When reading non-fiction, I tend to gravitate towards those smaller and thinner like Jim Rogers’ A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing. After all, it’s not how big a book is that matters but how much you can actually get out of it. Thankfully, Rogers’ 2009 release is filled with little nuggets of wisdom that will come in handy whether you are a private banker or a just a plain old private citizen. The book is two years old to date but as Rogers, using Mark Twain’s words, says, History “rhymes.” It may not repeat itself but it does have the tendency of falling back into old habits.
In the book, Rogers often addresses his daughters (Happy and Baby Bee) when he speaks of life lessons. Luckily, this writer is a girl and can easily absorb the famous investor and author’s words without missing a beat. Still, anyone can overlook being called Rogers’ daughter (even if one is defiantly male) once he gets to the point.
One of his first lessons is about independence. Never let anybody else swim your races for you, Rogers states. Advice, when asked for or even given freely, often does more harm than good. Recalling his first forays into Wall Street, Rogers shares the story of how he sought the advice of several senior investors on which stocks to pursue. It was logical, he had thought, to ask the advice of those he deemed wiser about such matters. Ironically, each of those stocks he had been recommended to go for, failed. From then on, Rogers made sure to do his own research and trust in his own instincts rather than rely on what others have to say. In fact, he even tells readers not to take his word for it when he championed Brazil and China as bull markets and shared his skepticism about India’s economy.
He goes on to show that he isn’t afraid of being laughed at and tells readers that if someone laughs at their idea, they should probably go ahead and pursue it (and yes, he does have a concrete example of an investment decision he had made a lot of money out of despite a colleague’s ribbing).
Not everything about this book is on investment. He did mean to dedicate his findings to his daughters and having traveled around the world twice, Rogers has seen and experienced quite a lot in his lifetime. He has learned never to trust politicians, learned to separate himself from the mob hysteria and learned to prepare a grocery shopping list before going to the supermarket among others. From someone who had made enough money to retire by his thirties, I say we all better get started on that grocery list!