Over the last week or so, a previously out of print business book, which was unknown to many and forgotten by most shot up the Amazon bestseller list. Why, when we had previously ignored John Brooks’ Business Adventures were we suddenly snapping up enough copies to make it the #1 bestselling business book on Amazon and #3 amongst books in any category?
What had driven these sales all at once?
It turns out that Business Adventures is Bill Gates’ favourite business book. He told the story of how Warren Buffet lent him a copy over two decades ago on his blog a few weeks back. It seems that this triggered a chain reaction of re-posting, and everyone just had to have the book. When the richest man in the world recommends something, people pay attention.
This got me thinking.
Does this “Gates Effect” just reinforce the illusion of the quick win, the shortcut or the magic formula?
I mean, does this book contain some sort of “secret” that will make me successful like Bill Gates?
Does it contain any concepts that I could not google and find 100’s (probably 1,000’s) of references to?
The answer is no to both questions. There are no quick wins, shortcuts or magic formulas when it comes to business success.
This short term, tactical thinking is where we start to fall down as managers of our money as well.
Despite all the lessons of recent years, many people still place great weight on forecasts of individual “gurus” who manage to sound highly confident about their predictions for the future.
The reality is that finance professionals are no more informed than supposedly unsophisticated investors about the market outlook.
In my experience, the best financial advisors aren’t likely to be the most confident-sounding ones about where the market is heading.
This humility can be a valuable characteristic.
In fact, you should seek out advisers who admit what they don’t know and who can give you a realistic sense of possible outcomes.
That means that often the smartest thing to do is to accept uncertainty and to focus on things within your control, like:
Anyway, back to Bill…it’s easy to forget why the word of some people has such an impact. The sales triggered by Bill’s post are as a direct result of a reputation built over decades. His recommendation is powerful, and not just because he has been super successful.
Bill has no agenda. Bill is not trying to sell you something. He has no conflicts of interest. He just wants to help.
These are the characteristics of all trusted advisers.
Do all your advisers meet those standards?