88th Edition – October 11, 2020
Failing to plan is planning to fail.Richard Williams (father of Venus and Serena Williams)
1. Would You Work for this Business Leader?
I’m estimating that I’ve worked for close to 125’ish business leaders as a consultant since 2001. My three favorite traits of highly-successful CEOs are humility, authenticity, and decisiveness. I’m pretty sure that I would have enjoyed serving the leader below:
- His father was an illiterate farmer and fruit peddler
- He avoided press interviews like a deadly plague
- Friends included Michael Milken, Bob Dole, Don King, Carey Grant, and Frank Sinatra
- Our current president called him the king and said, “I love that guy”
- He gave away billions but never wanted his name associated with such gifts
- He carried his own bags, drove his own car, and usually drove a Ford Taurus
- In Armenia, he’s considered a saint, but good luck in finding a monument in his likeness
I know very little about Kirk Kerkorian who passed away in 2015 at the age of 98. I’m two chapters into The Gambler by William Rempel. What made him successful? He was the ultimate risk-taker. But I’m still waiting to fill in more blanks.
2. A $4.7 Billion Endowment Fund
Brown University was highlighted in the WSJ this week for its successful endowment fund results this year and over the past 5 fiscal years, far above the median of all endowments and beating those at Yale and Harvard.
I started studying personal investing intensely in the early 1990s because several partners that I held in high esteem at KPMG were clueless on how to suggest the right funds and stock investments. Odd, so I started my own investment curriculum. I just assumed that partners at big firms were experts in investing.
The story above reminded me of one of the many titles I own – The Ivy Portfolio by Faber and Richardson. If you believe in their approach, the focus is on diversification and periodic rebalancing. ETFs, 200-day moving averages, momentum plays, and specific asset classes are among the many topics addressed.
Wait, the book is a bit dry unless you love these types of books. Your favorite financial advisor has probably read it. Have her give you the CliffNotes.
3. Planning at an Extreme Level
Financial leaders tend to be planners by instinct. Planning is not just something they do, it’s who they are. They can’t help it. They are constantly thinking ahead figuring out the potential consequences of actions taken by the CEOs they serve.
Periodically, I’ll read a story about planning and I just shake my head in amazement. Maybe you’ve heard this one before, but this discussion just caught my eye based on a book I’m reading who is the father of Venus and Serena Williams.
The father of these tennis stars never played the game and decided he wanted his two girls to be big winners after accidentally catching the end of a tennis match on TV. Unusual? Yes. That’s because his two daughters had not been born yet.
Richard Williams is the author of Black and White: The Way I See It, and you’ll find the word plan or planning no fewer than 90 times in that book. In one of those instances, he addresses some of the doubts he had for his lofty goals for his daughters:
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I went into my office and began to plan for the day my daughters would dominate tennis. My first plan was a seventy-eight-page typewritten document covering every aspect of tennis training for my daughters. Forgetting the most obvious problem of not having any daughters, my most serious issue was that the game of tennis had never interested me.
My plan was simple: to bring two children out of the ghetto to the forefront of a white-dominated game. Could it be done? I hoped so. In fact, I was beyond hope. I was certain. It was just a matter of time.
Needless to say, Richard Williams could probably teach us a thing or two about financial planning which started with a vivid vision.
4. Bookkeeping 101
If you work for a small business, finding a good bookkeeper is really hard. The best one I’ve ever referred is Penny Goff of Fayette, Missouri. Not only have I referred her once, but twice. She’s a star. She’s also committed to learning and growth because she passed her certified bookkeeping certification through the AIPB at my suggestion.
What if you have a bookkeeper on staff who is weak in technical abilities, but they are still a cultural fit? If they are a keeper, obviously pay for the first 9 hours of accounting at a local community college. While taking classes, I also recommend the following titles:
5. Favorite Audio Books
When someone asks me about audio book suggestions, I freeze. Give me a day or two to come up with a list. Well, I was not let off the hook. Here was the list I that I shared with a of couple of fiction titles thrown in. I’ve added the number of Audible reviews and the composite rating for each title.
American Kingpin – read like fiction. If you liked Bad Blood, then add this to your list (16k ratings at 4.8)
Shoe Dog – I wasted gas listening to this addicting story (40k reviews at 4.9)
Ghost in the Wires – the first Audible book I listened to (9.5k ratings at 4.5)
Open – a favorite by Andre Agassi (5k reviews at 4.7)
Before We Were Yours – remember that one Mrs. G? A whopping 69k ratings at 4.8.
A Simple Plan was riveting and starred the late Brent Briscoe who was a former teammate – only 300 ratings at 4.1
11-22-63 A Novel is probably my favorite fictional listen – 57k ratings at 4.6
Sorry guys, audiobooks on cost accounting just didn’t make the grade.
Thank You For Reading. Thank you for making this a successful newsletter.
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Always be learning.
Title Photo by Carine06.