Scott Galloway shares how focus, stoicism, being intentional with our time and diversification of our investments can help build wealth.

The news of the (second) impeachment seems strangely pedestrian after the blowtorch intensity of Reddit vs. The Hedge Funds. The good news is that the hedge funds didn’t conspire with market makers and trading apps to suppress a (warranted) generational revolution. The inevitable Netflix/Hulu/Starz versions will not be so romantic; Reddit mainly inspired a transfer of wealth from one hedge fund to others. It was a pump and dump masquerading as a movement … with many retail investors left holding the bag. There was a conspiracy behind it, though: Society has conspired for decades, through low interest rates, tax policy, and most recently the stimulus, to transfer wealth from the young to the old — the opposite of a healthy society, in which the ballast is a thriving middle class and optimistic youth.   

Since 1989, people under the age of 40 have seen their share of the nation’s wealth plummet from 19 percent to nine percent. For the first time in U.S. history, young people are no longer better off (economically) than their parents were at the same age. And, the distribution of this shrinking wealth remains unequal across race and gender. Fading economic opportunity and mobility is a disease, the symptoms of which are shame, frustration, and rage. 

But that’s another post. This one is about how to rebel against the conspiracy: the algebra of wealth, or… how to get rich.

Opportunity remains abundant, even as the headwinds of policy make it increasingly difficult for the young to capture their fair share of the spoils (note: this is not sustainable). The less novel path to success does not change, although it is overshadowed by outliers including Charli D’Amelio, President Putin, and Oprah, who illuminate narrower paths. Successful people often unwittingly head fake young people with the humblebrags of “follow your passion” and “don’t think about money.” This is (mostly) bullshit. Achieving economic security requires hard work, talent, and a tremendous amount of focus on . . . money. Yes, some people’s genius will be a tsunami that overwhelms a lack of focus and discipline. Assume you are not that person.

What Is Rich?

I know a lot of people who make an extraordinary amount of money, but few people who are rich. Rich is having passive income greater than your burn. People on a path to money focus on their earnings; people on a path to wealth also focus on their burn. Joseph Heller said, “It takes brains not to make money.” (Note: I think he was casting a favorable light on his starving artist friends). This may be true, but it definitely takes brains to hold onto it (i.e., money).

My father receives $48,000 per year from Social Security and his Royal Navy pension (he was a frogman). He spends $40,000, and it’s enough to make him happy. He swims every day, watches a shit-ton of hockey (Leafs fan), and on Fridays goes to The Taco Stand (an actual restaurant in La Jolla) where he orders something called a michelada. (Apparently it’s medicine delivered in a chilled salt-rimmed glass — he claims his hair is regrowing and that he’s sleeping better. I believe half of that so … I believe it.) Anyway, it’s not your income, but your income-to-expense ratio, that determines if you’re rich.

So, how to increase the odds of reaching economic security (i.e., get rich)?

My observation is that there are four factors in the algebra of wealth: focus, stoicism, time, and diversification. 

People conflate a lack of focus with a lack of talent. Intelligence and talent are correlated with success, but the strongest signal of future success is your perseverance and resilience: what the books in airport bookstores call “grit.” Unless you are supremely disciplined, your career will have to be something that gives you some enjoyment, but don’t mistake focus for your “passion.” People who tell you to follow your passion are already rich: Follow your talent. The accoutrements that accompany being great at something (relevance, admiration, camaraderie, money) will make you passionate about whatever “it” is.

Focus on putting yourself in a position to be financially successful. Get certified: In a digital world, much of the corporate world decides whether to swipe right or left based on the logos (aspirational universities/firms, vocational certifications, etc.) on your LinkedIn page.  

Sector dynamics will trump your talent (I realize how awful that sounds). However, someone of average talent at Google has done better over the last decade than someone great at General Motors. Be thoughtful … any opportunity you have when you are young to choose among different paths is a profound blessing. 

Look for the best wave to ride. Twenty-five years ago, I chose to paddle into the e-commerce wave. My first effort (Red Envelope) failed. Even worse, it failed slowly… over 10 years. I stuck with it and started a firm that helped other firms develop e-commerce strategies (L2) and have owned Amazon stock for 12 years. It took me a while, but the strength of the wave kept me moving, and carried me to the beach. I just read the last sentence and am fairly certain I will never be a truly great writer. Anyway.

Focus on your relationships. Family and friends are essential to long term happiness, and the most important relationship is your spouse. The most impactful economic decision you make will be who you decide to partner with or, more specifically, who you decide to have kids with. Married people grow their net worth 77 percent more than single people. Marry the right person, and then invest in that relationship every day. You’ve wagered 50 percent-plus of your net worth, and value in the marketplace, on that partnership. Don’t keep score, and bring forgiveness, generosity, and engagement. In sum, show up.

Determine what you can and can’t control. You can control your reactions to temptation — a lack of discipline is the antichrist to economic security. Our society of superabundance makes this difficult. Billions of dollars are spent every year on schemes to manipulate our natural impulses into spending more money, consuming more fat, and believing everyone around us is more successful than we are. The upgrade from economy to premium to business to first class to private jet can seem like an investment in yourself — it’s not. The most powerful forward-looking indicator of your financial freedom is not how much you earn, but how much you save. 

A specific activity accelerates in a bull market, conflating luck with talent and dopamine with investing. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and sharing a screenshot of your Robinhood gains are maladies of industrial production that exceed our instincts. Trading — distinct from “investing” — can feel like work and productivity. It’s not. It’s gambling, but without free drinks and with worse odds. One study found that over a 12-year period, only 5 percent of active retail traders made any profit at all. This time around, apps including Robinhood, with its dopamine-triggering confetti, and 24-hour-a-day, volatile crypto trading are the drugs of choice. Most day traders will be fine, and will suffer affordable losses … most. However, for many there are darker outcomes. Young men are especially vulnerable, as they are more risk aggressive. Between 80 and 85 percent of day traders are men, and 23 percent of men who gamble become addicted (as opposed to seven percent of women). Most of us can gamble without becoming addicted, just as most of us can drink without becoming an alcoholic — but, know the risks. 

Stoicism is not just about being stoic in the face of temptation. It means having good character. Succeeding in life is much easier if other people want you to succeed. We have a mental cartoon image of rich people as grasping and cruel. The reality, in my experience, is that wealthy people, in general, demonstrate strength, acumen and … kindness. Economic security is in the agency of others and you want others to want you to win.

I spent the first 40 years of my life chasing some form of Western relevance so I could register more dopamine surges. It was never enough. More, I want fucking more… now. The pursuit always managed to distract me, and I was unable to get the engines of success and fulfillment firing on all cylinders. This stage of my life was characterized by fits of progress, getting close, but never achieving anything resembling the potential my opportunities warranted. In one moment that all changed for me: When my first son came rotating out of my girlfriend 13 years ago. In sum, shit got real. I was young enough to be selfish, but old enough to recognize it and acknowledge that I needed to change. I decided at that moment (no joke) to bring more focus and discipline into my life.  

“Time is the fire in which we burn,” says the poet. It is our most inflexible and valuable commodity, the one thing with which you should not be generous. Squander money, you may earn it back. Squander time, it is gone forever. 

Re investing, the long-term is our ally, the short-term our nemesis. The gangster authority on time, Albert Einstein, supposedly remarked that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Yet our brains are not wired to understand this. When I was 26, I thought of being 46 as the distant, irrelevant future. Now that I’ve reached that age (actually I’m 56… ughh), 26 feels as if it was last year. But small investments I made a decade-plus ago have grown into the base of my economic security.

Compounding is not just a financial thing. The most important returns in life come from the compounded effects of our investments over time, whether in our finances, careers, hobbies, or relationships. Change the timescale of your life, and you change your life.

In your life, focus is key. Plan A for financial security is being great at doing something that the market values highly, and leveraging that into income and/or equity in a business. But Plan A squared is investments. And with investments, focus is to be avoided. Diversify and, unless your plan is to be in the finance industry, be sure that your time spent tracking/trading does not distract you from what is/should be your source of income and savings.

Investing over the long-term pays out, but there are always dips along the way. Diversification is the kevlar that protects you — with it, bad decisions will still hurt, but they won’t prove fatal. Diversification, in other words, is your bulletproof vest.  

A few of my many egregious investing errors: 

  1. Red Envelope: I was so emotionally involved (I co-founded the firm in 1997) that I kept putting money into the business and ended up losing 70 percent of my net worth when the firm declared Chapter 11 in 2008. I had no kevlar, as I was terribly concentrated in one asset.
  2. Netflix: Yes, Netflix. I believed in the company, respected its management, saw its potential, and bought a lot (for a professor) at $12/share. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I sold it six months later at $10/share to capture a tax loss, and never re-bought. Today it’s at $558… not that it doesn’t haunt me… every day. Nope, definitely not. 

Most of my major mistakes in investing can be distilled down to two things: not diversifying, and trading.

Mistake number one (Red Envelope): Almost fatal. I was 43 and outwardly successful.  However, with the birth of my first son, I was feeling more economic anxiety than I had since I was a kid (I lived in a household with a single mother who worked as a secretary). Mistake number two (Netflix): Painful but nowhere near fatal. I had eggs in other baskets (i.e., Amazon, Apple, Nike, Oracle). In the end, my kevlar has been not allocating more than 10 percent of my net worth to any one investment. That doesn’t mean I don’t look for opportunities that offer asymmetric upside — I do. I just don’t ever take off my kevlar. You don’t need to be a hero to get to economic security.

Not Your fault

These principles have served me well, especially as I have been more disciplined about following them. But while I wasn’t born into wealth, I did benefit immensely from the circumstance of my birth. My smartest move was to be born a white male in California in the sixties. An America that loved unremarkable kids presented me with a world-class education (at the time, UCLA had a 60 percent admissions rate and cost just $400/semester), thrust me into the financial boom of the 1980s and, through sheer luck, positioned me to catch the internet wave. 

Since I set foot on the UCLA campus in the 1980s (feels like just last year) we have told ourselves we remain the Land of Opportunity, and that we were making progress to remedy our historic imbalances. Yet as illustrated by one metric after another, economic security is harder to obtain, not easier, and is becoming less a person’s individual fault and more a result of circumstance … America is becoming less, well, American.  

Are we headed for another revolution? I don’t know, but we are due for another righteous movement. What can you do in the face of a system that profits off you becoming overweight, indebted, divided, and addicted? Answer: Rebel.

Focus on what matters. Be a Stoic in the face of temptation. Use Time to your advantage. Diversify your investments. 

In any economic climate, how do we build economic security, foster love, and find joy? How do we get rich? 


Life is so rich,

My Wednesday Wish is for Peace from knowing your purpose. How are you living yours out?

My Wish For You.

My wish for you is PEACE.

Peace beyond circumstance, peace beyond understanding, and peace because you find purpose in what you do.

What does that look like?

Do you like what you do?  Do you wake up excited for the day and what is ahead of you?  Do you have opportunities to use your gifts, talents and strengths in a way that is meaningful to you? Do you see what you are doing as a path to something bigger and better? Are you totally content with where you are and what you get to do?

Are you energized and satisfied at the end of a day?  We all have things we HAVE to do that do not energize us (for me it is my monthly financials and cleaning the house).  And doing some of those things helps us grow and appreciate when we get to do the things that give us life.  But if those things that drain us are the things that occupy most of our day and duties, it can suck the life out of us.  There are times when we need to see those things as a means to an end and embrace them for what they will provide in the long run.  I worked at jobs during high school and college just so I could pay the bills and reach my goal.  I still made them worthwhile—I found relationships, provision, success and opportunity, even though it wasn’t going to be my life-long work.  And that was for more than 10 years. 

It isn’t just about the work; it is about your attitude too.  J and I are both blessed to have work that is very meaningful and we feel is contributing to the world around us.  I have to say, if something happened and I couldn’t do this work, I would find a way to bring those gifts to whatever job I ended up with. 

Too often we let life drive us and write our story.  The best author of your story is you. What can you do to take the drivers seat of your life? What is your purpose? How is it impacting everything you do?

My wish for you is peace and I know that purposeful work and contribution can make that peace more obtainable. 

If you claim to have a growth mindset, then you surely are employing curiosity and empathy in your leadership.

How Curiosity and Empathy Create Inspirational Leadership

It’s time to transform your corporate culture to deliver value where it really matters.

Michael Tennant should start a cult. I’d join. OK, maybe cult is the wrong word. (Who wants to lug around that religious baggage?) Then again, his approach borders on a new religion fueled by his passionate desire for a miraculous transformation in the way we approach marketingmanagement, and–hey, why not?–humanity itself.

But let’s back up a bit.

The fourth son of Jamaican immigrants, Tennant grew up in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Suffice it to say that his transition to the prestigious boarding school the Hill, where he entered ninth grade at age 12, came with a healthy dose of culture shock. “I went from the violence in Bed-Stuy to passive racism–another type of violence,” says Tennant. One might expect this to be a story of extremes: of anger or assimilation. Instead we meet a man forged by aggressions (macro and micro) into something else entirely: an ambassador of empathy.

With an impressive track record of award-winning work for MTV, VICE Media, P&G, and Coca-Cola, Tennant, the founder and CEO of the agency Curiosity Labrecently joined advertising behemoth Arnold Worldwide/Havas Media as its first-ever entrepreneur in residence. While it’s clear that advertising could use a brutally honest evaluation of its approach to inclusion and unity, that’s not really what his job is about. Instead, he brings to bear his fundamental approach, rooted in curiosity and empathy, to address systemic issues that riddle the foundations of the communications industry.

Echoing the name of his agency, Tennant says that his goal is to “create a culture of the curious, because that is where you get the most innovation.” The key, he says, is to find out what we don’t know rather than set out to confirm what we think we know. “Bias. Judgement. We all have it. And it blinds us from the unknown that could be magical, that could be a differentiator–not the same stagnant stream everyone is swimming down right now.”

Rather than create messages that sport the trappings of diversity, inclusion, allyship, and unity, he says we must “do the work of bringing empathy out to people and make the energetic investment it requires.” This means employing “anti-racism and it’s cousin, empathetic leadership. We need to learn how to show up with empathy in a world that is so divided.”

On a somewhat more practical level (keeping in mind that Tennant has a degree in the unlikely combination of economics and philosophy), he encourages leaders of all kinds to create safe spaces where real work can be done, on a professional and deeply personal level. He defines these as environments in which people “feel there’s trust to protect their boundaries, where they have an equal shot at letting their contributions shine.” This allows more perspectives to emerge, but also builds highly resilient team members.

For leaders, creating these spaces entails the difficult task of acknowledging systemic racism and then honestly facing our own biases. We must also find–among our teams, our audiences, our communities–authentic intersections of our experiences and emotions that will allow us to connect in a truly empathetic way.

The benefits of embracing empathy and cultivating curiosity are more than just spiritual: Tennant notes it will give companies an edge in areas where there is steep competition for the best talent. It will reduce turnover costs and boost employee satisfaction. And, undoubtedly, it will reduce the risk of the dire consequences of toxic workplace culture.

Upon reflection, Tennant would be an unlikely cult leader despite his inspiring devotion to his mission precisely because it’s not about him, it’s about others.

Instead, he nods back at those “on the front lines of allyship, who incorporate social awareness into their way of being.” For everyone who pushes back against tone-deaf messages, addresses the low-key sexism or classism of a job ad, invites and supports an uncomfortable revelation, or exposes a crumbling moral foundation: He sees you. And he’s grateful for everything you are doing.

Small companies have the benefit of being agile; large companies have momentum and resources. What about Midsize Companies (most Vistage companies) and their path ahead? Thanks to colleague, Vistage chair, Allen Hauge for sharing this short HBR post.

Is Your Midsize Company Designed for a Post-Pandemic Future?

by Ron Carucci

February 11, 2021

The CEO of a $350 million professional services firm recently reached out for consultation about his now-remote work force, which has become quite comfortable working from home. His employees are saving money on commutes and child care while getting their work done productively — in some cases more productively than before. His technical leaders are raving about the talent pools they can now recruit from since they no longer have to convince people to move from urban talent hubs to their small city. Sure, some employees are climbing the walls of their makeshift home offices, eager for the camaraderie of the office and to leave behind homeschooling. But for the most part, the company’s done just fine in the transition to remote work.

He, however, has not. He’s a self-admitted “old school” guy who loves the energy of the office. Committed to staying connected to his people, he relishes walking the halls to find impromptu conversations, stop by meetings to thank employees for their work, and ensure that the culture of collaboration he’d worked so hard to create is thriving. He told me, “You just can’t replicate that energy on a video screen.” On top of that frustration, lease-renewal windows are approaching, and his board is pressuring him to consolidate facilities and reduce expensive real-estate costs.

This CEO isn’t alone in facing the question of how to adapt to a changed world. Research suggests that 74% of CFOs expect to transition some portion of their workforce to permanent remote work post-Covid. Gallup estimates that as much as 62% of the workforce worked from home during the pandemic, compared to only 25% just a few years ago. But what criteria should leaders use to guide their decisions? In my experience working with companies on such organization-design challenges, using employee preferences or real estate savings as criteria for these decisions is short-sighted and eclipses more important factors. Midsize companies, which often have to compete for talent with larger, global corporations and whose cultures tend to be more close-knit, should take this opportunity to design their organizations for a post-Covid world. Here are five strategies to help midsize company leaders approach this opportunity thoughtfully and with an eye toward the future.

Double down on strategy first. The pandemic hasn’t just disrupted your company, but also the lives of your customers. Before you can make choices about how to design your own work, you need to step back and consider if and how the way you serve your markets must now shift. Will your customers buy your product or service differently? Do they have new or changing needs you can now meet? Have your competitors made adjustments you must follow, or have they fallen behind in ways you can take advantage of? Reassess whether or not the things that differentiated you before still hold true. While you may instinctively believe nothing’s changed, a fresh look might surprise you. To confirm your instincts, analyze your work against your strategy by dividing your company’s work into three categories.

First, competitive work, usually around 15 to 20% of all work activities, comprises the most strategically important work. Investing $1 in this work should yield a $5 return. It’s the work that directly delivers the value that distinguishes you from your competition.

Second, enabling work, which accounts for another 15 to 20% of activity, is the work that directly supports competitive work. For example, if you compete on customer service to set yourself apart, customer analytics might be your enabling work.

The remaining 30 to 60% of work is necessary work: it keeps you in compliance and keeps the lights on. Competitive and enabling work should be organized for maximum effectiveness. This is where you invest disproportionately in talent and technology. Necessary work should be organized for maximum efficiency — done in parity with others for the lowest cost possible. (You may also have a fourth category: unnecessary work that no longer adds the value it once did and can be discontinued or outsourced.)

Many midsize companies’ approach to strategy remains overly simplistic: a “mission, vision, values” list accompanied by annual financial goals, rather than a sharp articulation of what really differentiates them competitively. The opportunistic growth spurts common to midsize companies can badly obscure the boundaries between competitive and necessary work thanks to competing and changing priorities. Take this opportunity to get more disciplined and honest about your strategic identity and sharpen the distinctions between types of work before you decide where and how to locate it.

Accept that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Now that you’ve prioritized the work relative to your strategy, you can consider questions of where and how to locate those activities. Key factors to consider include the impact the work has on customers, how much collaboration the work requires (both within teams and cross functionally), and what kind of talent is needed to do the work with excellence. Avoid short-sighted, binary choices here — for example, remote or onsite. They tend to over-index on employee preference as a dominant criterion, resulting in extroverts in remote-friendly individual roles advocating for onsite work, and introverts engaged in team-based work begging to stay home. The optimal answers will likely vary across departments or regions.

Activities that are typically done by individual contributors, like analytics and reporting, claims processing, and call center work have successfully transitioned to remote work, despite the common belief that they needed to be done onsite. Other project-based activities, like product development, client service delivery, and strategic planning have effectively employed a blend of in-person and asynchronous collaboration.

Company leaders should set high-level parameters for departmental and regional managers to use in proposing what works best for their groups. For example, “Leaders must be readily accessible to their teams whether onsite or remotely,” or, “The location of work must never hinder effective cross-functional coordination.” Those proposed plans can then be integrated to ensure that across the organization, there’s a focus on consistency, fairness, and performance requirements.

Finally, it will be important for your human resources team to make sure there are resources in place to address any upskilling or talent needs the plans reveal.

Design for the social connection you need. Many midsize companies pride themselves on their tight-knit cultures. Veteran employees who’ve grown up with the company for years, even decades, often say things like, “We’re a family here.” And like it is for the CEO who called for help, the fear of losing that culture in remote work is real. Further, many talented employees choose smaller companies over large, corporate jobs precisely because of that closeness.

Midsize company leaders should exploit the advantages of their size. First, they can be nimbler with remote work than large, global corporations, offering prospective talent levels of flexibility that big companies can’t. Second, remember that a deep sense of connection and belonging isn’t just a byproduct of onsite work — your company values should be every bit as impactful when you’re in each other’s presence as when you’re not. The deep sense of purpose, intolerance of bureaucracy, and more intimate connection between leaders and followers that often characterize midsize companies can be sustained even when working remotely.

Once you’ve determined the degree of collaboration and social cohesion each body of work needs, you can determine how to create that connectivity. This is a great place to engage employees in the work. Many smaller companies have moved to always-on video conferencing and regular virtual happy hours and social gatherings, and leaders have significantly increased their one-on-one time with those they lead. Where possible, teams are gathering in person with appropriate social distancing to talk about work and non-work-related things. If you’ve felt the cohesive bonds of your culture weakening over the last 10 months, don’t instantly assume remote work is the entire cause. There may be other factors straining cohesion now that the pandemic revealed but didn’t create.

Pay down your technical debt. Technology has enabled deeper connection among teams, but for smaller companies, it’s been choppy at times. Many midsize companies are carrying significant technical debt, having failed to upgrade technology systems during periods of intense growth. The pandemic has exposed legacy data servers, clumsy core processes and internal collaboration tools, and outmoded customer relationship or financial management tools. Naturally, the absence of effective technologies can make remote work more difficult to employ consistently across the organization because all of the “bubble gum and duct tape” workarounds are onsite. Many leaders simply play the culture card, claiming that for their culture to remain special, people have to be onsite — it’s a tempting way to avoid accumulated technical debt. This transition to a new type of workplace is the perfect opportunity to get serious about bringing your technology up to speed as fast as your budget will allow.

Make your real-estate decisions last. Rather than using lease renewals or cost-saving opportunities to drive your real estate decisions, use the organization design choices above to completely rethink your facilities needs. If you discover that you have a greater need for collaboration space than you’d previously understood and that future growth will depend on greater interdependency between teams, then perhaps you need workspaces with more collaboration rooms than individual offices or cubicles. If you anticipate a highly varied use of onsite work, then perhaps hoteling or other flexible workspace arrangements work best. There are many workplace design options to meet your company needs, and those choices are best made when preceded by sound strategic and organization design choices.

For midsize companies aspiring to continued growth, the possibilities of a post-Covid workplace offer unique opportunities to rethink the pathway to get there. Don’t let short-term thinking get in the way of taking advantage of the long-term benefits awaiting your organization.

How are you ensuring you go to bed smarter every day?

Warren Buffett: 4 Life Choices Separate the Achievers From the Dreamers

Simple wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha you should put into action today. 


Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett.

Millions of people from all walks of life look to Warren Buffett for advice. Even those who disagree with his conclusions yield to his immense influence as the Oracle of Omaha

I have to admit, I’ve been following Buffett for years and have myself conceded to his widely known aphorisms, even as I rolled my eyes at their simplicity.

The greatest investor of our time may not be Einstein-esque in intellect. But he did make brilliant decisions through smart investing and surrounding himself with mentors, teachers, and colleagues who shaped who he is today.

His fabled advice for successful leadership and investing, as well as living the good life, is far-reaching. Here’s a small slice to take ahold of and apply this year.

1. Invest in your communication skills

“The most important investment you can make is in yourself,” said Buffett. He invested in improving his capacity to communicate better at an early age, which he said would increase your worth: “One easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now at least is to hone your communication skills–both written and verbal.” 

2. Model your leadership after the best

In Buffett’s 2015 letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett summarized how one arrives at leadership greatness in a few words:

Much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy.

The quote was in reference to Tom Murphy, who built Capital Cities Communications into a telecommunications empire. Murphy became Buffett’s biggest admirer and taught Buffett everything he learned about managing a company.

3. Stop procrastinating

Ever sat on a decision too long and did nothing when you should’ve acted on it? Buffett calls this “thumb-sucking.” It’s stalling, procrastinating, and avoiding something that may have been your best bet to begin with to reach your goals. We’re all guilty of it, and Warren Buffett is no exception. 

I have passed on a couple of really big purchases that were served up to me on a platter and that I was fully capable of understanding. For Berkshire’s shareholders, myself included, the cost of this thumb-sucking has been huge.

4. Follow the Buffett Formula

The Buffett Formula is far from complicated. In fact, “formula” is a bit of a misnomer. According to the Oracle of Omaha, the key to success is going to bed a little smarter each day. It may be a no-brainer, but, like a good investment, it holds the power of compounding interest. Adopt this sole principle, add in a healthy dosage of time commitment, and the results will speak for themselves.

I shared these thoughts with my kids for Valentine’s Day. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all had this peace. Reach out if you’d like help getting it.

My Wish For You.

My wish for you is PEACE.
Peace beyond circumstance, peace beyond understanding, and peace because you love yourself.
What does that look like?
One thing that impacts your peace is relationships. Your relationship with yourself and your relationship
with others. Having others around you that help you feel that peace is important. I want you to be
liberated. What does that mean? When I think about being liberated, or when I describe myself as
liberated, I mean a free feeling, a light feeling, an exhilaration with life.
Have you really embraced who you are? Does that inner voice celebrate and encourage that essence of
who you really are? Do you have conditions for that love for yourself? If you apply those conditions for
yourself, you will more than likely apply them to others as well. Where can you improve on empathy for
yourself? If you can’t be empathetic with yourself, it will be hard to do for others; we cannot give away
what we do not possess.
I want you to surround yourself with people who make you want to be a better person. That comes
from being supported and nurtured and from being challenged and empowered. Who is that person for
you that will push you to your limit, AND you know they have your back if you run into any problems?
Are there people around you that challenge AND support you? Are you connected? Do you need to
reach out? Do the people around you energize you, or are you dragging them along? (Or are they
dragging you along?)
Do you have close, healthy and diverse relationships with others? Who is that person who both
supports and challenges who you are and who you can be? How do you invest in those relationships?
When do you make time for fun, for life-giving experiences; for relationships?
My wish for you is peace and I know good, healthy relationships can make that peace more obtainable.

Wonder what they talk about in a Vistage meeting? Here’s a peek behind the curtain.

How leaders can address their biggest challenge: morale [webinar]

managing morale cover

Anne PetrikFebruary 3, 2021

COVID fatigue has officially set in. Statistics on mental health are alarming as we struggle to navigate the personal impacts of the health crisis and the pandemic’s resulting effects on the economy and our future. Add to that social injustice and the political division in our country that makes headlines every day, and the result is unprecedented levels of uncertainty that continues to test our emotional fortitude as individuals.

Leaders are faced with the challenge of managing not only their own mindset in these trying times, but the morale of their team as well. In fact, when asked about the biggest leadership challenges they were facing in the Q4 2020 Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey, CEOs overwhelmingly shared their biggest challenge was related to morale. Specific responses included morale of their team, personal morale, battling COVID fatigue, zoom fatigue, mental health, keeping people engaged, and even keeping themselves engaged and focused.

To help CEOs address this leadership challenge, we assembled a panel of top Vistage experts to share their insights. Below are the key takeaways from our panelists — listen for the unique perspectives they shared in this dynamic discussion on morale.

Practice self care

Dr. Eve Meceda, research psychologist and expert on mindset shares “No matter how strong, how gritty, how tough, how invincible you think you are, nobody gets a free pass in this one. So I just want to normalize anything that people may be feeling. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure you are taking care of yourself first.”

Her recommendations for leaders start with intentionally crafting the stories they want to tell about themselves and their companies on the other side of this crisis.

Create empathy to drive behavior change

Valerie Alexander, CEO of Speak Happiness, notes that conflicts arising from COVID fatigue can be addressed by building empathy. “If leaders can build the empathy in your workforce towards each other, you are going to get such greater outcomes.”

She shares ideas on how to create empathy and caring to improve morale, as well as ideas on how to create a sense of accomplishment that is critical to employee engagement and happiness.

Be intentional with your culture

David Friedman Founder and CEO of High-Performing Culture shares ideas on being intentional in communications, words and actions, which is critical for leaders to create and maintain a strong culture. “If you didn’t historically do a good job at this when you sat in the same office, or on the same jobsite, it’s going to take a little bit more effort to connect those dots for people in a remote setting,” says Friedman.

Friedman shares suggestions on addressing zoom fatigue and how leaders can use preference and permission to encourage engagement in virtual platforms.

Leaders should find solace in the fact that they are not alone. Practicing self-care, leveraging empathy and leading with intentionality will help them lead their companies to maintain and gain momentum as the pandemic passes and the new reality takes shape. Apply these expert insights on managing morale to overcome this challenge for yourself and your team and lead towards a strong, successful future.

Successful? What if you faked it till you made it?

7 Unexpected Signs You’re a Lot More Successful Than You Think

Once in a while, you need to stop and smell your roses: Not only is it good for you, it will motivate you to plant even more.


If you compare yourself to certain people it’s easy to feel you’re unsuccessful. If you’re an entrepreneur and you compare yourself to Richard Branson, you lose. If you’re a musician and you compare yourself to Taylor Swift (especially if the point of comparison is earnings), you lose. If your goal is to change the world and you compare yourself to Steve…you lose.

That’s the problem with comparisons. No matter how successful you feel, there will always be someone who is more successful. There will always someone better, or smarter, or wealthier, or seemingly more happy.

So let’s stop comparing and just focus on you. Here are a few signs that you’re more successful than you might think–and, in all likelihood, happier too:

1. You have enough money that you can make positive choices.

Many people live paycheck to paycheck. Worse, many have to decide between necessities. (My wife just mentioned the other day how once upon a time she had to decide between filling a prescription for an antibiotic or putting gas in her car.)

If you make enough money, and don’t spend so much money, that you can make positive choices about what to do with some of it–whether it’s investing, or taking a vacation, or taking classes…anything you want to do instead of have to do–then you’re successful, both because you’ve escaped the paycheck-to-paycheck grind and because you can leverage that extra money to become even more successful.

2. You have close friends.

Close friendship are increasingly rare; one study found that the number of friends respondents felt they could discuss important matters with has dropped from an average of 2.94 to 2.08 in the last 20 years. (So much for the power of social media.)

If you have more than two or three close friends, be glad, not only for the social connection but also because the positive effect of relationships on your life span is double what you get from exercising and just as powerful as quitting smoking.

And where professional relationships are concerned…

3. You choose the people around you.

Some people have employees who drive them nuts. Some people have customers who are obnoxious. Some people have casual acquaintances who are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

Guess what: They chose those people. Those people are in their professional or personal lives because they let them remain.

Successful people attract successful people. Hardworking people attract hardworking people. Kind people associate with kind people. Great employees want to work for great bosses.

If the people around you are people you want to be around you…you’re successful. (And if they’re not, it’s time to start making some changes.)

4. You see failure as training.

Failure sucks, but it’s also the best way to learn and grow. There will always be trials, challenges, and obstacles–but perseverance always wins in the end.

Every successful person has failed, numerous times. (Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re so successful now.)

If you embrace every failure–if you own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time things will turn out differently–then you’re already successful.

And in time, you’ll be even more successful, because you’ll never stop trying to be better than you are today.

5. You don’t ask for anything.

We’ve all experienced this moment: We’re having a great conversation, we’re finding things in common…and then, boom: The other person plays the “I need something” card.

And everything about the interaction changes.

What once appeared friendly has turned needy, almost grasping…and, if you’re like me, you feel guilty if you decide you don’t want to help.

People who feel successful aren’t needy. They accept help if offered, but they don’t feel the need to ask. In fact, they focus on what they can do for other people.

6. You let others grab the spotlight.

OK, maybe you did do all the work. Maybe you did move mountains. Maybe you did kick ass and take names.

If you aren’t looking for praise or accolades, that means you’re successful. That means you feel proud on the inside, where it counts. You don’t need the glory; you know what you’ve achieved.

If you enjoy the validation of others but don’t need the validation of others, you’re successful.

And you know it…even if you don’t show it.

7. You have a purpose.

Successful people have a purpose. As a result, they’re excited, dedicated, passionate, and fearless.

And they share their passions with others.

If you’ve found a purpose–if you’ve found something that inspires you, fuels you, makes you excited to get up, get out, and achieve–then you’re successful, regardless of how much money you make or what other people think.

Why? Because you’re living life your way–and that’s the best sign of success there is.

In honor of Valentine’s Day; we all love our kids, here’s how to have less guilt in how they turn out.

Why parents should stop blaming themselves for how their kids turn out

Jan 12, 2021 / Yuko Munakata PhD

This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

A few years ago, a student came up to me after the second day of my class on parenting and child development (I’m a college psychology professor). She hesitated for a second, and then she confessed: “I’m really interested in this material. But I was hoping that your class would help me to become a better parent if I have kids someday.”

She had jumped to the conclusion that the class wouldn’t help her because I had told the students that I was going to cover how parents do not have control in shaping who their children become. I was caught off guard. Would confronting the science of parenting and child development not be relevant to being a good parent? I hope that my class ended up changing her mind.

Parents want what’s best for their children — whether they’re young or old, rich or poor, married or divorced. Shelves of parenting books promise to show people how to address the difficult decisions that parents face every day and how to achieve the best outcomes.

Whether they’re about tiger parenting or free-range parenting, parenting like the Dutch or parenting like the Germans, these books share one consistent message: If your child isn’t succeeding, you’re doing something wrong.

As it turns out, the science supports a totally different and ultimately empowering message: Trying to predict how a child will turn out based on choices made by their parents is like trying to predict a hurricane from the flap of a butterfly’s wings.

Do you know about the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings in China, perturbing the atmosphere just enough to shift wind currents that they end up fueling a hurricane in the Caribbean six weeks later?

If you are a parent, you are the butterfly flapping your wings. Your child is the hurricane, a breathtaking force of nature. You will shape the person your child becomes — just like the butterfly shapes the hurricane — in complex, seemingly unpredictable but powerful ways. The hurricane wouldn’t exist without the butterfly.

You might ask, “What about all the successful parents who have successful children? Or the struggling parents who have struggling children?”

They seem to show the power of parenting, but children are shaped by many forces that they grow up with and that are often intertwined — forces like genes, peers and culture. This makes it hard to know which forces influence who children become.

Millions of children have been studied to disentangle all those shaping forces. Studies have followed identical twins and fraternal twins and plain-old siblings growing up together or adopted and raised apart. Growing up in the same home does not make children noticeably more alike in how successful they are, how happy or self-reliant they are, and so on.

In other words, imagine if you’d been taken at birth and raised next door by the family to the left and your brother or sister had been raised next door by the family to the right. By and large, that would have made you no more similar or different than growing up together under the same roof.

On the one hand, these findings seem unbelievable. Think about all the ways that parents differ from home to home and how often they argue and whether they helicopter and how much they shower their children with love. You’d think it would matter enough to make children growing up in the same home more alike than if they’d been raised apart, but it doesn’t.

In 2015, a meta-analysis — or a study that analyzes many, many studies — found this pattern across thousands of studies following over 14 million twin pairs in 39 countries. They measured over 17,000 outcomes, and the researchers concluded that every single one of the outcomes was heritable. Genes influence who children become, but genes didn’t explain everything. Environment mattered too but it wasn’t enough to shape children growing up in the same home to be more alike.

Some people have looked at these findings and concluded that it means parenting doesn’t matter, that you would’ve become the same person you are today, regardless of who raised you.

On the other hand — or really I should say on the other hands because there are many caveats — these findings are not all that shocking when you think about how the same parent can shape different children in different ways. For example, one child might find it helpful when her mother provides structure, while her sister finds it stifling. One child could think his parents are caring when they ask questions about his friends, but his brother thinks they’re nosy. One child might view a divorce as a tragedy, while his sister sees it as a relief.

Same event, different experience.

But just because an event doesn’t shape people in the same way doesn’t mean it had no effect. Your parenting could be shaping your children — just not in the ways that lead them to become more alike. Your parenting could be leading your first child to become more serious and your second child to become more relaxed. Or, it could lead your first child to want to be like you and your second child to want to be nothing like you.

You are flapping your butterfly wings to your hurricane children.

I know this isn’t typically how we think about parenting, and it doesn’t make for simple advice. At this point, you may be like the students in my class who sometimes say, “OK, we get it —  development is complicated, and maybe it’s not worth studying because it’s too complicated.”

But meaning can be made from chaos. Scientists now understand how babies go from apparent lumps to walking, talking, thinking, social independent beings. They understand this process well enough to intervene to test newborns for a genetic condition that once led to mental retardation. Scientists are also developing an ever more sophisticated understanding of how parents could shape their children’s futures.

So what can we do with all these findings?

First, know that parents do matter.

That might seem obvious, but smart people have argued otherwise.

Second, know that how parents matter is complex and difficult to predict.

For anyone who’s ever been a parent: Stop blaming yourself as if you’re in control of your child’s path. You have influence — but you don’t have control.

For anyone who’s ever been a child: Stop blaming your parents, or at least stop thinking you must be defined by them.

And stop blaming other parents. A recent survey of thousands of parents revealed that 90 percent of mothers and 85 percent of fathers feel judged, and close to half of them feel judged all or nearly all the time by people they know and by complete strangers. Even when parents do their best, you can’t satisfy everybody. There’s only so much time.

This is especially true for “dragon parents”. Author Emily Rapp came up with this term after her baby was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease. She knew then and there that Ronan would never walk or talk and he would likely die before the age of 4.

My firstborn son was born with a condition that prevents the intestine from absorbing nutrients or water for the body. It affects only 1 in 5 million babies, and it’s so rare that one doctor felt confident telling us that we would be screwed if that’s what our baby had. He was also the one who had to break the news to us later.

Dragon parents have a lot to say about parenting, even if they know their children will die young or even if we have no idea whether our babies will live.

Rapp wrote:

“We will not launch our children into a bright and promising future, but see them into early graves … This requires a new ferocity, a new way of thinking, a new animal. We are dragon parents, fierce and loyal and loving as hell. Our experiences have taught us how to parent for the here and now, for the sake of parenting, for the humanity implicit in the act itself … Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent anywhere, that’s all there is.

I had thought that my expertise in child development would help prepare me for becoming a parent. Instead, becoming a parent helped me see the science in a whole new light.

Third, appreciate how powerful your moments with them can be because of what they mean for you and your child right now — not because of what they mean for your child long-term, which you cannot know.

Activist Andrew Solomon noted that “even though many of us take pride in how different we are from our parents, we are endlessly sad at how different our children are from us.” Maybe we’d be less sad if we could let go of the notion that our children’s futures are in our control.

If we could embrace the complexity of our children’s development, it could transform how we approach the parenting decisions we face each day and empower us to realize how much more there is to having a child rather than trying to shape a specific outcome. I’ve learned to appreciate every moment with my firstborn son — who is thriving at the age of 14 — and with his younger brother and the unique paths they are each taking.

The science of parents and children — us butterflies and our hurricanes — can free people to focus on what is most important and meaningful in our lives. This can make the experience of being a parent and the experience of having been a child more realistic and more satisfying.