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T. Boone Pickens on Lifes Best Lessons

I remember watching CNBC and seeing T. Boone Pickens coming on during the Oil Boom and discussing how the days of $70 a barrel oil was a new reality that we should be getting used to. As demand was rising in China and around the world it was starting to outpace what was seen as current supply at the time but with new discoveries things had changed from 2006 to now and the price of Oil has reflected as such. Now that the billionaire philanthropist has passed on he has provided a letter with some of his best life lessons that we can all learn from. The excerpt is copied below:

 

If you are reading this, I have passed on from this world — not as big a deal for you as it was for me.

In my final months, I came to the sad reality that my life really did have a fourth quarter and the clock really would run out on me. I took the time to convey some thoughts that reflect back on my rich and full life.

I was able to amass 1.9 million Linkedin followers. On Twitter, more than 145,000 (thanks, Drake). This is my goodbye to each of you.

One question I was asked time and again: What is it that you will leave behind?

That's at the heart of one of my favorite poems, "Indispensable Man," which Saxon White Kessinger wrote in 1959. Here are a few stanzas that get to the heart of the matter:

Sometime when you feel that your going

Would leave an unfillable hole,

Just follow these simple instructions

And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,

Put your hand in it up to the wrist,

Pull it out and the hole that's remaining

Is a measure of how you'll be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,

You may stir up the water galore,

But stop and you'll find that in no time

It looks quite the same as before.

You be the judge of how long the bucket remembers me.

I've long recognized the power of effective communication. That's why in my later years I began to reflect on the many life lessons I learned along the way, and shared them with all who would listen.

Fortunately, I found the young have a thirst for this message. Many times over the years, I was fortunate enough to speak at student commencement ceremonies, and that gave me the chance to look out into a sea of the future and share some of these thoughts with young minds. My favorite of these speeches included my grandchildren in the audience.

What I would tell them was this Depression-era baby from tiny Holdenville, Oklahoma — that wide expanse where the pavement ends, the West begins, and the Rock Island crosses the Frisco — lived a pretty good life.

In those speeches, I'd always offer these future leaders a deal: I would trade them my wealth and success, my 68,000-acre ranch and private jet, in exchange for their seat in the audience. That way, I told them, I'd get the opportunity to start over, experience every opportunity America has to offer.

It's your shot now.

If I had to single out one piece of advice that's guided me through life, most likely it would be from my grandmother, Nellie Molonson. She always made a point of making sure I understood that on the road to success, there's no point in blaming others when you fail.

Here's how she put it:

"Sonny, I don't care who you are. Some day you're going to have to sit on your own bottom."

After more than half a century in the energy business, her advice has proven itself to be spot-on time and time again. My failures? I never have any doubt whom they can be traced back to. My successes? Most likely the same guy.

Never forget where you come from. I was fortunate to receive the right kind of direction, leadership, and work ethic — first in Holdenville, then as a teen in Amarillo, Texas, and continuing in college at what became Oklahoma State University. I honored the values my family instilled in me, and was honored many times over by the success they allowed me to achieve.

I also long practiced what my mother preached to me throughout her life — be generous. Those values came into play throughout my career, but especially so as my philanthropic giving exceeded my substantial net worth in recent years.

For most of my adult life, I've believed that I was put on Earth to make money and be generous with it. I've never been a fan of inherited wealth. My family is taken care of, but I was far down this philanthropic road when, in 2010, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates asked me to take their Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. I agreed immediately.

I liked knowing that I helped a lot of people. I received letters every day thanking me for what I did, the change I fostered in other people's lives. Those people should know that I appreciated their letters.

My wealth was built through some key principles, including:

  • A good work ethic is critical.
  • Don't think competition is bad, but play by the rules. I loved to compete and win. I never wanted the other guy to do badly; I just wanted to do a little better than he did.
  • Learn to analyze well. Assess the risks and the prospective rewards, and keep it simple.
  • Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader: Avoid the "Ready-aim-aim-aim-aim" syndrome. You have to be willing to fire.
  • Learn from mistakes. That's not just a cliché. I sure made my share. Remember the doors that smashed your fingers the first time and be more careful the next trip through.
  • Be humble. I always believed the higher a monkey climbs in the tree, the more people below can see his ass. You don't have to be that monkey.
  • Don't look to government to solve problems — the strength of this country is in its people.
  • Stay fit. You don't want to get old and feel bad. You'll also get a lot more accomplished and feel better about yourself if you stay fit. I didn't make it to 91 by neglecting my health.
  • Embrace change. Although older people are generally threatened by change, young people loved me because I embraced change rather than running from it. Change creates opportunity.
  • Have faith, both in spiritual matters and in humanity, and in yourself. That faith will see you through the dark times we all navigate.

Over the years, my staff got used to hearing me in a meeting or on the phone asking, "Whaddya got?" That's probably what my Maker is asking me about now

Here's my best answer.

I left an undying love for America, and the hope it presents for all. I left a passion for entrepreneurship, and the promise it sustains. I left the belief that future generations can and will do better than my own.

Thank you. It's time we all move on.


Bill Gates Showcase Practice Makes Perfect with Warrent Buffett

Practice makes perfect and arguably the most intelligent person alive is showcasing that here. It's Bill Gates in Omaha, Nebraska with Warren Buffet working at a Dairy Queen. Besides it being comical for a couple of laughs you should also note that it showcases that Practice Makes Perfect and even on Bill Gates first attempt to make a Soft Serve Ice Cream cone you can see that it's not the most pretty cone and Buffett gives it a big laugh. With practice though I'm sure Gates would be able to make a beautiful cone for the Dairy Queen visitors of Omaha.

A big part of leadership is deciding, and good decision-making benefits from intelligence, thoughtful deliberation, and experience, but also, as i hope you agree, from sound values.

Seth Klarman a hedge fund manager from the Boston, Massachusetts area that I have admired for years and author of one of my favorite finance books "Margin of Safety" has a great quote in a recent Harvard Business School speech. The quote is "A big part of leadership is deciding, and good decision-making benefits from intelligence, thoughtful deliberation, and experience, but also, as i hope you agree, from sound values."

Other great lessons in the piece can be found here for my reference: https://www.alumni.hbs.edu/stories/Pages/story-bulletin.aspx?num=6818


Who Will Be Todays Chiune Sugihara?

While the crisis of World War 2 is not an apples to apples comparison by any means the future hopefully will reveal the unsung heroes like Chiune Sugihara who was recently re-honored in a nice NY Times piece seen here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/opinion/sugihara-moral-heroism-refugees.html

 

Some excerpts from the piece:

“heroic imagination,” a focus on one’s duty to help and protect others. This ability is exceptional, but the people who have it are often understated. Years after the war, Sugihara spoke about his actions as natural: “We had thousands of people hanging around the windows of our residence,” he said in a 1977 interview. “There was no other way.”

A second characteristic of such heroes and heroines, as the psychologist Philip Zimbardo writes, is “that the very same situations that inflame the hostile imagination in some people, making them villains, can also instill the heroic imagination in other people, prompting them to perform heroic deeds.” While the world around him disregarded the plight of the Jews, Sugihara was unable to ignore their desperation.

“I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a matter of humanity. I did not care if I lost my job. Anyone else would have done the same thing if they were in my place.”

Decades from now we will likely here the stories of those fleeing violence and corruption in their country and how a man or woman came to their rescue...time will tell?


Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko What Make for a great film

Stories that seem almost too good to be true that would make for a great film would certainly be the Babani Sissoko film. This is the story of the man from West Africa who used his black magic skills to get a middle eastern bank to give him over $200 million dollars. He ended up in hot water in Miami was arrested but was so generous and helpful to the community there that the judge was lenient on his sentence and let him go early. In the end he's back home in Africa now living a quiet life but the hope is that a film about his wild story is created one day.

For now we have this BBC Documentary but a full length hollywood thriller would be great as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKALCS0Fe5w


Steven Hawking Passes Away

Steven Hawking a true legend has passed away and one of the smartest individuals alive if not the smartest. His work will forever be ingrained in our society and some have said his disability gave him an advantage to learn even more and think in unique ways.


Life Lessons from Reid Hoffman

Founder of business social network Linkedin Reid Hoffman is one of the most well connected people in Silicon Valley and throughout the world. Be Casnocha has co-authored two books with Hoffman: The Alliance & The Start-Up of You. As he followed Reid around for over two years he learned a ton of great lessons and has shared some of them with readers which I recommend checking out here: http://casnocha.com/reid-hoffman-lessons

For those who want the cliff notes of the top 16 he lists they are below:

16 Lessons Learned (Among Many!)

  1. People are complicated and flawed. Root for their better angels.
  2. The best way to get a busy person’s attention: Help them.
  3. Keep it simple and move fast when conceiving strategies and making decisions.
  4. Every weakness has a corresponding strength.
  5. The values that actually shape a culture have both upside and downside.
  6. Understand someone’s “alpha” tendencies and how that drives them.
  7. Self-deception watch: even those who say they don’t need or want flattery, sometimes still need it.
  8. Be clear on your specific level of engagement on a project.
  9. Sketch three possible outcomes for a project: the likely upside, likely ‘regular’, and likely downside scenarios.
  10. A key to making good partnerships great: Identify and emphasize any misaligned incentives.
  11. Reason is the steering wheel. Emotion is the gas pedal.
  12. Trade up on trust even if it means you trade down on competency.
  13. Tell the truth. Don’t reflexively kiss ass to powerful people.
  14. Respect the shadow power.
  15. Make people genuine partners and they’ll work harder.
  16. Final: The people around you change you in myriad unconscious ways

Like other powerful Silicon Valley Titans Ben talks about Reid's mission to save and change the world for better.

"But what he really wants to do is save. He wants to use his talent and network and money to change the world for the better and solve some of humanity’s biggest problems. He is among the most selfless and externally-generous people I’ve met in my life."


Legend Ed Thorpe Interview

On a recent Chat with Traders interview somebody I have followed for years Ed Thorpe was interviewed. I highly recommend those that are into Mathematics to listen to it here.

The interview is for an upcoming book release by the famous mathematician and Beat the Dealer author. At the end of the interview he discusses his memoir and how he got started in life and into things like Blackjack, Roulette, the stock market, and the different profit centers that he found along the way. These include statistical arbitrage and a hedge fund that was chronicled in a book that I read years ago called "Quants".  He also says at the end of the interview that you can still beat 90% of the investors without doing a lot of work as the majority of people are lazy. It is however important about finding out whats really important in life. Most people in life just don't get it because some people put too much value into work and not into truly living because money truly isn't everything. People get hooked and don't stop working for money because you can never have enough and thats what drives a lot of people to pile up more and more money (not true wealth) and then wondering what it was really for? In the end if you can't go out and enjoy it why did you work so hard to obtain it?

Lesson: Don't just pile up wealth. Do something of value in life. Think about how you will be remembered.


Person of the Week Robert Marchand

Starting 2017 off on the right Cycle Robert Marchand has an impressive feat at 105 years old. Almost 100 years ago Robert Marchand was told by a cycling coach that he should give up as he would never amount to anything on a bicycle. Well here we are almost 100 years later and that coach long gone but Marchand in Saint-Quentine-En-Yvelines, France was the place where he just finished riding 14 miles in one hour and setting a new world record for his age! 

 He awaits a rival to compete against him and said he would have had a better time had he seen the current lap time. At the end of his 92 laps he received a standing ovation showing the world that you do things for yourself and do not worry about what the others say. Haters are always going to hate and try to stop you. Make up your own mind and do what you want to do as Robert Marchand has done.