Saturday, September 28, 2013

Take Someone From the 1% Out to Lunch

Lately I have spent a lot of time and effort thinking about first principles. So often people do not believe they can take the next step or even first step. It is so hard for me to understand why people do not take the next logical step towards financial freedom. I see it right there under their nose, but more importantly I know that step is eminently possible.

There are two likely explanations for this behavior. I certainly have seen both in my own life. The first problem is belief. If we do not believe that an action is possible for us, we will not undertake that task. The second problem is ignorance. There is an old saying used by factory supervisors, “Ignorance can be fixed. Stupid is forever.” This is true.

I am trying to be a lifetime learner. If someone knows something that might help me in some area of my life finances; relationships; health, I want to learn, unless he would remind me I could lose more weight if I give up my evening beer.

It seems pretty obvious, if you want to change some aspect of your life, find somebody who is getting the results in their life that you want to see in your life. Then learn what they are doing that is different from what you are doing. This is a process. You not only need to learn in the conventional rote memorization and regurgitation method used in most of our classrooms, you need to unpack what you have learned into its components then experimentally learn how to apply those pieces to your life.

Children do this naturally. Not all children are blessed the physical assets and talent of a LeBron James, but that doesn’t stop them from watching the best basketball player of his generation perform his art. Then they imitate what they have seen to the best of their ability. Sometimes they tell their friend, “Watch this. I’m LeBron James.” Before they attempt some shot on their driveway basketball court.

The most obvious way to interact with the 1% in any area is read their books. However, chances are you already interact with the 1%. If a football stadium can seat 100,000 people 1,000 of them would be in the 1%. Given the price of tickets and the quality of their graduates, I would expect that the home stands at a Georgia Tech game might contain two or three times the expected number of one percenters (is that a word).

It takes about $300,000 a year to make the 1%. If you know a successful small businessman or a doctor who owns a practice, the chances are pretty good you’re looking at a member of the 1%.

Why don’t you offer to take one of these people out to lunch?

Let them know how much you admire what they have accomplished. Don’t worry about asking questions. People like to be considered a fount of wisdom. The fact that you are paying attention to them is a sincere form of flattery.

I am not talking about bank presidents who through unchecked greed wrecked an institution that took over a hundred years to build. I am not interested in skimmers or scammers whether they are rich or poor. I don’t have time for welfare cheats or stock market cheats. I am talking about people who have provided a valuable service to their community, who have exchanged value for value over the course of many years. That is how most of the 1% became rich.

If you don’t like your life, find someone in the 1% that you want to emulate. Somewhere out there somebody overcame the same obstacles you face. This isn’t limited to finance. If you don’t like being a miserably depressed bitter divorcee, find someone who got up off the floor after a terrible painful divorce and found happiness in a new life and new relationships. If you want to get in better shape find someone who lost 60 pounds and kept it off. Find out what they are doing that you are not doing.

I think if we are honest, most of time in our heart we really know what we need to do, but like me and the evening beer, I am not ready to pay the price. I know a successful small businessman. For many years he ran a deli/wine and beer store. Now he is retired. He still owns the business and the building, but someone else now runs the store. The secret to his success? He provided his community with very high quality deli-sandwiches and the cheapest beer in town-value for value, a win-win exchange. Do this for about 70 hours a week over more than 30 years. There is a pretty high probability this will make you rich, maybe not the 1% rich, but almost certainly a multi-millionaire.

Maybe it is time for me to read the Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham one more time. Then before I make my next trade I could tell my wife, “Watch this! I’m Warren Buffet.” I guess it couldn’t hurt.

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