The ultimate tests of being rich and smart

John Waters
I was listening to an episode of the excellent Radio 4 series A Good Read recently, featuring Kathy Burke and Tom Allen.

Allen chose a book by the film director John Waters – Role Models – and during the ensuing discussion mentioned the following quote, which for me hits the nail on the head.

“Being rich is not about how much money you have or how many homes you own; it’s the freedom to buy any book you want without looking at the price and wondering if you can afford it.”

I’ve found myself buying and reading books more voraciously this year than ever before – partly because I want to keep learning and I’d prefer to get a book over a new item of clothing or some other less useful thing.

This quote from Charlie Munger – Warren Buffett’s right-hand man – is also a mantra I take to heart.

“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”

So do yourself a favour and go and buy a book and start reading today.

Leaders and their resistance to stress

Arsenal manager Arsene WengerI recently read Alastair Campbell’s excellent book Winners: And How They Succeed. Among many pearls of wisdom that Campbell gets from a variety of people in the public – many of which I want to share at a later date – is the following from Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger

We have gone from a vertical society to a horizontal society where everybody has an opinion about every decision you make, everybody has an opinion on the Internet straight away.
Basically the respect for people who make decisions is gone because every decision is questioned. So one of the most important qualities of a good leader now is massive resistance to stress.
Under stress you become smaller and smaller until you cannot give out a message any more and that, of course, is something that is vital. Many people underestimate this challenge.

Wenger instantly puts his finger on why being a leader in the 21st century is so much more difficult than it used to be.

We invite feedback from all quarters. We’re asked to be open. Everyone should be allowed their say.

Respect – which is always a tough thing to achieve at the best of times – has gone out of the window for all but the select few.

The science behind resilience and the importance of it is slowly becoming more widely recognised and – if Wenger’s experience is anything to go by – needs to be placed higher up the list of qualities for leaders to develop.

Winners: And How They Succeed is definitely worth a read: a genuinely fascinating insight into people at the top of their game.

Why the deaths of Prince, Bowie and others in 2016 are so shocking

Prince“No, no, no, no!” On learning that Prince had died unexpectedly at just 57, the response of almost everyone I know yesterday was the same.

It was awful news. It was a complete and utter shock. It seemed faintly unreal. That it was just the latest in a seeming unending line of celebrity deaths in 2016 merely compounded the hurt.

David Bowie, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood to name but a few.

But why are these deaths so shocking? In Prince and Victoria Wood’s cases it was their relative youth (57 and 62 respectively), but that could hardly be said of Ronnie Corbett or Terry Wogan.

The simple reason is this: for a generation of 30-50-somethings, our childhood and adolescent memories and heroes are being eviscerated. Continue reading