JULY 2010 ‘USELETTER’
I really try to bring in a variety of issues into this newsletter. From general stories to personal experiences and tear jerkers to put life into perspective. (Don't worry, this month I won't make you cry.) Personally, I feel the need to add more personal views (which I believe are objective) and which make you think about your life and how you live.
This month I would like to talk about keeping up with the Jones's. If I look at people today, especially with the 'tough times' out there - is it really tough? Or are we all just messed up and missed the point somewhere? Spending a lot of time in Europe, with the current Euro crises, its interesting to see how many people are complaining how hard times have become. Strange, compare them to the average person living in Africa, and they have no idea what tough really is.
But it's not just the first world, with the internet and globalisation, many people have suddenly been exposed to a different 'man made and controlled' way of life which they believe is what life should be about. Materialism has taken over from humanity.
I recently received an awesome email about Warren Buffet, the world’s second richest man who has donated $31 billion to charity. He says ...
"The HAPPIEST people DO NOT necessarily have the ‘BEST’ THINGS.
They simply APPRECIATE the things they have”
Isn't that interesting? We as humans are not happy anymore with the simple things in life. I recently watched the movie, 2012. If you haven't seen it, its a typical action and very entertaining. Afterwards I spoke to my daughters, as we always do after a movie, and we as a family questioned, "What would we do if disaster struck and we lost everything, our home, car, technology etc? Could we survive and would we be happy?"
Pretty deep conversation to have with a 11 and 13 year old! I am happy to report that we were okay. And I mean, only okay, but we did have a few problems to solve. Where to get food, how to make a fire, etc. But solidly we all acknowledged that if we had each other, that's all we needed in life.
On that note, how are you coping with life right now? Are you over your head in debt? Do you try keep up the 'image' to impress those around you. Or do you enjoy the simpler things in life and savour every moment?
Let me get back to Warren Buffet. He was interviewed on CNBC for an hour and I want to share with you a few things he said, plus add my own comments.
Here are some very interesting aspects of his life which I am sure you didn't know.
1. Warren Buffet bought his first share at age 11 and he now regrets that he started too late! "Things were very cheap that time...", he says. Encourage your children to invest. Talking to many corporates on investing, I have yet to meet anyone that said they started to late. His advice on teaching your children about financial issues is so true. I only learnt about this much later in life. When did you start? If I can share any advice with you, read Robert Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. It's an easy read with none of the financial jargon. But most of all, buy his game, Cashflow. It's like Monopoly, but more fun. He even has a version for children. I started my girls on this game at age 7, today they play the full adult version. Here's the killer. The objective of the game is that your residual income is more than your expenses. Reach that goal and you win. I am curious - do you understand the term residual income? Both my daughters did at age 7! If I look back at my life, the best thing I ever did was give my girls that education. I only learnt the concept after the age of 40.
Bottom line is that we should not work for our money, but our money should work for us. Even if you don't read, get yourself Rich Dad Poor Dad, it will change your life. Get your kids to read it too!
2. Warren Buffet bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers. One can buy many things with few savings. Encourage your children to start some kind of business. I remember doing a roadshow with a financial institution, and someone gave me this advice. Whatever school your kids are in, ask them to find out where there is a need, i.e. children needing pencils as an example. I loaned my daughters the money to start their business. They had to pay it back (They couldn't understand that at the time). Suddenly they made a profit and found out that half had to come back to me (the bank). By doing something simple they suddenly understood what adulthood and business was about. I encouraged them to carry on and try many things. Today I know they have business savvy. Why? Because I merely spent a bit of time with practical hands on experience which will stay with them always.
3. Warren Buffet still lives in the same small 3-bedroom house in mid-town Omaha , that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. His house does not have a wall or a fence. Again, he says, "Don't buy more than you "really need" and encourage your children to do and think the same." This is the big one! Don't buy more than you really need!!!! You don't need 3 cars, or a TV in every room of your house. You don't need to wear the latest designer clothes and eat out every second night. Strange - these are the people that are complaining the most that times are tough at the moment .... duh! Listen to children today, they no longer say, "I want." They all say, "I need." It's as if there is a whole new conditioned culture out there. In reality, all you really need is food, shelter, warmth and your loved ones around you. Need I really say more?
4.Warren Buffet drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him. You are what you are... Our politicians should be the first to learn from that! How important are you really? Because you own a company and a big car, does that make you a better person? If you believe that ... you have a lot to learn. In my opinion, the person that gives back to the world, has time for others and practices unconditional love in everything they do - those are the important people. Just look at Mother Theresa. She had nothing, owned nothing - but boy did she give. If you really look inside yourself, who do you think is the happier and more content person. The pompous CEO in his luxury car maintaining his 'image', or the person that appreciates the simple things in life such as his family, friends and colleagues. It's the person who helps make the world a better place to live in? Don't get me wrong, there are many wealthy people out there who are just the opposite, but they are in the minority - Warren Buffet is one of them. If anybody, he could afford to be pompous, but no - he has given $31 billion to charity. Makes you think huh?
5. Warren Buffet never travels by private jet, although he owns the world's largest private jet company. Always think how you can accomplish things economically. I love this one. We live in a technically advanced society and age. Do you search for the simpler, or the complex solutions? I find it fascinating in my keynotes that speakers today speak on hundreds of subjects. If anything, social media, twitter, etc are huge topics. But! There is another topic which is taking over, it's called 'Soft Skills'. All this technology has resulted in people today being impersonal and not knowing how to communicate face to face. They would rather send a Thank You card per email which they spent an hour designing on Photo shop. What they forget, is that a simple face to face contact, coupled with a genuine smile and possibly a hug, is a hundred times more effective. Speak to someone today, they are constantly distracted by sms's, emails etc. No one gives you 100% attention any more. Here is where I talk to people about one to one contact (Soft Skills). We have forgotten how to do it. Most people think it's too simple! But hey, we are a social species - we need human touch, a smile, eye contact, etc - and that's mostly the more economical and effective route to follow.
6. Warren Buffet's company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 63 companies. He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of these companies, giving them goals for the year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis. He stresses, "Assign the right people to the right jobs."
This is my best ... I have actually witnessed with my own eyes in big corporates where they plan a meeting to decide on when they should have their next meeting! I'm not joking! How often do I phone big clients and the person I want to speak to is in a meeting. Ask them afterwards what it was about, and they say that it was a waste of time. Sound familiar? I just took over as National President for the Professional Speakers Association here in SA. First thing I did was cut down on board meetings. It's a waste of time and money! Here's one alternative where technology and skype, as an example, can make things easier. Also, have the right 'like minded' people around me helps. If the right people are doing the job, one doesn't have to waste time asking everyone else's advice in hundreds of meetings!
7. Warren Buffet has given his CEO's only two rules:
Rule number 1: do not lose any of your share holder's money.
Rule number 2: Do not forget rule number 1.
Set goals and make sure people focus on them.
I wish I could run my business like the huge financial institutions. Give us your money to invest. First we'll take our commission off it to cover initial costs. Then we'll subtract a monthly fee for looking after your money. If by any change we screw it up and lose your money, we abstain and take no responsibility. Don't laugh ... how many of you have your money tied up in these big companies? How many people lost everything including pensions in this latest global crises. Why because the big banks and financial institutions didn't take responsibility. Again, back to Robert Kiyosaki, he says, that as long as you give your money to other people to look after, you will never make real profit. I hear you saying, "But I know nothing about investing! I don't have the time!" But you do have a movie contract at the video shop and watch TV, or movies every second night! Just reading a simple (yes there are those books too) on investing, for one hour a week can make you business wise within a few months. I would love to find a company which follows Warren Buffet philosophy - "Don't lose any of your shareholders money." What about a financial adviser, or broker who only takes commission on your investment if he makes a profit, and takes responsibility if he loses your money. Now in such a person I would invest! People often ask me how I became successful. Easy! I take full responsibility for ALL my actions. I always deliver and I always give 100%. If I ever mess something up, I won't work for that company again - that's just how it goes. Would it be great if the same rule applied to politicians, banks and financial institutions?
Bottom line, be honest, ethical and deliver a 100% service - success will follow. Just look at what greed has done with this recent economic melt down. Who were the culprits? Need I say more?
8. Warren Buffet does not socialize with the high society crowd. His past time after he gets home is to make himself some pop corn and watch Television. Don't try to show off, just be your self and do what you enjoy doing. If you enjoy gardening - find the time to do it. Work hard and play hard. I remember consciously withdrawing from television and my celebrity lifestyle for one reason, and one reason only. All the superficial, air head fellow celebrities I had to socialise with at events. All they did was be seen, network with people they could get something out of, and constantly try outdo the next person. Life is to short, I definitely did not have time for such people. I rather focus my time on helping others, making decent long term business contacts and getting on with the job. I want to make friends with people that want to know me for who I am, not for my status or what they can get out of me. Having the best car in the neighbourhood, or having my face in the 'People" magazine definitely doesn't rate anywhere, or any of my lists. As long as you try keep an image (remember this is what the media and society has programed you to do) you will NEVER be happy. I have my own saying, "I don't follow fashions, I make them." In other words, I don't do what others do, I do what I enjoy doing and which helps those around me ... and strangely enough, people start following my behaviour! You cannot change the world overnight, but you CAN change one person's view, and that person can do the same, etc. etc. In the end, we can all make this world a better place for our children.
9.Bill Gates, the world's richest man met Warren Buffet for the first time only 5 years ago. Bill Gates did not think he had anything in common with him. So he had scheduled his meeting only for half hour. But when Gates met him, the meeting lasted for ten hours and Bill Gates became a devotee of Warren Buffet. Find those decent people out there. Learn from them. Let them be your mentor, and together, WE can change the world!
Lastly, Warren Buffet has great advice for young people:
"Stay away from credit cards & bank loans and invest in yourself and remember:
A. Money doesn't create man but it is the man who created money.
B. Live your life as simply as possible.
C. Don't do what others say - listen to them, but do what you feel good doing.
D. Don't follow brand names; just wear those things in which you feel comfortable.
E. Don't waste your money on unnecessary things; rather just spend on those things you really need.
F. After all, it's your life so why allow others to rule your life?"
Have a great July!