Jul 8, 2009

The 5 Greatest Investors of the Century and Their Core Investment Philosophies

In looking at some of the greatest investors of our time, it's interesting to see the patterns and belief systems that govern the way in which these great ones invest.

Each of the following 5 investors is worth studying if one wishes to better understand the methods of the greatest investors of our time. Cramming the complexity of their thinking and decision-making into a few sentences that summarizes their investment approach is surly an injustice.

But here it goes:

1. Warren Buffet - Find and invest in monopolies with brand names, superior products, intellectual property, huge fixed costs with economies of scale, or government grants.

2. Benjamin Graham - Buy companies for less than their intrinsic value. Start with the balance sheet and buy for less than book value.

3. John Burr Williams - Discount the cashflow of the business to the present value. Start with the income statement and buy for less than what it will likely earn in the future.

4. John Maynard Keynes - Focus. Know and understand the businesses you're investing in, and stay within your circle of confidence. Avoid diversification.

5. Phil Fisher - Invest in solid management with an enviable track record. Look for managers you like, trust, and respect.

So now the question is, which ones are you most like?

Jul 6, 2009

Who's Rich? Depends How You Define Wealth

If given the choice, who would you rather be in the following two scenarios?


  • Has over $1 Million in savings
  • Has yet to invest in these turbulent and seemingly impossible markets - his fear controls him
  • Has lazy, unproductive habits wherein he's not making anything extra
  • Has lazy, unproductive habits for his cash; his savings account is not growing or being invested, and he has little or no control
  • Has no pleasure, or consistency or motivation for his work - hates it, and gets very little if anything done


  • Has less than $10,000 in savings
  • Has a compelling vision for what's possible for him based on facts he's educated and knowledgeable about - his faith compels him
  • Has a lot of well-established, success-driven habits that carry him forward each and every day
  • Has his money working for him in some very productive channels he has direct control over
  • Has a passion for his work and loves what he does

Well, I believe the answer is obvious. And yet, most would probably still pick Frank over James, for the simple reason that Frank has the money, and James does not.

A quote that really gave me some new perspective on this, was from Brigham Young. He taught that "the riches of a kingdom or a nation do not consist so much in the fullness of its treasury (think savings), as in the fertility of its soil (think opportunity) and the industry of its people (think habits)."

Wealth means much more than just dirty paper money. It's about good character, good habits, good memories, life, contribution, love, respect, having a vision for what's possible, and growing through new challenges.

At least that's how I define it. I suppose I could be more precise.

How do you define wealth?