17 Key Takeaways from Berkshire Hathaway's 2016 Shareholder Letter

Feb 25, 2017 -

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter offers a vast amount of insights into business, life and investing every year. The 2016 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter is no exception. We have distilled the 29 page letter into key takeaways with added commentary below.

The italicized text is what we have added, while the normal font is directly taken from Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter. You can find all of Warren's other shareholder letters on the company aggregated in a book.


Berkshire Hathaway's 2016 Shareholder Letter Takeaways

Over time stock prices gravitate towards intrinsic value. That's what has happened at Berkshire, a fact explaining why the company's 52-year market-price gain- shown on the facing page- materially exceeds its book-value gain.

Intrinsic value is the true inherent value of a business when considering  both tangible and intangible factors. The book value is the value as depicted by the businesses' books, which can be subject to accounting quirks. For example, amortization and depreciation expense. Later described below. The market price may or may not reflect true intrinsic value. In the long run, the price of a company gravitates to its intrinsic value. 

Unfortunately, I followed the GEICO purchase by foolishly using Berkshire stock – a boatload of stock – to buy General Reinsurance in late 1998. After some early problems, General Re has become a fine insurance operation that we prize. It was, nevertheless, a terrible mistake on my part to issue 272,200 shares of Berkshire in buying General Re, an act that increased our outstanding shares by a whopping 21.8%. My error caused Berkshire shareholders to give far more than they received (a practice that – despite the Biblical endorsement – is far from blessed when you are buying businesses).

Warren has made several mistakes in paying for companies using Berkshire stock. Included of which was Dexter Shoes, whereby the business went to zero. To compound that mistakes, he paid in Berkshire stock, which is now worth tens of billions. He gave up more than he got. As Berkshire gets larger and their cash balance builds, they are less likely to pay for acquisitions with share than with cash.

You need not be an economist to understand how well our system has worked. Just look around you. See the 75 million owner-occupied homes, the bountiful farmland, the 260 million vehicles, the hyper-productive factories, the great medical centers, the talent-filled universities, you name it – they all represent a net gain for Americans from the barren lands, primitive structures and meager output of 1776. Starting from scratch, America has amassed wealth totaling $90 trillion.

However our wealth may be divided, the mind-boggling amounts you see around you belong almost exclusively to Americans.

Warren has often said that the luckiest humans are the ones who are born today. The reason is because we've made tremendous strides in all facets of life. The issue we have to deal with is how all that wealth is divided. Right now it is concentrated in a small group as compared to the entire U.S. population.

During such scary periods, you should never forget two things: First, widespread fear is your friend as an investor, because it serves up bargain purchases. Second, personal fear is your enemy. It will also be unwarranted. Investors who avoid high and unnecessary costs and simply sit for an extended period with a collection of large, conservatively-financed American businesses will almost certainly do well.

This is counter-intuitive and precisely why you'll make money if you follow it. Warren often says, "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." In the long-run if you buy good businesses, you'll do well. 

For continuing shareholders, however, repurchases only make sense if the shares are bought at a price below intrinsic value. When that rule is followed, the remaining shares experience an immediate gain in intrinsic value. Consider a simple analogy: If there are three equal partners in a business worth $3,000 and one is bought out by the partnership for $900, each of the remaining partners realizes an immediate gain of $50. If the exiting partner is paid $1,100, however, the continuing partners each suffer a loss of $50. The same math applies with corporations and their shareholders. Ergo, the question of whether a repurchase action is value-enhancing or value-destroying for continuing shareholders is entirely purchase-price dependent.

Not all share repurchases are equal. Ideally, you'd want the business to repurchase shares when they are below intrinsic value. Otherwise it is just like buying an overpriced business

To recap Berkshire’s own repurchase policy: I am authorized to buy large amounts of Berkshire shares at 120% or less of book value because our Board has concluded that purchases at that level clearly bring an instant and material benefit to continuing shareholders.

Berkshire's total shareholder equity is approximately $286B as of 12/31/16. Per Google Finance, the total market cap is $420B, so we are significantly above book value. A market cap of $343B or 120% of shareholder equity, would be a good time to buy Berkshire shares. 

Insurance

One reason we were attracted to the P/C business was its financial characteristics: P/C insurers receive premiums upfront and pay claims later. In extreme cases, such as claims arising from exposure to asbestos, payments can stretch over many decades. This collect-now, pay-later model leaves P/C companies holding large sums – money we call “float” – that will eventually go to others. Meanwhile, insurers get to invest this float for their own benefit.

At bottom, a sound insurance operation needs to adhere to four disciplines. It must (1) understand all exposures that might cause a policy to incur losses; (2) conservatively assess the likelihood of any exposure actually causing a loss and the probable cost if it does; (3) set a premium that, on average, will deliver a profit after both prospective loss costs and operating expenses are covered; and (4) be willing to walk away if the appropriate premium can’t be obtained. Many insurers pass the first three tests and flunk the fourth. They simply can’t turn their back on business that is being eagerly written by their competitors. That old line, “The other guy is doing it, so we must as well,” spells trouble in any business, but in none more so than insurance.

Warren distills all insurance business models in these two paragraphs. What differentiates successful insurance companies from unsuccessful ones is their ability to underwrite to obtain the appropriate premium. A lot of businesses will underwrite even at a loss. What happens is those companies eventually they have to pay out and they can lose significant amounts of money. Such was the case with Genworth (GNW), which at one point underwrote their insurance at a huge loss. 

It was clear to me that GEICO would succeed because it deserved to succeed.

Charlie Munger often echos this similar thought. The best way to get something is to deserve it. For example, to deserve a great partner in life, you need to be a great partner. 

Regulated, Capital-Intensive Businesses

All told, BHE and BNSF invested $8.9 billion in plant and equipment last year, a massive commitment to their segments of America’s infrastructure. We relish making such investments as long as they promise reasonable returns – and, on that front, we put a large amount of trust in future regulation.

BNSF, like other Class I railroads, uses only a single gallon of diesel fuel to move a ton of freight almost 500 miles. Those economics make railroads four times as fuel-efficient as trucks! Furthermore, railroads alleviate highway congestion – and the taxpayer-funded maintenance expenditures that come with heavier traffic – in a major way.

The railroad business is a great business. There are huge barriers to entry including the capital investment piece (which could be a double edge sword) and the fact that you can only have one railroad in one place. It is similar to that of the electric utilities business, whereby it's impractical to have multiple electricity lines going to and from the same places. Warren has shifted towards these high capital intensive businesses because of how big Berkshire has gotten. 

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing Operations

This collection of businesses is truly a motley crew. Some operations, measured by earnings on unleveraged net tangible assets, enjoy terrific returns that, in a couple of instances, exceed 100%. Most are solid businesses generating good returns in the area of 12% to 20%.

Of course, a business with terrific economics can be a bad investment if it is bought at too high a price.

In its essence, the less capital you invest with greater cash generation, the better the business. However, you can pay too much for a business and that becomes a bad investment. When you pay up for a business, you are paying for future earnings and it could take years before the business' intrinsic value catches up to the price you pay. During that time, you may realize less than desirable returns. 

On that page, we show that the 2016 amortization charge to GAAP earnings was $1.5 billion, up $384 million from 2015. My judgment is that about 20% of the 2016 charge is a “real” cost.

But the problem still prevails, big time, in the railroad industry, where current costs for many depreciable items far outstrip historical costs. At BNSF, to get down to particulars, our GAAP depreciation charge last year was $2.1 billion. But were we to spend that sum and no more annually, our railroad would soon deteriorate and become less competitive.

Accounting has some peculiarities. You may purchase software and based on past experiences let's say you need to replace it after 5 years. So you pay upfront for the software costs, but the costs on the books is taken over the 5 years. Five years later, the technology didn't change that much and you are still using that software. While your initial cash out is a true cost, the amortization doesn't reflect true economic cost because there is no replacement cost or maybe it might cost you half the amount. In railroad, depreciation expense is different as Warren has described above. 

Charlie and I cringe when we hear analysts talk admiringly about managements who always “make the numbers.” In truth, business is too unpredictable for the numbers always to be met. Inevitably, surprises occur. When they do, a CEO whose focus is centered on Wall Street will be tempted to make up the numbers.

When companies are pressured either from internal or external forces to meet numbers, they have a tenancy to be tempted to make up the numbers when they aren't really met. This can lead to a whole slew of issues including whether or not shareholders can trust management. For example, Comscore Inc.(SCOR) recently misreported revenues and its stock price took a huge hit and is currently trading over the counter. It subsequently missed its required SEC filings due dates. 

Listen carefully while I tell these enablers that stock-based compensation usually comprises at least 20% of total compensation for the top three or four executives at most large companies.

Back to reality: If CEOs want to leave out stock-based compensation in reporting earnings, they should be required to affirm to their owners one of two propositions: why items of value used to pay employees are not a cost or why a payroll cost should be excluded when calculating earnings.

Many companies show stock-based compensation as not true costs. In GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principals), the expense you incur from issuing stock as compensation to your employees/director is considered an expense. After all, accounting says you are giving up a part of the business. Many companies will show Non-GAAP measures in order to bolster what they believe is the "true cost" of the business. 

Finance and Financial Products

Clayton’s earnings in recent years have materially benefited from extraordinarily low interest rates. The company’s mortgage loans to home-buyers are at fixed-rates and for long terms (averaging 25 years at inception). But Clayton’s own borrowings are short-term credits that re-price frequently. When rates plunge, Clayton’s earnings from its portfolio greatly increase. We normally would shun that kind of lend-long, borrowshort approach, which can cause major problems for financial institutions. As a whole, however, Berkshire is always asset-sensitive, meaning that higher short-term rates will benefit our consolidated earnings, even as they hurt at Clayton."

Given that you consolidate Clayton into Berkshire, how does higher short-term rates benefit the consolidated earnings if it hurts Clayton? Maybe Warren is looking at the fact that overall, higher short-term rates is better for other pieces of Berkshire. Therefore, he dismisses Clayton's use of short-term borrowing. Feel free to chime in on this. 

Investments

Sometimes the comments of shareholders or media imply that we will own certain stocks “forever.” It is true that we own some stocks that I have no intention of selling for as far as the eye can see (and we’re talking 20/20 vision). But we have made no commitment that Berkshire will hold any of its marketable securities forever. That principle covers controlled businesses, not marketable securities.

Well this debunks the myth that everyone thinks Buffett holds businesses forever. When Berkshire buys controlled businesses, they evidently become the majority stakeholder if not 100% owner. There's a different aspect involved when you are in charge of the livelihood of all its employees and such versus being a minority shareholder in a large corporation. 

Before we leave this investment section, a few educational words about dividends and taxes: Berkshire, like most corporations, nets considerably more from a dollar of dividends than it reaps from a dollar of capital gains. That will probably surprise those of our shareholders who are accustomed to thinking of capital gains as the route to tax-favored returns.The rationale for the low corporate taxes on dividends is that the dividend-paying investee has already paid its own corporate tax on the earnings being distributed.

This is an interesting tidbit that I otherwise would not have known. 

“The Bet” (or how your money finds its way to Wall Street)

Now, to my bet and its history. In Berkshire’s 2005 annual report, I argued that active investment management by professionals – in aggregate – would over a period of years underperform the returns achieved by rank amateurs who simply sat still. I explained that the massive fees levied by a variety of “helpers” would leave their clients – again in aggregate – worse off than if the amateurs simply invested in an unmanaged low-cost index fund. (See pages 114 - 115 for a reprint of the argument as I originally stated it in the 2005 report.)

Finally, there are three connected realities that cause investing success to breed failure. First, a good record quickly attracts a torrent of money. Second, huge sums invariably act as an anchor on investment performance: What is easy with millions, struggles with billions (sob!). Third, most managers will nevertheless seek new money because of their personal equation – namely, the more funds they have under management, the more their fees.

The bottom line: When trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients. Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds.

So basically just invest in low-cost index funds if you don't have the desire or want to research companies.
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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett with moderation by Charlie Rose at Columbia University - January 27th 2017

Jan 29, 2017 -

Notes from Charlie Rose moderating a conversation with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett 

There is a new documentary Becoming Warren Buffett premiering January 30th 2017 on HBO.

On learning and books -  Bill says it is an incredible time to be a learner. There are things that you read and wished you could get more in depth knowledge. Today the courses and the videos online are phenomenal. You have access to information more so now than ever before. Bill's biggest problem is he stays up late because of reading. 

Warren had at one time read every book in the Columbia school library on investing. He would pull out a book and what he read in there would lead him to look up another book. He claims this led him to buy GEICO. One of things he enjoys reading are biographies such as Personal History - Katherine Graham because you are able to live the lives of these people, learn from their lessons, and the excursions they face. If  you are an investor than the obvious book is Benjamin Graham's Intelligent Investor

On what they enjoy about each other - Bill and Warren found so many things they could connect on. They just had the same curiosity in the world. When Microsoft was small, Warren would ask Bill why Microsoft would do better than IBM. They would talk about the economics and these would be questions nobody would ask Bill at the time. Warren led Bill to think outside the box. Bill admires Warren's overall sense of humor, and the fact that he enjoys what he does and shares it with other people. Warren has an ability to explain things that may be obvious to him, but not to others with great humility. 

On the future of America - This country has a lot of hardworking folks. When Warren bought his first stock the Dow was a 100 something and now its 20,000 something. Warren believes even though there may be uncertainty, this prosperity will continue. The question is how the prosperity gets allocated between everyone. Every year that goes by there will be energy and health breakthrough. It has been easier to finance ideas now with more capital and better ways to connect than in the 1950s.  

On why they got into their respective fields - Charlie asks why Warren thinks he got interested in investing at 11? To which Warren replies, "Because I was too dumb to get interested at 4." Warren says it just seemed to make sense and was a fascinating subject. He also believes he has the temperament and ability to think for himself. 

On overcoming fear of risk - Bill has never viewed computer as risky, but rather a fun hobby. The start of his interest in computers coincided right at the beginning of what he saw would be a big change. He didn't have kids at the time and felt that he could always go back to school to finish his degree and find a job. However, he was risk adverse when he was running the company and made sure that they had enough money to pay everyone at least a year if nobody paid them. The thought of hiring a bunch of people with families put a lot of responsibility on him. What he does advise is that young people be risk takers. 

Warren is having just as much fun then as he is now. He was petrified at speaking. So, he signed up for a course and gave up his $100 dollars. Don't fear failure. Warren got turned down by Harvard and it turned out fine. Just keep going. Go forward.

If you were to do it again, what industry and where would  you start your business?

They'd be doing the same thing. Look for the job you would take if you didn't need a job. You really want to be doing what you love doing. You can't necessarily find it on your first job, but don't give up until you find it. Doing what you don't want for X amount of years is like saving sex for old age. 

How might Bill and Warren convince investors to think long-term? 

Warren says that if he knew how to double my money tomorrow, he'd prob invest short term. For him it is easier to invest in the long-term. He hasn't the faintest idea of what will happen tomorrow or next week. Politicians face election every 2 years or 6 years. Congressional districts primaries are more important than before. It is very hard to think what is good 20 years from now when they are worried about getting elected tomorrow. 

What does Warren look for when investing or buying in a company? Durable competitive advantage, a moat for a considerable period of time, honest and able management, fair purchase price. But he says it is better pay a bit too much of a good business then a bargain company with no future. He can't predict what most companies will do, but he only has to be right about a couple. It is the opposite of the baseball, where there are no strikes called. 

On choosing wives and partners - Charlie Munger changed Buffett's views on looking for the quality companies and to make an investment for 5 to 10 years versus focusing on cigar butt investing. Whereby you find a cigar (company) with out puff left in it and then you'd have to go find another. That works on a small scale, but you really want to find a business you want to own forever. Similar to how you want to get associated with a person forever. 

Bill says, Melinda thinks about the people issues better and can be more realistic about the science. Life is more fun with a partner than without. 

How do you figure out what causes to donate to? 

Warren had originally discussed with his wife that he would pile up the money and then she would unpile it. But when she passed, he had to think of another solution. He decided to wholesale it to someone who had similar values, objectives and could pour intelligence. That was Bill and Melinda. Warren believes every life has equal value. 

Bill has studied how the Rockafeller foundation set themselves up and used that as a guide for philanthropy. Funding the vaccine projects isn't the government's forte, but once you come up with the formula the new vaccines marginal costs come out to less than a dollar. 

How do you reconcile what is believed by the public and your thoughts? 

Bill begins by saying that you should understand where people disagree. There are all sorts of causes that his foundation looks at. There are a lot of diseases and aspects of education to consider. Part of the strength is diversity in the fund. His voice shouldn't be that much louder than other people. 

On relationships - Warren says, you will move in the direction with the people you associate with. Associate with those people that are better than yourself. You want to associate with the kind of people you'd want to be. The friends you have will form you as you go through life. Have people you admire as well as you like. Bill says it is good to invest in those friendships and some friends challenge you about things you are doing. 




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Big Game Hunting - Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities - Book Review

Jan 23, 2017 -

About Christopher Kai

Christopher Kai is the founder and CEO of KGL, a strategic-consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs build their businesses. He is an international speaker and bestselling author. Christopher is also the founder of Mondays at the Mission, the only homeless youth program of its kind at the largest private shelter in the United States. Their 240 program speakers from 26 states and 28 countries (Elon Musk, Moby, and TED speaker Diana Nyad) have been featured on CNN, People, ABC, Time, the Ellen Degeneres Show and Oprah. Christopher has been featured on ABC, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Buzz Feed, and Huffington Post.


Overview and Thoughts about the Book

In Big Game Hunting - Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities, Christopher Kai shares his in-depth knowledge of how he went from growing up in a middle class home in Woodside, Queens to rubbing elbows with Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Paris Hilton, and many other "Big Gamers".

I first discovered Christopher Kai when he spoke at Google on how to "Catapult Your Career Opportunities". One of the biggest key points he brought up was networking. ABC News Reported in 2012, 80% of people's jobs come from networking.

A friend of mine quit his accountant job in 2012 and started his own e-commerce business. After four years of ups and downs he decided to get back into the accounting industry. How was someone out of the industry for almost half a decade supposed to find a job? Employers questioned his outdated knowledge, qualifications, and feared he would only stay short-term and leave to start another company. Luckily he still maintained his network of people in the industry. Through his relationships, he had a signed job offer letter within a week.

Most people think of networking from a quantity perspective. The more events you attend the more people you meet. The problem with that is, if you attend the same events you are going to meet the same people. Right from the get go of his book, Kai introduces a huge piece of advice on how to meet "Big Gamers" and focus on the quality of relationships. If you want to meet comic book fanatics, you attend to Comic Con. If want to meet people in the electronics and tech space, you attend CES. What if you want to meet "Big Gamers"? Where would you go? How do you approach them? What do you say to them? What do you do after the event?

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” —Michelangelo, Italian painter and sculptor

Finding where to meet who you want to meet is only part of the battle. Kai goes through a simple four step process of preparation, what to do before the event, during the event, and action items for after the event. The biggest thing he brings to the table is the fact that he's been through it before, so he is able to relate to the reader much more easier. It is one thing for someone to talk about how to meet "Big Gamers", but never having done so and another thing to have someone who has been in our shoes before providing insight and steps. 

While most networking books are rather bland or wordy, Kai uses relevant personal stories and experiences to illustrate his points. For example, he describes how he reached out to Elon Musk and was able to get Elon to come and speak at Kai's homeless youth program. He also provides stories from others who have used similar techniques to meet "Big Gamers". 

Final Word

Let's say you don't want to meet "Big Gamers". If you want to start a business or meet an executive in your field, advice from Kai's book, Big Game Hunting - Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities, can be used to meet just about anyone you want to meet. Kai's life experiences on networking is boiled down to a concise yet comprehensive 100 pages. He is an amazing speaker and motivator. So much so, that he has inspired myself to aim higher than what I believe I could achieve. 

Life is about living it. Living it means aiming higher and realizing your fullest potential. You can't always do this by yourself. But if you find a mentor or someone to help you along the way, you'll give yourself a good chance to reach your fullest potential. Build your network. 



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Invest with the House - Hacking the Top Hedge Funds by Mab Faber - Book Review

Jan 11, 2017 -

About Mab Faber

Mab Faber is a co-founder and the Chief Investment Officer of Cambria Investment Management. Faber is the manager of Cambria’s ETFs, separate accounts, and private investment funds. Mr. Faber has authored numerous white papers and five books including Invest with the House - Hacking the Top Hedge Funds. He is a frequent speaker and writer on investment strategies and has been featured in Barron’s, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Mr. Faber graduated from the University of Virginia with a double major in Engineering Science and Biology. He is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and Chartered Market Technician (CMT).


Overview and Thoughts about the Book

Invest with the House - Hacking the Top Hedge Funds is one of Meb Faber's more recently published books about investing. Meb begins the book illustrating the difficulties in picking great stocks. He cites statistical data such as 64% of stocks underperformed the broad stock market and 25% of stocks were responsible for all of the market's gains. This makes the game of investing seem especially difficult. On top of this, you are playing in a zero-sum game (your gain is someone else' loss) against the top most talented investors in the world.

Suppose you were able to put down bets with the house? In Vegas the house is the casino; in investing, top hedge funds are considered house. Suppose you were able to buy the same stocks as the top hedge fund managers. Faber goes through in-depth how to track the top hedge funds' picks and use that information to create your own portfolio.

One tool that Faber suggests using is reviewing SEC filings of 13F. Large hedge funds are required to disclose their holdings quarterly to the public. Most of these investors have a long-term investment horizon. Therefore, even though there is a forty-five day delay in reporting their 13F, you'd still be able to get a good idea of what stocks they own at a point in time. Here is a sample of LSV Asset Management's 13F.

"I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don't believe in just sitting there and trying to dream it up all yourself. Nobody's that smart. " - Charlie Munger

Perhaps one of the most insightful pieces is Faber goes through a endless in-depth discussion of successful hedge fund managers and their stock picking tendencies and styles. For example, you have Glenn Greenberg, who follows a concentrated investment style. He prefers positions where the business has strong management, demonstrates significant competitive advantage, and strong potential at "unjustifiable" low prices. Then you have Ricky Sandler who at age 25 co-founded an investment fund whereby his $28 million of seed money exploded into $350 million with a net annual return of 31%. 

Final Word

Beyond Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger there are a whole host of successful hedge fund managers. Faber breaks each of them down with their background stories, investment style and strategy, and provide a snapshot of their performance. In addition, he shows their holdings and how a cloned portfolio based on 13Fs would have performed compared to the market. Each of which, beat the the market by large margins. Mab summarizes all the great investors and their styles into one compact book. This is a must read for any investor looking to broaden their knowledge and learn from the very best. Most people are not managing huge sums of money and therefore should be able to compound at greater percentages than those managing billions. While I wished he would've went more in depth on the beginning years of the fund managers, he did a great job accentuating their successes. 

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Book Review

Jan 1, 2017 -

About Mark Mason 

Mark Mason is a star blogger, internet entrepreneur and author of two books titled Models: Attract Women Through Honesty and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. The latter of which has become a recent New York Times bestseller. Mark quit his first day job two months in to start his own internet business. He has traveled to over 60 countries and speaks three languages. His journey so far, has led him from living on people's couches to overcoming failures and he now runs a successful blog and is a tremendous entrepreneur.


Overview and Thoughts about the Book


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life is a book about living the counter-intuitive approach to life. We are constantly bombarded with motivational speeches and inspiring stories of how people have overcome deep struggles to become successes. In the root of all of this is "being positive". Manson suggests that some things are meant to be f*cked up and being positive actually works against "being positive". He pulls from philosophers such as Alan Watts eluding to the "backwards law". Watts writes, “When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float.” In more layman terms, trying so hard to make everything right often causes things to go wrong.

Manson's book is centered around accepting life's challenges and learning better how to deal with the flaws and limits in our lives. Backed by academic research, Manson takes us through a series of powerful "ah ha moments" revealing the truth behind empowerment. The truth behind finding happiness and enjoying life involves embracing our fears, faults, and uncertainties in life. While all of this may seem obvious when brought up, we all know need that reminder to take a step back and look at life from an inverse approach.

"Life is about solving problems. Therefore, learn how to pick good problems. Avoiding problems just makes everything worse."

Perhaps one of the most insightful pieces is when Manson uses the story of the Buddha to illustrate his point of how life is not about avoiding the pain and suffering in life. The point is to embrace all that life has to offer and take life's problems in stride. Manson does a tremendous job in bringing to light and conveying his message through a series of light-hearted jokes and anecdotes. 

Final Word


The world is become more and more globalized and social pressures are more prominent and in your face than ever before. Media and Hollywood paint pictures of what life should be like. Facebook skews your view of reality when people only post their best moments and few of their worst. You start comparing yourself to others and set high expectations to "keep up with the Jones". We all need that guide and constant reminder to be ourselves and to understand the life is about tackling problems and solving one after the other. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life is a book that will teach you how to let go. Manson will strangely motivate you to trust that if you fall it will be all okay. Frankly, you'll just learn how to give less of a F*ck and as a result you'll actually feel better about yourself, those around you, and your life.

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How to Live in the Present Moment

Nov 23, 2016 -

In value investing, we look to see how much a business is worth. If it is selling at less than its worth, then we would invest in the business. The way we value the business comes from determining what the future cash flows might look like. After all, investing is putting money away now, so you can have more money later.

Have you gone into work any day of the week except for Saturday or Sunday and wished that it was the weekend? When was the last time you wished something was over? Maybe it was your company's busy season or tax season? 
Whatever the case might be, we are constantly looking ahead. While this is good that we are looking ahead, what about the here and now? Has society kept us from enjoying the present? 

My biggest flaw is being unable to enjoy the present and constantly planning for the future. I'm constantly looking for the ending. Get to the heart of the matter or get to the point. 

In music, we don't listen to just the end note and be done with it. The purpose is to enjoy all the notes linked together, which creates a song. In other words, we are to enjoy the journey

How do you change your perspective in life and still plan for the future? In Lebron James' words "Years go by fast that it's hard not to think about the future. You live for the moment, of course, but you've also got to prepare for the future. That's life. That's everybody. Being in the situation you're in now you definitely think about it, but you do live for the moment."

Everything ends. If we look at it from the point of view that at some point this will end, you are more likely to be grateful for when it hasn't ended and enjoy the journey
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Learn to Understand the Economics of the Business

Nov 16, 2016 -

You've just figured out how much a business cost. What else do you need to understand? Another important aspect of value investing is understanding the business. What are the economics behind the business. In other words, how does the business make money in its marketplace and what does it cost to run the business?

If you own a residential rental property, you will have repairs and maintenance costs. Once a month you may have a gardener mow the lawn and trim the bushes. Every ten years you may need to replace the roof. If there is a water leak you may need to have your handyman come and fix it. If you are lucky, generally these costs will be manageable. These are all necessary costs to keep the property in a condition that is livable for your tenant. In addition, you could have interest payments on your mortgage and house insurance. We can call these operating costs.


How does your rental property make money? You collect rent from your tenant on a monthly basis for as long as they are living there. Usually tenants sign one year lease, which means if they do not renew after a year, you'll need to find someone else to fill your property. You won't be generating cash flow during the time between tenants, but you will likely still need to maintain the property. In addition, there may be repairs you'll need to make to get it ready for a new tenant that you wouldn't have had to make otherwise. For example, applying new paint to the place will attract more potential tenants.

Remember the goal for investing is putting away money now for more money later. In order to have positive cash flow, you'll want your operating costs to be less than your cash flow in. There are thousands upon thousands of businesses out there that range from simple to understand businesses to complex. The key is to focus on those that you do understand and forget about the ones you don't. In value investing, we call this your circle of competence.
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Human Psychological Tendencies - Reinforcement and Incentives

Nov 9, 2016 -

Most people understand the power of incentives in reinforcing human behavior. It's definitely nothing new, however, I am constantly surprised as how many of us don't realize this phenomenon to its fullest potential.

A guy named Joe Wilson couldn't understand why Xerox's new and better machine was selling less units in comparison to the older and inferior model. His curiosity led him back to Xerox. Lone behold, what he discovered was that the commission arrangement favored the inferior machine.


In 2005, Symantec bought Veritas in a $13.5 billion stock deal and instantly the employee headcount jumped from 6,300 to 15,000. Whenever you have a change in company's structure of this magnitude, people worry about whether or not they will still have a job. One method that Symantec used to reestablish and educate its new and existing employees is they recognized their employees' performance through thank you notes and gift cards. Recognition programs are a great way to incentivize employees to increase sales and be more productive.

It is no surprise that the best places to work are also some of the most profitable companies. According to Business Insider for 2016, Google (Alphabet), Facebook and Apple all made the list. These are three of the largest companies by market capitalization. Alphabet and Apple combined hold over $200 billion in cash. After all what is a company anyways? A group of individuals who have come together to help move the group towards common goals. In the investing sense, we hope that these common goals are to make the company profitable.
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How Do You Figure Out How Much a Business Cost

Nov 2, 2016 -

When you buy a stock, you are purchasing a piece of a business. You are not buying some ticker symbol that fluctuates up and down every minute of the day. That is the first difference between how a value investor and a speculator looks at stocks. Those who speculate believe someone else is willing to pay a higher price than what they've paid for a stock and could careless about how the business itself functions.

If a stock represents partial ownership in a business, how do you value the business? Ideally we want to pay less for what the business is worth. The key is to think about how much the business can produce.
Let's say you want to purchase an investment property. You see that there is a three bedroom and two bath 2,500 Sq Ft. house selling for $500,000 in Los Angeles, CA. Suppose the average rent in the area is $3,500 per month or $42,000 a year. You also put a down payment of 20% or $100,000. Let's also factor in your costs including property tax ($5,000), repairs and maintenance fees ($800), home insurance ($1,200), and mortgage payment ($23,000), which total $27,000 for the first year. Assuming no vacancy in your first year, we estimate a cash profit of $12,000 or $42,000 (rental income) less $30,000 of costs. This means that on your $100,000 down payment investment you earn about a 12% return in the first year.

The key is to think about how much the business can produce.

We look at businesses the same way; we want to see how much the return is on our investment. With stocks, we can look at it as if we are buying the entire business. How do we know how much a business cost? You can calculate how much the stock market is valuing a company by taking the number of outstanding shares and multiplying it by price of each share. That will give you the market capitalization or market cap. Meaning if you wanted to buy all the shares of that company, it would cost you the market cap. You can find the outstanding shares count on the first page of the company's latest 10-Q or 10-K filing. The 10-Q or 10-K can be found on the SEC.gov website or at the company's investor relations page.


Now if you purchased 100 shares of a company that has a market cap of $1,000,000 and the cash profit of that company was $100,000 that year then you would've effectively earned a 10% return. The same would be if you purchase 20,000 shares at a market cap valuation of $1M.

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Choose to Celebrate Life

Oct 23, 2016 -

Unfortunate is Scott Hamilton being diagnosed with his third brain tumor. Can you imagine yourself going through that not just physically, but also mentally? Remarkable is Scott Hamilton, a retired American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist, overcoming testicular cancer in 1997 and two other brain tumors in 2004 and 2010. 

How is it that someone like Scott is able to overcome these life threatening illnesses and continue to be so resilient? All the while he maintains such an overwhelmingly strong positive attitude. 
I complain about how I have to cook my own food when I get back from a long day at work or how I have to take my car to get an oil change. These issues are so minuscule in comparison to what Scott has to deal with on a day to day basis. I can't imagine how Scott is able to have that mental strength to fight through all that comes with being diagnosed with so many life threatening illnesses over and over again. 

How does he do it? 

The first thing is you need is to be in the right mindset. Scott looks at everything he and his family does as a celebration of life. In life there will be challenges you face and some are going to be more difficult than others. There will be things that you wished didn't happen, but you have little or no control over. You will make mistakes along the way. The key to all of this is how do you react? How do you get up? Scott Hamilton says, "The more times you get up, the stronger you are to face the next thing, which will happen — because that’s life."

Understand what you are dealing with. The more educated you are about the situation, your options, and how other have dealt with the same or similar issue the better you are equipped to make a decision


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5 Ways to Be More Productive In Your 24 Hour Day

Oct 8, 2016 -

Do you ever wonder why some people can get so much more done in 24 hours than you? Or how is it that Elon Musk is able to seemingly run three companies (Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City) and we can barely find time to get to five things on our to do list in the same allotted time? The secret to all of this is in your approach


1) Be selective with where you spend your time. 

Those who are ultra successful limit the number of tasks they take on. They are looking for the biggest bang for their buck. Basically, tasks that will help them learn something new or seeking to take on the next challenge. If you are doing the same tasks over and over again with few new challenges, you aren't going to learn. If you don't learn then you'll be stuck in the same place you are right now. 

 2) Shoot for the stars but set up your micro goals. 

When you set a goal, you do so because you haven't accomplished such a goal before. Otherwise why would you even bother setting that goal? Since it is something you haven't done before, it is important for you to break down your goals into micro goals that are specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. In other words, come up with an action plan. If you do that, then the minute you get started on a task, you'll know what needs to be done. There is no waiting or being wishy washy when you come up with micro goals. So remember, be specific with the baby steps you need to take to reach your goal.  

3) Run narrations and visuals in your head

Top performing athletes envision success on the field prior to stepping into it. Close your eyes and picture yourself going through the tasks to reach your final goal. Often times, if you can see it in your head and think out the steps for reaching the goal, you'll have a greater chance of succeeding.    

4) Train yourself to be comfortable with the unknown 

In order to grow you must face your fears. Just as the saying goes, to get what you you've never had, you must do what you've never done before. Successful people find ways to get outside of their comfort zone and be comfortable with being outside of their comfort zone. How you do that is by being more confident and self-assured in yourself. So that no matter what the situation is you are confident enough in your ability to figure out what needs to be done and how you should properly react. Having a hard time doing that? Well fake it until you become it

5) Follow your inner compass 

Everyone's path in life is different and unique in itself. What may be good for your friend may not be the right fit for you. Trust in yourself and follow what you truly believe. Make your own decisions. Just because someone has been noted to be an expert in the field does not mean he or she can not be wrong. Come to your own conclusions and forget about following the crowd. 
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Is CFD Trading A Worthy Venture?

Sep 30, 2016 -

Is CFD Trading A Worthy Venture?
Sponsored Post
Recently, the European Securities and Markets Authority issued warnings over CDF tradings and investments. The Central Bank has since joined in with the issuance of such warnings. What has led to the increase of such cautionary messages is that they have very high-risk levels.

As a result, consumers are highly advised to be completely aware of the complexity and high-risk nature of CDFs before making any decisions about investing in them. In November, Central Bank warned of the same and urged investors to be very keen when dealing with Contracts for Difference.

Volatility Of The Market

In Ireland, the CFD market has a thorough inspection. During the inspection, the Central Bank noted that there were several issues to do with execution-only sales. In its view, investors who have a low-risk enthusiasm should not carry out CFD trading. The trading is somewhat unsuitable for such investors because of the volatility of the market. The unstable nature of the CFDs makes it risky since there are high chances of consumers losing more than their initial investments.

This warning about CFD trading by the European Securities and Markets Authorities is considered vital and timely. Retail investors have sufficient evidence pointing to the high-risk probability of consumers losing their investments.

In CFD trading, investors are allowed to trade on assets without even owning them,and it can result in limitless losses considering that the startup capital is very minimal. Additionally, there are no weighty regulations in the sector, thus controlling it might be challenging.

Sustainability of CFD in Germany

In Germany, CFD trading is considered to be too complex; and therefore, its suitability is being challenged for retail investors. The development of CFDs is being monitored closely and, in the near future, some sort of intervention on the market should be expected. The intervention could be in a number of ways including:

• Brokers’ executions being monitored more keenly

• Introduction of account airbags – traders cannot lose anything more than what is available on their accounts

• Leverage reduction – possibly from the now 400 to 50

• Or even Prohibition of CFD trading entirely.

Immediately there is any sense of a scandal in the German market, or even in the press, the intervention plans could begin immediately. A scandal means anything like a big investor going bankrupt or even something like German traders being targeted by more binary brokers.

With the known German tendency of reducing over the counter tradings such as CFDs, this is not anything new to the German market. The regulated exchanges do better here, and they are likely to increase in the future.

Hopefully, CFD trading will not be banned from the German markets. It is better if brokers are monitored more closely or even if leverage is limited but not a complete prohibition of the trade.

How CFD Brokers are Tackling it

On the other hand, brokerage firms such as CMC Markets have understood well the need for anonymity in the CFD trade. They have designed trading platforms whereby traders are allowed to bypass the protocols that deal with identity verification when doing deposits and withdrawals on the trades.

Most firms are coming up with ways to offer trading platforms that are award winning, policies that do not have any commissions involved and even instant payouts to consumers. This is a sure way of attracting more investors to the trade.

Traders are assured of their security even with the anonymity. Brokers claim to have the ability to maintain fund security for clients from any online intruders or attacks. They have decent standards on safety that are put in place to sense anything wrong. This, in turn, offers enough protection to traders.

Other CFD brokers are renewing their customer insurance protection to assure traders. As is the standard in the industry, all FCA regulated brokers need to offer a minimum of £50,000 to comply with the FSCS (Financial Services Compensations Scheme) standards.

The renewal commitment is a sign of pledge demonstration by the broker firms. They want to convince their clients and offer them security. It is a complement to the brokers since they are providing leading trading experiences, which in turn adds more value to their customers.

It is a sure way to bring traders on board and to assure them that CFD trading is a successful venture. All in all, it is only to wait and hope for the best on the CFD market.
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Three Reasons to Not Worry and Be Grumpy

Sep 12, 2016 -

1) What a cup of water has to to do with stress
How heavy is a cup of water? The longer you hold it the heavier it feels. After a minute your arm is hurting and after a minute and a half you feel more pain. By two minutes you are in agony.

What should you do when it feels heavy? Put it down and rest. Pick it up later and it will feel lighter. 

Stress has nothing to do with how much work and duties you have in life. The solution to stress is when life feels heavy do you know how to put it down and rest? Just put the job down for a few minutes and take a break. Then go back to the computer screen you have tons more ideas. Sit down and give yourself half an hour to rest. You'll be more productive and more ideas will come.



2) Why you should give yourself permission to be grumpy
Allow yourself to be whoever you are at this moment. Even if you are sick, accept being sick. Suppose someone sees you in the hospital, they are going to ask you how are you feeling. They've come all the way to see you and you aren't going to tell them you feel sick or still don't feel better. So this puts pressure on you to lie.

The morale of the story is that "we are always trying to be something that we are not and that's when we get in trouble."

There was a guy who was sick for many years. He was a champion wrestler and Rhodes Scholar, but he felt terrible and for many years could not come out of his room. One day someone went down to his room and told him on behalf of everyone around him, he gave him permission to die.

For years, he's being trying to fight the disease and he cried because at that moment he felt like he could just be. When you are sick you are trying so hard to get better it can kill you. As soon as there was no guilt and the attached stress disappeared, he started to get better.

The morale of the story is that "we are always trying to be something that we are not and that's when we get in trouble."

3) How kindness can make problems get smaller
There was a monster and it came into an empress' palace when she was away on business. All the guards who were suppose to guard the place left. The monster went into the empress' throne and sat on it. The guards told it to go away and said bad things to it. The monster started to feed on that negativity and hatred. Soon it became bigger and bigger. Each bad word made the monster bigger. By the time the empress came back it was so frightening and so smelly.

The empress came back and was kind to the monster. She offered him a drink and food. With each complement the monster became smaller and smaller. This was an anger eating monster. The morale of this story is that kindness can make many problems get smaller and more possible to fix. 

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Rethinking the Traditional Investing Model

Sep 5, 2016 -

Why have so many people struggled to make a traditional investing model work for them?

Traditional financial advice as we know it in the following steps:

1) You earn money through working a job.
2) Save as much as you can.
3) You then take your savings and invest it in the stock market.
4) From there you "watch that money grow" and then retire at age 65.

The stock market has generally risen about 7% a year over the last couple decades, but with inflation that comes out to less than you would have expected maybe 3%. If this was the secret formula, why do 59% of Americans still feel very or moderately worried that they won't have enough money at retirement?

Solving for Happiness

To understand what we can do about the failing traditional investing model, we look to understanding why we accumulate financial capital. Humans don't intrinsically care about having a lot of financial capital. We want financial capital because we think it will provide us with the things we value such as access, privilege, choices, and experiences. In the process, we sometimes make choices that limit our own enjoyment (access, privilege, choices, and experiences) in order to make more money. 

The studies on happiness suggest that sudden increases in financial capital do absolutely nothing to increase your long-term sense of happiness. Long term happiness is about getting enough sleep, doing everyday things with friends and families, learning something new, and having a meaningful impact in your society. People who are engaged in self development are more aligned with happiness.


Bryan Franklin and Michael Ellsberg argue in their book The Last Safe Investment, that one thing the traditional investing plan neglects to consider is what you do with your human capital. If you start investing in your human capital, over time it will have a dramatic financial impact and the non-financial impact.

Let's say you make $60,000 a year and you invest $5,000 of that over a year or two into a bunch of skill sets, like leadership, sales, persuasion and communication skills. With your soft skills that go very well with your technical skills, over a couple years you get a promotion. You'll be earning more money than before. That kind of return is very hard to achieve with considerable predictability in the stock market.

What human capital skills should you invest in?

Invest in super skills or skills that are valued in just about any industry, job or market condition. Super skills are basic human skills, such as how to communicate and leadership skills. The single most highly leveraged skill is public speaking.

Take for example, two people who have worked ten plus years to get their PhDs whereby they've invested countless hours into their degrees. One of them is a horrible in front of a crowd and the other has spent a year practicing public speaking. Who would you bet your money on to succeed over time?

Most people prefer to work in a meritocracy. Whereby, your merit of the work stands on its own. You can see each other's work for what it is that can be quite special, but that is not the world we live in. Between the results you create and the perception of that, the perception will yield the most acknowledgement. You'll need sales and marketing skills to demonstrate to your managers what you've accomplished.

Most of us are in this vicious cycle of sacrificing time with friends, sleep, and the happiness to get money. Then with that money we try to get back friends, sleep, and happiness.

The tribe is a fascinating asset

The tribe is focused on the least by those who don't have it and treasured the most by those who have it. The tribe has a huge impact on your felt sense of wealth and financial wealth. It is a network of value based group of friends. When you have a tribe, you shares resources, values, and experiences. In addition, the networking of information about finding about new opportunities all happens within a tribe.
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How to Get Live Stock Quotes in Excel

Aug 23, 2016 -

Are you tired of having to log into your stock brokerage account to check your portfolio balance? Or maybe you are looking to do some technical analysis using live stock quotes? Without a doubt there are a lot of solutions out there. But most of them are not as straightforward as MarketXLS.

MarketXLS is a one stop solution for technical and fundamental analysis. With MarketXLS you can do research (technical, fundamental and options) the way you like in Excel.


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Stock Charts in Excel

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- Maximize chart windows without distortion of clarity
- Open multiple charts in Excel at a time
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Arnold Van Den Berg - Exponential Wisdom - Google Talk Summary

Jul 27, 2016 -

Arnold founded Century Management in 1974. He is the CEO and chairman of the CM Advisors Family of Funds Board of Trustees. Born in 1939, Arnold survived the Holocaust as one of Holland’s “hidden” Jewish children. His parents both survived Auschwitz and the family immigrated to America when he was 10. These struggles led him to an extensive study of the subconscious mind, which he believes is the key to unlocking an individual’s potential.

Arnold Van Den Berg's parents hid for two and a half years in an attic during the Holocaust. However, they developed one major problem. The problem was that they kept two small children. Arnold was two and a half years old and his brother was five and a half. It was difficult hiding with children. If Arnold's parents kept the children and were caught they would be sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, which they eventually were. At Auschwitz, they didn't keep women and children. It was a big risk if the children were caught with the parents because it usually meant the end of the parents.


Another alternative was to send the children through the German lines to get on a train to an orphanage. The only problem was you needed a German passport. But if you were Jewish you didn't have a passport. They had fake passports, but they weren't very good so it was sort of a last resort. Arnold's parents got with the Dutch underground and they worked out a plan that there would be a 19 year old girl who would bring him on the train and there would be an individual situated in front the Nazi to keep the officer busy until the whistle blew. So, that was exactly what happened. It was just the most dramatic moment when the whistle blew because the girl knew she would be okay

"The most important thing to achieve anything in life is to be totally focused."

Years later, Arnold would ask himself why would this girl who didn't even know him risk her life to save his. How could the girl's whole family risk their lives? If caught, the 19 year old girl would have had to spend her entire life in an concentration camp. What would motivate her to do this? Later in life, he found his way to a psychiatrist. He decided to ask the psychiatrist why anyone would do that. The psychiatrist said, well the answer is very simple.

It's all about principals; these were people who had deep beliefs and their principals were more important than life. If your life is more important than your principals then you sacrifice your principals. 

Arnold Van Den Berg eventually found his way to mutual funds. He was curious about why during the stock market crash in the early 1970s, some funds went down less than others. Eventually, he discovered that the funds that were down less were doing better because they focused on value investing. The secret to understanding value investing is figuring out what a business is worth just like when you buy real estate. Then you basically buy that at a "wholesale" or discounted price.

The most important thing to achieve anything in life is to be totally focused. Arnold Van Den Berg's father explained the most difficult thing in an concentration camp was when they had to go on these death marches from one camp to another. It was a 20 mile walk and you would get two slices of bread and then you would march for 24 hours. If you went on your knees, the Nazi officers would whip you and if you didn't get up then they would shoot you. His father was 5'7 and 85 pounds - all skin and bones. You really have to focus to get through all of that.

What Arnold's dad learned was how incredibly powerful the mind was when you are tested in extreme circumstances. When your life is on the line, you have to clear your mind. You couldn't think about how cold or hungry you were. You can think of nothing else but to move forward and to keep your focus. You'll realize you have strength that you don't even understand. When asked what his father could attribute that to, he said the subconscious mind. There is no way you can keep moving one leg after the other in that type of situation without extreme focus.

Five Lessons from Arnold Van Den Berg 

1. Always seek the truth
2. Develop your own set of principles for which you are willing to make sacrifices
3. Be totally focused
4. By practicing your principals you will develop the faith and courage to carry on during tough times
5. Never give up 

What do you do with your cash when you don't have any good value stock options? 

Over the 40 years, Arnold's average cash position was 20% of his portfolio even when there was good value because there are great opportunities. Even if cash doesn't make money, it's better to hold cash then to lose money. Patience pays off. You will always find value if you are patient. You might have to wait a year and a half or two years.

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Best Way to Improve Your Memory in Under Five Minutes

Jul 18, 2016 -

Have you ever wondered how someone is able to memorize a shuffled deck of cards in less than 20 seconds? Chester Santos is a memory expert and best known for winning the 2008 USA memory championship. Recently he spoke at Google to share his tricks and tips on how to memorize names with faces and recall an exorbitant amount of words in a short amount of time.

Last Friday, you and your friend may have meet a new person at a party. Two weeks later, one of you is describing to you the person the both of you met, but neither of you can recall the person's name. Does that happen to you often?


It is much more difficult to memorize a person's name then it is to recall how a person looks. The reason is because humans have naturally evolved to recall pictures better than words. When you first meet someone attempt to involve more of your senses.

For example, you just met Blake and she has gorgeous blue eyes and brown hair. In your mind, over exaggerate those features and create an mental picture of her. Maybe in your mind you see her with cartoonish large blue bead-like eyes. Maybe she was wearing perfume that night. Encode in your brain the floral scent. When you shake her hand, remember what that feels like. Alright, I think this might start to get a bit creepy. But the whole idea is really to engage all of your senses and use your imagination to exaggerate the situation.

We remember unique and unusual occurrences in life more easily than the standard routine. For example, if all of a sudden an elephant dropped in to the seat right next to you from the sky, you would probably remember that for the rest of your life without even trying. 

Let's try a memory exercise called the story method. By the end of this exercise, you will have been able to recall perfectly the following list of words in the same order as listed: monkey, iron, rope, kite, house, paper, shoe, worm, envelope, pencil, river, rock tree, cheese, and quarter. No joke!

Really see and experience this happening in your mind. If you come at this exercise with your open imagination, you'll be able to commit the list of words into your memory a lot easier.

See a monkey in your mind and this monkey is dancing around and making it's noises. The monkey now picks up a giant iron. The iron starts to fall, but a rope attaches itself to the iron. Maybe you feel the rope it feels sort of rough. You look up the rope and you see the other end of the rope is attached to a kite. The kite is flying around and you reach up but it is out of reach. This kite crashes to the side of the house. Really see it smash into the house. This house is completely covered in paper. A shoe appears out of nowhere and it starts to walk all over the house. The shoe smells pretty badly and you look inside the shoe and see a worm crawling around. The worm jumps out of the shoe and then jumps into an envelope. A pencil starts to write all over the envelope. The pencil jumps into a river and there's a huge splash for some reason. The river is crashing up against a rock. The rock flies out of the river and smashes into a tree. For some reason the tree is growing cheese. Each piece of cheese shoots out a quarter.

Now try and recall the list of words. Much easier isn't it?

Three tips on how to recall anything quicker and more accurately

1) Engage all of your additional senses including touch, feel, smell, see, and hear.
2) Use your imagination to exaggerate the mental picture
3) Create an unusual and interesting story with the words you are trying to recall

Use your imagination to help you remember better.

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How Do You Tell Better Stories or Become a Better Storyteller Tips from Carmine Gallo

Jun 29, 2016 -

How did Google Start?
Google's roots sprouted from two Ph.D. students working on a research project back in 1996. It's initial aim was to license its search technology to other Internet companies and enterprise and not to make money off ads. After a few years had passed, the founders of Google quickly discovered they needed more cash to grow. It's early efforts to raise capital drew them to Sequoia Capital a venture capital fund. 

This happened in 1999 during a time where the dot-com boom had spawned a boatload of new business ideas that the world had not seen before. Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital had seen his fair share of structured and bland PowerPoint presentations. Focusing on predicting what new concepts or technologies would catch on was hard enough, but the added agony of trying to sit through PowerPoint presentations just worsened the investing situation. 

What Sergey Brin and Larry Page brought to the table was a breath of fresh air. They came into the meeting with Moritz with a working search engine superior to anything that was out there. Instead of a PowerPoint presentation, they presented a story with a solution. Needless to say, this kicked off a $25 million round of venture capital funding.



Benefits of Becoming a Better Storyteller
Being able to tell a story can make the difference between landing that job or losing the trust of your coworkers. It isn't enough to have the facts on your side, you have to do the storytelling. How do you become a better storyteller? Let's take a step back and think about why certain lines from songs and speeches stick with you even many years after. Do you remember the first four words of Martin Luther King's famous speech? The reason you do is because we are wired in our brains to want to process in story mode. Ideas that catch on are those that are wrapped in a story. 

Everyone likes to hear stories about people who overcome struggle, especially those that "shoot for the moon". For example, Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, often tells his rags to riches story as he watched throughout his childhood as his father struggled to make ends meet to support his family. Stories that show where you've faced an intense struggle and come out better are inspiring. 

For all of you chemist or biologist out there, did you know that storytelling actually triggers the same parts of the brain between the listener and the storyteller. So you actually do sync up emotionally through brain chemistry. A compelling story with an emotional trigger alters our brain chemistry and makes us more understanding and trusting. Now that I think about it, this might explain why my mother enjoys listening to my long and drawn out work stories once a week.

Everyone knows the best grapes come from vines in the steep hillsides because they are "stressed" and that build character.

Three Main Parts of a Great Story (Not Beginning, Middle and End)
In the movie the Martian, the set up is the backdrop whereby Matt Damon and his team embark on a exploration journey to Mars. Once you set the stage and background of your story, you'll need conflict. After a huge sandstorm, Matt Damon wakes up to find that his team have left on Mars en route to Earth. He has limited resources and supplies that were not meant to last for long periods of time on Mars. Psychologically, we can only imagine how it must have felt to be trapped on a planet by yourself. Finally, in every great story there is a resolution. Matt Damon figures out how to make water from hydrazine, communicates with his team back home, and is able to plant potatoes as a result of all of this. You'll have to watch the Martian or read the book to find out what happens at the end. 

Great storytellers are made and not born. You have to believe your own story. If you don't believe your own story, how can you expect to inspire others to believe it? Here are four tips to becoming a great storyteller. 

1) Practice your story. Great storytellers on TED have practiced their stories over 200 times.
2) Provide details and illustrate your story as best you can. Illuminating your story helps it become more memorable versus strictly providing facts. 
3) Appeal to the emotions of your audience. 
4) Remember good storytellers instill hope. 

Elon Musk has become are great storyteller. In his recent presentation at Tesla of the Powerwall, which is essentially a battery, he showed slides of pollution. In the next slide, he showed the picture of the sun. Using simple language and pictures, he indirectly conveyed to his audience the solution of harnessing the sun to lessen pollution. In doing so, he offered a solution to a problem via his Powerwall or in other words he provided conflict and resolution.


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