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Announcer: Live from the Internet, it’s Tradestreaming Radio with your host, Tradestreaming.com’s own Zack Miller.
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You can find this podcast on iTunes. You can also find this podcast and all of our archives on my website, Tradestreaming.com. There’s a lot of great content there as well. Come drop by, leave us a comment. Let us know what you think about the podcast, and let us know what we can do better. This is about you guys and helping bubble up great ideas from expert opinion to help us all in our daily work.
Very honored today, we have a bestselling author guest. His name is Tim Sanders. He’s a consultant of Fortune 1000 companies and
an international keynote speaker. He’s authored four books, the first of which was the New York Times and international bestseller, Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. His newest book is called Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence
We met up with Tim on a grueling three-month road show, where he was talking at conventions, speaking in front of affiliate groups, and obviously launching his book. Tim, in the same steps as Todd Tresidder, who we had on a couple of weeks back, is a motivational speaker. But he’s more than that. He helps meld thought, breaking our thoughts, getting us thinking about positive, and actually bringing us into action with those thoughts.
This was a field I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to when we first started the podcast. In fact, I was focusing more on the pure investment, the quant side, even the qualitative side. This is more touchy-feely in my mind, but I find I got a lot of great feedback from Todd’s financial mentor podcast. This one’s a great one. Tim’s going to help us talk about everything about the diet we should feed our mind, breaking out of sort of a loser thought process and finding meaning in everything that we do. I found this conversation with Tim incredibly uplifting, and it made me actually go want to fight a bear. So I hope you find it as interesting. Let us know what you think. We’ll just jump right into the conversation.
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Becoming a better investor by boosting confidence — with Tim Sanders by tradestreaming
Tim: That I’ve been living out of a suitcase now since March 28th.
Tim: But it’ll be over June 22nd, so I’m a little bit beyond the hump.
Zack: That’s a long road show.
Tim: That’s a long road, man, but it’s worth it.
Zack: So are you working with clients right now, or is this all helping to promote the book?
Tim: Use conventions that I’m booked at as tent poles. So, the first thing was a convention that was going to be like 4,000 people in Denver on the 28th. Then there’s probably like one-ish each week, maybe two. But around that it’s like five or six other gigs that are scattered that are just kind of convenient, a couple of hundred people at a time, that are just promotional. So, last week I had one convention gig, no two convention gigs and six promotional gigs. This week I have one convention gig and five promotional. It’s just like filling up the calendar just with every waking moment around these tent poles, because I have to keep doing my business. But at the same time, there’s a very short window when the book is still new and fresh to promote it.
Zack: Sure, sounds like you must be indefatigable. I mean, just burning at both ends?
Tim: To the point of the book, when you’re living on [inaudible 4:07] there’s no suffering. I mean if I was just selling razor blades or a business book, I’d be completely cashed at this point.
Zack: Does it matter what you’re doing actually? Can you find meaning in some of the, I guess, more mundane pursuits?
Tim: No, not at all, especially passion. Can’t find much meaning in that. I mean you find . . . I find that performance driven people are also ego driven. It’s the source of energy, when the physical tank is on E, because the ego says, “Come on, you can do it.” That comes from positive feedback. The psychologist would call it the positive feedback loop. When you’re making a positive impact on other people, the positive feedback loop will feed you incredible energy. It’ll trigger a reward center in your brain, and all kinds of great things are produced that give you very sustainable levels of energy.
When there’s no positive feedback going on, when it’s about self, like I like to do this or I don’t know why I’m doing this, it really is a mind with a body. It really comes down to the body, and that’s why I think that, when we are serving self or we have inconsistent performance based on people that know that they’re moving the needle for somebody else or for . . . not human in their capabilities.
Zack: But can successful people find sort of mundane pursuits? Again, my audiences are primarily investors. By the way, can you hear me
Tim: Oh yeah. Can you hear me okay? I’m using a lapel mic, trying to get you good sound. Is it good?
Zack: It is good. I found that a couple of times, when you were speaking, your voice went out a little bit. It wasn’t the mic. It was maybe the connection.
Tim: Yeah, that’s probably what it is, but I’m on Wi-Fi. It should be good.
Tim: So hopefully we’ll be okay.
Zack: I’ll tell you if there’s a problem.
Zack: So, my audience is made up primarily of investors, and that’s a broad term. So those are people looking to use their money wisely, using it to make more money. Some are individual investors saving for retirement. Others are professional investors looking to find new techniques and tools to better their practice. It could be a very ego driven thing. You may equate money with ego. But are there ways that turns even mundane pursuits and gives sort of a higher level marketing cause? If you’re a financial planner, there are people that do pro bono work and feed themselves in a different way. Right? Or is it all or nothing?
Tim: No, no, no. It’s not all or nothing. Let’s talk a little bit about this idea that in life you follow something, and whatever you follow is the source of your energy. Think of it as your compass. So in the book I talk about the idea of following one’s purpose. Now, a purpose is whatever moves you internally, whatever you find meaning in. So there is no more lofty purpose than any other. There is no more original purpose than any other. So I have a lot of friends who are in wealth management, and some of them have a purpose. It’s very simple, Zack. They want to [inaudible 07:26], and as they pursue wealth management advisory and fund management, etc., they know in the back of their mind I’m putting my kids through school. I’m putting a roof over the head of my family. That is their purpose. They derive incredible energy from that idea.
There are [inaudible 07:42]. My purpose is to produce wealth in the lives of my clients, and they can point to how they’ve helped clients go from average income to wealth and take care of their kids and they [inaudible 07:57] their work and that gives them energy. I know one investment management company, it’s very localized. So this guy Jeff, his purpose [inaudible 08:09] the great recession by making really smart advice products for people that lost everything in real estate. So his purpose is the city.
So what we have to do is step back and understand what it is we’re accomplishing, the difference that it makes, and just derive our energy from it. All three of those examples, they’re equal to me, because one can’t say lifting up Phoenix is a better purpose than taking care of one’s own family. But we must be very mindful of the why behind the what, because that balances our level of confidence. For investment professionals, confidence is rocket fuel. If you don’t have it on a personal level around your competency and you don’t trust the people that you rely on for technicals and you don’t believe that the free market works, you will not take risks. You will always be late. But sometimes we get overconfident, and the overconfidence can be measured and adjusted when one lives on purpose. That’s why I included that discussion in the book.
Zack: So if an investor came to you, a professional investor came to you and said, “Listen, I’m struggling in my personal life. I don’t feel fulfilled in what I’m doing. I don’t know what else I should do.” Would you provide him sort of a different measure to judge himself on? Like maybe, like you just said, so look at what you’re providing for other people, as opposed to looking internally.
Tim: So there are a few things. I get this question quite a bit from a variety of people. The way they describe it, Zack, is they say, “I feel like I’m going sideways in life. I’m just kind of hanging in there. I’m just kind of going from day to day. I’m not the guy I used to be.” Because almost every single person that comes to me that says that, “I’m just not finding fulfillment anymore,” the keyword I want to look at is the word
anymore. So I would ask that person, “What are you not doing today? You work in the day.” With respect to purpose, I ask, “What are you not feeling today that you were feeling when you were called to this business [inaudible 10:20]?”
You have to go back in time and say, “Why did you decide to be an investor? Why did you decide to be a wealth manager? Why did you decide to be a venture capitalist?” Almost every single one of them, if they’ll go all the way back to the genesis of [inaudible 10:34], “Because I wanted to make a difference.” They’ll start to identify that purpose for [inaudible 10:40] purpose sometime in the [inaudible 10:43] is impressive. We [inaudible 10:48].
Zack: So where you started to fade out was you made the distinction between anymore and today. People coming to you and saying, “I don’t
feel good about my life anymore.”
Zack: And I guess my question also, is that why you use today, being rich today? Do you focus on the word “today” a lot?
Tim: Yeah. “Today We Are Rich” has got a lot of meanings. One of the most important meanings behind “Today We Are Rich” is that in the present moment, we have almost everything we need. So many people I meet, their suffering is in the past or it’s in the future based on their worry and their overthinking. But today, right now, we have what we need. The word rich, this is interesting to me. I mean rich to me means full. So what I’ve learned is that there are two different ways to think of the word rich. One way of thinking of rich is the success orientation of prosperity. “I’m wealthy. I’m rich in material possessions.” I was raised by my grandmother to understand that this comes and goes, and even when you have it, it won’t necessarily make you happy. She used to always say, “The biggest difference between rich people and poor people is that rich people know money won’t make you happy.”
But the second type of rich is rich in meaning, and this is when you believe that there’s enough. There’s enough for you to share, because in the moment of sharing, that’s when you know you’re worth something. So, for example, Zack, my friends in the investment community they know that as they share thoughtful advice with the client, when they network clients together to create business opportunities, these are the moments when they are truly rich, because success is not a destination. You’ll never get there. It’s a direction and that direction’s forward.
Zack: So is that why Dave Ramsey likes your book?
Tim: Yeah, Dave and I are simpatico. We’ve done a lot of live speaking events together. The first time he saw me I was really railing against this scarcity mindset, the default way we see the world like animals do, that there’s not enough to go around. The mindset is triggered by circumstance. We have . . .
Zack: It’s sort of Malthusian, right?
Tim: Sort of. I mean the idea is that when things are going great, we have circumstantial confidence and we’re generous and we’re happy. Other people can be successful and we’re cool with it. But when times are challenging, something’s triggered in our brain. Kind of like, “Got to get mine.” The pie of life is now fixed and shrinking, and it changes us as people. The scarcity mentality makes us competitive in times we should be collaborative. It makes us hurt a little bit inside when we see somebody else’s success. Inside organizations, we create silos and then we treat information in the market like it was valuable and we withhold it from other people, unless we can get paid for it.
This is what I was talking about that he really identified with. Because then when I talked about this, there are really two types of people in the world. The scarcity mindset is the source of all conflict, bad attitude, and unhappiness. People that can actually develop a sense of confidence and self-worth that gives them the abundance mindset, these are the people that make a difference in the world, and they’re usually the only ones that are satisfied.
Zack: So it sounds like your grandmother, and you for that matter, have a strong faith. Right? I guess the question is, is that applicable to other people who may not feel such a strong sense? Can you be rich or satisfied without sort of that background or that underlying support?
Tim: Well, I mean certainly faith has been important to me, but let me break it down to you this way. The abundance mentality, which is a Stephen Covey quote, but I believe this. The abundance mentality comes from a deep sense of confidence and self-worth, where one believes in their abilities and the abilities of their community there will be enough to share. So that’s what we’re talking about. Confidence, self-worth, and community. Now, Billie, the subject of this book, “Today We Are Rich,” she raised me to believe that total confidence comes from three things. The floor, your foundation is your sense of competency. I’m good at what I do. Think of the middle ground of confidence as your team. When I fail, I trust my other team members to fill the delta for me.
At the highest level, think of it as the roof that maintains your confidence, even during difficult circumstances. This is your faith in a higher power that’s greater than all of us. Now, in my case, it’s God. But I work for people like Mark Cuban, the billionaire. His higher purpose, his higher power is the free market. He behaves under the belief that Adam Smith’s writing is correct, and that there is an invisible hand in the market that will correct the wrong and accelerate the right. So, if we do the right thing for the customer, take care of the talent that enables customer service and return value to the shareholders exponentially, he says that higher power will get us there. So faith can be in a deity. Faith can be in a force like the market. We can even have faith in our local community to come together. But we have to be accountable, and that’s the key here, Zack. We have to be accountable to something bigger than ourselves, because no confident leader fails to follow something.
Zack: Obviously, we’re in a tough economy here, and the past few years have really kind of trampled people. What do you attribute to that what it feels like a rising sense of unhappiness of unfulfillment?
Tim: I don’t really . . . it’s interesting. We all have different ways of seeing things. I very much believe that on a technical level the recession was very much over last March, and that at a psychological level, it’s propagated by media and weaker people, because that’s exactly how it worked in the Great Depression. It technically lasted from ’28 to April of ’32. Then it dragged on for eight more years, because people kept talking about “this economy”. So I think that one needs to have a perspective that it’s time to get back to business.
For the listeners, go Google the phrase, “hanging tough and The New Yorker.” That’s a magazine, “hanging tough The New Yorker.” You’ll read a review by Bain, a leading consulting firm, of every recession since 1901. What they’ve learned is that the recession is the great equalizer between strong minded and weak minded people. It is the great equalizer of people who have really good sources of information that are objective, and people who just graze on garbage that’s in front of them. Are they hanging out with the wrong kind of people?
What the research learns is that in every one of these recessions since 1901, there is a category of investor or company that makes the great leap. They don’t make the great leap during the recovery. They make the great leap in that gray zone where technically the recession’s over, but psychologically a bunch of people are standing around talking about how bad things still are two or three or four years later. That’s when all the great leaps happen. Whether you’re talking about Kellogg in late ’32, coming out with Rice Krispies, when no one cared about making investments and making the great leap from five to three to one over Post. They had hedging money for 30 years. Or fast forward to 2000, Operation Waterloo. That is the end of 2000, beginning of 2001, when Steve Jobs boldly predicted that Sony would think they were in a recession till 2004, giving him a blue ocean strategy of two years to release the iPod in 2001, at the bottom of the “market” and win the market.
So what I’m saying is that this is part of the issue is that we have to shake off 2008, because as an economist who’s studied this classically, the technicals aren’t strong. They are not strong in various markets, say like real estate. I still think it’s kind of a weak technical market, but there’s still a lot of financial opportunity. In commercial construction, a lot of [inaudible 19:20], but there’s still tremendous renovation opportunity.
So we have to figure out how to take a different view of the market and do what Napoleon Bonaparte said. The leader’s role, he wrote, is to define reality, then give hope. But there are a lot of people that are just trapped in the “you can’t be paranoid enough mentality” because they got burned in 2008. Those are the people who are going to suffer during the next market top.
Zack: But you’re saying something even more than that, that they’re suffering is helping to bring us down. So is a very practical thing listeners can do is just turn off the TV and stop reading the newspaper and just go out and get back to work?
Tim: There you go. This is the first thing I learned about being bold in markets like this, where you’ve got to a major technical breakdown in 2008. You still get the ripple for however many years. We have to be as judicious about what we put into our mind as what we put into our mouth. Here are a couple of things I think.
First of all, when you get up, don’t go online immediately. As a matter of fact, if you can delay gratification, don’t go online the first 45 minutes, even if you have to get up earlier. The reason why is because breakfast is not just the most important meal of the day for your body. It’s an incredibly important meal for the day for your mind, because it establishes your emotional metabolism. “Am I ahead? Am I behind? Am I up? Am I down?” If you get up, turn on the coffee pot and check your email and then surf Yahoo! Finance, you don’t have a prayer. If you turn on CNBC or MSNBC or FOX News, you don’t have a prayer. They have no reason to tell you accuracy or the truth.
There’s very good research inside the broadcast industry, because I speak at these events all the time, that accuracy in financial reporting for TV has absolutely no relationship to ratings quality or advertising satisfaction. Guide is not like Financial Times, not at all. So what I’ve always done through these recessionary periods is I’ve reduced dramatically the number of sources I get financial information from, and I’ve been brutal about analyzing the editorial intent of these sources. Not their ability to entertain me, enlighten me, shock me, cover things I’m interested in. I never read publications like USA Yesterday and I never listen to the radio or watch TV. That’s what they should call it, by the way, is USA Yesterday. We just have to remember that information is easy to manipulate. The average television producer still follows Ted Koppel’s rule called the “ladle dropper effect.” Jim Cramer is famous for this. That is that you have a headline that is so shocking and provocative, mom drops the ladle in the soup to run in the living room and get the rest of the story.
Zack: So this is extremely hard for financial people, I would say, especially, because many of them pride themselves on being information junkies, just being plugged into every source possible. That in and of itself . . .
Tim: Well, I mean that’s . . .
Tim: That’s like a person fighting obesity that says, “I can’t stay away from donuts.” The problem for them is they’re plugging into every kind of food source possible too. There’s no rationale for having a horizontal approach to information gathering for any kind of risk management. I managed a portfolio of about a quarter billion dollars of investment that Yahoo made in a day. I learned that the wider my net was, the weaker the information got, because bad information, that’s driven emotionally, can drag down the other 95 percent because it’s really a question of creating a mastermind group. This is what the very wealthy people in the ’30s did. They created small groups of highly competent individuals who had that balance between reality and hope. These mastermind groups allowed them to make very bold investments at the bottom. For example, the guys I know that had a small mastermind group in Dallas that bought $29 million of Apple at 81 bucks or 84 bucks, because they weren’t listening to anyone else. They had strong technicals amongst the mastermind group.
This is the secret, I believe, in dealing with the business cycle, because the reality, Zack, is that the business cycle is compressing dramatically. These recessions and these bubbles are going to happen closer and closer together. I believe that, by say 2015 or 2020, we’re going to live in an environment where we’re always wondering is the recession over. That’ll be the greatest part of the business cycle. Previously, the greatest part of the business cycle has been recovery. The bubble’s always very short. The recessions are usually pretty short. But right now, that gray zone, “are we out of the recession yet,” I think that’s going to be half or two-thirds of our entire life from now on, if not more. So we better get ready for it. That’s why I think information diet. Don’t hang out with Chicken Little. Fire them at work, if you have to. I think these are very critical things, to be effective and be confident and be able to move forward.
Zack: So, will older investors, I guess, people pre-retirement and in retirement have a harder time adjusting, I think, it’s sort of the new “new” if you talk about increase cycle time?
Tim: Yeah. I think that what’s interesting is when you look at staffing research around fund managers, we’ve seen that just the proximity between the ’01 technology meltdown and the ’08 real estate [inaudible 24:59], it was so close together. We’re seeing a mass exodus of 50-something-year-old fund managers that are like, “I can’t take this anymore. I’d rather open a Subway franchise and make sandwiches.” I’m serious. So Spherion, which does a lot of research in financial services, they say that … and I’ll use 2015 as an example. They say by 2015, the average fund manager will be seven and a half years younger than the 1985 fund manager. In fact, that’s dramatic. I’m talking across the board.
Tim: That means, in many cases, it’ll be a she and she’ll be 27, not a he that’s 53, because there’s an hourglass generation we have right now, because of declining birth rates. So the last three cohorts – Millennial, Y and X – they had significantly less children than the boomers did, and they waited till later to get married. So we’re heading quickly into an economy in financial services, where 70% to 75% of the qualified labor pool is going to be over 53 or under 30. That’s dramatic. And this under 30 group . . .
Zack: How do you see that playing out, in terms of the deliverables of the industry then in the future?
Tim: Well, SRIs are exploding, I mean Socially Responsible Indexes, what’s so interesting about them, when you look at what happened in ’08 is the churn rate was almost zero. When investors are socially driven and they say, “I want to get involved in a fund that hinges around community service.” Like for example, what [inaudible 26:38] called the Timberland fund, companies that have a strong community focus all the way down to HR. They don’t pull out just because there’s a recession going on. They don’t treat it like a standard mutual fund and China’s your enemy. I talked to a lot of folks on the social side that said that they’ve actually done pretty well over the course of the last few years, because mostly what they’ve done is just continue to aggregate.
So, one thing I do see is that the new investor is going to be more socially oriented. The new fund manager, who is younger, raised on Bono, Habitat for Humanity, and Al Gore, may have a longer view, and they may ask different questions. In the brand world, they talk about this a lot in the convention space, the consumer is starting to buy the story, not the product or the service. Making a difference of how you spend your money, that’s the new “buy one, get one free.” So I think these SRI indexes or funds that are packaged to have a positive social [inaudible 27:38], that’s going to get big. I do a lot of work in the 401(k) side of the world, and over half of all plans now have some kind of social option and that’s the Walmart of investing.
It’s not the point of my book or anything, but I certainly see that as being the ultimate impact. I just see this new round of fund managers really questioning the validity of the 90-day bubble, and I also see that they have an attitude. I think it’s healthy. I was visiting at Harvard. They say don’t call them shareholders. They’re gamblers. We have to come to terms with what we’re talking about. Long-term investors are investors. These shareholders that roll in and out of funds or stocks based on their movement, they’re gamblers. The only difference between them and Vegas gamblers is they have an advisor. I’m not making this up. This isn’t what I’m saying. I’m saying for your younger folks just coming out of business school that’s the new “new.”
Zack: Very interesting. One question I generally end the interviews on with all my guests is, you mentioned sort of this informational diet that you’ve embarked on yourself and that you recommend to other people. Can you recommend certain sources of financial information that you yourself use, that you find yourself coming back to that have passed that filter?
Tim: Well, for general publications I prefer Financial Times to Wall Street Journal, but I find both of them decent sources of information. I’m just talking at a general level. I don’t really dig most of the, what I call, “newsstand magazines.” Although, I’ve found Worth to be of some value. I’ve a mastermind group of about eight different people. Six of them are involved in the investment advisory side. One of them is a billionaire that just kills the market, and one of them works at Fortune Magazine, but he’s not a writer. He’s just an analyst. I trust that group, and we think about sectors and we think about various countries. The sector/regional approach works for me, and it allows me to have a more productive relationship with my wealth manager.
Zack. I guess going more downstream, do you read blogs or long tail type content, or does that just get really too noisy for you and too opinionated?
Tim: I’m a book reader. So when it comes to my reading time, I like to read for depth. I do follow a handful of blogs, but not for financial. I follow a handful of blogs, like Seth Godin, etc., more for a marketing and leadership acumen. I think that when you find a blogger or a podcaster and they’ve got a voice that resonates with you and you trust the source of their information, Zack, you believe in their intention. You really believe that they live and die based on accuracy. I think that’s as good as any other source, and that’s really about mastermind groups. One of these people I’m talking about that’s how I found him, was because as he blogged, I noticed there was something unique about him and it was his intention. The only reason he blogged was to tell the truth. He didn’t have anything to sell. He wasn’t ad model. I noticed over and over again that his accuracy played out over time, and that’s why he became part of our mastermind group.
Zack: Well, I guess just if I can ask a question. I don’t want you obviously to talk about this person specifically. But how does somebody like that who maintains a very high level of editorial integrity, how does he eventually . . . can he make a business out of that?
Tim: Oh no, I mean he does this because it’s his passion and because he knows that as he attracts other people like him into the fold, it gives him precious information and precious perspective. I’ve seen his net worth increase by almost 400 percent, since 2010, because of the feedback loop. That’s part of what I’m talking about in “Today We Are Rich.” You get what you give. As he’s been a unique trusted source of information, he’s been given unique information and unique opportunities. For example, he was one of the advisors to the real estate portfolio and investment team over at LinkedIn, and I bet he had a boatload of friends and family when they went public. You get it back.
Tim: If you help people and you’re honestly providing information with an intention only to help them, the law of reciprocity will kick in and opportunities will come your way, because human beings give back 90% of the time. Our ego just distorts our vision sometimes and we don’t get that.
Zack: Tim, this was a great conversation. Thanks so much for your time and your energy.
Zack: Good luck with the book tour.
Tim: Zack, I just want to encourage all of your listeners, if they are interested in feeding their mind better stuff and achieving balance, just visit TWAR.com and you can download that entire 35-page chapter. So, it’s TWAR.com. There’s a free e-book there for everyone listening.
Zack: I’ll link to that on the blog, so make sure that we drive the traffic there.
Zack: Thanks, again. I’ll let you know when the podcast goes live. I’ll send you a link.
Tim: Super. Good talking to you, Zack.
Zack: Thank you to Tim Sanders for participating in this conversation. Check out his new book, “Today We Are Rich”. This is Zack Miller, and this is Tradestreaming Radio, your home on the Internet to discuss tools, tips, and technologies to help make you a better, more accurate investor. Check us out soon. See you.
- Today We are Rich Website (get free chapter on the diet for your mind)
- Tim Sanders website
- Tim Sanders books (Amazon)
- Transcription of interview (coming soon)
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