Saturday, December 17, 2016

Tools for Titans #8 : Awaken the Giant Within

Anthony Robbins needs no introduction on this blog. I'm quite sure many readers are already big fans of him and have followed him from his NLP days until his latest book on Money, which I felt, was a very credible read.

Anthony Robbins is a one-man motivational army who has been credited with many successes today. In fact, I constantly try to compare Tool for Titans against Anthony Robbin's latest epic Money. And so far, Tools for Titans comes up short. 

Regardless of his epic status as a first class self-improvement coach, a critique of Anthony Robbin's ideas is in order :

a) State -> Story -> Strategy

At a personal level, Tony Robbins has a great point about the management of a person's state. You need to be in an elevated state before you can craft a narrative to give your life any meaning. Only after these steps are taken can you proceed ahead to plan your strategy.

At a broader level, I think this is a fundamental problem with the West. The West is constantly trying to build up the self-esteem of their youths before they can start to figure out how to master something. You have overly-confident folks who can't do shit.

( How do I know ? Exchange students from EU who come into SMU always project confusion when they witness how Singaporeans get into their schoolwork.

As such, I do have classmates who are quite reluctant to have European students in their teams. )

Putting self-esteem before mastery is wrong. Trying to master something is always painful and frustrating. In my opinion. self-esteem needs to come as a result of mastery, not the other way round.

I would re-position the process differently as a feedback loop.

A minimal state can be reached where you can just barely give yourself the motivation to carry onto the stage where you develop the strategies and skills for success, Thereafter, small successes will be fed back to your personal state to reinforce your self-esteem as you go through the frustrating process of mastering something. This feedback loop often fails because your level of mastery cannot sustain your state. I learnt this the hard way during my International Moots class this semester.

At least you will understand why there are truly few masters and experts in this world.

b) Four commonalities across the world's best investors.

This is a nice section on investing that is a great lesson for readers because it has been so abstracted that it no longer has any utility.

Nevertheless, they are :

Best investor always cap the downside. Details on whether this comes in the form of put options, a cash hoard or diversification was missed. I might even argue a great career is a cap on the downside.

Asymmetrical risk and reward is also obvious but useless because they need to be discovered and exploited. Nevertheless arbitrage always wins for the best investors in the world. Sometimes the risk rewards comes from politics like betting on a Trump victory. I think the best businessmen use regulatory barriers and natural monopolies to attain this. It's not something that anyone can do by reading a self-help book.

Best investors keep a mix of assets because they know they will be wrong. I am pretty sure all investors understand diversification but also notice that it is not really mutually exclusive from the two earlier points.

The last point on Contribution is excessively hypocritical and politically correct.

Tony Robbins has been consistently talking about giving back to society in all his books stretching back to Unlimited Power. While giving back is good, a realist will give back only because he does not want to be persecuted for being wealthy. This also does not reflect the reality in Asia when billionaires avoided Bill Gates when he showed up to convince them to give to charity because we Asians are fundamentally dynastic in nature and want our children to have comfortable lives.

( I am not arguing against charity here, I am arguing against conflating charity with a wealth building strategy which Tony Robbins tends to encourage. )

The best lesson from reading this section of Tools of Titans is this :

If we keep abstracting how people get rich and build wealth for the sake of becoming more easily understood or pandering to "ordinary people", what will happen is that we will end with a set of fundamental principles which will not be useful in wealth building at all. 

You will just end up with some maxims that you can toss around in an Internet marketing or MLM seminar.

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