How Does your Garden Grow?

Learning to Speak (and Listen) with Wisdom and Intelligence

I fancy myself a bit of a gardener.

I don’t grow anything exotic or even all that special, but I have about 100 square feet of flowers in my back yard and another 50 or so square feet out front. It’s mostly bulbs and other perennials, things like tulips, daffodils, and lilies that I supplement each spring with a selection of annuals. I like looking at the variety of colours as they come and go throughout the season and there is something primal about digging in the dirt that satisfies my caveman instincts.

This year I got brave and added a strawberry bush, here’s hoping.

I planted everything this past weekend and when I was looking at my handy work, I was reminded of something I heard a long time ago. The 13th century Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, more commonly referred to simply as Rumi, once said –

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that makes the flowers grow, not thunder.

The meaning here should be fairly obvious; when faced with conflict or embroiled in a heated discussion Rumi advises not to yell but to speak with wisdom and intelligence. People learn and grow best when information is presented calmly, like a gentle rain, not through loud and violent outbursts.

We live in a very polarized society. You are either conservative or liberal, capitalist or socialist, inclusive or exclusive, with us or against us. It seems more and more that people are less and less likely to listen to anyone who expresses opinions contrary to our own, let alone have a calm and intelligent discussion about them. How are we to learn and grow if all we do is loudly dismiss and discredit anything we disagree with?

Last week I talked about confirmation bias, which in one sense is our tendency to look for and associate only with people with whom agree. The best way I know how to combat confirmation bias is to listen and learn from people from all walks of life and those with whom we might disagree. Associating across various socio-economic and political lines might not be enough to change our opinions about things but we might at least learn something.

Remember – You don’t know what you don’t know, so raise your words, not your voice. Who knows, you might win someone over and gain a new friend or at the very least learn something new that you hadn’t considered before.


Four Types of Clients

I can’t be sure who it was who first came up with this list of personality types, it might have been Aristotle describing the way certain students approach learning, it might have been Socrates, and it might just have been the guy who sells me my  gas every week.  It doesn’t matter whoever it was.  In reflecting on the way certain clients have been interacting with me this week I thought it might be fun to talk about each of these character types and how I approach dealing with them in my financial practice.

#1 – He who knows not, and knows not, that he knows not.

Otherwise known as the arrogant fool.

Another way to say it is that we don’t know what we don’t know and going through life convinced that we know everything about everything is a recipe for disaster.  The great musician Louis Armstrong once said;

“There are some people that if they don’t know, and don’t know that they don’t know, you can’t tell them..”

This is the definition of arrogant ignorance.  These people will never be your client because they believe they are smarter than you.  Indeed they believe they are smarter than everyone they meet.  The only thing to do when you encounter someone like that is smile politely and move on.

#2 – He who knows not and knows that he knows not.

Otherwise known as the simpleton.

These are some of my favorite kinds of people to have as clients.  People who know that they don’t know things are teachable.  They of course must be willing to learn but the real danger here is that they may become paralyzed if you give them too much new information all at once.

The key with these kinds of clients is to take it slow, give them only as much information as they can digest.  If you go too fast you run the risk of causing “paralysis by analysis” or you end up with a client who feels like they were bullied into making a purchase that they didn’t fully understand.  Both are undesirable outcomes that are to be avoided at all costs.

#3 – He who knows and knows not that he knows.

Otherwise known as the unconscious drifter.

These are the people that, if they become interested in something realize that they had the necessary information all along and make decisions quickly.  The problem is they tend to be asleep to both their own needs and their own knowledge.

Waking up an unconscious drifter is a delicate business.  At first glance they may appear to be simpletons but if you treat them as such they may feel insulted.  The key to dealing with these people is to ask lots of questions designed to probe their knowledge.  Once you’ve determined that they do know more than they seem to be letting on you can switch tracks and begin asking a different sort of question.  Questions designed to get them to see that they already know what they need and how to get it.  Once they see their need they tend to buy quickly and confidently.

#4 – He who knows and knows that he knows.

Otherwise known as the wise one.  Unless you’re selling commodities, these people won’t likely be your clients either.  They already know their needs and they bought a long time ago.  It’s still important to get to know these people.  They tend to be leaders, and can be a great source of knowledge, guidance and influence.  They are also a great source of referrals and if their circumstances ever change, they are the first to know when they do need you.

Watch out for these four types of people.  Don’t waste your time with the arrogant fools but carefully cultivate unique relationships with everyone else.  Relationships with these types of people eventually pay off.

How Would You Like an Investment That Has Doubled 225 Times?

scrooge happy

It’s not fiction, honest!

There is a plan out there that if you’re ancestors had invested just $1.00 when it was first published you would not only be the richest person in the world you would have more money than currently exists on the planet! That’s $539 with 65 zeros behind it!

Put in more practical terms $10,000 invested in this plan today will be worth $640,000 in just 50 years. Pretty good right? I bet you are wondering what I am talking about and how to get in.

1,800 years ago a group of rabbi’s writing in the Talmud advised the Jewish people to put a third of their money in land, a third in commerce and keep a third in hand. In today’s vernacular that’s what we call an asset allocation strategy that would be one third real estate, one third equities and one third cash or fixed income.

When I first heard about this ancient advice I did a little digging and looked up some historical numbers. Whenever a financial planner suggests a particular fund for you to invest in you need to look at the track record. Most advisors will want you to look at a 5-10 year track record but the more data you can find the better. One advisor who uses this strategy with most of his high net worth clients, John Nicola of Nicola Wealth Management in Vancouver B.C. has historical data dating back to 1990. What it shows is an average return for the past 24 years of 9%. With a little more digging I determined that this particular strategy has been consistently returning an average of right around 9% for over a hundred years.

We in the financial planning world are all familiar with the rule of 72. Simply put, divide any given interest rate into 72 and you will know roughly how long it takes for an investment to double, in this case money invested at 9% doubles every 8 years. Therefore, over 50 years you will see your investment double about 6 times.

Granted, most people don’t have a 50 year time horizon so what if you only have 30 years and can only afford $200 per month? That get’s you $191,000. Add 10 more years to the horizon, and see your money grow to $370,000. Not bad considering that you will probably get a raise or two over that time horizon as well and be able to increase your monthly contributions along the way.

This point here is two-fold.

#1 – In this age of low interest rates and high volatility it is still relatively easy and conservative to achieve a 9% or even 10% return.

#2 – Invest early and often, the more time you have the better.

There’s a third point here too…

#3 – Don’t dismiss the wisdom of the ancients, their advice has survived for thousands of years for a reason. Just because you weren’t around 1,800 years ago to get in on the ground floor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start now.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and how to live debt free, build wealth and leave a legacy, in other words how to inherit the earth write to: