Archive for the ‘THE FINANCIAL ATHLETE’ Category

Resources for Investing

September 30, 2011

World’s Most Ethical Companies Ranking: ethisphere.com

To forecast economic cycle turning points: businesscycle.com (Economic Cycle Research Institute)

The Financial Athlete is published as a book

May 19, 2011

Click HERE to buy the book, The Financial Athlete. Alternatively, you can buy the book on amazon.com.

This blog was just the first draft. The final draft contains 246 pages and was completed in April 2011 — 13 additional months of writing new material and rewriting.

The Choice (The Financial Athlete #144)

January 9, 2010

Chasing Two Rabbits (a Zen story)

A martial arts student approached his teacher and said, “I want to improve my knowledge of the martial arts. In addition to learning from you, I want to study under another teacher to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”

The master replied, “The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither one.”

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One of the biggest choices in life is to chase one of two “rabbits”: security or freedom. Most people choose security, often subconsciously as we are acculturated to do so. It is the safer choice. There is less room for failure. Although freedom resonates with everybody, only a minority are willing to take on the risk to gain it. It takes a rebellious spirit to pursue the freedom rabbit. This concept is epitomized in Patrick Henry’s famous quotation: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Chase your dreams and you chase the freedom rabbit. Whether this rabbit becomes captured or not, the experience is transformational for the hunter with an open mind. And if the freedom rabbit is captured, the hunter feels greater satisfaction than from capturing the security rabbit.

An investor is someone who has chosen to chase the freedom rabbit. This rabbit is much nimbler than the security rabbit. Being more difficult to capture, the chase is more exciting.

Swimming Meditation (The Financial Athlete #143)

January 8, 2010

For meditation, focus on the breath. Bring awareness to the breath, and the body and mind connect. The present moment is experienced. Mindfulness awakens.

Meditation need not only be practiced while sitting. There is also walking meditation and swimming meditation if awareness is placed on the breath. Without rhythmic breathing, there can be no stroke rhythm in swimming. Indeed, an excellent swimmer swims with mindfulness.

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How does an investor engage mindfulness? She welcomes the “beginner’s mind” with more questions than answers along with an enthusiasm that stems from a vision of multiple possibilities. She embraces the “expert’s mind” with awareness and acceptance of what is, patience to wait for better value, and trust in her system built for sustained success. She does not strive to compete against others or any benchmark. She does not dwell in the past; and she is free of bias, unconfined by subjectivity and emotional entanglements with what she owns.

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” — George Carlin

Under 10 seconds (The Financial Athlete #142)

January 7, 2010

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world, possibly in all human history. He holds the world record for the 100 meter dash at 9.58 seconds. It’s unbelievable that any 100 meter dash race is over in under 10 seconds.

Now think of an investment you own. In only 10 seconds, describe it. On the surface this may seem like a frivolous exercise, but it is no less frivolous than the exciting 100 meter dash. It answers the question: What’s so special about the investment? You may discover there is really nothing special about it. Perhaps you have never realized this because all along you have been bogged down in the details.

Next, suppose you can enter into a limited partnership for several real estate investment opportunities. Consider the difference between “a retail building next to Costco.” versus “a retail building in a small town in a rural area.” Or, “an outpatient medical center” versus “a motel next to the bowling alley.”

Before you make an investment, listen to the 10 second sales pitch. Is it compelling? If it is not compelling in the least bit, forget about it. If the sales pitch sounds weak, the investment is also weak. If the sales pitch sounds too good to be true, the investment is also too good to be true. The 10 second sales pitch brings you to a realization about the investment, much like a Zen Koan is designed to bring you to realization of a profound truth.

Here is my favorite Zen Koan:

A monk was asked to discard everything.

“But I have nothing!” he exclaimed.

“Discard that too!” ordered the master.

(This is near the last entry for the Financial Athlete. For the final draft, an ebook and printed book will be available soon.)

Teach a man to fish (The Financial Athlete #141)

January 3, 2010

Donate as you should invest, with due diligence and the intent of a “return on investment”.

Due Diligence

Investors are cautioned to not throw good money after bad money. Donors should be cautioned with the same advise. A high percentage of the donation for some charities does not help the needy. It is wasted on excessive administrative expenses. A cardinal rule for investing is to never invest without doing proper due diligence. Make this a cardinal rule for your donations, too. Fortunately, it is easy to evaluate online the efficiency of a charity organization through charitynavigator.org.

Return on Investment

How do you donate with a “return on investment”? The answer lies in an old Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” To teach a man to fish transitions him from “poverty consciousness” to “prosperity consciousness”. Money alone does not empower, but the combination of knowledge, confidence, and money does.

Ironically, “poverty consciousness” prevails among wealthy families. Being accustomed to hand-outs, the younger generations are ill prepared for self-sufficiency. Consequently, most inherited money is squandered within three generations.

The concept of “return on investment” in giving is to enhance life by increasing productive capacity. In giving to those who are unable help themselves, a compassionate society is enough of a return on investment. Without compassion, society is spiritually impoverished.

Gone fishin’…forever! (The Financial Athlete #140)

December 24, 2009

Old Joe, a Lousiana Creole, retired in his 40’s, after serving as an enlisted man in the U.S. army for over 20 years. Upon retiring early, he knew he had enough income to live in a simple home and wear simple clothes and drive a simple car. He would spend the rest of his simple life fishing.

When he was in his 70’s I asked him, “Did you ever go back to work for a while after you retired years ago?”

Old Joe replied with a grin, “I sure did. Once. I needed money to buy a new fishin’ boat. As soon as I got enough money I quit that job and bought the boat.”

Old Joe’s life teaches we don’t need luxury to live a life with financial freedom, and once we achieve financial freedom we can slow down and enjoy this short life. Meanwhile, others who experience financial freedom refuse to retire and work beyond age 100. Their lives teach us to continually challenge ourselves with the work of a craft. A craftsman of any kind — be it a doctor or an artist or an athlete or a businessman or an investor — if willing, engages himself in a long process of self-discovery and self-development.

A photographer not only takes pictures, he captures what is.

A writer not only writes stories, he writes his vision.

A painter not only paints the subject matter, he paints what reflects from within.

A sculptor not only sculpts his artwork, he sculpts his soul.
— by Ao (pastmanvibration)

To be prepared or not prepared, that is the question (The Financial Athlete #139)

December 19, 2009

Two men walk alone into the wild of Alaska. The intent is to live in the wilderness during the cold winter. One is prepared with survival skills honed for years in the Alaskan wilderness. The other is completely ill prepared. In fact, he had never set foot on snow until his arrival in Alaska only a few days earlier. Whose mother should worry more?

Four out of five start-up companies fail. Why? More than likely, it is because they were unprepared. To be prepared involves adequate funding, a solid business plan, experience and passion for the business, not being a spendthrift, and possibly industry connections.

Don’t let the failure rate of start-ups discourage you from starting a business. Just be sure you are prepared before you set off on your business journey.

“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” — Buddha

From ordinary to extraordinary (The Financial Athlete #138)

December 17, 2009

Two athletes share the same age, body weight, height, muscle mass, are equally coordinated, and have played the same sport for the same number of years. Yet one athlete is vastly superior to the other in the highest level of competition. Why? Will power.

Will power is the common denominator among elite athletes in all sports. Will power cannot be taught, but it can be “caught” if inspired by a leader.

Genius is not required to become an extraordinary investor. An ordinary person can become an extraordinary investor if she has the will power. Without will power, there can be no self-discipline, no commitment to continuously improve, and no faith in yourself when you are not a winner. However, will power must be balanced with humility. A will power to win at any cost is ultimately self-destructive.

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi

Losing is Good — part 2 (The Financial Athlete #137)

December 14, 2009

We’ll See (a Taoist story)

An old farmer cherished his horse. One day the horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors said with empathy, “What bad luck.”

The old farmer remained calm and said, “We’ll see.”

Remarkably, the horse returned the next morning with three, beautiful wild horses. The neighbors rejoiced. “What good luck!”

The old farmer kept calm and said, “We’ll see.”

The following day, his son rode one of the untamed horses. He fell off the horse and broke his leg. The neighbors offered sympathy and again said, “What bad luck.”

The old farmer was not convinced this was a misfortune. He replied, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, officials drafted into the military all young men of the village except his son because he had a broken leg. The neighbors congratulated the farmer for his good fortune. “What good luck!” they said.

“We’ll see”, said the farmer.

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When you lose, you ask yourself, “What went wrong?” You ponder this for a long while, arrive at conclusions, and hopefully learn from your mistakes. The experience of losing, then, should be simultaneously “good” and “bad”. But must personal growth be born of pain? Is only losing a teacher and winning never a teacher? The last question is misplaced on the prime mover. Neither losing nor winning is the teacher. You are the teacher.

When you win, ask yourself, “What went right?” Ponder this for a long while, arrive at conclusions, and you will experience greater consistency of positive results. Without realization, winning is also simultaneously “good’ and “bad”.