I'm not an expert investor, so you probably shouldn't listen to me. I've certainly failed more than I've succeeded.
I've put money into shares, real estate, foreign currency, metals, businesses, and managed funds. Some did well. Others didn't. They were typical of what your average middle-class, middle-aged man reads about and tries. All of them were flawed because they were subject to market forces over which I had little control. They were also capital intensive and carried varied levels of risk – although quality real estate is the exception as it offers tremendous leverage and is less risky than most.
It doesn't matter now because I lost everything when I got divorced.
Something else stands out about these investments. They're not much fun – unless you're day-trading or playing the FOREX and your idea of fun is a 24-hour rolling heart attack.
Of course, there's no shortage of help out there if you want to invest in these things. There are even pretty blonde girls with Lamborghinis on YouTube who'll teach you. I've studied the preachings of many ‘experts' over the years, and some have been excellent. I've also succumbed to the promise of easy riches on a few occasions and each time learned it was no different to eating McDonalds – a sugar-hit of excitement followed by the indigestion of regret.
The great teachers; the ones who've succeeded for decades, always promote principles over tactics, themes over hot tips. They're boring, they're logical, and they tend to work. Warren Buffett is the greatest example of this. And that's why these days, all my external investments are relatively passive in nature. I know they will grow so long as I don't play with them too much.
I call these ‘external investments' because, with few exceptions, there's little you can do to influence their growth. Real estate investing (enhancement and development, mostly) is one exception.
The other, often overlooked investment is you. When you're in your 30's, 40's and 50's, your focus tends to be on your family's needs, on asset/liability acquisition and some wealth accumulation.
You probably give scant attention to yourself. Yet this is the one investment over which you have the greatest control. It's entirely up to you how much you read, what you learn, who you study and critically, what you create.
These days, it's possible to transform your life in a single year. You can do it easily if you're serious about it.
You can be less indebted, mentally and physically stronger, more connected with people, more invested in the things you love doing, and you can put a solid foundation in place towards earning your freedom.
Two of the most powerful levers you have are the people you meet and the books you read. The influence they wield on your life can't be overstated. It's massive.
You'll be the same in 5 years as you are today except for 3 things:
1. The people you meet.
2. The books you read.
3. The work you put in.
It takes you a whole lifetime to learn from one life – yours. But through the books you read and the people you associate with, you can learn from a hundred lives in just one year. Just about every great success story has used these elements to shape and direct their lives. Anyone who tries to make it with neither usually gets a protracted lesson in mediocrity. Getting the ear of someone like Buffett might be impossible but learning how he thinks and what he does is as easy as reading a book.
Arse-Kissing and the New Guard
Most of us were raised in an environment where you paid your dues, kissed the right arses and waited your turn. Those days are over.
Teenagers are making millions on YouTube, playing video games.
Corporate executives are delivering online courses and quitting their day job. Writers, makers, coaches and freelancers are reinventing their lives and giving value to their audience through the Internet and social media.
It's a new world. The rules have changed.
Your reputation no longer rests on the whims of an uncaring boss. It rests with you. The opportunities today are enormous beyond belief. The things you can do today and the people you can reach were impossible just 20 years ago.
Learn about the opportunities. Learn the new rules. Discard what no longer works and start blazing your own trail. It's never been better than this.
It's time to invest in you.
Books for Entrepreneurs in the New Economy
The 4-Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
Tim's book is responsible for fuelling much of today's solopreneur phenomenon. A must-read.
The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau
Chris debunks the old myth, “It takes money to make money,” with plenty of examples to relate to.
Purple Cow – Seth Godin
Seth is a pioneer from the earliest days of the Internet and a trailblazer in today's ‘connection economy'. Read everything he writes. Seriously.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary V is loud, rant-prone and tends to swear a lot. But no one knows social media better. Read and learn.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope we get to hang out more in the future. And in the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences. You can email me directly at email@example.com. I respond to all emails. If this was beneficial to you, please consider subscribing and sharing with someone you think would also benefit.
Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a financial advisor's elbow. This material doesn't constitute financial advice but rather a collection of personal opinions, based on my own experiences. Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I provide links to services or products I have used and liked or researched and recommend. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you believe they will be beneficial to you.
Also published on Medium.