A Gift to My Children

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-04-28
  • Publisher: Random House

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The bestselling author of "Adventure Capitalist" shares a heartfelt, indispensable guide for young investors to find success and happiness. Here, Rogers offers advice with his trademark candor and confidence, but this time he adds paternal compassion, protectiveness, and love. He reveals how to learn from his triumphs and mistakes in order to achieve a prosperous, well-lived life.

Author Biography

Jim Rogers co-founded the Quantum Fund before he turned 30 and retired at age thirty-seven. Since then, he has served as a sometime professor of finance at Columbia University’s business school, and as a media commentator worldwide. He is the author of A Bull in China, Hot Commodities, Adventure Capitalist, and Investment Biker. He recently moved to Asia with his wife and daughters.


Chapter One

Swim Your Own Races: Do Not Let Others Do Your Thinking for You

Rely on your own intelligence.

There are going to be moments in life when you must make very important decisions. You will find many people ready to offer you advice if you ask for it (and even if you don’t), but always remember that the life you lead is yours and nobody else’s. It’s important to decide for yourself what’s important to you and what you want before you turn to others. Because while there will be times when outside advice proves wise, there will be at least as many times when it proves utterly useless. The only way to really evaluate other folks’ advice is to first learn everything that you can about whatever challenge you are facing. Once you’ve done that, in most cases you should be able to make an informed decision on your own anyway.

You were born with the ability to decide what is and what isn’t in your best interest. Most of the time, you will make the right decision and take the appropriate actions, and in thinking for yourself, you will become far more successful than had you gone against your own judgment. Believe me, I know.

Early on in my investment career, I made the mistake of basing a few important business decisions on colleagues’ opinions instead of conducting the research necessary to make an informed decision. It wasn’t due to laziness on my part; no one could ever accuse me of that. But, being new to Wall Street, I tended to assume that my more senior colleagues knew more than I did, and so I attributed too much significance to their opinions. You know what happened? Each of those investments ended in failure. Eventually I stopped allowing myself to be influenced by others and began doing the work myself and making my own decisions. Talk about an epiphany. It took me until I was almost thirty years old to realize this—and also to see that it’s never too late for a person to change his approach both to business and to life.

I remember once reading a magazine interview with American swimmer Donna de Varona, winner of two gold medals at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The reporter pointed out that earlier in her career, she had been a good swimmer, but not a great one. Now the seventeen-year-old had just placed first in two four-hundred-meter events. What happened? She replied, “I always used to watch the other swimmers, but then I learned to ignore them and swim my own races.”

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 stories are written by folks who’ve done exactly that. Let me give you an example.

When I was thirty-two years old or so, a Wall Street colleague of mine invited me to join a smart and successful group of financial guys who regularly got together to swap ideas over dinner. At the time, I and a partner were in the early years of our hedge fund called the Quantum Fund. It was a big deal to be invited to these dinners, and, I must admit, I was a little nervous. After all, these were the big guys in my field, and most of them had a great deal more experience than I did.

We were sitting in the private room of a fancy midtown Manhattan restaurant when the host asked each guest at the table to recommend an investment. Most of them touted so-called growth stocks. When my turn came, I recommended Lockheed, the aerospace company. Once extremely prosperous, by the 1970s it had fallen on hard times. A fellow sitting opposite me smirked and, making sure that I heard him, stage-whispered, “Who buys stocks like this? Why buy a bankrupt company?”

About six years later, I ran

Excerpted from A Gift to My Children: A Father's Lessons for Life and Investing by Jim Rogers
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