The Recipe for Success

Photo: The Recipe for Success

I was recently a guest on a podcast. The host asked me if I could change one thing about the education system, what that would be.

It was a no brainer - We are never taught the language of money.

Many people complete two decades of formal education without ever touching the subjects of credit, tax strategy and interest rates - let alone financial markets and leverage.

As a consequence, we graduate into life - all playing the same game, but only a few know the rules.

It should be no surprise there are massive populations all over the world rising up, in various expressions of civil unrest.

The disconnect between the people and the language of money has been the root cause of conflict from the 2010 Occupy Wall Street movement to the 2021 storm on the Washington Capital Building. People have woken up, looked at the monopoly board and can’t understand how they got so far behind. Someone must have cheated...

In any arena of life, nefarious action takes place - but the issue is larger than some bad actors.

From wealth strategies like capital gains, compound interest and leverage, to the most basic concepts like producing more than you consume, are missing from our education system.

Producing more than you consume may seem like common sense - but look at our world leaders and show me where that is common...

If I woke up at 30 years old, $100K in debt for my liberal arts degree, I would be upset too. In the United States even personal bankruptcy doesn’t get you out of student loans - it’s like an analogy for eating your own children.

However, my hope is that this changes. Education is being re-thought, starting from the beginning.

My 5 year old son is in kindergarten. He has no classroom. The entire school is based outdoors 12 months of the year. In the Pacific Northwest, with months of rain and snow, this program builds resilient little kids. Resilience is a life skill that has value.

The curriculum is very alternative and is easy to write off as “hippy”.

For example, during the first week, the kindergarteners hike into the forest and select a “tree friend”. Throughout the year, their tree friend will teach them valuable lessons, like the concept of cycles. They will watch as their tree friend changes - buds will appear and turn into leaves. The leaves will turn brown and fall to the ground. After a period of quiet stillness, the buds will again re-emerge. Every season there will be change.

This exposes children to two important lessons:

1. Cycles are common

2. Nothing is static

A tree becomes colourful and vibrant, but in winter the vibrancy fades and a dark stillness takes over. This is our life - the fall from grace, the depression we feel will never end. But our world is forever in a state of change as we cycle through darkness and light, warmth and cold, beauty and bareness. The tree blooms again.

Aaron Beck, known as the father of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy defined the “Cognitive Triad of Depression'' as three prevalent thoughts: “I am no good”, '' My world is bleak”, and “My future is hopeless.”

We are easily inflicted by recency bias - when things are bad, we believe they will not change. Our present will become our future.

Similarly, when things are good, we anticipate them to stay good. In my experience, this is the most common reason that wealthy people go broke - They are making good money, and they assume that they always will. They upgrade the house and add another car payment. They relieve themselves of their frugal habits. When the money becomes compromised, they find themselves over leveraged - there is that word again…

In school we memorize facts. In the world we navigate change.

My wife and I recently sat down and wrote the equivalent of a business plan for our parenting, beginning with core values we wanted to instill on our kids. We landed on Creativity, Confidence and Causation - specifically, the causation between hard work and reward.

In any past or future economy, creativity is an asset. But without confidence, creativity never leaves the imagination. And we must understand that success takes dedication and resilience.

To the best of my knowledge, the recipe for success is this:

Think critically and keep trying things, even if they don’t work out.

The world is in a constant state of change - now more than ever. I believe the pandemic was not the event, but the trigger point for the events to come. Some we are living through now, the majority are still yet to unfold.

It is more important now, than ever, to learn the language of money. It is never too late.

I started my Podcast and Youtube Channel to give my portfolio an edge - it gave me the ability to stress test my ideas with players who have been in the game much longer than I. But it turned into a much bigger mission than making myself more money - I feel a calling to drive towards the most important conversations that the world needs to hear. I absolutely love it.

For two days in January I will be hosting these conversations live on stage at my conference in Vancouver, Canada. Click here for details.