A Peg Is Not Enough

Looking Much Deeper

A friend of mine once asked me if she should attend this class on investing in stocks. She wanted to find a way to manage her funds better, which basically means earn more and save more, and she thought adding stock trading to her activities would be helpful. I told her that classes were great, and that there is always something to learn by attending these talks (particularly the old but nonetheless wise advice of save, save, save!) but if I were her I would focus on two things instead:

1. How to use the resources I already have NOT the resources I may have in the future to grow
2. How to cut my expenses – the single biggest way to jumpstart one’s savings.

My friend is an artist so I gave her this example:

Let’s say you discipline yourself to paint 1 amazing painting a week – that’s 4 a month. And given your current market rate of P54,000 per painting of that size, that’s revenue of P216,000 a month. Now let’s say you spend P10,000 per painting for your materials, tools, and for whatever inspiration you need, you now have this annual expense:

– 4 paintings x P10,000 x 12 months = P480,000 (which can be used for materials, tools, and even inspiration and learning)

But with a revenue computation of:

– 4 paintings x P54,000 x 12 months = P2,592,000

Your ending profit is now:

P2,592,000 – P480,000 = P2,112,000

To make that kind of profit, even at a generous 15% annual interest rate, you’ll need to stash P14,000,000+ in an investment vehicle for a year. Not many people have this lying around. Neither did my friend.

What she did have lying around was incredible talent waiting to be maximized with discipline.

Here she was looking at these “wise financial ways”, when what she really needed to do was to take much deeper look at her situation, her strengths, her weaknesses, and where her true opportunities lay.

Lebron James didn’t become a millionaire by investing in the stock market. He became a millionaire investing in his real strengths, and that’s basketball. With the overflow of his earnings, he will be wise to invest properly, and that might include the stock market. If your 5’2 and have strengths in the financial arena, go focus on that and don’t feel bad that you can’t dunk over Shaq. Instead, go put your real talents to the work they’re meant for.

My point for this section is this:

Instead of always being so easily convinced by what others are doing, take a deep look at what YOU SHOULD BE DOING, and maximize what you already have. 

– Maximize your interests – you’re more likely to excel in something you enjoy. 

– Maximize your experience – you’re more likely to succeed in something you have some familiarity with because you’ve lived through it. Even our struggles can be maximized through lessons and pivots.

– Maximize your time – what every rich and poor person has in common is 24 hours a day. The difference is in allocation and utilization. Nobody has an excuse that they don’t have time.

– Maximize your talents – the secret to succeeding is to work with your strengths. Again, no one has an excuse that they have nothing to work with. Some are just too lazy to do the necessary work to shine.

A peg isn’t enough to succeed, neither is a class. Instead of spending so much time so easily impressed with the latest success story or breakthrough financial tale, spend your time being that impressive person. Practice looking deeper at things and not be content with shallow conclusions. As you look deeper you’ll find more clues on what parts of your life you should be focusing on and how to maximize what you have. You won’t regret it. It’s the best way to create value for your life.

Start Something Delicious

Inspired by all the time I spend at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

I didn’t know much about her then, but when I first saw her I knew that she was the most beautiful girl in the world.

50 years later, she still is. And she still amazes me.

I can still remember that day, when I finally had the guts to approach her. I didn’t know what to say so I just said what first came to mind.

“Hi. You’re really beautiful.”

She looked like she wanted to laugh. She said, “Really? Do you always approach strangers this way?”

I was so embarrassed. “Yes. I mean, no. I mean, yes, you are beautiful. No, I don’t always approach strangers this way. This is my first time.”

She smiled, “Thank you. That’s very sweet of you. No one has ever told me that before.”

“That’s impossible.” I told her. “I’m sure you’ve heard it a hundred times.”

“Not a hundred. And not this way.” she replied, uncomfortably looking at her feet.

“This way?” I asked.

She looked at me, “This honestly. You say it like it’s really true. Like you really do think I’m beautiful.”

“That’s because it’s true.” I told her.

“You’re so kind. Mr…”

“Michael. My name is Michael.”

“Hi Michael. What a common name you have. My name is Louise.”

“Hi Louise. That’s a pretty name.”

“Michael, you shame me for being so nice! I’m sorry. I like your name too.”

I smiled, “You don’t have to. But thank you.”

It was at that point that I realised that I had run out of things to say, and not being anything close to a Casanova, I knew that was that.

“Anyway, that’s all. I just wanted to tell you that. Have a good day, Louise.” and I awkwardly turned to walk away, thinking to myself, “Michael you idiot! Michael…”

“Michael?” the sound of my own name interrupted my thoughts. I turned around.

“Michael. It’s about to be my lunch break, and…” Now she looked uncomfortable. “Would you like to have lunch?”

She didn’t have to ask twice. We had lunch that day, and coffee after work, well, she had coffee and I had tea. The next day we did the same thing, and the the day after, and the day after the day after. More than 18,000 days later, and practically 36,000 cups of coffee and tea, we relive the day we started something delicious.