Stocks. Bonds. Gold. Mutual Funds.
The topic of money is a really polarizing conversation. When you see the word “investing” in the title, you typically associate it with ROI, rates of return, and diversification of portfolios.
Have you ever asked, I wonder how much money he has? Or, I wonder how he makes all of his money? That’s what investing is all about right?
Remember when Owen Wilson’s flamboyant character in Meet the Parents said, “How’s your portfolio?” Ben Stiller’s awkward and out of place character squeamishly responded, “I’d say strong….to quite strong!”
While I believe heavily in the value of being educated on the topic of money and what it can do for you, I think focusing solely on mutual fund categories and stock options will only get you so far. If you start making a little money, and investing a little money, and never find a way to add momentum to your strategy, your only game plan is a beans-and-rice discipline for the next 50 years. Sound fun? HELL NO.
The biggest investment category people are missing out on is themselves. What is your true market value and what are you doing to increase it? What knowledge are you gaining today to warrant a higher price tag tomorrow? What skills are you learning from those who have “been there, done that” to better your position? What challenges are you taking on to stretch your comfort level and capabilities?
If you’re thinking I’m only referring to post graduate education and a mountain of MBA debt, I’m going to disappoint you. We can debate the value of the average MBA at a later date. What I’m referring to is a daily discipline or activity to grow your mind. What are you doing to challenge your thinking? How are you investing in yourself?
Instead of investing only money, consider how you’re investing your time.
It really bothers me that at the ripe age of 18, a naive teenager can choose to go thousands (maybe tens of thousands of dollars) in debt chasing a career they’re uncertain of, but a slightly accomplished professional thinks twice about investing $500-$1,000 in themselves to digest literature, audiobooks, or an online course to better their skills?
You don’t have to be enrolled in a college to learn something. You have to make a choice and pursue that choice with piss and vinegar.
Someone much smarter than me said, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I liken complacency and stagnation to dying because today’s economy doesn’t allow for status quo.
I believe the list of items below are small (some even free) investments you can use to get a bigger return from your talents. Invest the time, and increase your value.
- Podcasts: There are many free and terrific podcasts out there. Here is a link to a few of my favorites – One Podcast A Day Keeps Mediocrity Away. Free. Free. Free.
- Blogs: How much are you paying to read this? There is so much great info available. Just have your BS detector up!
- YouTube: If you can navigate the cat videos, there are hundreds of hours of free teaching online at your fingertips. Your price tag = focus!
- Audiobooks: These are likely not free, but you do have the freedom of movement (traveling, exercising, even cleaning) to consume them on your schedule. I love audiobooks because I’ll listen to them over and over.
- Books: Yes, people still read books. Try getting lost in a mind-bending book. I just read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, and I think I’ll read it again soon. It’s that transformational.
- Mentors: Do you have a mentor? If not, don’t call someone and say, “Will you be my mentor?” Anyone in their right mind will say no. You’re begging. But, you could reach out and offer to buy them a cup of coffee and invest in the relationship, instead of just trying to suck the knowledge out of their head like a brain surgery they didn’t sign up for.
ACTION ITEM: Keep learning. Keep pursuing new and challenging ideas. Keep growing.