Monthly Archives: November 2008

My 26th Birthday

Most people I’ve heard turning 26 rue the day because they’ve already “started to feel old.”

There’s a lot of funny things that start happening around this age, such as my favorite radio station in Austin plays, “Old hits from the 80′s and 90′s” which of course makes anyone feel a bit old.

However I find it odd that anyone in their 20′s can be considered “old.” Whenever I walk nothing hurts, I can still take a fall without breaking anything, I can for the most part eat whatever I want without any significant weight gain and I still have my dashingly good looks (subject to verification).

I can’t imagine the number of people in the world who would give ANYTHING they have to be back at my age. As I wrote the aforementioned sentence I instantly remembered some passages in Felix Dennis’ book How to get Rich (Felix Dennis is a very wealthy publishing mogul):

He writes:

Ask me what I will give you if you could wave a magic wand and give me my youth back. The answer would be everything I own and everything I will ever own.

He then goes on to say:

If you are young and reading this then I ask you to remember just this: You are richer than anyone older than you, and far richer than those who are much older. What you choose to do with the time that stretches out before you is entirely a matter for you. But do not say you started the journey poor. If you are young, you are infinitely richer than I could ever be.

Wow….hard to express that in any better way. It’s my opinion that being “old” is a state of mind, or state of life. For example:

  • Edison was 32 when he invented the light bulb and was just getting started.
  • Gandhi was well into his 60′s and 70′s when his most famous works and movements were done.
  • Nikola Tesla was 32 when he got his patent on the induction motor and was just getting started.
  • Felix Dennis didn’t become a millionaire until he was 35 and continued building his businesses well past that.
  • My dad got his pilots license at 58.
  • At my age Henry Ford was still farming and running a sawmill and hadn’t even begun experimenting with gasoline engines or quadracycles.

Also at 26 I seriously doubt I have come even close to experiencing the joys/frustrations of marriage, the birth of a first child or raising a teenager. I once heard my dad tell someone half-jokingly, “When they turn 16, go find a good cardiologist.”

I remember my parents telling me that when I was born, the doctors said I couldn’t breathe correctly, so they hooked me up to an oxygen tube and tied my baby hands together with a rubber band (because I kept removing the tube). My parents said that sight was the most terrifying thing they ever saw. It’s doubtful I’ve ever experienced a fear like that…yet. I think that’s when they grey hairs get their cues for appearance.

…anyhow, up till this point in my life I’ve been concerned mainly about my own life and survival, which I think is FAR easier than worrying about others….and that part of my life has yet to begin.

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As I write this entry, I realize that four years ago to this date, the eve of my 22nd birthday, I was creating this very blog as a means of tracking my financial goals.

The goals I setup then have been preserved, untouched since then:
http://www.nevblog.com/2004/11/my-goals.html

I was still in school back then, and didn’t quite know what I wanted, but those goals were the ones I set that night. The important thing I learned from those goals is that HAVING A GOAL is the most important thing. I did not meet the first “ideal” short term goal I had of making a dependable $7,500/month just one year later, that came a little later, but I did meet the “minimum requirement” goal of being able to pay all my expenses and savings through my own businesses in the allotted time.

The “Medium Term Goals” are of more interest to me, let’s see what we’ve got:

Goal 1.)
Have at least 4 different sources of income, balanced in different industries to survive good and bad markets.
I currently make money from a full time business, this blog, royalty trust dividends and consulting. That’s exactly 4 different sources of income. I used to think making money from a million different small sources was better, not sure if I fully believe that to this day.

Goal 2.)
Accumulate somewhere near $1,000,000 in liquidable assets by age 27. This includes cash savings and stock.
What I meant by “liquidable” back then was “Not including the house or property I live in.” Technically speaking a house is an asset, but I never liked it when people figured the remaining value of their house as part of their net worth. I always thought it was a cheap way of making someone who has $15,000 in the bank look like they were worth $450,000. Anyhow, I think this goal should be pretty attainable. Of course this sharply falling economy over the next few years isn’t going to help, but it does offer (or force) the opportunity to be more creative.

Goal 3.)
Get mentioned in at least 5 of these sources by age 27: CNBC, New York Times, Business Week, Wall Street Journal, CNN, The Register, The Financial Times, Yahoo News, Google News, Bloomberg, BBC, Wired, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics.
This goal was completed years ago, almost promptly after it was written on this blog. I’ve also been in lots of foreign news sources since then too. It sounded like a cool goal back then, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly when you realize how easy it is to get into a newspaper or magazine.

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Well, looks like it’s time to create some new and updated goals for the coming years. These might take a little more time since I’ll properly think them over, rather than just type some stuff out for the sake of having some goals. I’ve officially been alive for 9,498 days, I look forward to accomplishing more in the next 500 days than I have in all the past days combined!

A Word On Business Cards

I attend tons of events, networking parties and all that jazz, one thing in common is coming back with a pocket full of business cards.

Some are big, some are small, some are normal, some are fancy. By and large, it doesn’t make a single bit of difference what your business card looks like. I have never once decided to contact some someone back based solely on their business card.

In fact, most of the very successful people I meet have exceedingly simple business cards. Name, contact info and maybe a company logo. Nothing ornate because it doesn’t matter.


What my business card looks like (except a different email address, this was an old photo and I was too lazy to take a new one).

The funny thing is, usually the people with brand new companies which aren’t even making money generally have the coolest/most expensive business cards. I interpret that as a very ominous sign.

Not all cool business cards are bad though. If you’re making good money with the company, then sure, go nuts, although it’ll unlikely make any difference. I like some business card designs that tie into their industry, like some of these which would be great for tradeshows….but for most occasions, a standard personal business card would do fine.

If you’re actually of any interest to a person, it doesn’t matter if your contact info is written on a napkin, they’ll get back to you. If you’re relying on a cool business card to get you a call back, then you’ve probably got some work to do on yourself.

Just remember: You are making the impression, not the business card.

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Random:
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  • In 2007 I bought several hundred business cards with a 2007 yearly calendar on the back thinking it would be a good idea. It wasn’t. Now in 2008 I still hand out those business cards and mention, “…and on the back you have a nice 2007 calendar!” which always gets a laugh! However a more timeless card would’ve been preferable.
  • VistaPrint.com has really cheap and easily designable business cards.
  • I keep about 3 business cards in my wallet at all times, it really comes in handy.
  • Sometimes at events I get a person who introduces themselves and nearly immediately hands me a business card *cough* real estate agents *cough* …these generally go immediately into the garbage. Only trade cards if there’s at least a small possibility of you two connecting again.
  • Even if you don’t have a business, a personal business card with your name, email and phone number would be nice to carry.
  • I don’t like glossy business cards, you can’t write on them.
  • It’s helpful when you get home to write interesting information about the person directly on the business card in case you forget. This has helped me several times.
  • Generally when I get home, I checkout the websites listed on the business cards I get.

Whole View of Economy Skewed?

I was born in 1982, and taking a look at financial records, the United States was in a secular bull market since 1982 till 2000.

This means my entire upbringing as a child was in the wealthiest nation in the world, during a bull market. Not a bad time to grow up! However that good fortune and easy times as a child may not last much longer due to the current economic outlook of the United States. Now I’m an adult trying to build a fortune in the largest debtor nation in the world. So now the fun begins.

There seems to be a few different reactions to a coming economic downturn:

  1. People who will get scared, then bitch and complain. Most likely will blame certain incidents, the president or other scapegoat for their troubles.
  2. People who will research and understand what is going to happen before it happens, then react accordingly.
  3. People who have no idea what’s going on, will soon be affected, then react later to the new environment.

I’d like to be in that minority of people who understand FIRST what can happen, then prepare in a way which will keep me financial stable and even prosperous despite a bad economy. This course of action requires the most work, reading and research which makes it a sure bet only a tiny fraction of the people will do it.

Of all the really crappy financial information I’ve screened through, I by far think the absolute best advice anyone is giving right now is Peter Schiff. He’s got two recent books out (both which I’ve read) which are excellent. Just Google him and do your own research. He’s been deemed “Dr. Doom” in the recent years because in all his past interviews he used to predict “crazy” things happening like a housing industry meltdown or investment banks defaulting. Well people are starting to take notice now.

The only thing that can “fix” the economy is a recession. This will flush out all the bad businesses, bloated companies and excessive government expenditures.

Here’s an analogy I tell friends which compares the United States to a regular guy (perhaps themselves):

Imagine a guy who works a normal job, doesn’t make all that much money, but lives a really nice lifestyle. He spends more than what he makes because he just puts everything on a credit card and makes minimum payments. He can live this way for a while, but he just goes further into debt and eventually he’s got to pay for it. He must either make more money or spend less to get out of debt.

He can’t just easily start earning enough more money to pay for the debt, so he must start cutting down his expenses.

The United States is just like the guy in debt. The only way to “fix” his problem is to get rid of the nice apartment, stop eating out as frequently, or stop buying so many expensive gadgets.

You can log onto hundreds of financial blogs which started because the owner was deep in debt, and almost invariably got out (usually in just a few years) because they cut their expenses and paid off the debt. Same thing will happen with the U.S….or at least should happen.

The bad part is, when a country “cuts down on expenses” it means the entire country goes into a recession (at least “recession” is the scary term used to describe a slowdown of spending). However the upside is when people get rid of all the debt, they come out smarter about their purchases, can operate with less and can then start saving for their futures or investing back in themselves so they CAN make more money.

I won’t bother going into anymore economic analysis than that, it’s your job to start doing some financial research on why the dollar is falling and will continue to fall, but it brings me to this point:

In the coming years, it’s imperative to be working harder than ever before. Absorption of sound financial information is essential. I’d also highly suggest you increase your savings right now…just in case. Research, reading and frugality will be more important than ever before (Well, not EVER….I mean in my generations lifetime). This is also an excellent time for lots of opportunity, as you’ll find lots of new opportunity when things are being shaken up!