Teaching Needs vs Wants

This is an excellent exercise to “break the ice” at family get-together.

Start by asking a question…

What is living well?

Everyone brainstorms ideas for 10-15 minutes, or in advance.

Then, everyone gets a chance to share their answers.

While each individual shares, have the group agree:

  • to stay quiet
  • to make notes if they are having trouble staying quiet
  • to write down the best ideas they hear

After everyone has shared.

  • Get a white board
  • One-by-one
  • Share a great idea

Our summary list below.



I played this game with my kids (10, 11, 14).

They had some really good ideas!


How a 10 yo sees Living Well

In the middle of the list…

Focusing on what you need not what you want

Needs are much easier to fill than wants.

In fact, the definition of our wants is they can rarely be satisfied.

The observation (of a child) led us quite nicely into the next discussion.

Without telling the kids what the numbers were

  • We flipped the white board
  • I read out monthly cash burn, in round thousands
  • We stacked the numbers (Jan to Sept)
  • Each kid added up the numbers
  • We grossed up to a full year projection (multiply by 4/3)

They were surprised at the family burn rate.

We flipped back to the list and asked ourselves…

How much money is required to live well?

My list has been the same for a very long time.


2012 Version

I walked them through my definition of living well.

We ended with a reminder

Talking about family money, outside the family, can create unnecessary issues (for them, and me)

I asked them for an example and they came up with Muffy from Arthur – if you know the kids’ show then you’ll know they picked an excellent example.

…and I left it at that.

Four Thousand Weeks : Time Management for Mortals

Learning to neglect the right things

The Premise : At best, we get 4000 weeks to live our lives.

80 years * 50 weeks a year = 4000 weeks

The Reality : Embrace our limits because we will not have time for everything.

There’s much more than the premise contained inside – very strong recommendation for a lesson in better thinking.


Easily actionable items from the book – because we will not be able to do everything, we need to neglect, many things, with intent.

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Closed & Open “To Do” Lists

Closed To Do List is allowed a maximum of three items at a time.

Within the items, set them up as incremental steps.

I’ll illustrate…

“File my taxes” – never happens

Break it down…

  1. Download tax software
  2. Enter my personal data
  3. Enter my income

One of those items on the “to do” list at a time, with an appointment in your calendar to get it done.

Another example: “Write my book” – never happens

Break it down…

  1. Tweet Every Day
  2. Thread engaged tweets by theme
  3. Viral Themes into Blogs
  4. Write Outline for Book
  5. Create Rough Draft from Blogs

Here’s the clincher…

Every other great idea goes into the Open To Do List – for me it is an exercise book.

I’ve been filling them for 30+ years.

This is the stuff that’s probably never going to happen!

It’s OK because…

The purpose of your Open List is to free your mind to focus on your Top Three.

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Done List

The single greatest confidence building tool I found as a coach.

  • I would have my athlete get a small composition book.
  • Each time something good happened, or a task was completed, make an entry in the book.

Review nightly, before bed.

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Stop While You Are Enjoying The Process

Not easy to do.

We often have the urge to press on.

Remember that success is a multi-year process.

Like a houseguest that overstays their welcome… don’t commit so much to a task

  • that you avoid starting next time
  • that the light goes out of the activity
  • that you lose your creative spark
  • that you forget why you started in the first place

A little bit of progress… every day… for many days!

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The best part is not the self-help tips.

The best part is the author’s philosophy of time.

The “4000 Weeks” themselves.

The weeks, our lives, are far less than 4000.

A bit dark!

Facing this truth points towards freedom.

Freedom from the impossible standards we place on ourselves.

  • An elite athletic career? 150-300 weeks
  • Time with your young wife before kids? 0-200 weeks
  • A college degree? 125-150 weeks

Life is a series of relatively short blocks of time.

Misery comes from seeking to hurry through what is already a temporary situation.

Much more, including 10 Tools and 5 Questions

  1. Might discomfort help?
  2. Do my standards reflect reality, or are they simply making me miserable?
  3. Am I trying to become something I’m not?
  4. Where am I holding myself back?
  5. What would I do if I didn’t need to see the final outcome?


Two final points:

  1. Worry has never altered outcome
  2. Hardly anyone can persist for 150 weeks

Choose Wisely.

Q2 2022 Top Twitter Threads by Engagement

  1. Building the capacity for One Big Slow Day
  2. Review of Longevity… Simplified
  3. Training Zone Lingo
  4. Effective Nutrition
  5. Remove One Thing
  6. Before Swimming Harder Try This
  7. Getting Mentors Interested 
  8. My Home Gym
  9. Late-Season Peaking & The Need To Do
  10. Zone 2 is Light
  11. Training Nutrition Thread
  12. Where to Spend
  13. Sub-max Benchmarking with Power

Sunday Summary 19 June 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. The 1st step is EASY
  2. Bike Session (30/30s and Power Singles)
  3. When you feel you are behind financially
  4. Give your Self something useful to Prove Right
  5. I’m back on Strava // Post_COVID week summary

High Performance Habits

Workouts & Working Out

Four Questions About Growing Financial Wealth

Do you ever feel you are behind? That you don’t have enough? That you might run out?

What to do?

Make vague feelings real by writing down some specifics.

Then get to work.


ONE => Is this a Reference Set issue?

If I spend time in Aspen then my “needs” escalate, and my self-assessment “declines.”

Same deal in Boulder, but it’s from a fitness point of view.

Others might have vanity triggers in places like LA, or on Instagram!

Feelings are sensitive to environment. The same life, done somewhere else, will be different.

Feelings of envy, fear and anxiety are sensitive to images – careful with environment, turn off cable news, get off Facebook/Instagram.

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TWO => Is this a Skills issue?

A 35 yo surgeon with $250,000 of education debt, is in a different position than most. The surgeon is likely to earn themselves into financial security.

  • Where does my current job track lead?
  • Do I need retraining?
  • Armed with additional skills, it is easier to move up the income ladder?
  • Do I need to do the same job for a higher bidder?
  • What is the market rate for my skill set?

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THREE => Is this a Spending issue?

It’s not always spending… but sometimes it is, particularly when spending isn’t generating satisfaction.

If you have the skills & the salary, but are left feeling uneasy, then a family financial review can make sense.

These discussions are HIGHLY emotional. I recommend a skilled facilitator.

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FOUR => Is this a Time Horizon issue?

Back to the surgeon… highly skilled, employed, spending under control… the situation is going to play out just fine.

  • Pay down debt
  • Keep spending in check
  • Conservative monthly investment program

15 years along, the family is in a strong position. They had doubts, I did not.


I was asked, what would I have done?

Starting over at 40 yo

Core Job matches my highest paying skill set. Medicine, tech, finance, aviation… track into something that pays well.

The Core Job enables me to borrow long for a Core Investment. Buy real estate in a zip code with great public schools and a diverse local economy.

Secondary Job in an area of personal interest. It’s what many do with coaching/consulting.

Side Projects with Equity Upside. I would be looking for opportunities to invest (primarily time) in situations with financial upside. Do enough of these and something is likely to hit.

One new skill each year – coding, online marketing, blogging, video content, copywriting, language, ministry, education, graphic design, photography… stacked across a decade… powerful.

  1. Core Job
  2. Secondary Job
  3. Equity Upside
  4. Continuous Learning and Skill Acquisition

I have a friend, who did all of the above.

  • Around 40 yo, they were divorced
  • Then their employer went bust
  • Then they found our their pension had invested in the employer
  • So the pension went bust…

Long story short, a rapid journey from “set” to “f*%^ed”.

They could see “effective net worth” was negative due to financial obligations related to the divorce.

What I saw for a decade…

Three jobs: two of the jobs had flexible scheduling. Time off was used to work continuously (7/52/365). The third job was consulting, which was done inside the daily gaps.

Modest spending: given the income rolling in, not much went out.

Heavy investment: every single month, buy financial assets. Take overtime, buy more. Bonuses and financial windfalls, buy more. Buy, buy, buy.

This path isn’t for everyone – it comes with a cost in terms of family life. You need a spouse, who is completely on board. It’s a team effort.

A decade of grinding and the family is in a strong position. Now, the challenge may be to shift away from financial assets and build multigenerational Human Capital.


Final Word

Think deeply about Reference Set

  • There is a weak link between financial assets and life satisfaction
  • We never get time back
  • Too often wants are driven by external influences
  • Know what feeds your soul – write it down, take your shot

Make the target clear to yourself – for me => an active, outdoor life sharing experiences with friends and family

Stay on target.

Sunday Summary 12 June 2022

Top Threads

  1. I Allocate Money to Create the Wife & Life I Want
  2. Late-Season Peaking
  3. Swimming better & my return
  4. Buddy Runs for ultras & heat
  5. Fast Amateur SwimRun Training

High Performance

Workouts & Working Out

Wealth and Consumption Part Two

Part One Here

Group your spending into buckets:

  • Essential
  • Discretionary
  • Luxury

The most “costly” part of the pie is whatever you happen to believe is “essential.” It usually doesn’t feel this way => you truly believe you need this stuff. I feel the same!

When you suffer your first serious setback, you’ll be surprised how little is essential. In 2009, I cut my “essential” in half, overnight.

Similarly, as we age, we may find we were giving time, money and attention to things that don’t seem to matter anymore.

Know your buckets – they will help you think more clearly.


Remember => I think of wealth in time

Specifically, Net Worth expressed in “years spending.”

$1,000,000 / $125,000 = 8 years

As we change the spending, we change the years.

Risk, and INFLATION, are easily mitigated when you understand how easily you can change spending.


Risk Concept => not all spending, or financial obligations, are created equal

Be most aware of:

Debt, including contingent – an obligation where non-payment can force the sale of an asset

Spending that comes with spending – large HOA/Club fees come to mind here – put plainly, a hotel visits feel just the same on an ego, yet, don’t require an annual membership fee

Going further => Don’t Capitalize Luxury Spending => the “luxury bucket” from above, if you turn it into a capital obligation then it can bite you, especially when combined with debt.

We don’t need to own the hotel to receive the services offered to a guest.

Same with… plane, waterfront, ski chalet… whatever you find inside your “luxury” bucket.

Staying flexible with the ability to stop spending can feel like a “waste” – even more so when highly-leveraged peers appear to be making easy money.

This feeling is false!

  • We over-estimate the value of current spending
  • We adapt very quickly to any level of spending
  • We notice changes, not absolutes

You are paying for the flexibility to: (a) stop paying; (b) change your mind; and (c) keep your capital invested productively.

Also remember, the generation that follows will build upon your spending.

The choices of family leaders scale.

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This concept is important as we age:

  1. We will want to spend on different things
  2. We will want to “do” different things
  3. The generation that follows us:
    1. they will INDIVIDUALLY want to spend differently
    2. they will certainly want to do different things
    3. they will have a thirst for more

For your future self, and your legacy, give maximum flexibility to change.

You will most certainly change your mind later.

Live Like A Billionaire – Risk Preference and Life Lessons

This series has been about learning from those without financial limits:

  • Who do they share their best moments with?
  • What are those moments?
  • Are we missing out?

Once I’m on the inside of the team, I notice that my risk preference is the lowest in the group. Frankly, not surprising when you are rolling alongside extreme skiers and mountaineers.

Here’s something about risk. Group risk rises to the level of the MOST risk tolerant member.

It’s why my investment committee has the rule “most conservative carries the decision.”

Anyhow, with two young kids and a pregnant wife, I had learned what I could and wanted to put more time into my young family.

So I opted out.

My boss…

>You firing me?

>>No, most definitely not. There is no way I will be able to repay you for what you taught me.

…and off I went for a decade.

Once again on the road less travelled.

Not over, yet – most of them took up Skimo.

😉


Let’s recap:

Best Days are defined by shared outdoor experiences with a small number of close friends – building memories that last

Peers & Teachers have a mix of kindness and competitiveness => notice this combination when you see it. These are people who tell us the truth, push us to do better and keep us grounded.

There’s nowhere to get to => I realized that between my wife, and my kids, I could create my own inner circle. A circle where we share Best Days and reduce our collective risk of ruin.

I remain grateful for the opportunity for a look behind the curtain.

Sunday Summary 24 April 2022

G – Literally Just listened to your catalyst podcast – excellent!!!!  Wow, truly good – thank you for putting that out there.  I took 8 pages of notes and I have already read your writing for decades


Family Wealth

High Performance Case Studies

Workouts

The Choices That Define Your Financial Life

  • Act as if personal finance is a game where you only get ten tickets to play.
  • Invest as if you are holding a checkbook with only a dozen checks inside.
  • Speak as if you’re holding a six-shooter, is it worth one of your bullets to make the point that’s on your mind.

I’ve been hearing versions of the above my entire life. It’s been great advice and encouraged me to:

  • Slow down
  • Resist the urge to interrupt compounding
  • Keep it simple
  • Focus on the big decisions
  • Treat small movements like noise

So, we started your kids with the allowance game.

Then, we moved onto discussing the family’s allocation of capital towards education.

With that, we considered the impact, across generations, of borrowing.

What next?

Teach your kids their financial lives will be about no more than a dozen choices.

Here are mine:

  • Study finance (class of 1990)
  • Save 50% of my take home (1990-2007)
  • Partners investment scheme (late 90s, all in then, equivalent of 1 yr spending now)
  • Work to build a startup (2000)
  • Sell into the frenzy (2005-2007)
  • Move into a low-cost Vanguard portfolio (2008 onwards)
  • Boulder real estate (2010 & 2012))
  • Downsize (2012-2013)
  • Borrow long at 3.25% (2013)
  • Debt free (2007 & 2020)
  • Have kids with a kind woman from a humble background (on going)

Every other choice turned out to be noise. What to do?

Focus on actions, not outcome.

What does that really mean?

Do what moves you forward and have faith. Sport, marriage, money, all things… daily action is the fundamental force moving you towards “better.”

Education matters => I was given a chance in Private Equity because I had high marks in a useful field. Between my high school graduation (1986) and my youngest’s (2031) the nature of “useful” will have changed. However, the need for skilled people to “do” will endure.

The most useful part of my degree wasn’t finance! It was financial accounting, programming and mathematics => I learned fundamental knowledge in college. I learned my profession on-the-job. You learn the valuable part by doing work, for the best people you can find.

This keeps popping up over and over again (professors, partners, coaches, mentors, twitter follows). At 53, I’m learning from people less than half my age! Do work to learn.

Avoid Ruin => studying, then working in, financial accounting helps you learn when a situation doesn’t feel right. Embezzlement is an old game and it’s useful to learn the patterns. Financial fraud happens, and will continue to happen. Take steps to reduce your family’s exposure to ruin.

With the accounting, I learned the most with 9 credits spread across three courses. Financial Accounting 1, 2 and 3. Small investment, huge return. Do it when you’re young. Being forced to rely on others to do your financial math is a disadvantage that will cost you.


Let’s pull it together for you…

Starting your working life (in a useful field, with your financial accounting courses done)…

You are at least a decade away from making the shift to lifestyle sustainable, so you focus on:

  1. Learning by doing with the best people who will hire you
  2. Savingget that first $100K banked, you will be grateful when you’re older
  3. Waiting for the fat pitch – once in a lifetime investment opportunities happen once a decade
  4. Turning yourself into the sort of person you’d like to marry, the friend you’d like to have, the parent you aspire to be => meaningful connection is true wealth

Your mind will try to trick you into thinking it’s the investment choices that matter.

It is not.

It is the four habits I outlined above, and avoiding substance abuse.