Sound People Investing

This summer I’m learning about financial investing, the market, economics and how emotional volatility affects judgment in one’s investment strategy.  A basic investing principle is that you find companies that are undervalued, whose stocks are priced below what they’re worth, and then buy their stock—which is ownership in the business–leaving a margin of safety for market fluctuations that occur inevitably.  (Disclaimer: This is not financial advice and I am not an expert.)

Many of us are situated in life in a way that allows us to have input into the lives of others.  This may be because of our positions in the workplace, an organization, a group of people and our families.

I’ve had the privilege for quite a few years to be asked to mentor people in their personal, spiritual and professional self-development.  I don’t ask for this—it’s always a case of being invited into someone’s life and business.  I don’t take it lightly.

I’ve learned some things after doing this a while.  My recent learning about sound financial investing has stimulated my thinking about the kinds of people we do and don’t invest in with our time, talent, energy and money.

What then are indicators of strong value in another you’re seeking to mentor?

  • Strong work ethic. Two of the finest guys I ever worked with happened to be brothers raised on a farm.  During the six month time I mentored them, they both carried multiple jobs, including the farm, and each worked ninety to a hundred hours a week.  They weren’t looking to outsmart the work.
  • Bias for action. They deliver on their word and aren’t all about planning to do something.  They actual follow through.  They ship.
  • Character. They are true to their word and apologize when they fall short.  They’re not trying to live two, or three, or four, lives.
  • Intelligence. They can think on their feet, whether well-educated or not.

There are other value indicators.  Add some of your own. What kinds of qualities other than these do you find motivates you to invest in another?

Now, what are indicators of weak value in those into whom you intend to pour your life and learning?

  • Liars.  No brainer.  If they have trouble telling the truth, your investment is already at risk.  Your name is attached.  Bill Hybels, minister of a very large church in suburban Chicago, says that if you find someone on your staff who plays fast and loose with the truth, “Fire them.  Fire them immediately.  Fire them.”
  • Lack of initiative. A former colleague and I had a discussion many times over the question, “Can you really motivate someone who will not motivate themselves, is not a self-starter?”  We both concluded, having managed lots of people over the years, that you can’t.
  • Sloppy communication habits. I once lived in a region where someone in business could make a ton of money simply by answering their emails and phones and text messages promptly.  A common attitude with a lot of business people who live in the area is less than diligent about this. There are some forms of financial want that are avoidable.  This is one of them.  If people are slipshod about basic courtesy and good business sense in the matter of prompt response, move on.  Your time is too valuable.  If you’re in business with them, you’ll go broke.

There are other signs of potentially poor investments.  What are some you can name?

There is a place for charity and for giving people a second chance.  This post is not about that.  The market goes up and down and people have good days and bad.  This is about well-established habits of engagement with life.

Invest carefully.


Recommended Resources:

A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring (John Wooden & Don Yaeger)

Mentoring 101 (John C. Maxwell)

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson (Mitch Albom)


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Risk and Returns

evel-knievelAs a kid, growing up in the ’70′s, I looked forward each week to ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  In those days, you really could not get a good idea of what was to be featured in each week’s broadcast of a certain program.  Every Saturday, I waited breathlessly hoping that Evel Knievel, the motorcycle jumping daredevil, would be on the show, jumping again.

I was impressionable, young, and dumb.  And Evel took hold of me.  I’d watch his jumps–successful and wrecks–and then go out and try to imitate on my bike with banana seat and long handlebars.  Some of you are smiling because you remember.  And did the same.

Evel Knievel was a hero to me because he took great risks.  His magnum opus was attempting to jump over the Snake River Canyon in Idaho (he failed).  My bedroom sported an Evel Knievel poster.  And I was thrilled when the movie came out about him, George Hamilton in the title role.

You will not get far in life without taking risk.  Evel Knievel’s risks were extreme, even foolhardy, to be sure.  But his was not a dull life.  Nor a dull career to follow.  And he always got back up after a wreck until it was time to call it a career and turn the reins over to his son, Captain Robbie Knievel.

Jesus once told a story about three men who were given talents (a large sum of money in those days).  Two of the men took risks and were able to generate an increase on the investment.  One man, however, hedged his bets and played it safe.  No risk.  He put his master’s money in the ground.  To “keep it safe.”

When the master returned, he rewarded the two who took risk and generated a return.  But he punished the man who played it safe.  Hedging his bets cost him dearly.

You will not get far in life unless you are willing to take risk.  Live adventurously.  Are you willing?

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