Are You Afraid of Money?

18mnheluvc0c7jpg

There is so much to learn.

Money can be a taboo topic for many.  I get it.  It’s highly personal and no one can really evaluate the choices of others because we don’t have a great understanding of their: upbringing, family, debts, income, etc.

But none of these factors should stop you from getting educated on the topic of money.  After all, it’s the #1 cause of stress in households in 2015 (by a landslide) says CNBC.

So what can we do about it? Make a choice. Get educated!

To begin, I’ll confirm to all of my readers that I’ve read each of these books.  Each more than one time.  Secondly, I’m recommending these books specifically because they offer contradictory recommendations (what did you think I’d just tell you what to do?).

I want you to be able to use your brain and figure out your own financial path.  It was already expressed that we’re all in different situations financially, so why offer one cookie cutter answer?  Get intelligent, and use this intelligence the rest of your life to evaluate opportunities.  When you complete these five books, you will understand there are guiding principles to create your unique financial foundation.

Five Books About Money

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Dave offers a very no nonsense approach to money through his book and nationally syndicated radio show.  The foundation revolves around elimination of debt (all debt).  I encourage you to learn Dave’s Seven Baby Steps.   A person has to understand they can’t get ahead by battling a mountain of debt.  Dave also outlines simple strategies to live by a budget and save for retirement.  To put this in my own words, “Stop buying shit you can’t afford!”  I don’t care what the neighbors are driving or wearing.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Ramit is a Stanford grad educated in personal behavior and his book is great for those starting out.  There is a ton of actionable info in this book.  His six-week action plan will lay a solid strategy for anyone getting started in the money game.  He talks debt reduction, credit cards, 401K/Roth IRAs, asset allocation, and living a truly “rich life”.  Here’s a hint – rich isn’t just a number, it’s a lifestyle choice.  You can also follow Ramit’s blog at I Will Teach You To Be Rich.com.  I get emails from Ramit daily.

Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest in, That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!

This book will help you think about money in a very non-traditional “go to work and get paid” linear way.  Earlier, I told you I’d provide contradicting advice in this post to get that noodle of yours working.  Check out what Ramit thought of Rich Dad Poor Dad here on his blog   No book is perfect, but I do love the angles Rich Dad Poor Dad presented to me when I first read it.  It made me think about money differently.  It makes you take a step back and ask yourself, “What am I really doing to improve my financial picture?”

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

This book was just released in the latter part of 2014.  I got it for Christmas and it took a while to devour its 600+ pages of material.  You may be thinking, “Tony Robbins? Isn’t he the life-coach/self-help author?”  Yup!  He tapped some of the most unreal relationships anyone could ever imagine to strip down the topic of money.  He takes some of the strategies of the ultra-rich and makes them available to you and I.  If you’re putting this in order, I think this is more of a master’s level book.  Not only is it 600+ pages, it offers many contradicting investment strategies from the world’s most accomplished investors and investment strategists (once again there isn’t only one right answer here folks).  If you’re into audio, I love listening to Tony’s interview with Tim Ferriss on his Four Hour Workweek podcast regarding the release of the book.

Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

This book was written nearly 80 years ago.  How could it possibly be relevant today?  Hill’s book helps to answer the question, “What makes a winner?”  The reason I’d like you to read this book is because it creates a spark.  There are hundreds of stories of people retiring rich who didn’t have large incomes to begin with.  I think that’s wonderful.  I also think a little bit of motivation and focus goes a long way to achieving one’s goals and this will help you get started.  I’ve probably picked this book up 20+ times and read it cover to cover three times.

Okay, so I left out a few books.  If you’re hungry for more, there are a few you can dive into:
The Richest Man in Babylon

The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth

ACTION ITEM: The worst choice you can make is to do nothing.  And yes, it is a choice.  Don’t try to eat the whole elephant either.  Choose to pick up one book and start learning.  Pick up another and challenge what you’ve just learned.  Tell me where you are a year from now.

~Here’s to a rich life

The Most Difficult Leadership Question. Why?

I just finished listening to a wonderful audio book by Todd G. Gongwer titled, “Lead…for God’s Sake.”

It was recommended by a friend I work with.  Little did I know I’d spend the better part of the weekend listening to the parable and consuming all the book had to offer.

The parable itself was extremely moving, but as I often do I immediately started relating it to other topics I recently consumed.  Before we continue, you must watch the content below.  It’s a TED talk by Simon Sinek.  The consistencies of the two pieces of content are palpable and instantly triggered me to transcribe this post.

Ask yourself this.  Why are some coaches more successful than others?  The rules of the game don’t change when a select coach is on the sideline.  Yet some coaches amass hundreds of wins, and others struggle to get buy-in and likely lose.  Losing leads to finding a new profession.  In the parable, the main character was a head basketball coach struggling to accomplish his goals.  “His” selfish goals.

Simon says (no pun intended), “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  He repeats more passionately, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it!”

In the book, “Lead…for God’s Sake”, a high school student challenges the historically successful coach with a powerful and life-changing question.  She asked politely, “Coach, WHY do you do what you do?”  Surprisingly, the wise old coach couldn’t answer.  He didn’t know the WHY, he only knew the what.  The “what” equalled winning games in his life.  It’s what he did.  Not WHY.  However, his current situation involved losing more games than winning.

I go further.  Listen to Simon’s story about the Wright Brothers and their competitor who was seeking only riches and fame (what).  The Wright Brothers had an unwavering belief and limited resources.  But they understood and embraced their WHY.  Who will forever be remembered for first taking flight?

The last thought I’ll leave you with is Mr. Sinek’s final thought.  “There are leaders and there are those who LEAD,”  says Simon.  He goes on to say, “Those who LEAD inspire us!”  The book and this TED talk give zero leadership value to position and power.  Inspiration doesn’t come with a promotion and it will never follow a title.  It lives within the WHY.

Pick up a copy of “Lead…for God’s Sake” and see how high school janitor Joe Taylor (fictional character) truly leads others from a seemingly inconsequential role.

ACTION ITEM: If you can’t tell me or those close to you the WHY in your life, please pause and reflect.  Find your WHY and be prepared to unlock all the riches life has to offer.  These riches will be in the form of more happiness, experiences, and relationships.

 

31 Things I Learned Turning 32

Yesterday (March 15) was my birthday.  Beware the Ides of March.  I took some time to reflect on the previous year and just where I’ve been. 31

The 31st year of my life was a really challenging and wonderful year.  Below is a list of 31 things I learned in the last 365 days.  I’ll also leave you with what I’m most looking forward to in the upcoming year.

1. Be myself – every day

2. Read more

3. Embrace fears – everyone is scared (Jay-Z)

4. Say “Thank You” more often

5. Ask more questions

6. Meditate often

7. Listen to more podcasts (most are FREE)

8. Help accomplish goals for others

9. Don’t take myself too seriously

10. Start more: projects, relationships and solutions

11. Launch a blog and share something great with the world (check!)

12. Waiting sucks – go now!

13. Buy a gift for an unsuspecting friend

14. Find a mentor or mentors

15. State your intentions clearly

16. Buy a drink for your friends

17. Don’t be the smartest guy in the room

18. Challenge yourself to get better every day

19. Goals are great, discipline is paramount

20. Get uncomfortable

21. Save a little for a rainy day

22. Eliminate average: thoughts, actions and people

23. Dress for success

24. Ask for help – no great thing was ever accomplished alone

25. The Masters (golf tournament) is a really magical place.  Thank you Juan for the tickets!

26. It’s okay to say NO

27. Tell a better story

28. Donating time can be more valuable than money

29. Take time to recharge

30. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer

31. The number of people who REALLY CARE is astounding.  Thank you to all of my friends!  I hope I can repay you.

Looking forward to year 32, I can tell you without reservation I’m most looking forward to being a dad.  Everyone tells me it’s a life changing event and I’m ready for the challenge.  Come August 2014, Beth and I will be welcoming another Keen Mind into the world.

ACTION ITEM: Take time to reflect on what you’ve learned in the last year.  I’d really love it if you’d share your thoughts in the comments below with our entire tribe.

 

The Pastor and Paterno

Paterno 816_0I had to write this returning home from church today.

First off, I’m not going to “bible beat” you or stand on a pedestal and preach.  My flaws are far too long to list in one blog post.  If you want to go to church then go.  If you don’t, then stay at home.  What I’d like to share with you today however was a lesson in learning.

Oddly enough, it had nothing to do with the sermon.  I got to thinking about the role of a pastor in the church and the work of delivering a sermon every Sunday.  Every Sunday from the same book this pastor or one of his peers helps us try to learn and understand more from only one book.  The Bible.

Every lesson, every week, every day is devoted to the work from this one book.  How many of us have the patience or persistence to continue learning from one book the rest of our lives?  Maybe this is a little too deep, so as my mind was wandering I tried to relate it to something else.

Football.  Yes, football is like the church and a coach is the pastor.  Now I’ve gone completely nuts!

Not sure why, but I immediately thought of Joe Paterno.  Controversial figure in the last few years, but I found Joe was a great lesson in the devotion a pastor displays.  Joe coached football for five decades at Penn State.  One school, one game, one focus.  Sure the rules changed over the years, and the players changed, but he was still coaching football every day.

The most interesting takeaway I came up with is that in each of these two scenarios (the pastor and Paterno) each was devoted to not only their craft, but a lifetime of learning.  People change, what’s socially acceptable to preach about changes, technology is evolving us all, but their core teachings remain laser focused.  Every single day they were going to get a little better.  Every day they were going to learn something new about their team, their staff, or the game/mission they were teaching.

I look back at my career in marketing and advertising and I’ve invested 10+ years in the process.  Author Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Outliers: The Story of Success it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field of study.  I’ve included links here for you if you’re interested.  

Do the math, it’s 20 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for 10 years.  I believe I’ve put in this measure of time, but when looking at the pastor and Paterno there is so much more to be learned in the next 40,000 hours.

ACTION ITEM: My challenge like most of you reading this is to remain passionate about what I’m doing and to continue learning every day like the pastor and coach Paterno.  It takes two things to turn a lump of coal into a diamond.  Persistent pressure and time.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

41ejRNz7+lL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

I just got done reading, “Mindset, The New Psychology of Success” thanks to a recommendation from a friend on Twitter (Chris Wood – follow him @ChrisWood415).

This fantastic book took me about three days to read and I’ll likely read it at least two or three more times.  The reason why, is the information contained in this book is absolutely necessary for all leaders today.  NECESSARY!

The book compares the fixed and growth mindset and the affect each has on leadership, ability to learn, and overall mental capacity for growth.  I’m extremely visual so I’ll make the following comparison.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.30.31 AM

Specifically the Fixed Mindset: I see this as a ruler.  The fixed mindset is always focused on measurement.  Best, brightest, smartest, most successful, etc.  These people and leaders are in it for the “I” and accomplishment for themselves.  Likely even at the expense of others.  History tells us the brutal stories of great fixed minded leaders so focused on their own greatness and power that they neglected to see what was really happening to their empires.

The ruler is also inelastic.  It can’t and does NOT change.  You could say the fixed mindset would agree with, “It is what it will be” nothing more or less.  Intelligence is fixed.  You’re either blessed to be smart or dumb.  You’re either “gifted” or normal.  You have the skill or don’t.  The book outlines many leaders of enormous companies with this mindset and the fatal flaws that occurred because of it.  I won’t tell you who they are because I think you should read the book yourself.

a-ball-of-clay-webThe second mindset is the Growth Mindset.  I associate this to a ball of clay.  A ball of clay isn’t sexy.  But it’s shape and form are not yet defined.  Through different experiences, pressures, and the impressions of those around it, the clay will take on a new shape.  Possibly many different shapes in its lifetime.

The growth mindset is one we should strive for.  Growth minded leaders are not the smartest, brightest, most ego driven.  They’re in it for the “we” and for the team.  They appreciate the challenge and feedback of others so long as its focused on the betterment of the entire group.  Growth minded leaders are in it for the challenge and not entirely the absoluteness of the outcome or result.

Looking at this from a personal perspective I can tell you I battle to be a better growth minded person.  I grew up with a mindset of achievement and look what I did.  It was the fastest way to get ahead.  Win more often.  I’m great, look at me, I’ve accomplished, I deserve reward.

I believe it’s the result of age, experiences and the willingness to learn that this is changing for me personally.  Perspective is a wonderful teacher if you just allow it to sink in.  Lastly, I’d like to thank Carol Dweck for writing this terrific and easy to read piece.  I hope to share it with many others.

ACTION ITEM: I highly encourage you to make the small investment to read this book.  But please don’t stop there.  Share it with a friend, not to call them out as a “fixed” mindset person, but to challenge them to think differently and get better!  To make this easy I’ve provided a direct link to the book below.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

It Pays To Be A Winner

When I hear the word “ELITE” I immediately think of the US Navy SEALs.  I have an affinity for their leadership, training, focus, and commitment to each other.  One training tool I use frequently when I get in a rut mentally is the training videos of Navy SEALs BUDS Class 234.  It really gets me going.

One episode I’ve viewed numerous times (probably more than 20) is, “It Pays To Be A Winner.”

TAKE THE TIME AND WATCH THIS

Remove the pushups, getting wet and sandy (horrible in the cold surf), lack of sleep, and what do you have?

Focus.

Attention to detail.

Elite mental capacity.

If all you see is the rigorous physical nature of their process you’re missing a great deal of intelligence.  These elite warriors are training their minds.  The intense physicality of their training is a byproduct of consistent mental conditioning.  They learn the valuable lesson of getting comfortable in the uncomfortable.

This is much easier said than done in our civilian tribe, but it doesn’t mean we can’t apply the principles.  Former SEALs lead extremely successful careers by applying the teachings less than 1% of enrolled US service members will ever receive.

Apparently I’m not the only one interested in the teachings of the US Navy SEALs and Class 234 either.  I learned reading Hank Haney’s book, “The Big Miss” about the legendary Tiger Woods’ affinity for the SEALs and their mental acuity.

He routinely watched videos of Class 234.  He was even rumored to be training with SEAL teams but I’ll let your read about that. Now is Tiger the role model we strive to be?  Absolutely not.  But, when you think of the short list of athletes in complete ownership of the “mental game” Tiger Woods is on your list.  He knows, “It pays to be a winner!”

Tiger loves these teachings and I believe our tribe will as well.  If you’re driven by this video I invite you to view the others in the series and by all means share!

ACTION ITEM: Find an uncomfortable situation in the next week and insert yourself into the heart of it.  If you’re afraid, understand its ok.  Recognize the fear and channel it.  “Use it as aggression,” as the SEALs say!

 

Here is a link to purchase Hank Haney’s book, The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods