New Blog (again)

When I was a teen, I started a Blogger site so I could talk with impunity. When I became a professional, I changed my blog to be more professional and click-bait-y. During this time I also started sending emails to a list every week — emails that I now consider spam-y. I stopped the emails because I realized I don’t read weekly email updates from anyone else. Now, I find myself reading and following a specific type of online author. So specific, in fact, that there is a bit of a community to their websites (see below). I want to join that club. So for the second time, I’m changing my blog. New WordPress theme, new writing theme. The latter is undecided, but is sure to be eclectic.

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Why can’t I get ahead?

Reading Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, I’m so torn. Half of me wants to burn it, the other half wants to give a copy to everyone I know. I guess that makes it a well-devised novel. Below is a small excerpt that started to change my life, but first some background. I was not working with passion. My hours were spent finding busy-work-to-do which resulted in nothing getting done. I did not understand what would make me a better worker with an Entrepreneur’s mentality, even though I had been told the answer so many times. That is, until I read the paragraphs below. Dagney Taggart is VP of Operations for a railroad, and Hank Reardon is the owner of a steel mill.

“‘That’s the story, Hank. I had worked out an almost impossible schedule to complete the Rio Norte Line in twelve months. Now I’ll have to do it in nine. You were to give us the rail over a period of one year. Can you give it to us within nine months? If there’s any human way to do it , do it. If not, I’ll have to find some other means to finish it’

‘I’ll do it.’

Dagney leaned back in her chair. The short sentence was a shock. It was not merely relief: it was the sudden realization that nothing else was necessary to guarantee that it would be done; she needed no proofs, no questions, no explanations; a complex problem could rest safely on three syllables pronounced by a man who knew what he was saying.”

What does your word mean to the people with whom you work? To my colleagues and prospects, my word has not always meant that no other proof was necessary—that if I said something would happen, it would. Now it is increasingly true that if I say something, it will get done.

This is what I was always told and never had it stick in my head. The people who get stuff done are the people who say they will do something, then do it. It happens this way: you say you will complete an action or deliver a value, and (here’s the kicker) you also say by when you will do it. You build the skill of your word by doing this with everything. You wake up at 7:00 AM every day, because you say you will. You arrive at meetings on time, because you said you would be there. You clear your inbox everyday, because by having an email address available for people to send to, you are taking on an expectation that you will respond within 24 hours.

If you’re anything like me, you can’t get ahead because you cannot be trusted: you don’t even trust yourself. So build your word. Write it down, then do it.

Why do I need an investor coach?

Coaching was defined by Steve Zaffron as altering the way the game occurs to the players so that they can win their game.

Investing is a game. The nature of investing itself makes it a game: potential reward, potential loss, critical to develop skill, critical to endure, critical to be coached. The only thing that is different about this game from others is that if you play correctly, you win. That is because your chief opponent is yourself.

In this game, it is critical to master the skills of investing: discovering and living into the future, discovering your purpose, uncovering choice, being “cause in the matter” for your family, owning equities, diversifying globally, rebalancing. These skills can only be learned by doing, with oversight from a dependable and knowledgeable mentor: a coach.

Choose wisely. There are a litany of financial pros calling themselves coaches these days. Find out whether they really mean it by asking how they will alter your occurrence.

If you want to know what coaching is for sure, sign up for an Online Investor Inventory here.

Simon Joshua is a licensed investment advisor representative at Cornerstone Wealth Partners in Michigan. He has structured his practice around investor coaching and committed himself to leading communities in establishing a legacy of fulfillment.

Why people panic about Corona Virus

It seems investors have made a sudden and drastic shift into one commodity: toilet paper. This seems irrational. Yet there are enough people doing it that we cannot help but notice the impact. So what is really going on?

Actually, people are neither rational nor irrational, they are human. So are you and I. We use a series of heuristics in decision-making, especially when under pressure. Two of them are wants and cognitive errors.

Wants come in three dimensions: utilitarian, expressive, and emotional. Utilitarian wants are for things that have practical uses. Expressive wants are for things that display who we are or what we have accomplished. Emotional wants are for things that give us emotional rewards: usually pride or joy. All three wants can also be satisfied by avoiding the loss or perceived loss of what we want. In a perfectly balanced human, these three dimensions would be perfectly balanced. In a normal human, they get off-kilter depending on the situation. In this case, all three are on display in the ways people are responding to current events, including you and me.

Cognitive errors come in many flavors. I will only mention two: confirmation bias and shortcuts. Confirmation bias is ignoring non-confirming information when investigating a conclusion you have already reached. We do this so much that it’s almost impossible to self-diagnose. Shortcuts are best understood in example. A stock trader tends to think of trading like playing tennis against a wall, when it is actually more like playing tennis against Roger Federer. We tend to think of government-level finances as a bigger version of our household finances when it is actually more like moving tens of thousands of financial pieces at once.

With these human traits, it is difficult to invest prudently and with purpose. This creates pain and cultivates fear of the future. My stand for you and your family is that you remain disciplined and prudent investors over a lifetime, that you shift your personal experience of money from scarcity to abundance.

How to Apologize

We apologize in everyday life by saying “Sorry.” When it matters, “sorry” is not enough. When does it matter? When something comes between you and someone you love.

Ask for a moment with that relative or friend. Take the time and make the effort to set up a face-to-face meeting. Anything less does not work half as well to improve a relationship. Then, follow these steps.

Step 1: Discover

Discovery is learning how your friend processes what you did: how your actions occur to them. This is hard, but necessary for the next steps. Ask questions like “What was that like for you?” and “How did you react to that?” Listen attentively to how your friend feels, how he communicates that feeling, and what actions or words on your part created those feelings. Once you know for sure, Discovery is complete.

Step 2: Recount

This is harder than Step 1. You must now describe, in the deepest detail you can manage, everything you just learned about how your friend experienced your actions or words. You must have a complete understanding before you start this, otherwise you could end up worse off if you describe their perspective incorrectly. You must also accept their perspective as valid. Describing their point of view with the attitude of a child will likewise only serve to damage your relationship. Be thorough and be genuine.

Step 3: Settle

This is the hardest step of all. Renouncing our own actions is never easy, and it is especially hard when face-to-face. Incidentally, without this step, everything you’ve done so far will have been for nothing.

The formula here is simple: say that what you did and said were wrong, then ask: “Will you please forgive me?”

I’ve only ever received one answer to that question. That is probably because most people never bother to apologize correctly.

Apologizing is never easy. But so many of the hard, uncomfortable conversations that we avoid are the very ones that will make our lives better. Uncomfortable or awkward are just synonyms for real.

Why can’t we change?

I have been overweight since I was 15. I have never had difficulty knowing what to do about it. It was simply never a big enough problem to motivate me to solve it.

That is where most of us live with our investing. We plod along wishing for things to be different. The more we try to change, the more things seem to stay the same.

My roommate recently asked me the right questions about my weight:

“What are your goals for this year?” I listed them off until I got to loosing weight.

“How are you planning to do that?” Now I could no longer ignore the problem. And the conversation that I should have been having with myself for the past decade was finally taking place.

“May I help you with that?” This was comforting and empowering.

If no one has ever asked you the right questions around investing, you may feel like I have been feeling about my diet and activity: failing, powerless to change, can’t talk about it. That is why I love the Investor Inventory. It is a tool that opens the door on this conversation. I get to ask you the right questions and you get to stop being trapped the way you always have been. It takes an hour. Schedule below.

Simon Joshua is a licensed investment advisor representative at Cornerstone Wealth Partners in Michigan. He has structured his practice around investor coaching and committed himself to leading communities in establishing a legacy of fulfillment.

Someday I will change.

Someday, when our problems are gone, then we’ll be happy.

We tell ourselves some version of this over and over: in our investing, in our jobs, in our families. You could find it in your thinking almost every day. Here are four truths:

  1. Aim for the right things, do the right things, and you will achieve the right outcomes.
  2. You have control over some things, or you could have control if you were to take it.
  3. If you change none of the things you could control, you can expect that the future will look like the present. If you drastically change all of them, you can expect to have drastically changed your future.
  4. There is nothing over the next hill that you don’t have available right where you are.

Simon Joshua is a licensed investment advisor representative at Cornerstone Wealth Partners in Michigan. He has structured his practice around investor coaching and committed himself to leading communities in establishing a legacy of fulfillment.

Invested by Danielle Town

Invested is a primer on investing methodology and personal financial philosophy that attempts to teach the reader how to integrate Rule#1 (value) investing into a middle-class American lifestyle.

This was an emotionally challenging read. Frequently, Town delves into personal history and struggles with a vulnerability and brutal honesty that is difficult to stomach. It is also a beautiful look at what is possible when a person of fortitude puts her mind to something. The narrative is well-written and well-structured. Below is my favorite line.

Achieving freedom, it turns out, was about way more than what was in my bank account.

Danielle Town

Download the full summary and review below.

How about it, Ref?

In sports, we play the game by following the rules, putting points on the board, and playing good defense. But sometimes there is a breakdown. There is cause to halt the game. Someone stepped out of bounds or got hurt. When this happens, we are used to hearing the referee blow the whistle.

In life, it is easy to go about our days dealing with our people, working, making money: putting points on the board. We go through life as just another player on the court. But where is the ref?

Without the whistle, opposing teams turn into enemies. Without the whistle, the game devolves into a street fight. Without the whistle, all but the most jaded get burned out.

In life, invariably someone steps out of line, or gets hurt. Inconveniently, this happens when we are working toward an objective: get out the door, make the sale, finish the project. You have a choice. You can continue to be just another player. You can ignore the problems, allow them to fester, forestall the consequences

Or, you can do what is necessary to finish the day, dedicating time at the end to talk it through. This is not just about asking questions. (How did that make you feel?) It is about making a call. Someone committed a foul? They need to know that! Someone stepped out of bounds? If you don’t tell them, who will?

Sometimes you are not the leader. If you don’t have power to convene a meeting, do what is necessary to convince those who do that if this continues unchecked, both the team and the game will suffer. If you are a leader, allow followers to give feedback and prove to them that you value them by taking it to heart.

Are your objectives in life more important to you than your relationships? Are your relationships more important? You must decide, because out of that answer comes the way you handle breakdowns.

For my money, be a ref, not just a player.

How does this occur to you?

When I talk to friends and family about being an Investor Coach, they often ask what that means. My short answer is that behavior affects returns. They often follow up by asking what that means.

Investing behavior is the result of three things: your perceptions, your instincts, and your emotions. A longer answer is that you take investing action based on your interpretations of what you observe, your reactions to those observations, and the way you feel about those observations and those reactions. Your investing actions can differ greatly based on history (other people’s investing and your own), your character, personality, fears, and hopes. All of this sits on the foundation of how the world occurs to you and how you occur to yourself.

Ironically, I do not need to take note of any of that information in order to coach you. Most of it is very personal, and all of it is unique to you as an individual. What I do as a coach is to cause you to be uncomfortable with your life as you are living it now—not in a covetous way (comparing your possessions, relationships, etc.), but in a grateful way (making the best of your life). I cause you to think that there is a better way to live the life you have been given.

I do that by teaching you to unearth those places in your life that cause you pain: your past mistakes, other’s reactions to those mistakes, ongoing struggles, broken relationships. Once you do, you can change the way the world occurs to you and the way you occur to yourself. Then, and only then, your behavior begins to change. In the right context, it changes to your advantage.

I only know this because I have been through it before. I have been coached. And my life will never be the same. All it takes is an investor who is coachable.

Market returns wait for no one. Are you ready?

Coaching happens here.

Simon Joshua is a licensed investment advisor representative at Cornerstone Wealth Partners in Michigan. He has structured his practice around investor coaching and committed himself to leading communities in establishing a legacy of fulfillment.