Introduction: Financial and Personal Investing
Warren Buffett and I have something in common. We are both unofficially, arguably and more or less fondly known as The Greatest, he as the world’s greatest stock investor, I as the world’s greatest REAL wellness authority. (So far, I’m the only person writing about REAL wellness, which puts me at the head of this impressive category.)
Warren is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway – he has $85 billion in his bank accounts; I have not founded anything, my bank accounts are more modest than Mr. Buffett’s but uncannily, Mr. Buffett’s views on investing parallel my own on matters of wellbeing.
I’ll explain how my views on health-related matters mirror Warren’s convictions about investing in stocks. Well, if not quite mirror, then certainly bear a vague resemblance if you look hard enough for such confluence.
I believe the best way to thrive and flourish, and to do so with minimal reliance on doctors, drugs and medical treatments, is to understand and adhere to a REAL wellness lifestyle. The REAL in REAL wellness is an acronym, representing the dimensions of reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty. A set of lifestyle principles in each of these four dimensions complement Warren Buffett’s rules for investing.
Rules for Investments of Two Kinds
I discovered this alignment in good part by virtue of my personal acquaintance with The Greatest authority on the Sage of Omaha, namely Robert P. Miles. Bob is the author of top-selling books about Mr. Buffett, including The Warren Buffett CEO: Secrets From the Berkshire Hathaway Managers and 101 Reasons To Own the World’s Greatest Investment: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
ï»¿My impressions of the link between Mr. Buffett’s rules and my ideas about REAL wellness were also supplemented somewhat by two short investment articles. One was Stephanie Loiacono’s Rules That Warren Buffett Lives By (Investopedia, June 24, 2019), the other Seth Spears Warren Buffett’s Ten Rules of Success (Spears Marketing, January 23, 2012).
There are many investment rules attributable to Mr. Buffett, many of which he actually expressed. Let’s look at these genuine rules that are most reflective of and consistent with REAL wellness principles. I’ll state ten Buffett rules, then comment on each.
Rule No. 1: Never lose money.
In the case of REAL wellness, do all you can to never lose your health. This rule cannot be left to chance. You can’t do much about many of the primary factors that affect your wellbeing (e.g, biology, culture and environment), but a positive health enhancing lifestyle is in your hands.
Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.
Ditto REAL wellness.
Rule No. 3: If the business does well, the stock eventually follows.
If your culture and environment are supportive (i.e., friends and family model healthful lifestyle attitudes and behaviors, you are likely to follow suit. Choose friends wisely and, if necessary, put distance between yourself and oafish, course or behavioral hooligan relatives.
Rule No. 4: The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect.
To thrive and flourish, focus on emotional and psychological attitudes and beliefs that promote serenity, adaptability and plentiful exuberance.
Rule No. 5: The stock market will experience swings – stay focused on investment goals and remain steadfast during market turbulence.
Life is shaped by random events; control what you can with wise personal choices, knowing setbacks will visit even the most conscious and prudent among us.
Rule No. 6. Reinvest your profits.
This rule implies taking care to protect your assets, that is, avoid risking capital needed for the common wants of living well. From a wellness view, the lesson is don’t jeopardize foundation resources (e.g., physical mobility) with thrill-seeking for momentary gratifications.
This, of course, is difficult to impossible for the very young and most teenagers, but for settled adults it’s doable and wise. In old age especially, guard against momentarily attractive excesses (e.g., wild parties, drugs, excess alcohol and associations with shady or deplorable characters).
Rule No. 7. Be willing to be different.
Don’t hoard your insights and ideas on matters consequential. Exercise your right to discuss all matters of momentous, grave and material. Do so with frankness, skill and consideration of varied audiences. Identify the nature and soundness of your unpopular opinions, and then be different at strategic times, or just have fun with your mates, especially on matters tied to politics, sex and religion.
Rule No. 8. Be decisive. Mr. Buffett puts it this way: never suck your thumb.
This of course means support yourself after you have made choices, eschewing inordinate or boundless mulling to the point of paralysis. Such sulking leads to disorienting stress, loss of opportunity and/or the appearance of being fearful and weak. Even when decisions prove dubious or worse, if you acted on the best available information, your errant choices deserve (self) respect. Learn from experiences good and otherwise and move forward, wiser and steadfast, resolute and unflinching.
Rule No. 9: Be Persistent. Cultivate tenacity and ingenuity.
If it were easy to think critically, overcome dogmas, resist flimflam artists, scammers and superstitions, live exuberantly with ample joy and meaning, dine well (healthfully) most of time, look good and be fit and live pretty much the kind of life you cherish, who then who would not do so? Not many. Living well in a manner that optimizes wellbeing and enables thriving and flourishing requires that Mr. Buffett’s 9th rule for persistence in investing be applied to how you live. That is, you must be decisive – do what you must to cultivate tenacity while guide yourself with ingenuity in ways both mental and physical.
Rule No. 10. Know what success really means.
How will you understand if you are sick or well, happy or sad, a success or failure, fit or unfit, alive or nearly dead unless you have a clear sense of what it means to be on the brighter side of these and other dichotomies? Develop an inquisitive nature about the meaning of superb health beyond mediocre norms. Seek insights on what is possible regarding your exercise capabilities, given your age, current functional state, resources and general situation – then assess ways to transcend just getting by, in a state or low-level normalcy, like most others you observe. Discover the nature of exceptional functioning and the multiplicity of ways to move further along in the direction of high capacity living.
Mr. Buffett fully understands that even with the mind-bending quantity of riches in his personal accounts, the quality of his existence is not thus measured. Instead, his success derives from decades of disbursing resources that mitigate global problems, allay miseries and enable opportunities for the many. Ultimately, it is the manner in which he uses his capacities and the unique role he plays in life that reflects his inestimable persona, the most valued element of worth and merit.
If you want to draw attention to your ideas, find someone with whom you can link to them. In doing so, you will appear more sensible than you really are. I don’t wish to boast about this, but I don’t think I could have adopted a better model for REAL wellness rules than Warren Buffett.
I hope he won’t mind.
(Postscript – Response from Robert P. Miles):
I’ve often thought that Don Ardell and Warren Buffett are brothers from different mothers. While you and Warren don’t share nutrition (he drinks six cherry cokes per day, doesn’t like vegetables, exercise or water – he favors See’s Chocolates and Dairy Queen sundaes – 300 to 600 calories), you two nonetheless have many things in common.
You both are octogenarians, have younger wives, are politically like-minded, frugal, agnostic, unconventional thinkers, ravenous readers, excellent communicators and seem to be squeezing every drop out of life or, as your idol Ingersoll advised, suck the orange of life dry.
Finally, I suspect that you might both prefer, when the end comes at last and a parade of celebrants file by your respective caskets, that nobody suggests that Warren was the wealthiest, or Don was the fittest, but rather that Warren and Don were certainly among the oldest.