Every month, the blogging mafia convene: if you know what’s good for you, the first post of the year better have something to do with goals and resolutions, and at least one mention of the phrase ‘new year, new me’. I’m sorry! They’ll break my kneecaps if I don’t do what they say! My compromise is to write a post […]
Napoleon Hill was a pretty shitty human being, but you have to give him props for being perhaps the the greatest conman in history. It’s not just the sheer brazenness of the con, but that he got away with it scot-free, and continues to be revered long after his death. Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937, is still a bestseller today. It has 4.5 stars on Amazon.
None of the glowing reviewers seem to be aware that rather than soaking up the principles of the greats, curated and distilled over 20 years, they’re reading fiction cut from whole cloth by a conman whose only expertise lay in parting fools from their money.
As incredible as this is, it’s not the topic of this post. Ideas must be judged on their merits, and Think and Grow Rich is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the positive thinking phenomenon.
Hill didn’t come up with the ‘Law of Attraction’ himself, but he perfected the archetypal self-help format: if you trace back the explosion in gurus waxing lyrical about the the power of belief, Think and Grow Rich is ground zero. Every purveyor of inspiration porn for the last 80 years—Tony Robbins, Oprah, Deepak Chopra, The Secret—has a direct lineage to this book.
It all starts with this idea: If you believe in yourself, the universe will provide. Conquer your thoughts, and you conquer the world…
Marry an accountant, but have occasional flings with rock stars. Lift very heavy weights for a few repetitions, then do lots of low-impact cardio. Work a secure and boring job, while pursuing highly speculative ventures on the side.
The common thread running through all these ideas is called the ‘Barbell Strategy’, and it’s useful for all sorts of big decisions – from your career and work, to health and fitness, and of course, your investment portfolio…
It’s pretty embarrassing to air this story in public, but it’s for a good enough cause that I’ve decided to bite the bullet. Back in 2015, I was still picking individual stocks, and doing pretty well for myself. I probably thought I was hot shit. That is, before I made a series of really dumb mistakes which cost me US$10,000.
I would have reached my six figures savings goal much faster if I hadn’t screwed up, but I didn’t lose any sleep over the whole mess. In fact, I’m actually kind of glad it happened. I might be a slow learner, but hopefully you can wise up sooner than I did…
Star Wars fans come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they look like scruffy, twenty-something writers from a small island on the arse-end of the world. Other times they look like besuited, seventy-year-old billionaire fund managers from the American mid-west. David Booth is co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors, which manages about $445 billion of investor cash. I didn’t get to ask him to weigh in on the Han vs Greedo controversy, but our conversation was still among the most life-changing I’ve ever had.