13 – May 5, 2019
“You look at [Andrew] Carnegie and [Benjamin] Franklin, they had a few years of primary school, they learned everything by themselves by reading. Whatever they needed, they just learned. It’s not that hard.” – Charlie Munger, interview with the WSJ May 3, 2019
1. What I’m Reading
Did you know that a clerk and a bookkeeper built The Empire State Building? That same person was the brain behind GMAC.
Pierre du Pont took a chance on John J. Raskob and hired him for $80 a month as his personal secretary and clerk. By the time Raskob reached his mid-thirties, he was worth more than $20 million in today’s dollars. Raskob may very well be the first-ever CFO in business (General Motors). This gifted analyst and financial architect was largely responsible for the rise of du Pont and their investment in GM.
It’s long, but I’m enjoying Everybody Ought to be Rich by David Farber. Never heard of Raskob? Neither had I. The guy was humble and shunned the limelight. By the way, don’t let the title be a turn-off. That one-liner is pulled from a quote he made to a magazine after the great crash of 1929.
2. What I’m Bashing
Bill Gates loves this guy. The writer at Farnam Street holds him in high esteem. I don’t.
I don’t get the fascination with “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character. Granted, I found it funny. But I was expecting far more from this Nobel Laureate. If you are looking for deep, provocative insights from this gifted physicist, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Am I wrong?
3. What I’m Recommending
My second-favorite podcast is 2Bobs with David C. Baker and Blair Enns. I can say this for both men, but when David speaks, I listen.
If you are looking for a quick and meaningful business read, I recommend The Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact + Wealth. This is not a how-to manual. Instead, it’s a book that can shift the mind if you allow it. I especially appreciate his 3-legged view of business excellence:
Get those three right and in alignment with one another, and then watch out.
4. What I’m Applauding
I seem to be the guy who always gets stuck behind the other person at the c-store taking way to long at the counter saying, “I want 3 of the Pick 3, 7 of the Nifty 50, 2 of the Big Lotto, and wait a minute, make that …” I’m screaming inside at the point.
That’s why I loved what Charlie Munger told the WSJ this week in an interview regarding the lottery:
“And the way we abuse the poor with the lottery! Think of how contrary it is to the interests of the poor to play the lottery. It’s like a tax on ignorance. They’re vulnerable. I don’t think we should be doing that, but of course everything like it I’m voting against.”
5. Homework Assignment
John Raskob was more than a bookkeeper. His title was a modest one at the very beginning–secretary and clerk. But he expanded the work behind the title by learning industry and business inside and out so that he could increase the wealth of his employer. Raskob focused on his natural talents and abilities. That’s why he continued to grow professionally. He defined his role instead of letting the role define him.
So here’s the challenge I’m throwing your way. Take a piece of paper (yes, use paper and a pen) and draw two horizontal lines so that the sheet will have three equal sections of one-third each.
- In the top third, write down what you do today in your position. If you are a controller, work in FP&A, lead a Supply Chain department, or wear the CFO hat, write down your duties.
- In the lower or last third of the sheet of paper, write down what you want to be doing based on your unique abilities and your desires. Explain your ‘why’ to this list.
- The middle section serves as your gap. The gap is the blurred area between what you are doing and what you want to be doing. Why does that gap exist? What are you doing about it? Can you control it? Your job as a professional is to get out of the gap and into that lower third of the paper.
Reading prepares the mind whereas writing gives the mind clarity. That’s why I want you to write out this assignment by hand. I hope this exercise is profitable and rewarding.
Thank you for reading. If you like the above and the posts at CFO Bookshelf, may I ask a favor? Feel free to share this with other readers along with commenting on your favorite blog posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.