two things at which we excel. Communicating with you to understand your goals and devise plans of action to pursue those goals is one. Managing investments in accordance with those goals is the other. The two things work together and complement each other: your goals inform your investment strategy.

Furthermore, each member of our team has duties that mostly correspond to their personal areas of excellence. People working at tasks they enjoy and excel at are going to be happier than workers who go through the drudgery of work that they do not like. Life is too short to spend it doing things you do not enjoy!

We do not know if these insights are of use to you. At least they help explain what we are about. None of this guarantees anything to anyone. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or any other pertinent topic, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

The Problem with Goals

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / imagesbyrob

Scott Adams, creator of the wildly successful comic strip Dilbert, is a man of big ideas. Some of them are fantastic, some of them are questionable, a few of them may be literally insane. However, for all his eccentricity it’s hard to argue with results: over the past three decades Adams has managed to parlay his workplace doodles into a multi-million dollar franchise.

Among his many ideas, there’s one in particular that he credits his success to: he doesn’t believe in setting goals for himself. Instead, he believes in building systems to work towards what he wants. The idea is simple. Most peoples’ goals depend on factors outside their direct control, which leads to frustration. By focusing on what you’re doing to manage those goals, though, you can build a system or framework for trying to achieve what you want. This way, you’re only concerned about the things that you control yourself, rather than worrying about goals that are outside your immediate reach.

For example, suppose a freshly minted high school graduate wants to be a doctor. That goal will take an enormous amount of dedication and training, and no amount of passion or talent is going to replace that. At any given moment, they’re an entire decade away from reaching their goal—it will take them five years of school before they even reach a point with any kind of real hands-on training. When faced with such a distant goal it’s easy to despair of ever reaching it. But while they can’t just up and be a doctor, they can always work on their system for trying to become a doctor. By focusing on their immediate day to day studies instead of their long-term goal, every day is a success. They simply use their system.

We think this makes great life advice in general, but it’s particularly important when it comes to investing. Our goal is to grow our portfolio over time, but what the market does day to day is entirely beyond our control: we can’t force our portfolio to go up. What we can always do, though, is work our system. In our case, this means practicing our three core principles: avoid stampedes in the market, look for the biggest bargains we can find, and own the orchard for the fruit crop. We can’t push a button and make your portfolio grow. But we can practice our investing discipline every day, even when the markets don’t cooperate.