Sunday, April 16, 2023

Jim Rohn Notes

Jim Rohn is the Godfather of self-development programs. He's helped countless people improve themselves and others, including a young Tony Robbins. 

These are my (sparse) notes from The Ultimate Jim Rohn Library audiobook:

Goal Setting 

1. What 5 things have you already accomplished that you're proud of?

2. What do you want in the next 10 years? List at least 50 things. 

3. Rate each item 1, 3, 5, or 10 for an estimate as to how many years each item will take to achieve. 

4. Count how many of each (1, 3, 5, and 10) you have. 

5. On your list of 1-year goals, which are the 4 most important? 

6. Why are those 4 goals important to you? 

*When the Why gets stronger, the How gets easier.

*Purpose is stronger than object.

*"What kind of person must I become to achieve all I want?"

*When you've accomplished some goals, you need more goals to accomplish. 

*Celebrate a significant / important goal reached.

*Celebrate family goals as a family.

*Goals need to be on going--goals need to replace goals.

Overcoming Procrastination 

1. Break it down. 
        The key to achievement is your ability to breakdown the task into manageable pieces and knock them off one at a time. Real-time positivity. 

2. Write it down.
        Describe what you actually do with your time. Record what you do at least every 30 minutes for a week. 


*Keep strict accounts. 

*Learn how to turn frustration into fascination. 

Don't mistake kindness for acceptance or curiosity for consent. 
        1) Have something good to say.
        2) Say it well.
        3) Read your audience. 
        4) Intensity: Real persuasion comes from putting You into what you say. Learn to measure and regulate emotions. 

Challenge of Leadership

To be something more than average or mediocre. 

Has these components:
  • Strong but not rude
  • Kind but not weak
  • Bold but not a bully
  • Thoughtful but not lazy
  • Dream but not just become a dreamer
  • Think but not just become a thinker
  • Proud but not arrogant
  • Humble but not timid
  • Humor without folly
  • Witty but not silly
Understand law of averages: If you do something often enough, you'll get a ratio of results.
        -Everything is a pyramid.

What's an incredible incentive to 1 is devastation to another. 

Learn to work with the people that deserve it, not with the people that need it.
        -Learn to teach people how to deserve your time and help.  

Don't expect a pear tree to bear apples.
        -You cannot change people, but they can change themselves. 

Keys to a Good Life

1. Productivity

2. Good friends

3. Spirituality: study, practice, teach whatever's valuable to you

4. Don't miss anything (words): if you live well, you will earn well

5. Take care of your inner circle

6. Ask for God's help

The 5 Abilities 

1. Ability to Absorb (words, atmosphere, and nuance) 
        -Learn to get from the day, not just thru it
        -Wherever you are, be there
        -Casualness leads to casualties 

2. Learn to Respond 
        *Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect 

3. Ability to Reflect 
        -End of the day
        -End of the week
        -1/2 day at the end of the month
        -Weekend EOY
        -Make the past more valuable in the future

4. Ability to Act 
        -Time: idea is hot and emotion is strong
        -Set up a discipline 
        -All discipline's affect each other
        -Every let down affect's the rest of your performance 
        -Every new discipline affects the rest
        *Greatest value of discipline = self-worth and self-esteem
        -Neglect starts as an infection and if you don't take care of it, it becomes a disease

*3% of people have a library card.

*Don't rest too long: the weeds take the garden.
        -Make rest a necessity, not an objective. 

5. Ability to Share
        -Ideas -> Books -> [Blog Posts :)]     

General II

Always eat before you go to the banquet. 

4 Ifs that can make life worthwhile:

1. If you can learn.
2. If you try.
3. If you stay / hang in there.
4. If you care.

Why not?
Why not you?
Why not now?

Core Virtues: Activity, Exercise, and Effort 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Money Master the Game by Tony Robbins [Book Summary #18]

This book  contains the information they should have taught you and me in high school business classes. It sheds a light on how brokers get rich while pillaging their clients' nest eggs through excessive fees.

It's also a labor of love; Tony Robbins is donating 100% of the proceeds to Feeding America.

Please utilize the information contained here (and more thoroughly in the book) to take back your financial destiny. If you find the information useful, please pay it forward by sharing it with others who can benefit from it.


V2MOM [Marc Benioff] 

1. What do I really want? (Vision.)
2. What is important about it? (Values.)
3. How will I get it? (Methods.)
4. What is preventing me from having it? (Obstacles.)
5. How will I know I am successful? (Measurements.) 

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." 
-Mark Twain

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; the imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What has been very successful for me through my whole life is to not be arrogant about knowing, but to embrace the fact that I have weaknesses; that I don't know about this, that, and the other thing. The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know."
-Ray Dalio

What don't I know? 

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." 

Stats show that fewer than 10% of people who buy a non-fiction book ever read past the first chapter [:(].

Complexity is the enemy of execution.

Knowing information is not the same as owning it and following through. 

True Mastery requires 3 levels
  1. Cognitive understanding: the ability to understand the concept.
  2. Emotional mastery: you have heard something with enough repetition, and it's stimulated enough feelings inside you--desires, hungers, fears, concerns--that now you become conscious and capable of consistently using what you've learned. 
  3. Physical mastery: you don't have to think about what you do; your actions are second nature. The only way to get it is through consistent repetition.
Repetition is the mother of skill. 

"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive."
-Joseph Campbell

"The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." 
-Vince Lombardi

The most important financial decision of your life: What portion of your paycheck you get to keep. How much will you pay yourself--off the top, before you spend a single dollar on your day-to-day living expenses? 
  • Call it your Freedom Fund
Here's the key to success: You have to make your savings automatic.
  • The best way to save is when you don't see the money in the first place.
You find the bargains at the point of maximum pessimism.

*By committing to a simple but steady code of savings, by drawing down on your income each pay period and paying yourself first, there's a way to tap the power of compound savings and let it take you to unimaginable heights. 

*Contrary to popular wisdom, knowledge is not power--it's potential power. Knowledge is not mastery. Execution is mastery. Execution will trump knowledge every day of the week.  

Whatever emotion you're after, whatever vehicle you pursue--building a business, getting married, raising a family, traveling the world--whatever you think your nirvana is, I have found it's only an attempt by your brain to meet one or more of six human needs. 
  • How we value these needs, and in what order, determines the direction of our life. 
  • What you're really after is what you think money is going to give you. 
Need 1: Certainty/Comfort 
  • The higher the need for certainty, the less risk you'll be willing to take or emotionally bear.
Need 2: Uncertainty/Variety 
  • You like the surprises you want. The ones you don't want you call problems! But you still need them to put some muscle in your life. You can't grow muscle--or character--unless you have something to push back against. 
Need 3: Significance 
  • We all need to feel important, special, or needed. 
Need 4: Love and Connection
  • Love is the oxygen of life. When we love completely, we feel alive, but when we lose love, the pain is so great that most people settle on connection, the crumbs of love. 
Need 5: Growth
  • If you're not growing, you're what? You're dying. 
Need 6: Contribution
  • The secret to living is giving. Life's not about me; it's about we
*The fastest way to feel connection, a sense of how significant your life is, a deep sense of certainty and variety, and put yourself in a state where you can give to others, is to find a way each day to appreciate more and expect less. 


Money Power Principle 1. Don't get in the game unless you know the rules!

"Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing."
-Warren Buffett

Myth 1: The $13 Trillion Lie: "Invest with us. We'll beat the market!"

*An incredible 96% of actively managed mutual funds fail to beat the market over any sustained period of time! 

Myth 2: "Our Fees? They're a Small Price to Pay!"

*The average cost of owning a mutual fund is 3.17% per year! 

*With most mutual funds we are paying nearing 30 times, or 3,000% more in fees, and for what? Inferior performance! 

100 basis points = 1%

First, you need to know how much you are paying. Visit for its cost calculator. (Keep in mind it can only estimate the fees.)

To escape the fee factories, you must lower your total annual fees and associated investment costs to 1.25% or less, on average. 

Myth 3: "Our Returns? What You See is What You Get."

The returns you see in the brochure are known as time-weighted returns. This assumes you put all your investment in at one time--the beginning of the year, as opposed to over the course of the year. This real-world approach is called the dollar-weighted return

*If you know the amount you started with in your investment and you know how much you have now, you can go to a website such as MoneyChimp, and it will show you exactly what the actual return on your money over that period of time. 

Remember that the returns reported by mutual funds are based on a theoretical person who invested all his money on Day 1. 

Myth 4: "I'm Your Broker and I'm Here to Help."

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
-Upton Sinclair

In a sobering 2009 study released by Morningstar, in tracking over 4,300 actively managed mutual funds, it was found that 49% of the managers owned no shares in the fund they manage. The chef doesn't eat his own cooking! 

Your broker is not your friend. By legal definition, all they have to do is provide you with a product that is "suitable." 

We must align ourselves with a fiduciary. A fiduciary is a legal standard adopted by a relatively small but growing segment of the independent financial professionals who have abandoned their big-box firms, relinquished their broker status, and made the decision to become a registered investment adviser. These professionals get paid for financial advice and, by law, must remove any potential conflicts of interest (or, at a minimum, disclose them) and put the client's needs above their own. 
  • This does not mean that the professional you select is going to provide good or even fairly priced advice. 
  • Number 1: Creative Planning, run by Peter Mallouk, NYT Bestselling Author of The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes
  • Not all fiduciaries are created equal--I've discovered that some are using a legal loophole to make additional revenue off their unsuspecting clients 
  • Somehow, the regulators allow them to be both a fiduciary AND a broker--in a concept called "dual registration." will analyze every holding you own, every fee you are paying, and the risks you are taking with those holdings. It will then give you a comprehensive analysis and a new hypothetical asset allocation. You can take this complimentary info and implement it on your own. 


1. Aside from making sure that the firm/individual is registered with the state or SEC as a registered investment adviser (RIA), the most important criteria is to make sure that the person/firm is NOT affiliated with a broker or dealer (and ask them to have this in writing). 

2. Make sure your adviser does not offer any proprietary funds. Some firms create their own products/funds and then put these products in their clients' portfolios. In other words, you may find yourself paying a firm to advise you to buy their own products! 

3. Make sure the RIA is compensated on a percentage of your assets under management, not for buying mutual funds. It typically never makes sense to pay more than 1.25% in annual advisory fees for comprehensive planning and preferably even less than 1% if you are paying only for portfolio management. Be sure there are no 12b-1 fees, shareholder service fees, consulting fees, or other "pay-to-play" fees being paid as compensation. In the world of name-brand brokers or "dually registered" advisers, these conflicts and extra fees are largely hidden from plain sight. 

4. Make sure the RIA does not receive comp for trading stocks and bonds. If you are a bond investor, the most flagrant foul in this industry are the "markups" charged by the broker and the firm.  

5. With an adviser, you don't want to just give them your money directly. You want to make sure that your money is held with a reputable third-party custodian, such as Schwab, TD Ameritrade, or Fidelity, which offers 24/7 online account access and sends the monthly statements directly to you.

6. Work with a firm that takes their profession seriously. The Certified Financial Planner designation, CPAs and attorneys are all good qualifications to have on your financial team. 

For those who are willing, have the time, and are brushed up on proper asset allocation, investing on your own may be a viable option. The added cost of a fiduciary may only be justifiable if they are adding value such as tax-efficient management, retirement income planning, and greater access to alternative investments beyond index funds. 

Myth 5: "Your Retirement is Just a 401(k) Away." 

"Baby Boomers have been the primary mice used in the great 401(k) retirement experiment." 
-Doug Warren

*67% of people enrolled in 401(k)s think there are no fees, and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. 

***America's Best 401k lives up to its name, charging only 0.75% annually. to see how your company's plan stacks up against others.

*Because individual taxes are almost certain to go up and not down, a Roth-IRA is a wise choice. The government caps contribution to a Roth. However, regardless of how much you make, you can still participate in a Roth 401(k). 

Money Power Principle 2. One of the most important Money Power Principles is "You get what you tolerate." 

Myth 6: Target-Date Funds: "Just Set It and Forget It."

AKA "Lifecycle Funds" 
  • May be the most expensive and widely marketed creation to make their way into your plan's investment options. 
"Bonds should come with a warning label." 
-Warren Buffett

A $2 million study with a "host of flaws" brought these TDFs into almost every 401(k) option plan. 

If the concept of TDFs are appealing, look into low-cost TDFs such as those offered by Vanguard. 

**Asset allocation, where to park your money and how to divide it up, is the single most important skill of a successful investor. 

Myth 7: "I Hate Annuities, and You Should Too."

"The Fed chief's largest assets last year were two annuities."
-"Fed Chairman Bernanke's Personal Finances Are No Frills," USA Today, July 21, 2008

There are indeed ones you should "hate," but to lump all annuities into one category is to be thoughtlessly discriminate against the only financial tool that has stood the test of time for over 2,000 years. 

Variable annuities are invariably bad. These are those underperforming mutual funds in an annuity "wrapper." Which means more fees. 

Myth 8: "You Gotta Take Huge Risks to Get Big Rewards!"

"An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and an adequate return. Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative." 
-Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

"Superficially, I think it looks like entrepreneurs have a high tolerance for risk. But one of the most important phrases in my life is 'protect the downside.'"
-Richard Branson

*Warren Buffett's top 2 rules of investing: 
Rule 1: Don't lose money!
Rule 2: See Rule 1. 

Risk a little, make a lot.

Taking a swing for the fences with no downside protection is a recipe for disaster. 

Four proven strategies for achieving strong returns while anchored firmly in calmer waters: 

1. Structured Notes. Rarely offered to general public because high-net-worth investors gobble them up. However, the right fiduciary is able to grant access for individuals even without large sums of investment capital. A structured note is simply a loan to a bank. The bank issues you a note in exchange for lending it your money. At the end of the term, the bank guarantees to pay you the greater of: 100% of your deposit back or a certain percentage of the upside of the market gains (minus the dividends). 

Some of these offer a greater return for taking more risk. For example, one note available right now offers 140% of the upside if you are willing to absorb a loss beyond 25%--so the market has to drop more than 25% for you to lose. But, say the market was up 10% over the term, you would get 14% in return. 

Downsides? 1)A guarantee is only as good as its backer. So it's important to choose one of the strongest/largest banks in the world with a very strong balance sheet. 2) Your timing could be off. Say you hold a 5-year note and for the first 4 years the market goes up, only to tumble in the final year. You would be unable to reap the profits of the first 4 years. 3) Limited liquidity. 4) Not all notes are created equal. Most big retail firms will sell you notes that have substantial commissions and fees attached. 

2. Market-Linked CDs. These are NOT traditional CDs, which, with interest rates so low, cannot even keep pace with inflation. 

M-L CDs give you some small guaranteed return if the market goes up, but you also get to participate in the upside. But if the market falls, you get back your investment (plus your small return), and you had FDIC insurance the entire time. Typically, your money is tied up for one or two years (whereas structured notes can be as long as five to seven years). Rates on these vary according to how needy banks are for capital. Again, accessing these through traditional banks often comes with commission and fees.

3. Fixed Indexed Annuities. A properly structured fixed annuity offers the following characteristics:

  • 100% principal protection, guaranteed by the insurance company. This is why we have to pick an insurance company with a high rating and a long history of making good on its promises. 
  • Upside without downside--like structured notes and market-linked CDs, a fixed indexed annuity allows you to participate when the market goes up but not lose if the market goes down. All gains are tax deferred, or if it's owned within a Roth IRA, you won't pay taxes on the returns.
  • Some FIAs offer the ability to create an income stream that you can't outlive. A paycheck for life! Think of this investment as your own personal pension. For every dollar you deposit, the insurance company guarantees you a certain monthly income payment when you decide to trigger, or turn on, your lifetime income stream. 

4. An annuity without the annuity. You invest in a portfolio of low-cost index funds and carry on growing your wealth. The insurance company monitors your portfolio and you pay an annual fee (<1%) for this "protection."

So long as your portfolio continues to be rebalanced, the insurance company will guarantee that if you run out of money during retirement, an income stream will kick in and provide income payments for the rest of your life!

***This does not imply that all versions of these products and strategies are great.

*Insiders are not helpless, nor are you. In every area of life, you get what you tolerate. And it's time to raise the standard.

Myth 9: "The Lies We Tell Ourselves." 

*The ultimate thing that stops most of us from making significant progress in our lives is not somebody else's limitations, but rather our own limiting perceptions or beliefs.

*Everyone has a fear of failure at some level; at times we've all been fearful that perhaps we are not enough. Rather than face our natural fears, what do we do? We come up with stories. Stories about why we're not where we want to be. Why we're not smart enough, successful enough, thin enough, rich enough, loved or loving enough. Our stories almost always relate to something outside our control, or our lack of some natural talent or ability. But talent and skill are two key elements to success attainable by anyone truly committed. You can get the skill if you can get beyond mental limits of how hard, difficult, or "impossible" it may be to master something.

True transformation happens in a moment.

***There are three steps to creating a breakthrough: three forces that, together, can massively change any and every aspect of your life. If you want to change your life you have to change your strategy, change your story, and you have to change your state.

So to find a strategy that works, you go to the best; those who have proven results for the long term.

*If you start with a proven plan, the right strategy, you can literally convert decades of struggle into days of achievement. You can avoid the inevitable frustration that comes with learning something for the first time by trial and error. Instead, you can get results in days, instead of years, by learning from people who have achieved success already. Why reinvent the wheel?

"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."
-Winston Churchill

*80% of success in life is psychology and 20% is mechanics. 

*When someone has the right strategy in front of her, and she still doesn't succeed, it's because she's missing the second key to a breakthrough: the power of story. With a disempowering story, failure is nothing less than guaranteed. 

"I will not be one of the many who can't, I will be one of the few who do."

You can use your story, or your story can use you. 

*Science has now proven that how you think about stress matters--the story you attach to stress. Telling yourself it's good for you instead of harmful could mean the difference between a stress-induced heart attack at 50 or living well into your 90s. 

*Money is nothing more than a reflection of your creativity, your capacity to focus, and your ability to add value and receive it back. 

Change your story, change your life. Divorce the story of limitation and marry the story of the truth, and everything changes. 

Remember, you know the answer, and the secret is simple: change your story, change your life. Divorce your story of limitation and marry the truth. You can make anything happen. 

Your mental and emotional state colors your perception and experience of everything in life.

In a nutshell, you can immediately and radically change how you feel by learning that by changing your body first, you can change your mind. 

Emotion is created by motion. Massive action is the cure to all fear. 

*That's how you create a real breakthrough--a new state with a new story and a proven strategy.

*Great strategies can surround you but the will be invisible to you unless you put yourself in a strong, determined, and empowered state. 

Let your disappointment drive you to find new answers; discipline your disappointments. 

What's the Price of Your Dreams? Make the Game Winnable.

There are five different levels of financial dreams that will set you free. 

When you seek significance, you're always comparing yourself with someone else. While there's nothing wrong with significance, if you make it your number one need, you'll never be fulfilled. 

Certainty is the first human need that influences our behavior or actions. 

*We blur large numbers, and if you get down to the facts, an extraordinary lifestyle probably costs less than you think it does. 

Always remember the ultimate truth: life is not about money, it's about emotion. 

"You can have it all. Just not all at once." 
-Oprah Winfrey

*You can't manage your health if you can't measure it. And the same goes for your finances. 

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Dream 1: Financial Security

Your home mortgage, utilities, food, transportation, and insurance paid for without ever working another day in your life. 
  • Jot down what you pay for these five items on a monthly basis

Average US annual consumer spending = $63,091
US average basic annual expenses: $34,668

These five items, on average, represent 65% of most people's expenses. 

*You need an emergency/protection fund. According to a Princeton University-University of Chicago study in 2014, 40% of Americans say they couldn't come up with $2,000 if they needed it. You need some money to cover yourself for somewhere between 3 to 12 months.  

Dream 2: Financial Vitality

Dream 3: Financial Independence

Dream 4: Financial Freedom

Dream 5: Absolute Financial Freedom

*What makes most people just dreamers versus those who live the dream is that dreamers have never figured out the price of their dreams. 

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."
-Paulo Coelho

I want you to know that you're the creator of your life, not just a manager.

Step 1: Unleash your hunger and desire, and awaken laser-like focus. 

Step 2: You take massive and effective action. 
  • In your heart you know massive action is the cure-all. But there's one caveat, of course: you need to put effective execution behind all that effort. 

Step 3: Grace! The acknowledgement that there's more in this world than just ourselves, and that perhaps a higher power gives us both the privilege of this life as well as the gifts of insight and guidance when we're open to them. Gratitude connects you to grace, and when you're grateful there is no anger. When you are grateful, there is no fear.

"If you don't know where you're going, every road will get you nowhere."
Henry Kissinger

It doesn't matter where you stand in relation to your friends, your family, your colleagues, or clients. All that matters is your personal journey. 

"What you get will never make you happy; who you become will make you very happy or very sad."
-Jim Rohn

Most people overestimate what they can do in a year, and they massively underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade or two. 

The fact is: you are not a manager of circumstance, you're the architect of your life's experience. 

Speed it up: Save More and Invest the Difference

"He who gains time gains everything."
-Benjamin Disraeli

Home mortgages: You want to know the banker's secret? Your interest payments will take on an additional 100% or more to your loan value. 
  • If you have a traditional fixed-rate mortgage, all you have to do is make early principal payments over the life of the loan.
Money Power Principle 3. Cut your mortgage payments in half! The next time you write your monthly mortgage check, write a second check for the principal-only portion of next month's payment.

*I don't want to be put on a budget and my guess is you don't either. But what I do believe in is a spending plan. I like the idea of planning how to spend my money so that it gives me the most joy and happiness but also ensures my financial freedom long term. helps you earn cash back for college from your everyday spending (other non-tuition-focused cash-back sites include Extrabux, Ebates, and Mr. Rebates).

The question to ask yourself is this: Do my expenses, big and small, bring me the thrill they once did?

Speed it up: Earn More and Invest the Difference 

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
-Albert Einstein

"The key is to understand how to become more valuable in the marketplace.
"To have more, you simply have to become more.
"Don't wish it was easier; wish you were better.
"For things to change, you have to change.
"For things to get better, you have to get better!" 
-Jim Rohn

How do you truly become more valuable? Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. All you have to do to earn more money in the same amount of time is simply become more valuable. 

If you wish to become great, learn to become the servant of many.

*If we're going to make a radical shift and take you from where you are today to where you want to be--to financial freedom--then this path is the most powerful one I know to get you there. 

If you employ yourself, your raise becomes effective when you are.

The real limitation in our earnings is never our job--it's our creativity, our focus, and our contribution. 

*One of the key secrets if you really want to become wealthy: get in front of a trend.

Speed it up: Reduce Fees and Taxes (and Invest the Difference) 

It's not what you earn that matters, it's what you keep. 

The average American pays more than half of his or her income to an assortment of taxes: income tax, property tax, sales tax, tax at the pump, and so on. After another 17.25% of each dollar going to interest and fees, you're left with just 28.5% of your hard-earned income to pay for everything else in life.

I learned from those I interviewed that tax efficiency is one of the most direct pathways to shorten the time it takes to get from where you are now to where you want to be financially. 

Money Power Principle 4. Tax efficiency is one of the simplest ways to continuously increase the real returns of your portfolio. Tax efficiency equals faster financial freedom. 
  • Make sure that whenever possible, you invest in a way that allows you to defer your taxes (401(k), IRA, annuity, defined benefit plan) so that you compound tax free and pay tax only at the time you sell the investment. Or set up a future tax-free environment by growing your investments in a Roth. 
"So although their marketing material encourages investors to buy and hold, the managers certainly don't practice what they preach. What they really mean is buy and hold their mutual fund, while they trade your retirement savings like crazy."

Speed it up: Change Your Life--and Lifestyle--for the Better

"My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time."
-Steve Jobs

One single move could give you a 10% to 30% increase in your income. 

Why wait until retirement? Why not change your zip code today? Why not find a place to raise your family that allows you to reduce your cost of living and elevate your quality of life at the same time, while you're young enough for both you and your children to reap the rewards?

*Seriously consider the seven states where there's no state income tax at all: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • Tennessee and New Hampshire only dividend and interest income are taxed at the state level.
  • There are huge opportunities all over the world to improve your lifestyle and lower your expenses, in such places as Bali, Fiji, Uruguay, Costa Rica--if you have the courage and the freedom to go for it!
  • You can rent an extraordinary apartment in the mountains outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a fraction of what it would cost for a studio walk-up in a major US city. 

"Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
-Albert Einstein

*There are only three tools for reducing your risk and increasing your potential for financial success: 
  1. Security selection--stock picking;
  2. Market timing--short-term bets on the direction of the market;
  3. Asset allocation--your long-term strategy for diversified investing. 

*Overwhelmingly, the most important of the three is asset allocation.

It means dividing up your money among different classes, or types, of investments (such as stocks, bonds, commodities, or real estate) and in specific proportions that you decide in advance, according to your goals or needs, risk tolerance, and stage of life. 

What goes up will come down! Ray Dalio: "It's almost certain that whatever you're going to put your money in, there will come a day when you will lose fifty percent to seventy percent." 

Security / Peace of Mind Bucket

Eight basic types of assets that might belong: 

1. Cash / Cash Equivalents [US Treasury money market with checking privileges].

2. Bonds.
  • Increase in value when interest rates go down, and decrease in value when rates go up

3. CDs.

4. Your Home. 
  • We shouldn't be "spending our home"!
  • Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller found that when he adjusted for inflation, US housing prices have been nearly flat for a century! 
  • Owning your home with a fixed-rate mortgage is a hedge against inflation, and there's a tax advantage. 

5. Your Pension. 

6. Annuities. 
  • They're like private pensions if done right.

7. At least one life insurance policy belongs in your Security Bucket, and you don't mess with it.
  • One type of life insurance policy can provide you with an income for life, tax free, while you're still alive.

8. Structured Notes. 

"Boredom comes from a boring mind."
"The Struggle Within," Metallica

Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard, suggests buying into low-cost, low-fee bond index funds that spread out your risk because you'll own every part of the bond market.

The Risk / Growth Bucket

1. Equities (stocks/mutual funds/ETFs).
*When you buy shares of an ETF, you are not buying the actual stocks, bonds, commodities, or whatever else is bundled in the fund--you are buying shares in an investment fund that owns those assets. 

2. High-Yield (Junk) Bonds. 

3. Real Estate. 

4. Commodities. Gold, silver, coffee, cotton, etc.

5. Currencies. 

6. Collectibles. Art, wine, coins, automobiles, and antiques, to name a few. This asset class requires very special knowledge or a lot of time on eBay. 

7. Structured Notes. Ones that offer a high return but not 100% principal protection belong in the Risk / Growth Bucket. 

*Diversify across securities, across asset classes, across markets--and across time. 

*Speculation should be 5% or less of your total assets or portfolio.

David Swensen, Yale's $23.9 billion-plus man, portfolio:
Asset Class (Index Funds) 
Domestic Stock 20%
International Stock 20%
Emerging Stock Markets 10%
REITs 20%
Long-term US Treasuries 15%
TIPS 15%

*Even though this portfolio might do better and be more stable than the general market, it is still an aggressive portfolio that requires a strong gut. If you're a young person, you might be very interested in this kind of mix. 

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." 
-Theodore Roosevelt

Risk assessment quiz:

Motivational bias: Thinking you're untouchable after a few successful investments. 

*Putting all of your money in the Risk / Growth Bucket is the kiss of death. 

You can't have someone in a perfect asset allocation unless it's perfect for them. 

Once you know your own personal Security to Risk Bucket ratio, you don't want to alter it until you enter a new stage of life, or your circumstances change dramatically. You've got to stick with it and keep your portfolio in balance. 

The Dream Bucket

Think of items you're saving for in your Dream Bucket as strategic splurges

Many people have a lot of money but not much lifestyle. They spend their lives watching numbers accumulate in a bank account and miss out on the joy and enjoyment they can create and share along the way. 

Your dreams are not designed to give you a financial payoff, they are designed to give you a greater quality of life. But you've got to practice some restraint here, too.

"Dreams are the touchstones of our character." 
Henry David Thoreau

If you want to take the island, you have to burn your boats!

Grace comes when you commit to doing something that will serve more than just yourself--some would call it luck or coincidence. When you give your all, the rewards are infinite.

The key to creating wealth is to unleash your creativity and find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing. If you find a way to add more value than anyone else, you can also find a way to prosper personally.

Timing is Everything?

If you're an investor, a mistake in timing can destroy your nest egg. So we need a solution that doesn't require us to be psychic. 

If you think you can time the markets, you're wrong. But this does not mean you can't take advantage of the concept behind market timing--the opportunities of rising and falling markets--by applying a couple of simple but powerful principles. 

Dollar-cost averaging allows you to diversify across time. Asset allocation is the theory; dollar-cost averaging is how you execute it. 

Remember, the goal is to take emotion out of investing because emotion is what so often destroys investing success, whether it's greed or fear. 

When you invest on a set schedule, with the same amount of money invested each month or week in exact accordance with your asset allocation plan, the fluctuations of the market work to increase your gains, not decrease. Volatility through time can become your friend.

*To be a successful investor, you need to rebalance your portfolio at regular intervals.

Just like dollar-cost averaging, you've got to take your emotions out of the picture. Portfolio rebalancing make you do the opposite of what you want to do. In investing, that's usually the right thing to do.

If your investments are not in a tax-deferred environment, and you rebalance an asset you have owned less than a year, you'll typically pay ordinary income taxes instead of the lower long-term investment tax rate!

*There's a perfectly legal way for you to lower those taxes while keeping your portfolio balanced: tax-loss harvesting. You reduce your taxes, and that increases your net return! In essence, you use some of your inevitable losses to maximize your net gains.

***Just remember four things from this section of the book:

1. Asset allocation is everything! You want to diversify across asset classes, markets, and time.

2. You don't want to hesitate to get in the market trying to have perfect timing; instead, use dollar-cost averaging and know that volatility can be your friend.

3. Have a Dream Bucket that gives you emotional juice and excitement so you can experience the benefits of your investing prowess in the short term and midterm instead of just someday in the future.

4. Use rebalancing and tax harvesting to maximize your returns and minimize losses.

Invincible, Unsinkable, Unconquerable: The All Seasons Strategy 

"Invincibility lies in the defense."
-Sun Tsu, The Art of War

What do you focus on most often? What's your life's obsession? Finding love? Making a difference? Learning? Earning? Pleasing everyone? Avoiding pain? Changing the world?

Are you aware of what you focus on most; your primary question in life? Whatever it is, it will shape, mold, and direct your life.

*This book answers the question, "What do the most effective investors do to consistently succeed?"

"What kind of investment portfolio would one need to have to be absolutely certain that it would perform well in good times and in bad--across all economic environments?" 

It is not a questions of whether or not there will be another crash, it is a question of when.

Timing the market is basically playing poker with the best players in the world who play round the clock with nearly unlimited resources.

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the nonobvious."
-Marcus Aurelius

*By dividing up your money in 50% stocks and 50% bonds (or some general variation thereof), you are taking much more risk than you think. Stocks are three times more risky (aka volatile) than bonds. 
  • "Tony, by having a fifty-fifty portfolio, you really have more like ninety-five percent of your risk in stocks!" -Ray Dalio
There is one thing we can see with absolute certainty: every investment has an ideal environment in which it flourishes. In other words, there's a season for everything.

***Ray then revealed the most simple and important distinction of all. There are only four things that move the price of assets:
  1. Inflation
  2. Deflation
  3. Rising Economic Growth
  4. Declining Economic Growth
*Ray's view boils it down to only four different possible environments, or economic seasons, that will ultimately affect whether investments go up or down.
  1. Higher than expected inflation (rising prices)
  2. Lower than expected inflation (or deflation)
  3. Higher than expected economic growth
  4. Lower than expected economic growth
You should have 25% of your risk in each of these four categories. 

*Complexity is the enemy of execution. 


All Seasons Portfolio

30% Stocks

15% Intermediate [7-10 year] US Bonds

40% Long Term [20-25 year] US Bonds

7.5% Gold

7.5% Commodities

The portfolio must be rebalanced, at least annually. 

*If you are younger, or can stomach more risk, you can use the All Seasons foundation and slightly change the bond-to-stock ratio for the potential for higher returns.

A few points of caution:

The low-cost index funds or ETFs you choose will change the performance. It's crucial to find the most efficient and cost-effective representations for each percentage.

The portfolio will need to be monitored continually and rebalanced annually.

The portfolio is not tax-efficient at times. It's important to use your qualified accounts (IRAs / 401[K]s) or other tax-efficent structures to maximize tax efficiency appropriately.


Burton Malkiel, investment legend, Princeton professor, and author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, suggests this allocation: 

33% US Total Bond Index

27% US Total Stock Index

14% Developed (Foreign) Markets Index

14% Emerging Markets Stock Index

12% US REIT Index (Real Estate)

Freedom: Creating Your Lifetime Income Plan

Always remember that income is the outcome. 

Achieving critical mass without having a plan and strategy for how to turn it into income that will last the rest of your lifetime will leave you like George Mallory: dead on the back side of a mountain. 

No matter what anyone tells you, or sells you, there isn't a single portfolio manager, broker, or financial advisor who can control the primary factor that will determine if our money will last. Luck. 

The earliest years of your retirement will define your later years.

When was the last time your broker talked to you about creating a lifetime income plan?

"Americans should convert at least half of their retirement savings into an annuity." 
-US Treasury Department

Dr. Jeffery Brown: Annuities are one of the most important investment vehicles we have. 

Time to Win: Your Income is the Outcome

There are really only two general categories of traditional annuities: immediate annuities and deferred annuities. 
  • Immediate are best used for those at retirement age or beyond.
  • Deferred: You give the insurance company money either in one lump sum or over a period of years, and instead of receiving an immediate income, your returns are reinvested in a tax-deferred environment so that when you're ready you can, at will, turn on the income stream you want for the rest of your life.
There are 3 types of deferred annuities:
  1. Deferred Income Annuity: Also known as longevity insurance, this is where you make a lump sum deposit today and you will have a guaranteed income that kicks on at a date much later in life.
  2. Fixed Index Annuity: This is where your rate of return is tied to how the stock market does, but you get a percentage of the upside of the market (not all) with no downside and no possibility of loss.
  3. Hybrid Annuity: This is also known as a "Continent" Annuity, which allows you to keep control of your capital and not have to send your money to an insurance company. Instead, we simply invest in a tax efficient portfolio of low cost index funds but if the market doesn't cooperate, and we run out of money in retirement, the insurance company will step in and begin sending us a guaranteed income for the remainder of life.  
Variable annuities should be avoided.

Fixed income annuities: 

  • It offers the potential for significantly higher annual returns than other safe-money solutions such as CDs or bonds. 
  • It provides a 100% guarantee of your principal--you can't lose money.
  • Your deposits remain in your control and you aren't giving up access to your cash. 
  • The growth is tax-deferred and compounds annually. 
  • It provides income insurance, or a guaranteed income for life, when you select an optional income rider. 
  • Each and every year, any gains or upside are locked in, and now this becomes our new floor. 
Okay, so what's the downside of a fixed indexed annuity?

  • As we have discussed all along, the impact of taxes is important to consider. It's what you keep, not what you make, that matters. So although the growth of an FIA is tax-deferred, much like an IRA or 401(k), when it comes time to withdraw, the income is taxable (beyond the portion that is a return of your initial deposit). The only way around this is using a Roth IRA.
  • Although an FIA does allow for partial withdrawls, it's not as liquid or accessible as a typical portfolio investment in the early years. The insurance company typically has "surrender charges" for a period of time but keep in mind this is a self-imposed penalty meaning you decided you wanted your money early. 
  • Just like an IRA / 401(k), when the government grants you the benefit of a tax deferral, they assess a 10% penalty if you choose to withdraw before 59 and a 1/2. 
  • Advisers Excel established a website to educate and empower you when it comes to finding and selecting the right annuity products for your situation: 

Secrets of the Ultrawealthy (That You Can Use Too!)

Life insurance = an IRS-sanctioned vehicle that allows you to grow your investments tax free. 

Private placement life insurance (PPLI) has been called "the secret of the affluent" by the NYT.

Benefits include:

  • unlimited deposit amounts (with no income limitations)
  • no tax on the growth of your investments
  • no tax when accessed (if structured correctly)
  • any money left over for your heirs cannot be taxed
Never again will you pay tax on growth of your investments or the money you access within this structure. This is why the media sometimes calls PPLI the "rich man's Roth."

By taking taxes out of the equation, the time it takes to reach your critical mass and financial independence will be massively accelerated.

Please note that there are very strict rules around the investment management, which must be done by a third-party investment professional, not the policy owner.

In order to access PPLI, you must be what's called an accredited investor and the typical minimum annual deposits are $250,000 for a minimum for four years.

  • HOWEVER, TIAA-CREF's unique not-for-profit structure allows it to offer a life insurance product with no sales or surrender charges, and the tax benefits are no different from what we have learned regarding PPLI. Visit 
One of the simplest things you can do to protect your family is to establish a living revocable trust. Unlike a will, a living trust can also protect you and your family while you are alive. Don't let experts tell you that a living trust costs thousands. You can get a template document for free by visiting

Meet the Masters

Even though each of these financial legends has a distinct approach, I found that they share at least four common obsessions:

1. Don't lose. All of these masters, while driven to deliver extraordinary returns, are even more obsessed with making sure they don't lose money. If you lose 50%, it takes 100% to get back to where you started--and that takes something you can never get back: time. 

2. Risk a little to make a lot. They live to uncover investments where they can risk a little to make a lot--they call it asymmetrical risk-reward

3. Anticipate and diversify. "A lot of brilliant people are terrible investors. The reason is that they don't have the ability to make decisions with limited information. By the time you get all the information, everyone else knows it, and you no longer have the edge."

4. You're never done. They're never done learning, they're never done earning, they're never done growing, they're never done giving! No matter how well they've done or how well they've continued to do, they never lose their hunger--the force that unleashes human genius. 

*20% US Stocks, 20% US Treasury Bonds, 20% TIPS, 10% Emerging Markets, 10% Foreign Markets, 10% REITs, 10% Gold [Bitcoin!] 

David Swensen's Unconventional Success
  • "The fundamental reason that individuals don't have the types of choices they should have is because of the profit orientation in the mutual fund industry."
  • "There are only two organizations where that conflict doesn't exist, and they're Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. Both operate on a not-for-profit basis. They're looking out for the investor's interest, and they're strong fiduciaries." 
  • "You should take every opportunity to invest in a deferred way."  
Jack Bogle's Portfolio Core Principles
  1. Asset allocation in accordance with your risk tolerance and your objectives.
  2. Diversify through low-cost index funds.
  3. Have as much in bond funds as your age. A "crude" benchmark, he says. [Exceptions: the very young can be 100% in stocks, and the old can cap their percentage anywhere from 40-60%, depending on risk tolerance and objectives.]
Paul Tudor Jones
  • "You don't need to go to business school; you've only got to remember two things. The first is, you always want to be with whatever the predominant trend is. You don't ever want to be a contrarian investor."
  • "My metric for everything I look at is the 200-day moving average of closing prices."
  • The second thought: "Five to one." Asymmetric risk/reward. "I'm risking one dollar to make five." 
  • "One principle for sure would be get out of anything that falls below the 200-day moving average. Investing with a five-to-one focus and discipline would be another."

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Never Eat Alone Notes

 My notes from this solid book on communication and networking. 

Don't Keep Score

    Generosity, not greed. 

What's Your Mission?

    A goal is a dream with a deadline.

    1. Goals that will help you fulfill your mission (3 years from now)
    2. Connecting those goals to the people, places, and things that will help you get the job done
    3. Best way to reach out to the people who will help you accomplish your goals

Dinner Parties

    1. Create a Theme
    2. Use Invitations
    3. Don't Be a Kitchen Servant
    4. Create Atmosphere 
    5. Forget Being Formal 
    6. Don't Seat Couples Together
    7. Relax

Tips on Becoming an Expert  

    1. Get out in front and analyze the trends and opportunities on the cutting edge.
    2. Ask seemingly stupid questions.
    3. Know yourself and your talents. 80% focus on building strengths.
    4. Always learn. 
    5. Stay healthy.
    6. Expose yourself to unusual experiences.
    7. Don't get discouraged. 
    8. Know the new technology.
    9. Develop a niche.
    10. Follow the money. 

"How does my content help others answer who they are, where they are from, and where they are going?"
        *Use emotion to convince your doubters that underdogs sometimes win and Goliaths sometimes crumble. 

Good Personal Brands

  1. They provide a credible, distinctive, trustworthy identity. 
  2. They project a compelling message. 
  3. They attract more and more people to you and your cause, as you'll stand out in an increasingly cluttered world. 

Branding keys:
    Shake things up!
    Find your value!
    Obsess on your image!
    Turn everything into an opportunity to build your brand.

Develop a Personal Branding Message

  • What do you want people to think when they hear or read your name?
  • What product or service can you best provide? 
  • Take your skills, combine them with your passions, and find out where in the market they can best be applied.
  • Personal branding message is always an offshoot of your mission and content. 
  • Should include list of words that your want people to use when referring to you. 

Creating a PR Strategy for Brand You

  • You are your own best PR rep.
  • Know the media landscape.
  • Work the angles.
  • Think small.
  • Master the art of the sound bite (3 most interesting points).
  • Don't be annoying.
  • It's all on the record. 
  • Trumpet the message, not the messenger.
  • Treat journalists as you would any other member of your network or community of friends.
  • Be a name-dropper.
  • You've got to market the marketing.
  • There's no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile. 
  • Your circle of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most powerful vehicle you've got to get the word out about what you do. What they say about you will ultimately determine the value of your brand. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

What's a Product Manager?

Here is Tony Fadell's description of a product manager in Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

Product Manager or Product Marketing Manager

Product marketing and product management are essentially the same thing--or at least they should be. A product manager's responsibility is to figure out what the product should do and then create the spec (the description of how it will work) as well as the messaging (the facts you want customers to understand). Then they work with almost every part of the business (engineering, design, customer support, finance, sales, marketing, etc.) to get the product spec'd, built, and brought to market. They ensure that it stays true to its original intent and doesn't get watered down along the way. But, most importantly, product managers are the voice of the customer. They keep every team in check to make sure they don't lose sight of the ultimate goal—happy, satisfied customers. 

The customer needs a voice on the team. Engineers like to build products using the coolest new technology. Sales wants to build products that will make them a lot of money. But the product manager's sole focus and responsibility is to build the right products for their customers. That's the job.

The tricky thing is that the responsibilities of a product manager are completely different at different companies. Product management is less a well-defined role and more a set of skills. It lives between everything, a white space that morphs based on the customer, the needs of the business, and the abilities of the humans involved.

A good product manager will do a little of everything and a great deal of all this:
  • Spec out what the product should do and the road map for where it will go over time.
  • Determine and maintain the messaging matrix.
  • Work with engineering to get the product built according to spec.
  • Work with design to make it intuitive and attractive to the target customer. 
  • Work with marketing to help them understand the technical nuances in order to develop effective creative to communicate the messaging.
  • Present the product to management and get feedback from the execs.
  • Work with sales and finance to make sure this product has a market and can eventually make money.
  • Work with customer support to write necessary instructions, help manage problems, and take in customer requests and complaints.
  • Work with PR to address public perceptions, write the mock press release, and often act as a spokesperson.
And then there's the even less well-defined stuff. Product managers look for places where the customer is unhappy. They unravel issues as they go, discovering the root of the problem and working with the team to solve it. They do whatever is necessary to move projects forward that could be taking notes in meetings or triaging bugs or summarizing customer feedback or organizing team docs or sitting down with designers and sketching something out or meeting with engineering and digging into the code. It's different for every product.

This info, coupled with my experience and temperament, inspired me to get my Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) certificate. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Cultivate an Inner Witness


This is the third time this concept has popped up in my life in the last couple weeks.

Dr. Nicole LePera, in her great book How to Do the Work, says we are not our thoughts, we are the thinker of our thoughts. 

David Goggins talks about creating Goggins, his alter ego that pushes him to accomplish incredible feats, in the inspiring Never Finished

A couple more related sentiments:

Meditation philosophies often tell us that we are not our thoughts, we are the observer of our thoughts. 

Creating a fictional board of directors for You Inc. has been recommended by [I'm blanking on which famous business guru said it].

I've made it a point to focus on remembering lessons that show up in multiple places--especially ones spanning diverse cultures. This one certainly fits the bill. 

In order to reach our full potential, we should cultivate an inner witness. One that pushes us to act (with responsible detachment) according to our virtuous goals. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Amor Fati

Love your fate. 

This central tenant of Stoicism, the most useful Western philosophy in my opinion, is about embracing whatever life throws your way. 

External forces outside of your control don't dictate how you feel. Your thinking, how you interpret and respond to the the things outside of your control, does, which in turn shapes your reality. 

Accepting the "bad" with the "good" positively reframes your experiences. 

The only quote from Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck that's stuck with me for several years after reading it is this:

"Wanting a positive experience is itself a negative experience."

To me, that's incredibly profound. 

Accepting your fate, no matter what it entails, will make you happier. 

Even if that fate is being trapped in Punxsutawney, PA by a blizzard to replay the same day over and over and over again...

Happy Groundhog Day!   


Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Difference Between Understanding and Doing

Is the difference between 0 and 1. 

It's not some incremental improvement. It's crossing a chasm--going from nothing to something. 

Over the past couple weeks I've brought this blog back online after unpublishing all of it several years ago. This entailed going through dozens of old posts. 

I deleted all the haiku. Most of them were trash; all of them were a lazy way to fulfill my self-imposed one-post-a-day quota.

Several longer posts were unproductive rants from a hurt, angry young man. These were deleted as well. 

However, the majority of the non-haiku posts were (in my opinion) worthwhile, positive insights that I still believe today. 

The problem? Aside from writing brief blog posts, I did nothing to execute on these valuable sentiments. There was a (shallow) understanding with no action. 

Don't let 6 years go by (and it really does fly). Start doing things that are in accord with your highest values. Today

The do more tomorrow. And the next day. Day by day, Now by Now, build a life you're proud of.