Monthly update: The only 3 ways to get rich and the best books ever

Aug 27, 2022 5:06 am


Coming up this month:

  • The only 3 ways you can improve your finances
  • The best books ever written
  • Dominating pub quizzes for fun and profit
  • My favourite new source of business advice
  • And more!

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πŸ€‘ Earning, saving, investing

To keep the species going, evolution pulled a clever trick whereby after a couple of years the human brain goes "childbirth? Newborn? Nah, that wasn't so bad!" and you think it's a good idea to do it again.

The same seems to be true for authors, because I've already started thinking about my next book – forgetting all the "why did I ever start this? It's just not worth it" moans my wife had to endure over countless evenings last time around.

It was originally going to be a book about investing, until I realised: for many people, investing is only the third most important aspect of their finances.

If you have a little money and you want to turn it into a lot of money over a very long period of time, it's great.

If you already have a lot of money and you want it to support you so you never have to work again, also great.

But for a book to produce real life changes for those other than the 1% richest and 1% most patient, it needs to also cover the precursors to investing: earning and saving.

I've written before that earning, saving and investing are the only three levers you have available to control your finances. And for most people, earning more is going to have the most impact over the short-to-medium term. Which is unfortunate for those people because it's generally the hardest to achieve, and unfortunate for authors because it's the hardest to give advice about.

Unfortunate it may be, but it's true – even more so now, when I believe the rate of return on any investment is likely to be lower over the next decade than most people expect.

Why lower? Partially because the current economic situation isn't set up to favour any asset class, and partially because expectations have been set by an unusually strong recent past. (A lot of investing advice originates from the US and quotes an average annual return of 10%, but is over a period in which the US came to dominate the world and its stock market likewise thrived.)

So the book, when it comes, will cover saving, earning and investing. At the moment I'm still in research mode, so do you have any favourite personal finance books? Let me know.

πŸ“š The best books ever written

A general principle that's served me well is to favour older books over newer ones, because if people are still talking about them decades later they must be decent.

But I've not applied this rule by reading any of "the classics". Like, any. At all. My exploration of the written traditions of Western culture start and end with To Kill A Mockingbird in Year 9 (and a bit of Macbeth, but in that class I had a seat where I could mostly doze unnoticed).

So Inspired by Nat Eliason (consistently one of my favourite writers online), I've set out to work my way through this list of the most important books throughout history.

It's presented as a list that will take ten years to complete, and at my current rate of reading it'll take much longer. In a couple of years I might even be able to describe the task as "Sisyphean" and be confident I'm using the reference correctly. But in contrast to my usual self-improvement sprints, I quite like the idea of a project I'm undertaking for the sake of the journey without a rush to complete it.

My scholarly insights after a week are that Socrates must have been a seriously annoying guy to hang around with, and for a lot of Ancient Greek humour you must've needed to be there. Stay tuned for more in a couple of years.

🐒 Getting better slowly

The biggest driver in the growth of our business Property Hub has been, by far, our podcast.

This is brilliant, because recording the podcast costs us almost nothing and is so much fun we'd do it regardless of business benefit. But it also presents a scaling problem: we've hit a point where pretty much everyone in the UK who is a habitual podcast listener and is interested in property is already listening.

This got us thinking about other growth channels, and the obvious one is YouTube. An advantage of being up at night with a baby is having a lot of time to watch YouTube, and I've become slightly obsessed with it.

I've watched endless advice about how to grow a channel and have a long list in my notes app (most semi-coherent because they were typed one-handed) of tips around titles, thumbnails, keywords, editing, equipment, and every other aspect you can think of.

But putting tactics aside, one theme came through in the most credible advice I found: to get more views and more subscribers, you need to put out videos that more people enjoy watching. Over the short-term the quirks of the YouTube algorithm may reward one video and hold back another, but over time quality wins.

This is slightly annoying (I was hoping to find one killer tactic that would boost us directly to Mr Beast levels) but ultimately reassuring. And not surprising, because I think it applies to just about everything in life: to get better results, stop looking for shortcuts and just do better work.

It also applies to money: to make more money, do things that make larger numbers of people place more value on what you do.

The other obvious truism in YouTube as in life is that the only way to do better work is to do more work and gradually improve. To quote my favourite channel, "you've gotta just hit record". So that's what we'll be doing.

🍿 Media picks

🎬 One of my favourite new YouTube finds is Jeff Su, who puts out helpful and surprisingly funny videos about productivity and technology (that's right, I watch videos about keyboard shortcuts and I'm not going to apologise for it).

πŸ€” The actual not-even-joking highlight of my month was that my wife and I went to a special daytime "bring your baby" pub quiz, and we won. The next logical step is to be accepted into Learned League: the invite-only online quiz championship that includes the likes of Freakonomics author Stephen Levitt among its players. That may be a way off, but you can see how you'd perform with sample questions here

🎧 A podcast I've been enjoying recently (with thanks to Greg for the recommendation) is Business Made Simple. The best episodes are calls with business owners where the host dishes out really good advice. As a bonus, unlike seemingly every other podcast these days, it's less than half an hour long.

That’s it for August! Feel free to write back and let me know what you've been up to.



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