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WHO ARE YOU?

Posted by on Nov 22, 2016 in Blog | 4 comments

WHO ARE YOU?

“Do I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict myself.  (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”  You probably recognize those three lines from the Song of Myself by Walt Whitman.  The last line, that I contain multitudes, is my text for this post.  I have a simple proposition to make: We all contain multitudes.  We behave very differently at different times.  Sometimes we behave well, sometimes badly.  What is astonishing is how different the same person can appear to be at different times and in various contexts.  If we realize...

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WHEN TO TRUST A HUNCH, AND WHEN NOT

Posted by on Nov 8, 2016 in Blog | 11 comments

WHEN TO TRUST A HUNCH, AND WHEN NOT

Observation of happy and successful people leads me to think they have a knack of making the right intuitive decisions.  But when should you trust your intuition to the extent of making a big bet on it?  And when should you not? The Story of Mary from Maine Max Gunther, author of that great little book The Zurich Axioms, tells the story of a woman from Maine – I’ll call her Mary.  She made a nice living buying and selling real estate in New England.  She bought an old, large, run-down property by the shore in Maine.  Her builders...

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TRUMP HAS ALREADY WON!

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Blog | 13 comments

TRUMP HAS ALREADY WON!

Note: This post is about life and business, not politics…   Donald Trump has performed an amazing feat of reframing reality.  Now, my impression of Trump is that he is an intolerable and despicable buffoon.  But perhaps he is just a publicity-seeking rational person having an enormous joke at the expense of nearly all of us.  I don’t recommend emulating Trump, except insofar as we can all bend reality to advantages in our lives and careers. The Donald has won because we are all talking about him – from me up to the President. As...

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HOW TO BE A BOSSY BOSS

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Blog | 9 comments

HOW TO BE A BOSSY BOSS

There is a curious South African phenomenon – the bossy boss.  And while this might sound a bad idea, I have come to the view that it is good. One thing that is generally acknowledged – but not explained – is that for a tiny population of managers, South Africa has generated a large number of very successful entrepreneurs.  To name but two: Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X and reckoned to be worth $12.7 billion; and the very charming and super-smart Mark Shuttleworth, brilliant serial entrepreneur and incidentally the second...

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TAKE MORE RISKS

Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in Blog | 14 comments

TAKE MORE RISKS

“If you are not worried, you are not risking enough.”  This is the first of the Zurich investment axioms, which I mentioned last month. The axioms assume that you want to get rich.  The first thing to realize is that you will never get rich on wage or salary income.  You can only do it by investing, or by starting a business. Yet even most people who save and invest don’t get rich.  The reason, according to Max Gunther, author of The Zurich Axioms, is that they don’t take enough risks. Gunther tells the story of two college...

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WHO ARE WE? Angels, Devils, or Just Plain Animals?

Posted by on Sep 13, 2016 in Blog | 7 comments

WHO ARE WE? Angels, Devils, or Just Plain Animals?

Imagine you are living in Nazi Germany.  Who are we?  How do you and your friends answer this question? One answer an inconveniently large number of people – perhaps even a majority of citizens – give is “We are Germans, the master race destined to rule the world.” Even worse, a popular answer is “True Germans are Aryans.  Jews are not Aryans or genuine Germans.  Jews are a threat to the Reich and must be eliminated.” The Third Reich is instructive because so many ordinary people – who showed no sign of being exceptional or...

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WHEN THE BOAT TAKES ON WATER, JUMP!

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Blog | 10 comments

WHEN THE BOAT TAKES ON WATER, JUMP!

Do you know the main reason why most people are not good investors?  It’s because they don’t jump at the first sign of serious trouble. In this post I’m going to introduce the Zurich axioms – a set of investment maxims which have tremendous power.  They were derived by a club of Swiss investors and traders on Wall Street after the Second World War.  There is a great book by Max Gunther – The Zurich Axioms – a slim volume with more valuable advice than I’ve ever seen in so few pages.  I hope you’ll read it.  To whet your...

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WHICH STRESS, UNCERTAINTY & RISK SHOULD WE ACCEPT?

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 in Blog | 7 comments

WHICH STRESS, UNCERTAINTY & RISK SHOULD WE ACCEPT?

Last time, I argued that we should welcome uncertainty, risk, and even stress as essential for any worthwhile world or life.  Without stress, uncertainty, and risk our lives would be boring and our character would remain unformed and untested. Yet as with everything in life, the 80/20 principle tells us to be extremely selective.  It is only a small proportion of stress, uncertainty and risk which are good for us.  If we can define what is good and what is bad, we can live an eventful but happy life. There is only a limited amount of...

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IN PRAISE OF RISK, UNCERTAINTY & STRESS

Posted by on Aug 2, 2016 in Blog | 8 comments

IN PRAISE OF RISK, UNCERTAINTY & STRESS

The shrinks and gurus are unanimous, and the medical establishment is nearly so – stress is bad for you, uncertainties should be reduced as much as possible, and risk-taking should be minimized.  In this blog post, I am going to present the opposite view. First, though, to make it harder for myself, let’s list some of the debilitating sources of worry and uncertainty.  What are the risks that most of us dread? Let’s start with the end.  Death – or at least untimely death, before we are ready to go. After death, failing health,...

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HAVE YOU BEEN TRANSFORMED BY AN ORGANIZATION?

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Blog | 3 comments

HAVE YOU BEEN TRANSFORMED BY AN ORGANIZATION?

“Personality, in our sense, is a Shakespearean invention.”  This week I came across this rather large claim, made by Harold Bloom of Yale in his book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.  Bloom’s argument is that Shakespeare was the first writer to describe the development – as opposed to the mere unfolding – of personality.  In Shakespeare, Bloom says, characters such as Cleopatra change their personality, “and they develop because they reconceive themselves.  Sometimes this comes about because they overhear themselves...

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