Buy, Save, Hold, and Buy

 
I tweeted this Friday as the stock market was poised to fall:

BuyHoldTweet
While it’s true, it’s also a little too simple as tweets often are.
My real strategy is a buy continuously, but buy more when prices fall, and save (and hold) as prices rise.

Buy Continuously
This is your automatic savings and investing such as your 401k, Roth IRA, or 403b. Start young and do your best to max this out. Take full advantage of any matching funds and never, ever, take a loan out against these accounts. The money coming out of your paycheck on a regular basis is dollar cost averaging and captures both the ups and downs of the market and smooths out wild swings like the downside rout we’re having now.

Buy More as Prices Fall
When the market drops, that’s the time to buy. As Warren Buffet said, “be greedy when others are scared, be scared when others are greedy.” Don’t try to wait for the bottom, just dollar cost average more aggressively. Friday I invested less than 5% of the money I’ve been saving over the past year. As prices continue to fall I’ll buy more again.

Save as Prices Rise
Over the past year or so I haven’t been buying stocks (I buy stocks only in low cost index funds) and instead have been saving more aggressively. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been buying any stocks, just not any above my set investment plan. Now I have more capital to invest and since prices are lower I hope to get better returns. Too many people don’t have the discipline to save like this but if you can then you’ll be prepared like I am.

It Paid Off Before

Do you remember how far the market fell in 2008? In 18 months the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 50%. Many people sold, panicked really, but not me. I continued buying throughout 2008 but still I lost a huge amount of money, with my net worth diving 16.44% (check the chart below). In 2009, however, my plan and my discipline paid off. My net worth rebounded by 24.93%, more than recouping the losses of the previous year.

My net worth percentage change chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s your plan in this tumultuous time for the market? Panic and sell at the worst time or stick with your plan and take advantage of low prices?


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Yes, Elon Musk is Crazy

 
SpaceX_logo2I read an article recently that said Elon Musk asked his biographer, Ashlee Vance, if he thinks he, Musk, is insane.

My answer, if Elon Musk asked me, would be yes. I think Elon Musk is insane, just as I think Ted Turner was insane, and Richard Branson was insane.

I don’t mean that in a negative way. I don’t think they need to be committed. I use insane in a positive, you-have-to-be-crazy-to-do-what-you-did, kind of way. As I lay out in my book What Next, you don’t go from a billboard advertising company to pioneering 24 hour cable news with CNN, as Ted Turner did, unless you’re a little crazy. You also don’t do that in a straight line. It takes twists and turns as you find the right path and go around or over obstacles.

Entrepreneurs hear that word, crazy, a lot. Imagine you said to friends or family that you were going to start a rocket company. Even if you had hundreds of millions of dollars, I think you would be called crazy. No, I know you would be called crazy because that’s exactly what Elon Musk’s friends called him.

But did you miss the big revelation in his story? Elon Musk had no expectation of making money at this venture. It was his passion and belief in something bigger that compelled him. In my previous post about this video called Crap Filter, Elon says that you have to be compelled to start a company or be the boss because it’s not easy. What is compelling you to do the things you do, and are you responding or pushing it off for later?

I think a lot of people confuse the word crazy with confident and compelled. Elon Musk is not crazy in the sense that we think of it, he’s just crazy enough to confidently follow through on what compels him.


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Crap Filter

 
I know it’s a gross title for a post but it is appropriate.

I watched an interview done at the Khan Academy with Elon Musk and it was his words that led to this title.

Entrepreneurship might be glamorous and could prove quite lucrative but it’s also the hardest work you’ll ever do. I’ll let Elon Musk take it from here.

Everyone thinks they want to be the boss but when you’re at the bottom of the “filter for the crapest problems in the company” it’s not a lot of fun. I can speak from experience and while my high points are not as high as Elon Musk’s neither are my low points. When SpaceX had three failed launches in a row and only had one last chance for a very big contract with NASA, that’s really low. When Tesla was a week away from running out of money with no investors willing to step in, that was very low.

In spite of all that, he still felt “quite compelled to do it” and that made all the difference.

In the face of skepticism and failure, to push forward anyway is the sign of a person who will be successful. I have wanted to give up many times, I have wanted to sell my business many times, but I have stuck it out and now it is beginning (these things take time) to pay off. I still have bad days but having come through past obstacles and problems makes the future problems easier to handle.

Feel free to share how you have been stuck at the bottom of the crap filter and come through it stronger than before.


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Blame is Good!

 
Blame me!I’m not afraid of blame and that allows me the freedom to think outside the box, to try things even if they might seem a little unorthodox, and to view criticism as opportunity for improvement.

People need to move past the blame mentality. Blame is not a bad word. When I do something wrong and another person points it out, they are not blaming me, they are showing me an issue or mistake and helping me to correct it.

When my staff makes a mistake and I investigate and find the cause of the mistake I’m not blaming someone so they can get in trouble, or so I can fire them, I’m simply pointing out an error so it doesn’t happen again. This is the attitude I have when it’s determined that my action caused a problem. I’m not mad or scared, I’m glad, happy that an issue was discovered and that action can be taken to correct it.

Everyone has two choices when someone “blames” them for something:

1. Get mad and upset which leads to a bad attitude

2. Be thankful someone caught the issue before it became a problem, fix it, and become better

Which will you choose?

If your choice is number 1 then you are doomed to a mentality of cover-up, fear, and passing the buck. All of that leads to a bad workplace, a bad marriage, and bad relationships.

Choosing number two gives you power; power to take control of the situation and to learn from mistakes which leads to open communication, the freedom to think differently, the comfort to speak up.

The bottom line is that we all have to re-think the word blame and recognize it for what it really is, help and a way to improve.

So I pledge that if I mess up and you blame me, I’ll thank you and we will all be better for it.


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Million Dollar Lunch

 
Warren BuffettIf you had the chance to have lunch with Warren Buffet, would you? If you had the chance to ask, one on one, Richard Branson for advice, would you?

I think the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes! I would too, but would you pay a million dollars, or in the case of Warren Buffet’s latest charity auction, 2.3 million for lunch?

Even if I could afford it my answer would be no. From my perspective the fabulously wealthy offer little value. Sure, their success sets the bar high but I’m more interested in people who have done a lot with relatively little, the people whose advice can actually lead somewhere.

I’d rather have lunch with the man or woman who opened a local restaurant and now owns several throughout the state. I’d rather meet and talk to the person who created something that a lot of people use. Maybe they didn’t make billions but they did fill a need and did well doing so.

These are people I have access to, or more access than I do to Richard Branson or Warren Buffet.

By looking for lessons and advice from these entrepreneurial rock stars you might be overlooking the valuable advice that’s sitting next to you at the barber shop or on the subway.

Many people don’t listen enough, aren’t curious enough to ask questions, to discover the wisdom that’s right under their nose.

 


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SCOTUS And Responsibility

 
US Supreme CourtThe headline made it sound like homeowners were getting screwed by the Supreme Court. “Supreme Court Hands Defeat to Struggling Homeowners” it said.

Here is how I would have written the same headline: “Supreme Court Says Pay What You Owe.”

In a 9-0 decision the court said that when a homeowner is underwater, secondary loans such as home equity loans and second mortgages, cannot be automatically discharged, simply stripped off, in chapter 7 bankruptcy.

I have written a lot about the housing crash and the people who were reckless, who put instant gratification above security and common sense.

Stupidity, greed, or a lack of knowledge is no excuse. If you sign a document and take the loan, you have an obligation to pay it back.

Bankruptcy exists to help people who get in trouble and is used correctly every day. The court’s decision doesn’t say that these loans can never be discharged, just that it’s not an automatic thing. Why should it be?

Sophisticated financial transactions are available to everyone but too many people don’t take them seriously enough. Too many people don’t give themselves any wiggle room, don’t plan for the unexpected. As I say in What Next, “it’s not the plan for the expected that saves you, it’s the plan for the unexpected that does.”

Here are my rules of thumb:

If you can’t afford 20% down, you can’t afford the house

If you can’t afford the mortgage on one salary, you can’t afford the house

If you take a second mortgage you should be able to pay it off quickly

If you take a a home equity loan it should be related to the house, not for something like a car or boat

Are some of these difficult to get to? Yes, but sticking to these rules will set you up for success down the road.

 


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Entrepreneur Cheerleaders

 
EasyReally this is about entrepreneur cheerleaders and success cheerleaders, people who sell hope and, this is the important part, make it sound easy. I’m a realist and nothing worth getting is easy. It might be enjoyable but it’s not easy. These cheerleaders remind me of the Geico commercial with Pinocchio as a motivational speaker, as he points to people he says have potential, his nose grows. Not everyone is going to be a wild success, not everyone can run a successful business. If a cheerleader like Anthony Robbins was Pinocchio his nose could hurt someone.

I’m not saying that having confidence is a bad thing or that being positive is a waste of time, I’m not telling you success isn’t worth working toward. I’m an advocate for curiosity, for adventure, for pushing yourself to your limits in order to discover what you’re good at, to find what excites you. Do all of those things but understand what you’re getting into, what you’ll likely face. I saw a tweet yesterday that is appropriate here:

DefyOdds

Successful people are very good at managing risk, at understanding the odds and finding ways to tilt the odds in their favor.

You might think you’re good at that too and that’s where self-awareness comes into play. The cheerleaders out there will tell you you’re great, that everything will work out if you just believe but that’s not necessarily true. Belief only gets you so far.

This is why I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, he puts a lot of value on self awareness, he’s not a cheerleader in the sense that he’s honest with himself and has no problem being honest with his advice.

Listen to the cheerleaders for inspiration, get fired up, but then get real. Look at your What Next from every angle and anticipate as many problems from the start. Be an optimist in the dream phase and a pessimist in the implementation phase.


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Side Hustle

 
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-hand-displaying-spread-cash-us-one-hundred-dollar-bills-image42507251Make Money Blogging!

Work from Home just Hours a Day!

Turn Your Hobby into Profits!

This all sounds easy and could fit into the definition of what so many entrepreneur cheerleaders call a side hustle. A lot of people post on social media about their side hustles, and Gary Vaynerchuk is a big proponent of hustle in general. The reality, however, is that what many think is a side hustle is really just a time, energy, and money suck.

A side hustle is a way to earn extra money on the side. If you aren’t smart about it and think it will be easy then you will probably fail.

Side hustle isn’t a get rich quick scheme – just ask people who thought flipping houses in the mid 2000s would be easy money.

Most of my side hustles didn’t work out but the difference is that it didn’t cost me much either.

In the appendix of What Next I have a trail map of my career and entrepreneurial side hustles – some are dead ends, some go on for a while, and some have made me lots of money. The point is that I didn’t put all my effort into one thing and I didn’t stop looking for a next hustle. Maybe most important, I was willing to walk away from ones I grew tired of or were becoming a drain rather than an addition to my income, time, or energy.

It’s great to have the motivation to pursue a side hustle but you also have the common sense to know when something is just a pyramid scheme or when an investment could end up costing you more than it makes you. The emphasis should be on the word hustle because these things take work, hard work, and too many people think it will be easy.


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Find the Truth

 
Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.The title of this was going to be a bit longer so here it is: Find the Truth in Lies, Untruths, and Exaggerations.

I’ve always had a basic understanding of this but lately I’ve taken this more seriously and have been putting it into action. It all began with a new hire gone bad.

I was hiring a new employee and my manager had conducted the interview. My wife and business partner conducted a second interview and we offered her the position. She accepted but had some concerns about some details which we thought we had resolved. The day she was to begin work, she said she could not abide by the conditions and quit, leaving us to scramble to fill her appointments. I felt this was very unprofessional.

I called to find out what happened and was accused of handling the situation poorly and to my shock  she called me unprofessional. The tables were turned and that made me mad. She had beaten me to it, calling me unprofessional before I could call her that!

After the phone call ended I began to think and saw some truth to her statement. I could have handled things better. We can improve our hiring process. We can communicate better. Was I unprofessional? No, but there was truth in her exaggeration. In spite of her unprofessionalism, there was some truth to her accusation.

That’s when the A-Ha moment occurred. No matter how wrong a person is about you or your actions there is always some truth to be found. By looking at it that way everything, every interaction is a learning experience. Now when someone accuses me of something or criticizes me, I let myself get angry and upset, but then I step back and find the truth. It’s a liberating experience.

Are you willing to find truth through the lies, untruths, and exaggerations in your life?


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Diving in the Shallow End

 
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-girl-diving-pool-image2866893Are you conservative or aggressive? Are you more Warren Buffet or Richard Branson? Is one of them reckless and the other careful?

I say they’re more alike than you think.

It comes down to a topic I’ve touched on several times – risk. Both take risks but they are not risky – they find ways to minimize and manage risk.

Risk in business is like a swimmer approaching a pool. Diving into the water is not a risky thing on its own but diving into a pool with an unknown depth is.

Doing your research, finding out the depth of the pool, then planning your entry is how you minimize risk. The angle of entry is how you manage risk. What neither Warren Buffet nor Richard Branson do is dive in the shallow end, the risk is too high. Instead they seek out the deep end. The deep end offers the most benefit with the least risk. It might still be dangerous but it’s less dangerous.

Of course once the research is done and the decision is made you still have to dive in and that’s what a lot of people don’t do, or wait too long to do and miss out on the opportunity. Once the key information is determined you have to move. Like a quote I used in the chapter called Risk in What Next, Lee Ioccoca, former CEO of Chrysler said: ““I have always found that if I move with seventy-five percent or more of the facts that I usually never regret it. It’s the guys who wait to have everything perfect that drive you crazy.”

So avoid diving in the shallow end but do dive in!

 


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