Book Review # 3 by Narendra Gupta
A Gift to my Children – A Father’s lessons for Life and Investing
Author: Jim Rogers (Full Name: James Beeland Rogers, Jr.)
Something about the Author:
An American Author, and a flamboyantly adventurous world traveler, a celebrated investor who made his fortune before he turned 40. Rogers is the chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc. He co-founded Quantum Fund with George Soros and Created Rogers International Commodities Index (RICI). He has traveled twice around the world, once on a motor bike and the second time along with his wife on a custom made Mercedes passing through 116 countries covering more than 245,000 Kms making it a Guinness World Record. Among the other books authored by Jim includes Investment Biker: Around the world with Jim Rogers (1994), Adventure Capitalist: The ultimate Road Trip (2003); Hot Commodities: How anyone can invest in the world’s best market (2004); and the most recent one, Street Smarts: Adventure on the Road and in the Markets (2013). A Gift to my children was first published in the year2009. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Rogers)
Brief Background and Why I read this book:
Sanskriti’s (My daughter) first birthday was approaching. I was looking for a memorable gift for my little doll. I came across this book on one of my random visits to office library. The title ‘A Gift to my children’ called for my attention. I thought, maybe this book can give me some insights, maybe not an immediate one but presenting a lifetime surprise for my little angel. Enough reasons for me to give the book a reading treat!
‘A Gift to my Children’ is a quick read with a good advice. I would call it as an author’s account of tips and views on how to invest in economy and yourself. Jim Rogers has shared a heartfelt, essential guide – supposed pearls of wisdom for his two little daughters (and symbolically every young investor) added with his paternal compassion, protectiveness, and love. With all his life experiences, the writer has shared his secrets of a prosperous and well lived life.
In this book he tells his daughters many anecdotes about his experiences to illustrate old-fashioned nuggets of fatherly guidance. Rogers inspires with words of wisdom like think for yourself, see the world, be persistent, focus on what you have passion for, and trust your own judgment.
He recommends saving money, cultivating good habits, working hard, studying and thinking about the future. Further, he has endorsed the need to learn history, philosophy; and Mandarin (Chinese language) for 21st century will be the Century of China (especially with regards to investment). Throughout the book, he brings ups the subject of China and how it is a great investment opportunity illustrating his success journey. Further, he stresses the need to know thyself. One must understand his weaknesses, strengths and acknowledge his mistakes in order to become better at it. We must recognize Change and embrace it willfully.
I found this short book rich in life lessons and investing ideas an enjoyable read. In fact it is quite a short and (literature wise) an easy read. Like my previous reviews, here, I will be sharing summary of the book highlighting the takeaways from each of the chapters. Divided into 13 Chapters, the Book is adorned with valuable lessons applicable not only to children but adults alike.
Type of People who will like this book
The book is meant to be a gift of thoughts to his little daughters. And as such the language is made simple for the read of school going kids. Every teen and undergraduate would love to read this book. By this and by no means I say that others would not like this book. In fact the meaning the book transcends is well worth it and I would recommend reading this book to every individual at least once (and at most twice). This is a very light material and one can finish it reading in one go (read). One advice for you, if you can borrow it from library, it would be the best choice as I won’t recommend purchasing this book. You can even skip reading the book, if you go through my Summary after the review.
What I didn’t like to some extent
Without taking away any credit for the voluptuous and meaningful content in the book, I found it to be somewhat boring at places especially when he advocates the Chinese economy and learning Mandarin. This may be because I have my own limitations of thinking and perceptions about financial investment. Another reason was, he had shared some old and known stuff which did not sound that motivating to my ears and mind. Moreover, for a better part of the book, the information shared will be of little use until the girls make it to the University and study a course on Finance. Also, he has shared more of his successes rather than failures. These are few things which didn’t bode well with me.
Narendra’s rating for A Gift to my Children – A Father’s lesson for Life and Investing:
For its rich, useful and meaningful content, for the ocean of love a Father had shown for his two little daughters, For its simplicity of words, and for few of its un-convincing and thoughts with pros and cons, I give it a six on ten i.e. (6/10)
My favorite catchwords / phrases / quotes in the book:
“If anybody laughs at your idea, view it as a sign of potential success!”
“No one ever became a standout success by imitating others. “
“Dedicate yourself to what you feel passionate about”
“There is always something you can be doing. When there’s nothing else to do, dust the shelves. “
“Most perceived wisdom is a misconception”
“If everyone is thinking the same thing, someone is not thinking”
“Everyone would be a millionaire if he could read a newspaper from the future”
My Final words:
This is definitely an enjoyable read and would recommend reading it once to every graduate and young professional. It is just not an investment advice but contains real meat to give you clarity about life. Rogers has provided his own personal and emotional connections to the Book. It is a nice reminder of what life is for and the important pieces that people neglect. Independent thinking, being a world citizen and no-stone-untouched are key elements for any successful and long term investors or entrepreneurs.
I got the idea and felt the urgent need to have financial literacy for the first time from this book only. (Currently I am reading my second book of the genre: Rich Dad Poor Dad) This is certainly not a reference guide for investors and one must not expect too much on investment front.
More than anything, I love the fact that Jim Rogers who became Father (for the first time) at the age of sixty-one, found so-much time and commitment added with all his personal and emotional touch to write a book especially for his two little angels. I am sure, Happy and Baby Bee (his two little Daughters) will be proud of the fact that his father not only took time to write a book for them but also put his heart into it. Sanskriti is already a year older now, and I ponder on what will be my Gift to my cutie pie which She will be proud of oneday…..
Rogers starts with an introduction, an open letter to his two little daughters Happy and Baby Bee, who were under 7 at the time of publication. (Rogers married for the second time in his 60s and became a Father). He expresses his desire to share his life experiences and all that his two little angels should know to lead happy and successful lives.
Chapter 1: Swim your own races: Do not let others do your thinking for you –rely on your intelligence
Quite evident from the title of the chapter, Rogers encourages his daughter to live their own life and nobody else’s (not even Mom’s, Dad’s dream), understand what’s important to you and what you want from Life before turning to others. Supported with several instances and examples from his personal life, he puts forward few robust thoughts and ideas for everyone. Here, am quoting a few lines living a positive impression on me… (And I thought, it would be of some help to each of you reading me)
“If anybody laughs at your idea, view it as a sign of potential success”
If people around you try to discourage you from taking a certain course of action, or ridicule your ideas, take that as a positive sign. Sure it can be difficult not to run with the herd, but the truth is that most long-term success is written by folks who have done exactly that. (Para2, Page5)
“Be who you are. Be original! Be bold!”
Take a good look at men and women who have been successful in their fields. Now, anyone can get lucky once, but I am talking about people with a sustained record of success. This is true with individuals or companies too. For example, look at Apple computer. Steve Jobs and company refused to accept the conventional wisdom that they would be flattened by Giants IBM and Microsoft. Today Apple is thriving with their high quality innovative products. (Para1, Page8)
I want you to pursue your own desires and aspirations with that kind of courage and devotion.
No one ever became a standout success by imitating others.
Later in the chapter, he has urged to be ethical in all you do. Honorable people don’t find themselves entangled in legal problems, and they always come out on the top in the long run. He concluded by uttering the need to save money and not to fall in the trap of spending money willy-nilly.
Chapter 2: Focus on what you like
“Age is irrelevant when you are passionate about a goal”
Rogers started his first business in 1948 at the age of six. I am sure there are countless other examples to illustrate this fact.
“Dedicate yourself to what you feel passionate about”
The quickest way to success is to do what you like and give it your best. (Para3, Page 12)
The least happy people I know are those stuck in jobs they don’t love; many because they can’t imagine giving up a pay check .In my elementary school, I had a teacher named, Mrs. Martin who brought to life every subject she taught. She always seemed happy and excited to see us…she clearly received a great deal of satisfaction from us.
Even early on, I would have worked for free had I been able to afford it. People who follow their passions do not “go to work”. They get up each day and cannot wait to have more fun doing what they love to do. (Para2,3, Page 13)
Chapter 3: Good Habits for Life and Investing
“Be a self-starter”
I love the idea of being a self-starter. Even early on in his (Roger’s) life he impressed his employers with the kind of commitment he displayed towards his work. Here’s citing few inspiring words from the chapter.
There is always something you can be doing. When there’s nothing else to do, dust the shelves. (Jim Roger’s Uncle, Jim Sr – Para1, Page 15)
“..but this kid never stops. He has the right attitude, he has the proper approach, and I want him working for me…” (Jim Roger’s Employer speaking for Jim, Para2, Page15)
“Attention to detail is what separates success from failure” – This one is a critical and perhaps the most important lesson as far as I am concerned. On multiple occasions I had to satisfy with ordinary outcome whenever I ignored this fact. Quotes from the legend himself:
If you love and care about what you do, you will naturally want to do the best that you can. The most common reason why people do not succeed is that their research is faulty or limited to the confines of what is immediately available. Only through meticulous research will you obtain the knowledge necessary for success. It requires abundant work and diligence, but the effort will give you a distinct advantage over your competitors. (Para3, Page15)
“Live your Life with a dream”
Investing around the world exposed me to a range of cultures and different people.
Rogers had a dream – ‘seeking adventure by exploring the world’. And not only once but he did it twice.
Chapter 4: Common Sense? Not so common
“Most perceived wisdom is a misconception”
I cannot agree more when he says “The most popular beliefs embraced by larger society are often mistaken.
“Common sense is not so common.”
“If everyone is thinking the same thing, someone is not thinking”
Chapter 5: Your education, Part 1: Let the world be a part of your perspective
1990: I spent 22 months traveling through 6 continents on a motor cycle.
1999: On my second trip, which started in 1999, your mother and I traveled a total of 245,000 kilometers in special Mercedes through 116 different countries for three years.
Understand the significance of BRICs: “BRICs” – a popular acronym in the world of investing. BRICs refer to the thesis currently popular with investors and Politicians that Brazil, Russia, India and China are destined to be the world’s leading economies by the year 2050, and therefore are rife with investment opportunities.
My experience and time spent traveling leads me to feel bullish about Brazil and China, bearish about Russia and skeptical about India.
“Be open to people who are different whether at home or abroad”
“Keep an open eye and be a world citizen!”
If everyone saw himself as a citizen of the world rather than of his own town, city, or country the world would be a more peaceful, better place.
Of all the adventures I have had in my life, you, my daughters, are the ultimate adventure.
Lovely! Isn’t it. This shows his deep and heartfelt connection to his daughters. He encourages his daughters to be a world citizen and not to limit themselves with boundaries and place in the following words:
We hope you will always view the whole world as your home and not be so hidebound that you limit your horizons and possibilities.
Chapter 6: Your Education, Part II: Learn Philosophy, Learn to “think”
In this Chapter, Rogers has emphasized the need to learn philosophy which helps to learn to think for oneself.
“Philosophy will teach you how to think for yourself “
You must know yourself if you want to accomplish anything in life. I am referring to the simple art of thinking for yourself. The ability to seek other explanations and to think around corners will serve you well.
Chapter 7: Your Education, Part III: Learn History!
“A macroscopic view of the world is what you need.“
I want you to study history. I want you to understand the changes taking place in the world from a macroscopic perspective; by that I mean that I want you to understand the big picture of how the world works and has always worked.
“History will show you which force drives markets “
Chapter 8: Your Education: Part IV: Learn Languages (and Make sure that Mandarin is one of them!)
“Mandarin will be the next global language.”
People who can speak or read other languages have a great advantage over those who don’t. when it comes to investing, you can research primary sources and speak to people in their own languages.
Chapter 9: It is the century of China
Rogers encourages investors to invest in Chinese stocks and goes on to say the 21st century belong to China with huge capital investment prospects.
“Pay attention to the major changes taking place in the world now.”
“Buy Chines stocks and buy the future of this country.”
Chapter 10: Know thyself by understanding your weaknesses and acknowledging your mistakes.
“Know who you are”
Look yourself in the mirror and ask what drives you. If you can understand these things upfront, you are more likely to be able to keep your head in a crisis. Also observe how you react to mistakes so that you can respond more constructively the next time the things go wrong.
“People are easily carried away by mob psychology.”
“Do not panic. Learn the psychology.”
A good rule of thumb is to sell during times of market hysteria and buy during times of panic. Always remember to buy low and sell high.
Chapter 11. Recognize change and embrace it.
“Everything changes everything.”
Regardless of your perspective, refusing to accept the change is like swimming against the current of a thunder river. Try to resist the force and you will not last very long.
No one has defied the principle of supply and demand and survived
“Change can be a catalyst.”
“Dealing with Change”
Chapter 12: Look to the future!
Everyone would be a millionaire if he could read a newspaper from the future
Many countries will come apart.
Women’s era is approaching!
Pay attention to what everybody else neglects.
The more certain something is, the less likely it is to be profitable.
Do not think in terms of what you wish.
Never act upon wishful thinking. Act without checking the facts and the chances are that you will be swept away along with the mob.
Chapter 13: Lady Luck smiles on those who continue in their efforts
Do your homework, or you will end up with a glass bead
Once you take that first step towards your dream, put your full effort into it. Do your homework. If you want to succeed, you must never neglect it.
The arrogant are blind to the truth.
If you let vanity and self-importance takeover you will lose all that you have achieved. Ignorance is born of an out-sized sense of self- importance
Only quality and service work over time.
Do not stop when you are working toward your dream.
I want you to fulfill your dreams because that is my dreams too. As your father, I wish for you a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment. I want you to pursue, without pause, whatever it is that stirs your passion. Keep working toward your dream, not someone else’s, and not mine either.
The devil of life is always in the details. So, I thought I’d close by giving you a series of little rules that have guided me well.
- Always buy quality products. They last longer and retain more value
- Never ask someone how much money he or she makes.
- Do not get married until you are at-least 28 and know a bit more about yourself and the world.
- Learn to stay calm – especially in times of pressure or turmoil. You will make much better decisions plus everyone will notice you are calm under pressure when others are not.
- Once you do get to know yourself, remember who you are stay with it.
Sunday, 27 Oct 2013; 11:30pm