Thursday, February 11, 2010

Curiosity Made the Rich Man

I often speak at different team meetings all across the city and have even been known to get outside of our state on occasion. Everyone knows that when you start to put together a presentation one of the most important things to do is think about your audience. You really want to tailor your topic to the people who you are engaging. Time after time, I have found the common denominator that almost everyone has when it comes to money.

Most people want to here about wealth and how to build it.

So a couple years ago I started thinking about the people I have worked with and what made them successful. I found that I should really break out success in two ways:

1.) Satisfaction – I have written a few times about this topic in blogs such as Find Satisfaction in Your Means and News Flash: Your Hero Might Let You Down. The main point being that money will only magnify your situation. If you are happy and satisfied in your life with modest means then adding significant wealth will only expand your satisfaction level.

2.) Accumulation of significant financial assets – Wealth is more than just money but for the purpose of this study, looking at financial assets helps to narrow it down.

So I made a list of the people that I have spent time with that embody both of my success criteria. Believe it or not the list is rather short - only about a dozen names or so.

And then I started to think about what else they had in common.

Outside of the obvious factors such as good annual income, effective savings habits, a little luck etc. I really came down to 2 commonalities that these individuals shared.

Curiosity & Patience

Let’s start by looking at curiosity. When talking about investing Warren Buffet once said “We try to stick with businesses we believe we understand.” I’m sure most of you have heard that quote, but how many of us truly take it to heart when thinking about our own personal investing? Mutual funds, ETF’s, index funds, stocks, bonds and everything in between – there is a lot to get lost in. The few that made my list have a natural curiosity that makes them very dangerous. Curiosity These folks are constantly asking for more information. They invest in their own companies because they believe in their own abilities and they understand the business their in. They make investments in their education because they believe they can generate more return with more knowledge. They buy ownership in other companies because they understand how they make money and can project future value. And maybe most importantly, when they do not understand something they are not afraid to ask for explanation.

I recently heard a very tenured asset manager from a major local investment firm, speak to a group of financial professionals. One of his quotes especially struck me. He said, “You can either humble yourself now and take the time to ask questions or you can be humbled later when you fail.” That’s pretty blunt but extremely powerful if you are willing to listen.

More on Patience later….

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