By Bob Ricciardelli, JD, CPA
As a CPA and business advisor practicing for close to 20 years in fairly large firms, I have had the opportunity to see firsthand the inner workings of the pursuit of the American dream. I have witnessed financial success, failures and everything in between.
I have seen how wealth is created and how it is lost. Along the way I have observed that the best returns on investment among financially successful people didn’t come from their stock market portfolio but rather it came from the investment they made in themselves, their personal business ventures and careers.
They never stop learning or thinking. Learning and thinking remain a life-long pursuit. A high school education, college and graduate school, even considering the skyrocketing cost, are all still proven worthy pursuits which will open doors of opportunity you probably would have not had opened otherwise.
However, the education process doesn’t necessarily need to be formal or through traditional avenues. It can involve mastering your trade or skill at a technical school, reading books, networking with those who know more than you do, trade shows, seminars, industry publications, open online courseware, blogs, forums, TED talks, corporate universities i.e. Apple U., the internet etc. Investing in yourself involves a desire to achieve a higher level of understanding of your business, career, and the world in order to become more informed and to become a better thinker and decision maker.
One my favorite quotes is from Warren Buffet’s right-hand man, Charlie Munger who stated, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.” Most successful people read a lot. Not because they enjoy the act of reading but rather they enjoy the act of learning. They understand that this learning will pay dividends.
Learning allows them to become better thinkers. It will help them to make better decisions and to think with frame of reference. Bill Gates reads a ton as does Warren Buffet. Teddy Roosevelt read a book every day. The list of successful people who read a lot goes on and on.
The world is a more competitive place. Many of the old tried and true jobs have become irrelevant due to advances in technology or overseas transfer of those jobs. In this world you need to be relevant. You or your company need to know things that not everyone knows in order to command value.
You need ideas that others have not thought of or acted upon. You need to find the sweet spots where the herd is not grazing and you need to do thing more efficiently. The Wal-Marts, Amazons and franchises of the world are very good at handling the repetitive transactions of the world cheaply and efficiently. This will only get more efficient with the rise of robotics, big data and quantum computing. You need to invest in yourself and acquire the skill and knowledge level above the mundane and routine. Knowledge and expertise creates relevance which can also translate into financial reward. Those in the “know” will always be in demand and will have better vision to see opportunity.
If you make the decision to become passionate about making an investment in yourself you will raise the odds of financial success exponentially. When the money does come you still need to save as much as you can and wisely invest the savings. I will wager to guess that the ultimate returns you experience from the investment you made in yourself in the form of higher higher pay and/or business profits will dwarf those returns made in conventional investments from savings.
Ricciardelli is a partner in the firm of Whittemore, Dowen & Ricciardelli LLP in Queensbury.
Photo Courtesy Whittemore, Dowen & Ricciardelli LLP