From our first conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cody discusses 10 of the most important lessons he’s learned after building three new media publishing businesses while traveling the world for 8 years.
Cody is an event organizer, small business advisor, new media marketing expert, and e-learning consultant who has worked with Sofitel, Le Méridien, Sacramento State University, Princeton Review, TEDx, Courageous Kitchen, Grand Dynamics, Exosphere, Syndacast, Documentary Foundation, Prosper Magazine, and more.
He is a loving father, husband to Jam Milcah, photographer, writer, and serial entrepreneur. He is slowly working on a book titled Chasing the Sun, about his travels across 35 countries, living abroad for 8+ years on four continents, and close encounters with everyone from Warren Buffett to ISIS. Read Cody’s full bio here.
https://i0.wp.com/herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/digital-nomad-family.jpg?fit=800%2C471&ssl=1471800Cody McKibbenhttps://herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FOUNDRY_logo-1.pngCody McKibben2016-03-13 11:11:002018-04-18 06:38:55Lessons from 8 Years Bootstrapping Businesses and Slow-Traveling the World
Ramit Sethi was one of the earliest bloggers to inspire me when I first started writing my original site ‘Thrilling Heroics’ and building my professional network.
A Stanford alumni who studied technology and psychology, Ramit was one of the original co-founders of Silicon Valley startup PBworks, and runs the hugely successful I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog to help college students and young professionals take control of their personal finances and succeed with entrepreneurship.
One of the first bold moves Ramit made in his career was to call up Seth Godin and negotiate a job opportunity with him. He later consulted with Omidyar Network, the philanthropic social innovation firm started by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar.
In March 2006, Ramit published his definitive personal finance book, which immediately hit #1 on Amazon and made him a New York Times bestselling author. His educational background in social psychology translated well into a thorough guidebook that helps readers make real behavioral change:
At last, for a generation that’s materially ambitious yet financially clueless comes I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi’s 6-week personal finance program for 20-to-35-year-olds. A completely practical approach delivered with a nonjudgmental style that makes readers want to do what Sethi says, it is based around the four pillars of personal finance—banking, saving, budgeting, and investing—and the wealth-building ideas of personal entrepreneurship.
This week Ramit is adapting his bestseller into a six-week online bootcamp
After meeting recently with him in San Francisco, I’ve been wanting to bring him on for a video interview to share what has changed in the last three years. Here’s our fascinating discussion:
J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly has uncovered an interesting book that not many have come across. Read J.D.’s post about T. Harv Eker’s book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth. J.D. calls it more of a motivational tool than a personal finance guide (one thing I didn’t like about Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad–not enough concrete, actionable steps to take). I have not read it, but I found that at least Eker’s list of seventeen ways successful and wealthy people relate to money that unwealthy people don’t was very interesting. Remember, the way you think about things has a strong influence on how you behave and how successful you are at getting what you want in life. Here are Eker’s 17 things:
Rich people believe: “I create my life.” Poor people believe: “Life happens to me.”
Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
Rich people think “both.” Poor people think “either/or.”
Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.
Think carefully about these things. Some of these ways of looking at the situation are only subtly different, some are more noticeable disparities. But, just read over the list until you can see how looking at it one way might make you more inclined to succeed. It’s all in how you look at the challenges, and the mindset you approach them with. Thinking rich will instill in you the behaviors to become rich…
Anyone who was present for Steve Jobs’ keynote speech at this year’s Macworld conference in San Francisco (or anyone who watched online), in which he introduced the iPhone as a groundbreaking new product, knows how captivating a speaker the Apple CEO is. And anyone who saw the long lines in anticipation of the iPhone’s release date knows how effective the PR hype has been.
Communications coach Carmine Gallo recently wrote up a great critique of Jobs’ presentation, packed with some useful tips for the rest of us to improve our public speaking skills:
Build Tension. A good novelist doesn’t lay out the entire plot and conclusion on the first page of the book. He builds up to it. Jobs begins his presentation by reviewing the “revolutionary” products Apple has introduced. According to Jobs, “every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything…Apple has been fortunate to introduce a few things into the world.” Jobs continues by describing the 1984 launch of the Macintosh as an event that “changed the entire computer industry.”
Stick to One Theme Per Slide. A brilliant designer once told me that effective presentation slides only have one message per slide. One slide, one key point. When Jobs introduced the “three revolutionary products” in the description above, he didn’t show one slide with three devices. When he spoke about each feature (a widescreen iPod, a mobile phone, and an Internet communicator), a slide would appear with an image of each feature.
Add Pizzazz to Your Delivery. Jobs modulates his vocal delivery to build up the excitement. When he opens his presentation by describing the revolutionary products Apple created in the past, his volume is low and he speaks slowly, almost in a reverential tone. His volume continues to build until his line, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” Be an electrifying speaker by varying the speed at which you speak and by raising and lowering your voice at the appropriate times.
Practice. Jobs makes presentations look effortless because he takes nothing for granted. Jobs is known to rehearse demonstrations for hours prior to launch events. I can name many high-profile chief executives who decide to wing it. It shows. It always amazes me that many business leaders spend tens of thousands of dollars on designing presentations, but next to no time actually rehearsing. I usually get the call after the speaker bombs. Don’t lose your audience. Rehearse a presentation out loud until you’ve nailed it.
Be Honest and Show Enthusiasm. If you believe that your particular product or service will change the world, then say so. Have fun with the content. During the iPhone launch, Jobs uses many adjectives to describe the new product, including “remarkable,” “revolutionary,” and “cool.” He jokes that the touch-screen features of the phone “work like magic…and boy have we patented it.”
https://i0.wp.com/herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/steve-jobs-apple2.jpg?fit=600%2C398&ssl=1398600Cody McKillinithttps://herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FOUNDRY_logo-1.pngCody McKillinit2007-07-27 11:20:302020-05-22 11:57:245 Ways to Pitch Your Product Like Steve Jobs
Last week was EntrepreneurshipWeek USA across the nation and beyond, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the New York Times, and Inc Magazine. Over 350 participating universities host their own events to bring together the best entrepreneurial thinkers and leaders–events like Brown University’s 60-second Elevator Pitch competition, Purdue’s Idea-to-Product (I2P) competition, and the Idea Bounce contest at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
I’ve been meaning to share my travels to Stanford for a few days, so I’ll start from the beginning. Last weekend, February 24th, was the national opening ceremony for E-Week at Stanford University. I travelled down to Palo Alto with my roommate Steve, where we stayed with our buddy Patrick Briggs (the Zazzler).
At the E-Week kickoff, Jonathan Ortmans (National Executive Director of EntrepreneurshipWeek USA) stressed the value of entrepreneurs to the US and world economy, citing that entrepreneurs especially reflect the pioneering spirit of the early American colonizers. An entrepreneurial career definitely highlights the difference between merely taking a job that someone else provides for you and making a job for yourself! It is a move back toward the self-made legacy of great American heroes like Ben Franklin, for one.
Next we heard from John Hennessey, president of Stanford University. Hennessey is one academic who has an entrepreneurial legacy himself, as he transferred his important research in microprocessor technology to actual industry application by co-founding MIPS Technologies (he also sits on the boards of Google and Cisco). President Hennessey explained that fostering an entrepreneurial atmosphere does five important things: it 1) increases people’s creativity and willingness to think outside the box, 2) encourages individuals to follow their passion and therefore excel at what they do, 3) creates a community that embraces and leads change, 4) encourages people to have a “glass half full” approach to problems and see them as potential opportunities, and 5) increases people’s willingness to take on and overcome challenges by building excellent teams. This entrepreneurial atmosphere is definitely prevalent throughout Silicon Valley–which is why I feel myself drawn there. It is one community of people who do not let fear of failure prevent them from giving their BIG ideas a shot! And they are great at assembling quality teams to tackle problems-as-opportunities.
Carl Schramm (President and CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation) surprised some of the audience when he said that 70% of college students will start a business at some point in their lives. He referenced the common statistic that while our grandparents may have had on average four jobs over their career, we will have something like 13! And who is responsible for creating all those new jobs? Entrepreneurs, of course! Schramm is author of The Entrepreneurial Imperative and calls entrepreneurship the US’ “competitive secret,” which allows us to stay ahead of developing nations economically (who knows for how long?). He says that startups “birth the new” and give security to others by creating jobs, and they posses the only key to creating wealth! This presents an interesting new way to look at economic models that I hadn’t really approached before: without the for-profit businessman to virtually create capital, governments could not operate (no one to tax), and the non-profit foundations would not have any money to give to their causes. So without individuals to start up businesses, there can be no government, no philanthropy, no charity…
Finally Steve Jurvetson (Partner in the VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson) shared some insight into what ties philanthropy, raising families, creating art and literature, and entrepreneurship together–people’s desire to create some kind of a legacy that will last beyond our short time here on earth. He recommends students pay close attention for uniqueness, persistence, and infectious enthusiasm in their classmates (his peer Jim Yang went on to start up Yahoo!) because successful entrepreneurs are rarely lone rangers, but more often come in dynamic duos as he says. Most importantly, he says to look for ways you can harness what you’ve learned from past experiences in new and perhaps unfamiliar territory. That is why I try not to let job descriptions discourage me when I am looking for something new–I feel that my accumulated experience across many different job types will lend itself to being a flexible team-worker in different settings even if I haven’t worked in that field before. And I hope that my experience leading teams successfully in my academic career, recruiting and assembling student teams, and creating my own leadership projects in a position where I’m not officially given a lot of seniority, will translate well into being a fair and effective leader in business. You take the lessons you learn, and just apply them in a new setting.
In the end, I really felt like these guys opened my eyes to a few new ways of looking at entrepreneurship and how it benefits society. In a capitalist community, it really spurs all progress, and is responsible for all wealth- and job-creation. Carl Schramm says that all entrepreneurs are social entrepreneurs for these reasons.
He won’t just teach you to be rich…he’ll also teach you the skills to get into college, get a great job, bargain for what you want, and so on. Ramit Sethi is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. He’s based out of Palo Alto, and is known for IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com. But aside from being a personal finance guru, Ramit is a graduate of Stanford University, he’s founded several companies such as his latest, PBwiki, he has two books coming out in the next year, and he’s just an all-around nice Silicon Valley guy.
Now, part of my own personal mission is to start interviewing people who are doing what I want to do, or people who are experts in their fields–in business, finance, environment, technology… So, here is the first of what I hope to be many.
Ramit was kind enough to sit down with me (outside on a freezing Sacramento morning no less!) for a cup of coffee on a recent trip home to visit his family. I am so grateful for the time and thoughtful answers he gave me! We had such an amazing discussion, but here are the highlights.
Ramit, how would you say your essential self differs from your social self? In other words, if you could be living your dream, independent of how others might perceive you for it, what would that look like? Do you identify yourself more as the IWillTeachYouToBeRich teacher, or as something else?
Actually I think I’m lucky enough to be able to do whatever I want right now, and I’m doing it! Some of that involves trying to build a great company with some other guys, some of that involves writing a great blog that’s completely my own, and I can say whatever I want–no editorial control or anything. I don’t think there’s much of a difference between what people see on my site versus my personality. What my readers see me talking about day-in and day-out though is personal finance and entrepreneurship, and really there’s a lot of other stuff that I’m interested in–I don’t talk about college recruitment, and I don’t talk about my travel that I do on a personal basis. And if there’s one thing my friends would say about me that’s a little different from what’s on the site is that maybe I’m a little bit louder, a little bit more vulgar in real life, but pretty much what you see is what you get. The biggest compliment people give me is that they say, “When I read that I can actually hear your voice!”
It’s hard to put me in a bucket though–like, personal finance over here, wiki over there, college recruiting over here. That may be a little confounding, but my general goal here is to find what I’m really interested in, get really good at it, and then turn around and teach other people. That’s what happened with personal finance, that’s what happened with the musical instrument I play–the tabla… Teaching it absolutely helps me learn it better, because people challenge me all the time when I’m teaching things. That to me is pretty exciting, because I can read all the blog posts and all the books, but there’s nothing like having somebody with an individual question I don’t know challenge me, so I really appreciate that.
What sort of background do you come from and how did your childhood influence the person you’ve become?
We’re sitting here right now in Sacramento–we’re about a five minute walk from my house. I grew up very middle class here, my parents were very modest. They were immigrants from India, and what they taught me were things like “just ask”–ask for a discount, or ask to get published, just write it up and send it in to the newspaper! They taught me the scrappiness of “just ask–there’s nothing wrong with asking”, and not to fear failure. I manage most of my life through my email, and I have a folder in my inbox called “failures.” And for me, I say if I’m not getting 4 or 5 failures in there a month, then I’m not trying hard enough. When I was in high school it would be like applying for scholarships, in college it was applying for grants or projects, now it’s applying for jobs, etc. Learning from your failures is like: what did you do wrong? And what could you do better?
What was your experience like studying at Stanford University? How do you apply what you learned about psychology and technology to the business world?
I loved it! I had a great time there. I did my undergrad and graduate work there. I studied technology and psychology. It was about the people. The way I prioritized my work was: number one was my friends, two was my own business stuff, then third comes my academics. I don’t know if parents will like hearing this, but if it came down to me working on an essay that was due next week or going out with my friends, I would almost always choose going out with my friends. I don’t know if that’s for everyone, but it worked great for me, because I spent all this time meeting all these different people that are now all over the country that I can visit anytime, and they taught me more than any book could teach.
I studied a lot of bargaining and persuasion, and combined that with technology. In general I think it helps me understand things like, “Why are my friends saying this or acting like this?” In business, what are the levers that would motivate people? I’ll give you an example: Some people are really, really motivated by money, and that’s okay–they’re open about it. Other people are more motivated by ego, while some people–a lot of engineers, for example–are motivated by a challenge, like “How difficult is this problem? How big is the impact?” So, it’s like, you figure out those motivational things, and you work with the person to get what they really want. If someone came to me and they offered me a lot of money, it probably wouldn’t be the most motivational thing, because money is not as important as other things to me right now. So, it’s really important to understand people’s motivation and then turn around and apply it.
What would you say are the most valuable lessons you learned from your education that have helped you become successful since?
I learned that being smart is not the most important thing–I’m a big proponent of that. There are people who are way smarter than I am; probably most of my friends are way smarter than I am. And that’s good if you want to, for example, get into law school. But for my path, being book smart is not the most important thing by any means; it’s about, “How do you get things done? With really limited resources?” If I wanted to write an e-book or start a website, I’m not too technical, so I would need to persuade people to help me, and I would need to create this passion in them. Or how would I go around the bureaucracy of a university and get what I want? That was the most important stuff I learned. For me, what I value more than anything when I’m hiring somebody, it’s not your GPA–I don’t give a damn! It’s “Show me some examples of where you’ve gotten something done.”
What experiences outside of your education would you say have been essential? What skills are there that you think business-minded individuals need that aren’t taught in school?
Number one is taking initiative. In school it’s so easy to get by if you do the papers, take the tests, and get an A or an A- or whatever. You’re done, you’re satisfied. And to me, that’s like the bare minimum. I would rather get the B or a B- in a class, and have done something really cool outside of class. So taking initiative to really find what you’re interested in, talking to the right people… Like you emailed me and here we are meeting up! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I do that all the time. I did that in college, I do it all the time with CEOs or anybody I think is interesting. Take them out to lunch, take them out to coffee. They teach you something, maybe introduce you to their friends. And that’s the way that I’ve been fortunate enough to really come further than I thought I would have been able to.
What motivated you to start blogging?
When I was a sophomore–this was around 2002 in college–I came up with this idea called IWillTeachYouToBeRich, and I came up with the framework for a one-hour class, which I still use. And I went around to my friends telling them, “Hey you guys have got to take this class! In one hour, I will teach you how to be rich!” People would be so excited but they would never show up. I was so frustrated, so finally I thought I’d just start a blog, and I’ll just write–I’m gonna make it funny, I’m gonna make it how I really talk in real life, and I’m not going to make it really pedantic and boring like the old white men at Wells Fargo and Fidelity. There’s really cool stuff to be taught here; there’s so many lessons! And I can learn as I teach. So I did that, and for the first six months there were very few comments–like maybe one or two comments per post. And I just kept writing because I liked it. After six months I had all this that I had written; I was like, “I’m on a roll.” People started commenting, and maybe about 8 or 12 months into it there was some sort of click and a lot of people started commenting. In the background I was also doing a lot of marketing to spread the word. I was covered in the Wall Street Journal and a lot of people started coming to the blog, and then it really started building into a community.
College students and recent college grads are my core audience, that’s who I go after. But what’s interesting is that I have all these people I had no idea about. I have a very large group of 30-40 year olds, and I have high schoolers, and I have people who write me that are senior VP at a Fortune 100 company and they’re reading my blog! And it just happened because the word spread.
How significant do you think blogs and podcasts are as a new medium of communication?
I think they give everybody the ability to write something interesting about what they do, or communicate something interesting. I always say, everybody has an X-man ability… everybody’s got at least one thing that they’re amazing at—-they’re an X-man! Somebody’s got the piano, somebody’s an entrepreneur, someone may be a Westinghouse Scholarship winner, whatever it is. Everyone’s got something. If everybody just put their one thing, or their passion, on a blog or a podcast… I’ll tell you IWillTeachYouToBeRich was probably the best business decision I ever made. Now I have a huge reach, and I feel very fortunate about that. Business opportunities have come my way that I never would have found. The ability to start a blog–which you can do in like ten seconds–is great. It’s letting the really passionate people come out and spread the word.
What was your first company and what was it like founding and running your own business for the first time?
First one was right out of high school, called Scholastic Advising, which still operates with the involvement of my parents. When I was in high school I got so frustrated because so many people would say, “Oh I’m not going to apply to Stanford, because even if I got in, I couldn’t afford it.” This is exactly the wrong way to think about it. The right way to think about it is “I’m going to apply everywhere. I’m going to do a great application, and if I get in, then I’ll think about the money.” And usually what happens is if you’re good enough to get in, then they’ll take care of you. I saw a lot of kids doing this and it made me sad. My parents were very middle class and there were four kids in the family. They told us, “You guys have got to get scholarships, otherwise you can’t go to college.” So we did! And there’s no secret, it’s the same things I talk about: take the initiative, be patient, learn from your mistakes, that sort of stuff. So Scholastic Advising was an advisory company, a consulting company. We helped high school students get scholarships and financial aid, and with admissions. That was what we worked on, and it’s still continuing through my parents.
You’ve done some consulting with Omidyar Network and Storm Ventures. What has that taught you? And what do you think of the whole “web 2.0” phenomenon?
Pierre Omidyar was the founder of eBay. He’s very wealthy now and he wants to give back to improve the world. I was brought on to do some social psychology consulting. I would evaluate deals and make suggestions–“I think this is good, I think you should invest this much…” Similar thing for Storm and I’ve also done some consulting for a capital firm called Gemini. Mostly they want to get in and learn about this web 2.0 stuff and what young people are doing these days.
I think one thing a lot of young people don’t realize is that they are experts at what young people are doing! If you use instant messenger, Facebook, Myspace…you are an expert, and older people have no idea what’s going on! And that is a marketable opportunity. So, I turned that around and I marketed it, and they hired me as a consultant to teach them about blogs, social networks, photos, music sharing, all that stuff. A lot of companies are stuck in the past and they’re just buying big billboards, and they don’t understand young people don’t care about that anymore. We care about personalized recommendations, we care about what our friends say, we see it on Myspace and blogs and YouTube. And these older folks are struggling to understand that, so I think there’s a humongous opportunity for young people, if they’re smart and they package it right, to say “Here’s the things you need to know, here’s what I’m getting on a daily basis, and here’s the things you should be doing.” Older companies are paying a lot of money to have market research firms come in and instruct them, and I always just say why not get together a group of 5 or 10 people and just talk to them?
You’re also a co-founder and VP of Marketing for PBwiki. Tell us about PBwiki and where you hope it might lead you in the next few years?
It’s a scrappy startup that I love! We all co-founded this, there’s three of us, three Stanford grads. PBwiki means it’s as easy to make a wiki as it is to make a peanut butter sandwich. And a wiki is an easy-to-use website that lets a lot of people edit it together. You may have heard of Wikipedia; that’s a good example of using a wiki as an encyclopedia. So if you have a group project you might say “Hey Mike, you put the information about Thomas Jefferson, I’ll put the information about Susan B. Anthony.” Or if you’re taking a vacation, “You do the airfare, I’ll do the hotels, and we’ll put it all together and see what everyone has done.” And of course businesses are using it, educators are using it in the classroom… If you go to PBwiki.com it takes about ten seconds to set one up, we host it and manage it, and it’s free for you! And if you want to have more features or more space then you can pay us a small subscription fee. So we’ve hosted over 140,000 wikis in about a year, and it’s growing very quickly. We got offices a few months ago, which is a big step for us. And we just hired somebody else on, and have taken some funding. The goal here is: wikis for the masses. Most people still don’t know what a wiki is, and we want to share that, because if you’ve ever sent emails back and forth a hundred times editing this and that, why not just put it on the wiki where everyone can see the changes and everyone can go back in time to see past revisions?
You’ve co-authored a book on college recruiting coming out — Recruit or Die, scheduled for release July 5, 2007! And the big news is that you just signed your second book–this one to go along with your personal finance blog! What will be in your forthcoming IWillTeachYouToBeRich book that is unique from the online resources?
IWillTeachYouToBeRich, the book, won’t be coming out for a while. In fact, I’m just starting to write it. But if you’ve read my blog, you know that I have a no-nonsense style. I’m not about platitude, I’m not about being bought by any corporate interests, I’m just about telling people the best things to do. And I offer some different ways of thinking about things: for example one thing that I encourage some people to do is buy a new car instead of a used car. And that’s different than a lot of personal finance people, and I explain why. If you like my reasoning or not, at least you understand it. IWillTeachYouToBeRich the book will have a combination of personal finance and entrepreneurship, and you’ll be able to pick it up and finish it and say “Man, I know what to do tomorrow, I know what to do next week, and I know what to do for the next 30 years.” You can never finish learning, and I’m not saying this should be your only book, because of course it shouldn’t. But in terms of getting your strategy together and getting started, in the one or two hours it takes you to read it you will know exactly what you need to do. That’s the difference–I am very tactical. I could give you a lot of generalities like “start early” and “diversify,” but that doesn’t mean anything if you think “Shit! What bank account should I get?” Or, “What do I do with this debt?” I’ll be saying: here’s the steps, here’s what you do, and here’s what to look out for.
You’ll be able to see excerpts of the book on my site. And it’s not going to be just a book. I’ll be letting my readers contribute to it and actually add some of those stories to the book, and I’ll be asking people to actually help me shape the way the book looks, give me links, tell me what you think should be in this book. So it’s going to be a pretty collaborative effort. And there will be some fun stuff that I won’t announce yet, but stay tuned.
In your opinion, who are 4 of the most authoritative experts (other than yourself, of course) in the personal finance field today?
One I really admire is Suze Orman. I’m actually a big fan of hers. Some people are not a big fan of her style, but I don’t mind someone’s style so much if they have good things to say. Every time I watch her show I learn something. What I like about her is that she encourages people to manage their own finances. One of my core tenets is that almost everyone can manage their finances without a financial advisor. And she teaches you that you don’t want to be paying fees to these financial companies–you want to learn a little bit, and do it on your own.
Another guy I really admire is Jonathan Clemens at the Wall Street Journal. He’s saying “Think long term.” And a lot of young people are very stupid–they’ll say things like “I bought this stock and I sold it for a 20% profit.” And they don’t realize that–no they didn’t–they had to pay a huge amount in taxes on that, and they didn’t realize their gains as much as they could have, because if they just held it and read the research, long-term investing beats short-term almost every day of the week. He focuses on getting started, putting your money away and diversifying. It isn’t sexy, but there’s a difference between being sexy and being rich.
JLP at AllFinancialMatters is great. And J.D. Roth, who just started up a new blog called Get Rich Slowly, has just been around for a few months and he’s doing very well–he’s got great readership and great articles and it’s not a surprise. I think these guys are doing a phenomenal job. I think it’s interesting you have these experts like Suze Orman, but then you have just these regular guys doing everyday blogging, day-in and day-out.
To top this all off, do you have one financial tip you think everyone should know?
I don’t do that. It’s pretty sensationalistic to say I have one tip. IWillTeachYouToBeRich is a sensationalistic enough title! If you go to the site, you’ll be surprised because it’s not about any secrets. There are no secrets, but I’ll tell you a few things that I think work. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, you just have to get started early. And what I mean by that is you have to understand your financial accounts. You have to look at how much you are spending–most people don’t even do that!–and I will teach you to do that. And then you say “Alright I have one credit card; I need a few other sources of credit and I need to use them effectively.” And then you can get a free E*trade account and you can start trading a little bit and investing in index funds, which are a pretty good bet. And don’t be stupid! A lot of people just watch MSNBC and read CNN Money, which are some of the most hyped-up, unbelievable things, and they buy stocks that they read about in Smart Money. Big mistake! Because those magazines and those TV shows have to sell something. And I’m not out to sell anything, it’s just about picking something that you know and you love, and you use. Finally you need to learn to track these things, whether you use a pen and paper, or Excel. Tracking exactly what you’re making and what you’re spending is a way that you can get rich over a long period of time.
I have a very boring investment strategy: evaluate my diversification strategy, understand that I can take a lot of risk because I’m young, buy stocks or index funds and let it ride. If I think there’s a good value, buy some more. I’ve hardly ever sold. That’s not sexy, but at the end of the day the question is: do you want to be sexy or do you want to be rich? My basic message here is you don’t have to be the smartest person in the world, you just have to get started. And taking that first step will put you above 99% of other people your age. If you do start early and you are sensible, I think long-term you will be rich. That’s it, it’s as simple as that.
https://i0.wp.com/herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/ramit-sethi-i-will-teach-you-to-be-rich.jpg?fit=1000%2C666&ssl=16661000Cody McKillinithttps://herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FOUNDRY_logo-1.pngCody McKillinit2006-11-30 12:06:342019-08-24 18:40:49Interview: Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich
I met the wealthiest man in the world when I was 22 years old.
Warren Buffett, born in 1930 Nebraska, the “Oracle of Omaha,” is renowned as one of the world’s most talented investors and money managers, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and has consistently been ranked among the world’s wealthiest people for at least the last 20 years (frequently in the top 2 or 3 for the last several years running).
In 2008, Forbes ranked Buffett as the richest person in the world with a net worth somewhere around $62 billion.
Buffett started out with the money he earned as a newspaper boy to buy his first income-producing assets, and despite his now immense fortune, he still lives in a home he purchased for $31,000 in the 1950s and embraces a frugal lifestyle.
In 2006, I learned that apparently Sacramento State University’s President, Alex Gonzalez, didn’t know Buffett’s reputation, and his office was ignoring calls from Buffett’s staff. I had long been an admirer of Buffett’s approach to value investing, as well as the wisdom of his vice chairman Charlie Munger (who’s writings on mental models are definitely worth a read).
I passed some information on to my boss and the Dean of the College of Business Administration where I worked.
A few weeks later, I’d worked with my supervisor Thomas Matlock to organize a meet and greet event for our Executive MBA students, and I had the opportunity to meet Warren myself briefly, shortly after his announcement in 2006 that he’d be giving away 85 percent of his fortune via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The College of Business was invited to a special reception with Warren Buffett in Rocklin, California.
College of Business Administration Meets Fortune 100’s “Oracle of Omaha”
A 16-member group of faculty, staff, students and community business leaders from the College of Business Administration attended an “Exclusive Meet and Greet” on July 20, 2006 with Warren Buffett.
The reception and the ribbon-cutting ceremony that followed marked the official grand opening of the first California showroom for home furnishers RC Willey. Buffet, second in wealth only to Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, is the CEO and Chair of the Board of Berkshire Hathaway, which purchased RC Willey in 1995. The legendary investor and philanthropist was in the area to support the opening at the store’s new Rocklin location and took the opportunity to meet some of the community.
“Sacramento business was privileged to have Warren Buffet visit the region,” CBA Dean Sanjay Varshney said. “A business leader of his caliber wanting to meet with educators—and students—is a reflection of his character and humility. He enthusiastically chatted with our students and faculty, taking time to pose for pictures with each individual. This was truly an exciting opportunity to meet with the most successful investor on Wall Street—the Oracle of Omaha himself!”
Dean Varshney and his assistant Thomas Matlock were accompanied to the event by Christopher Cady, President, Pulte Homes Corporation; Mitzi Caycendeo, Chipset Planning Analyst, Intel Corporation (EMBA student); Matt Cologna, VP Industrial Services Group, Grubb and Ellis; Karna Gocke, Associate Physician, UC Davis Medical Center (EMBA student); Kimberly Harrington, Sac State HR Training & Development; Chris Higdon, President and CEO, California Moving Systems; Earl King, VP/Branch Manager, Fidelity Investments (EMBA student); Cody McKibben, Administrative Support Assistant, CBA; Monoo Prasad, Senior Project Manager, Ebay; Tim Ray, Executive Director, External Affairs for Northern California, AT&T; Randy Sater, Senior VP, Teichert Land Company; David Snyder, Director of Economic Development for Placer County; Denver Travis, Professor, CBA; and Chiang Wang, Interim Associate Dean for Graduate and External Programs, CBA.
I can’t recall the words we exchanged verbatim, but I will always remember the impression Warren made on me. That moment he gave my hand a firm shake, and looked me in the eyes with a smile.
Though I was starstruck at the time, he was a surprisingly approachable and down-to-earth man. I asked him what advice he had for a young clueless college student who was interested in business but had no idea where to start.
In those short few minutes I had to interact with him, his attitude left a lifelong impression on me. He doesn’t have an entourage; no bodyguards; no driver. He doesn’t spend much money on toys. His idea of happiness is being able to watch his basketball games on a big screen TV in his sweatpants…
And it taught me that, this legendary business tycoon, who is idolized by many, is not some lofty superhuman god. He is still just a man, and a humble one at that. Warren Buffett looked me in the eyes with a sincerity that revealed, while he is very accomplished and in-demand, he still has respect and time for someone just starting out in life.
His tips for me essentially boiled down to:
1. Never stop learning.
Buffett was rejected by Harvard University in 1950. Maybe he just recognized the potential in a young nobody who, at the time, was desperate to break into Stanford University without the typical pedigree many ivy league students have.
Whether through formal schooling or self-guided learning, he started by admonishing me never to stop learning and reading. Like many hugely successful people, Warren is a voracious reader, who has estimated at times he spends up to 80% of his workday reading, 5 or more hours per day.
He was once speaking at the Columbia University School of Business when students asked what was the biggest key to success that he could share with the class? He held up a stack of reports and trade publications he’d brought with him and said: “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
2. Find something you absolutely love doing.
I remember very clearly he stressed the importance of finding my own thing that I enjoyed, and just focus on that. As he often does, he discourages copycats and reinforces how not everybody is cut out best to follow his exact path to success. Not everybody is great at finance or investment, and therefore they’re not going to necessarily have the same energy and consistency behind their actions as Buffett would. But everybody can find something they love to do.
His response: “If people get to my age and they have the people love them that they want to have love them, they’re successful. It doesn’t make any difference if they’ve got a thousand dollars in the bank or a billion dollars in the bank… Success is really doing what you love and doing it well. It’s as simple as that. I’ve never met anyone doing that who doesn’t feel like a success. And I’ve met plenty of people who have not achieved that and whose lives are miserable.”
“Really getting to do what you love to do everyday—that’s really the ultimate luxury. And particularly when you get to do it with terrific people around you.”
3. Start now
As far as wealth, while he’d made it clear not everybody is going to be the next Warren Buffett doing the same things he had done, he simply said, “start right now, just do whatever you can.”
Like reading, the main principle of wealth building that Buffett emphasizes is the power of compound interest — or how the simple fact is that when you start saving outweighs how much you save. The more years you stay invested in something, and leave your capital untouched, it can add up to a large sum, even if you never invest another dime.
I’ve carried these lessons with me until today.
Though I don’t keep up with Warren’s 5 hours a day, I spend a very hefty chunk of my personal time reading, watching documentaries, going through training courses, and researching topics for the blog.
I’ve certainly learned a tremendous amount more in my post-university, self-directed education, in areas that impact my business, my wellbeing and my bank account far more than most subjects in school, and I’ve enjoyed it more.
Though it’s taken me many years to hone in specifically on the things that I truly love doing with my time, I have made the sacrifices to build my life and my business around my own interests. I’ve learned to rely on my own skills and resourcefulness to make a living since I quit my job in 2007, and with years of practice, failure, learning, and trying again, I’ve finally built a business where I’m fortunate to do work that is deeply fulfilling, and makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning.
I’m not a rich man by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe I have met Warren’s definition of success: I enjoy my role in the world, what I get to do, and I am surrounded by my favorite people. I have invested in the right things to create a life of my own design, to create incredible personal freedom and flexibility in my career, and I continue to make sacrifices to invest in my own business above everything else — constantly reinvesting in my own platform that allows me to produce new income streams.
If I hadn’t shook hands with such a jolly, generous billionaire at such a young age, who knows, my life could have gone very differently.
Mr. Buffett with my Dean Dr. Sanjay Varshney and mentor Thomas Matlock
I credit Warren Buffett for showing me it’s possible to march to your own beat, as opposed to following the typical template life path, and still manage to pull off incredible accomplishments.
Now I live in a beautiful tropical paradise with my wife and son, I’ve traveled over 35 countries, experienced more fabulous memories than I will ever be able to remember, teamed up with a stunningly beautiful young woman, and become a father to an amazing son. I am surrounded by fascinating people and supportive friends, and every day I get to spend my time with people I love.
It took me many years of near impossible struggle, but I’d say I’ve managed to manifest a very wealthy life. Thanks Warren.
Lesson learned: If the wealthiest investor and philanthropist in the world grew an astounding business from just a few dollars from his paper route, just maybe you can too.
https://i0.wp.com/herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/Business-Futures-Warren-Buffet.jpg?fit=1800%2C988&ssl=19881800Cody McKibbenhttps://herofoundry.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FOUNDRY_logo-1.pngCody McKibben2006-07-20 17:58:002019-09-07 09:55:53Sacramento Business Students Meet with Warren Buffett
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