Advice from Economists

Jim Rogers—co-founder of the Quantum Fund (with George Sor­os), eco­nom­ic com­ment­at­or, guest pro­fess­or of fin­ance at Columbia Uni­ver­sity and author of A Gift to My Chil­dren—provided a short inter­view with the FT dis­cuss­ing his thoughts on mak­ing that first mil­lion, on trav­el­ling, and some gen­er­al advice to the next gen­er­a­tion.

What is the secret of your suc­cess?

As I was not smarter than most people, I was will­ing to work harder than most. I was pre­pared to exam­ine con­ven­tion­al wis­dom.

  • Do not under­es­tim­ate the value of due dili­gence.
  • For [the next] gen­er­a­tion, Man­dar­in and Eng­lish will be the most import­ant lan­guages.
  • If you give chil­dren too much, you will ruin them. I want my chil­dren to be well-edu­cated and exper­i­ence the work­place. [On not passing much fin­an­cial wealth to his chil­dren.]
  • Invest only in things you know some­thing about. […] Stick to what [you] know and buy an invest­ment in that area. That is how you get rich. You don’t get rich invest­ing in things you know noth­ing about.

Fur­ther advice, this from Tyler Cowen:

I told [my step­daugh­ter] to take cal­cu­lus and stat­ist­ics; even if she hates them she’ll know what side of that divide she stands on.  I am encour­aging of learn­ing lan­guages, driv­ing mod­est Japan­ese cars, and order­ing the most unap­peal­ing-sound­ing dish on the menu of a good res­taur­ant.  On invest­ing it’s buy and hold all the way.  Use TimeOut guides when you travel and when you are eat­ing in third world coun­tries avoid walls.  I’m not a big fan of debt; debt is worth it only if you’re earn­ings-obsessed and I don’t recom­mend that for most people.  Don’t expect to be too happy, that is coun­ter­pro­duct­ive.  I’ve men­tioned that future job descrip­tions may be quite flu­id and unpre­dict­able from today’s vant­age point.  Being “good with people,” com­bined with smarts and a focus on exe­cu­tion, will nev­er wear out.

As with all art­icles that dole out advice, there’s some gold in the com­ments.

Jim Rogers inter­view via Tim Cold­well