Green Time

Thursday, July 18, 2013

One Life-Changing Class You Never Took: Alexa von Tobel at TEDxWallStreet

Published on Apr 12, 2012


Alexa von Tobel is the founder and CEO of
which she has been developing and growing since 2006. 

LearnVest is the leading personal finance and lifestyle website that brings financial literacy to women. Since launching LearnVest, Alexa has been widely quoted as a personal finance expert and entrepreneur in top tier business and consumer publications including: New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, BusinessWeek, Shape, Fast Company, Marie Claire, ForbesWoman, InStyle, People StyleWatch, Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, among many others. Alexa has been included on Vanity Fair's 2011 Next Establishment list, featured on Business Insider's 2010 and 2011 Silicon Alley 100 lists, named "One of the Coolest Young Entrepreneurs" in Inc. Magazine's 30 Under 30 feature, titled a "Woman to Watch" by Forbes and included on the publication's 30 Under 30 list, highlighted on BusinessWeek's annual list of "Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs," among others. LearnVest has been named one of "25 Women-Run Startups to Watch" by Fast Company, included on Forbes' list of the "Top 100 Websites for Women" for the second year in a row, featured on Business Insider's Digital 100 list and included on Time Magazine's annual list of "50 Best Websites."
More information at

About TEDx, x = independently organized event:

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.*

(*Subject to certain rules and regulations)




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Friday, July 12, 2013

Investment Advice From Warren Buffett

9 Nuggets of Investment Advice From the Best Investor, Warren Buffett

By Selena Maranjian | More Articles
June 29, 2013 

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) company's per-share book value has grown by an annual average of 19.7% between 1965 and 2012. 

That's a total gain of more than 586,000%. (Compounding at its finest)

The company's stock has grown by about one million percent since 1965, enough to turn a $10,000 investment into roughly $100 million. 

Be optimistic

"Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts, the Depression, a dozen or so recessions and financial panics, oil shocks, a flu epidemic, and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497."

This bit of investment advice offers useful perspective, reminding us that the market's overall trend has been to rise, despite some big and small hiccups.

Geniuses need not apply

It can be easy to assume that you need to be brilliant like Buffett to make money in stocks. He would disagree, though:

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ."

That point is supported by plenty of examples of the bumbling of brilliant folks, such as the 1994 implosion of the massive Long Term Capital Management hedge fund company, which boasted two Nobel laureates and lost billions anyway.

Investing is simple ... sort of

So what specific investment advice does Buffett offer? Here it is, in a nutshell:

"All there is to investing is picking good stocks at good times and staying with them as long as they remain good companies."

That sure makes it sound easy. Note, though, that his investment advice isn't to simply buy and hold forever. 

You should hang on only as long as a company remains promising. Here's a little more detail:
"Your goal as an investor should simply be to purchase, at a rational price, a part interest in an easily understandable business whose earnings are virtually certain to be materially higher five, 10, and 20 years from now. Over time, you will find only a few companies that meet these standards – so when you see one that qualifies, you should buy a meaningful amount of stock. You must also resist the temptation to stray from your guidelines: If you aren't willing to own a stock for 10 years, don't even think about owning it for 10 minutes. Put together a portfolio of companies whose aggregate earnings march upward over the years, and so also will the portfolio's market value."

That investment advice contains some key concepts -- for instance, making sure to buy at attractive prices, and focusing on companies that are easy for you to understand.

It's not all simple, though:

"When managers want to get across the facts of the business to you, it can be done within the rules of accounting. Unfortunately, when they want to play games, at least in some industries, it can also be done within the rules of accounting. If you can't recognize the differences, you shouldn't be in the [stock]-picking business."

The main message here is that it's important to keep reading and learning, so you can become a better investor.
(If you don't have the time or interest for that, Buffett has recommended simple index funds, as we at the Fool have also recommended for many years, too.)

Be patient

Another key bit of investment advice from Buffett is to maintain a long-term view:

"When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever."

Indeed, Buffett has held shares in some companies for decades. This quotation is from his 1988 letter to shareholders, and in that letter he lists stock in Coca-Cola and Washington Post as major holdings, and he still has his shares.

The investment advice to be patient and calm has been reiterated many times. 

For example:

"You could be somewhere where the mail was delayed three weeks and do just fine investing."

Don't get emotional

Another vital piece of investment advice is to avoid being influenced by dangerous emotions:

"Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful."

This makes a lot of sense if you think about it: Others tend to be greedy when the market has been soaring, so they often end up buying at inflated prices. Folks get fearful and often sell after big market drops, but by doing so they lose money (or reap smaller gains) and miss out on some great buying opportunities.

Be careful whom you listen to

Finally, an often overlooked bit of investment advice is to be careful where you gather your investment advice:

"Never ask the barber if you need a haircut."

If you're getting stock-investing guidance from a broker, he or she may have some conflicts of interest and not have your best interests at heart.

There's much more to learn from Buffett. You might start with his many annual letters to shareholders, which are quite accessible -- and often even entertaining.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seven Ways To Conquer Indecision

Ever feel that gnawing pain in your stomach because you…just…can’t…decide?

Don’t feel bad: Even the greatest leaders suffer from indecision. What distinguishes the best from the rest is the ability to get at the fundamental cause of their mental roadblock—and then set dynamite to it.

Take my former client, whom I’ll call JC. This guy built a $400-million enterprise in less than a decade. Along the way, he never suffered indecision. He was not rash or foolhardy, and on most days, he knew his mind and had the confidence to act on it.

That changed radically, however, after his company was profitable for seven consecutive quarters and his big backers urged him to kick growth into high gear. Although JC anticipated this directive, given how well his company was performing, it caused him to start second-guessing himself, and eventually brought on serious distress.

Plenty of executives I have coached had the same reaction JC did. It is so prevalent that I gave it a name so I could more readily help folks except it as non-career-threatening: I call it “Executive Yips,” like the kind a golfer suffers when sweating over a three-foot, straight-uphill put.

When golfers get the yips, they experience shaky hands, an inability to focus, or unsteady posture. 

Executives Yips grip business leaders with dread. After setting a course of action and narrowing the strategy to a few choices, they simply freeze up. Typically, in this dilemma, they’ll turn to various advisors and ask, “What should I do?” This never works since Executive Yips are never about making the correct choice but, rather, about being blocked from action.

To help JC, I had him consider what he would have to do before he could expand his business. The harsh reality: He had to replace his founding executive team—which included a bunch of JC’s college fraternity brothers, a group that was not up to the task. After JC finally dealt with the pain of telling those he truly loved that he would have to let them go, his Executive Yips vanished as suddenly as they appeared.

JC (and I) got lucky on that one. In most cases, folks who struggle with indecision have it bad. Because indecision is ultimately an action issue (rather than a cognitive one), the person gripped by it can look contemplative when, in fact, he is immobilized by fear.

Before I began working with JC, none of his colleagues knew that he was suffering Executive Yips; he always looked before he leaped, so they assumed he was just being judicious in setting a grander course for the business. No one guessed that he was paralyzed by concern for his fraternity brothers. Because indecision has no overt symptoms that reliably distinguish it from deep thought, JC could have languished in that state until his stakeholders roused him with an annoyed, “What’s up?”

Chronic indecisiveness can be one of the toughest psychological demons to banish. Here are seven ways to help you pull the trigger when a big part of you would rather do anything but.

Forget About Always Appearing Smart

Plenty of talented people, even those who have made a killing, go to exhaustive lengths not to appear dumb. (For proof, read Paul Allen’s recent autobiography: The man has billions but still craves respect.)

Actually, the smarter you are, the more likely your indecision is born of this anxiety. A kid building a startup can be wrong, fail, and feel no shame: “I’m a kid… what do you expect?” Not so for someone with an established reputation to protect. This fear of shame is pernicious, mainly because it’s useless. Let it go.

Trust Your Gut (It’s Savvier Than You Think)

As Malcolm Gladwell hammers home in Blink, mistrusting emotion-driven decisions can be dangerous. What you refer to as “your gut” is actually a wealth of knowledge marbled with empirically validated facts that you aren’t in touch with at critical crossroads.

Better yet, recall the breezy mantra: “If you don’t make the right decision, you can make the decision right.” If that sounds like cold comfort, set up a straw man—your gut—to absorb criticism if you end up making a poor choice. By making your gut the scapegoat, you protect your analytic self (your cortex) from blame, and prime it for triage, if necessary.

Beware The Paradox Of Choice

Really smart folks often fare poorly on multiple-choice tests if they view all the possible answers to a question rather than answer the question and then see if their answer is one of the choices. That’s because the better the test, the more similar “wrong” choices are to the correct one.

Similarly, getting outside perspective is wise only to a point. Shopping for advice does only one thing: It lengthens your list of possibilities, and that can grind you to a halt—or even make the choice you eventually do make less satisfying.

Prioritize Your Demands (And Fears)

People suffering indecision often get hamstrung by blurred boundaries. That’s precisely what happened to JC: He knew what to do—as CEO—to boost sales, but the need to protect his friends got in the way. Once he realized he had to be a CEO first and friend second, he pulled the trigger.

Channel Winston Churchill 

Sociopaths aside (and after 30 years in psychiatry I’ve met a few), people generally know what the “right” choice is. Yet they allow themselves, if only for a second, to ponder a lesser, lower path—and that slope gets slick and steep in a hurry.

If you want to snuff indecision in its tracks, repeat after General Churchill: “The only guide to man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor.”

Accept The Limits Of Analysis

The road to hell, we’re told, is paved with good intentions, judicious decisions and exhaustively analyzed strategies. Wars have been lost owing to unexpected weather conditions; data-wielding sports scouts draft college players who fail in the pros.

Bottom line: Avoid paralysis by analysis. Act, examine your results, make adjustments, and move on. (This approach, by the way, is gaining serious traction in the world of technology startups. )

Flip A Coin

“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” The eminent psychologist/philosopher William James said this, and he was dead-on. If you feel like a hung jury that’s taken 18 successive votes and is still deadlocked, use a coin to break your psychic logjam.

Remember: Indecision is all about avoiding 1) the choice between two negative alternatives, one of which has to be adopted, or 2) the choice between two fairly equal courses of action. In both cases, the solution may well be heads or tails.

I am an executive coach and management consultant who, for over 25 years, was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. During that time I maintained a private psychotherapy practice in Boston where I used techniques of behavioral and psychodynamic psychiatry to treat patients who were professionally successful yet self-defeating. I use the same skill sets today to design interventions that foster the success of entrepreneurs and C-level executives, particularly those at risk for career burnout or engaging in self-defeating behaviors. My interest in entrepreneurs dates back to 1986 when I realized that their spirit is the only naturally occurring inoculation against the disorders that cause successful people to self-destruct. I began writing about entrepreneurs in Inc. Magazine, and have taught courses on The Psychology of the Entrepreneurial Spirit at USC’s Marshall School of Business and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. I welcome questions and suggestions.

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Steven Berglas, Contributor

I wrangle with the psychological challenges of life and business.

Steven Berglas’ Popular Posts
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How To Boost Your Confidence At Work

Seven Ways To Conquer Indecision - Forbes


Compound Growth

This is the Secret to Warren Buffett's Success ... he understood the Magic of Compound Return on his Assets


Charlie Rose - An Hour with Warren Buffett

The Psychology of Human Misjudgement - Charlie Munger Full Speech

ublished on Jan 13, 2013
"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Rober Cialdini"
"Poor Charlie's Almanack Expanded Third Edition"

Audio of the often referred to speech by Charlie Munger on the psychology
of human misjudgement given to an audience at Harvard University circa Jun 1995.
Mr. Munger speaks about the framework for decision making and the
factors contributing to misjudgements. c. Jun 1, 1995

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A Conversation with Charlie Munger (U Michigan)- 2010