Category Archives: Book Reviews

Jim Rogers – Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets

Jim Rogers Street Smarts

I recently came across Jim Rogers’ new book – Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets – and I’d figure some of you may enjoy reading a brief review of it.

For those of you who do not know who Jim Rogers is, permit me to give you his brief bio.  James Beeland Rogers, Jr. (born October 19, 1942) is an American investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc. He was the co-founder of the Quantum Fund with George Soros and creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index (RICI). Jim is a well-known investor who has appeared on numerous financial TV shows.

He has written several other books, some of which are: Adventure Capitalist, Investment Biker, A Gift to My Children, Hot Commodities, A Bull in China. I haven’t read any of his other books but I plan on grabbing a copy of each one soon.

Now on to the book. First of all I should mention that this book is not a “how to” guide on investing. Instead this books is part memoir, part investment primer, part history lesson, part travelogue, part sermon, and just an all around good read. Jim Rogers is a strongly opinionated guy and I for one can definitely appreciate and respect that. He has a wealth of investing experience so what he says is not a bunch of hot air or rehashed investment cliches. So if you get a chance to read the book (and I suggest you do) and you get to a parts where Mr. Rogers espouses his passionate opinions, take a deep breath and consider what he is saying before you react in a sort of “knee-jerk” fashion.

I’m not a literary critic by any means but if I was to comment upon how the book was written I’d say that Jim did a fine job. His language is simple, clear, concise, and empty of any jargon or run on sentences. Put simply, it is terse and pithy, which is precisely how a book should be in my opinion. It is also not a super long read either, so I think if you dedicate an hour tops per day you should be able to finish it in a week or two.

In this book Roger puts forth several personal viewpoints that I believe are worth considering. Some of them you may not agree with some of them you might. I found myself agreeing with quite a few of them. Some of them I can’t comment on as I do not happen to have the relevant background experience (such as the US educational system – I was not educated in the US , etc). Here are some of the interesting “core” ideas in this book:

  • The US is declining as fast as Asia is rising.
  • If you want to give your kids a good education, make sure they learn Chinese.
  • The best investment opportunities are in Asia.
  • The US spends twice as much on healthcare as the average nation and gets terrible outcomes.
  • High healthcare and litigation costs are the major reasons why American carmakers can’t compete globally.
  • The fourth leading cause of death in the US is hospital infection.
  • The US will go the way of Rome, Timbuktu, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Greece.
  • The cure for high prices is high prices.
  • Jim Rogers is always two or three years ahead of the curve.
  • Because governments are debasing currencies, commodities are the best investment.
  • Don’t believe government statistics.
  • According to government stats, there are more pets in Japan than children.
  • The school system in Singapore is far superior to any in the US.
  • Marco polo did not have a passport.
  • Throughout history, the most prosperous societies have been open ones.
  • In the US, the primacy of the individual has become subordinated to the state.
  • If you want to save America, change to a consumption tax, change our education system, institute healthcare and litigation reform, and bring home our troops (from over 100 countries.)
  • The only real failure is not to try; the only improper question is the one unasked.

What do you think? These ideas are definitely unconventional, but wisdom is rarely conventional – especially when one truly has a pioneering ideas. History will prove Jim Rogers right or wrong, and thus far he’s been right with a remarkable level of accuracy.  Let me know what you think of his ideas and if you get a chance to read his book let me know what you think.

So this concludes my humble review. Overall id’s give this book a score of 9 out 10. It is in my opinion a good read and I definitely recommend it. Now on to ebay and amazon to find me some copies of his other books.

Happy investing to you all!

Cheers,

Alan

Book Review: The End of Money – by David Wolman

book
Hello everyone. Alan here with a book review.

It has been quite a while since I reviewed a book on this blog, but I recently came across a money/finance related book that I read and I’d like to share my review/opinion of it with you folks. The name of the book is “The End of Money” and it is written by David Wolman who is an American journalist and author. David is a contributing editor for Wired Magazine. He has also written for publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Discover, National Geographic Traveler, New Scientist and Outside. Before I go any further I should note that in my opinion the book’s title is a bit (maybe not intentionally?) misleading. The book is not about the end of money per se, more like the end of CASH – ie PHYSICAL forms of money.

The End of Money is a very recently published book – February 2012. In this book David takes a critical look at cash, from Marco Polo’s fascination with the paper notes he saw circulating in China, to end of the gold standard. He explores a growing trend of people using cell phones as replacements for both bank branches and cash and delves into the parallel worlds of counterfeiting and anti-counterfeiting technology.

Now that you got an overall idea what the book is about permit me to fire my opinions at you. First of all I should say that I am pretty much of the same opinion as David. I don’t particularly hold any affinity for money in the form of cash. To me cash is a tool that clearly has some big drawbacks – read his book to find out all the details. Where I live – Canada – the local population makes heavy use of debit and credit cards (especially debit). I am used to paying for pretty much everything with my bank debit card. It is convenient and I’ve gotten used to a life without cash. In his book, David does a very good job at outlining the drawbacks of cash and how much more efficient a purely cashless monetary system would be.

Depending on your world view you may share or not share this opinion. In one of the adventures David had while researching this topic David has a chat with a Georgian (as in the US state) pastor who – as many people who share his belief system – fears the prospect of a cashless society as it heralds the coming of the apocalypse because he believes that we will all be forced (not necesarrily physically but you get the point) to implant ourselves with microchips in our hands or some other parts of our body to still remain active participants in the economy. Another concern people have about going the cashless route is that it will give governments too much control over our lives.

In another chapter David talks with the antithesis of the Georgian pastor – David Birch. David is a staunch opponent of cash. If you look him up you’ll see why – he’s pretty heavily involved in the digital money industry. And then in another chapter David introduces us to Bernard von NotHaus’s story and the whole Liberty Dollar rise and downfall. So the book delves into a variety of viewpoints from various perspectives on the whole cash issue.

As far as the quality of writing, I found it well written. The book is well written but it is not a super detailed scholastic work. Do not come to this book expecting deep economic theories and long drawn out arguments. I think this book is a very good introduction and sort of an “open door” to the idea of purely electronic money payments.

I must also note that I was very surprised to see that David knows a bit about the peer-to-peer digital money system known as bitcoin. I feel the need to critique him for believing The Economist Magazine’s viewpoint on bitcoin, which is specifically that “bitcoin is technically sophisticated, but as an economic system it looks primitive.” He doesn’t really give bitcoin a proper explanation. I think that if he did his readers would see how bitcoin has all the advantages of cash that people love with none of the massive waste that is one of David main arguments against physical money.

A bit later on in the book David gets into the revolutionary idea of cellphone based payment systems. I think this will become a lot more common and it indeed a very empowering technology. This and the growing popularity of online payment systems (think paypal, and all sorts of e-mail based money transfer systems, e-currencies, etc) will slowly kill cash. I for one believe that the cashless society is pretty much here already – at least for sure in Western nations.

So, to sum it up, I would recommend you checkout this book as a light and interesting introduction to the idea of a cashless society.

I’d like to congratulate David on this most recent book and I look forward to any other books he might publish on this subject.

That concludes this review, but before I want to let you all know that I will try to get an e-mail interview with David and I’ll publish it here.

So stay tuned to this blog! Or better yet subscribe to my newsfeed.

If you wish to grab a copy of David’s book (and I recommend you do) you easily do so by following the Amazon link below:

Cheers, and thanks for visiting and reading my blog.

Alan out.

Book Review: The Instant Millionaire by Mark Fisher

Why do some people succeed in becoming millionaires while others only dream about it? What do they know that others don’t?

The answer to these questions is at the heart of of The Instant Millionaire: A Tale of Wisdom and Wealth (New World Library, August 2010). Written by millionaire Mark Fisher, this memorable fable is based on the true story of his meeting with an old man who passed on the secrets of his success.

I found this book to be well written,easy to read and follow. Also it’s not very long (121 pages roughly) so it can be quickly read on a lunch break or a lazy weekend afternoon. I snapped a few minutes each day during my lunch break and read as much as I could. I must say I really enjoy reading books such as these. Not only do they fit in with my overall financial goals, but they serve to motivate me further to keep going on the path towards financial independence. No doubt you find yourself on the same path as me; otherwise you probably would not be reading my blog.

Achieving financial independence is not easy and I for one believe that you gotta take good advice wherever you can get it, and thankfully I found this book to be on such source of what I like to call “million dollar wisdom.” I’d say that more than half of the battle in achieving financial independence is mental. You constantly have to do battle with doubts and your own psychological barriers (self imposed the majority of the time) when you’re trying to achieve true wealth. True wealth to me begins with a change of mindset, and this little book clearly echos the need to renew your mindset before you start off on your path to financial independence.

I’ve pasted an excerpt from the book so you can get a feeling for what this book is all about. In this excerpt, from chapter one we meet the book’s main character, a young man who is fed up at with a nightmare job and dreaming of something more.

* * *

There was once a bright young man who wanted to get rich. He had had his fair share of disappointments and setbacks, it couldn’t be denied, and yet he still believed in his lucky star.

While he waited for fortune to smile, he worked as an assistant to an account executive in a small advertising agency. He was inadequately paid and had felt for some time that his job offered him little satisfaction. His heart was simply no longer in it.

He dreamed of doing something else, perhaps writing a novel that would make him wealthy and famous and end his financial problems once and for all. But wasn’t his ambition a bit unrealistic? Did he really have enough talent and technique to write a bestseller, or would the pages be filled with the bleak, unfocused ramblings of his inner misery?

His job had been a daily nightmare for more than a year. His boss spent most of each morning reading the newspaper and writing memos before disappearing to indulge in a three-hour lunch. He also changed his mind continually and gave contradictory orders.

But it wasn’t only his boss — he was surrounded by colleagues who were also fed up with what they were doing. They seemed to have abandoned any sense of vision; they seemed to have given up altogether. He didn’t dare tell any of them about his fantasy of dropping everything and becoming a writer. He knew they would treat it as a joke. When he was at work he often felt cut off from the world, as if he was in a foreign country, unable to speak the language.

Every Monday morning he wondered how on earth he was going to survive another week at the office. He felt totally alienated from the files piled high on his desk, from the needs of clients clamoring to sell their cigarettes, their cars, their beer….

He had written a letter of resignation six months earlier and had walked into his boss’s office a dozen times with the letter burning in his pocket, but he had never been quite able to go through with it. It was funny; he would not have hesitated three or four years ago, but now he seemed unsure of what to do. Something was holding him back, some kind of force — or was it simply cowardice? He seemed to have lost the nerve that had always helped him get what he wanted in the past.

He kept waiting till the time was ripe, finding all kinds of excuses for not jumping into action, wondering if he could ever really succeed. Has he turned into a perpetual dreamer?

Did his paralysis spring from the fact that he was saddled with debts? Or was it because he had simply started to get old, a process inevitably triggered the minute we give up our visions of the future?

One day, when he was feeling especially frustrated, he suddenly thought of visiting an uncle of his who had become a millionaire. Perhaps he might be able to give him some advice, or better yet, some money.

His uncle was a warm, friendly person who immediately agreed to see him. He refused to lend him any money, however, claiming he wouldn’t be doing him a favor.

How old are you?” his uncle asked, after listening to his tale of woe.

Thirty-two,” the young man whispered timidly.

Do you know that by the time J. Paul Getty was twenty-three he’d already made his first million? And that when I was your age, I had half a million? So how in the world is it that you are forced to borrow money at your age?”

Beats me. I work like a dog, sometimes over fifty hours a week….”

Do you really believe that hard work is what makes people rich?”

I…I guess so…anyway, that’s what I’ve always been led to believe.”

How much do you make a year — $35,000?”

Yeah, about that much,” replied the young man.

Do you think that someone who earns $350,000 works ten times as many hours a week as you do? Obviously not! So if this person earns ten times more than you do without working any more than you do, then he must be doing something quite differently than you. He must have a secret you are totally unaware of.”

That must be true.”

You’re lucky you understand that at least. Most people don’t even get that far. They’re far too busy trying to earn a living to stop and think about how they could get rid of their money problems. Most people don’t even spend an hour of their time trying to figure out how they could get rich and why they’ve never managed to do so.”

The young man had to admit that, despite his burning ambition and his dream of making a fortune, he had never taken the time to really think his situation through. Everything seemed to distract him and prevent him from facing up to a task that was obviously of fundamental importance.

The young man’s uncle was silent for a while, then smiled.

I’ve decided to help you out. I’m going to send you to the man who helped me get rich. He’s called the Instant Millionaire. Have you heard of him?”

No, never,” the young man said.

He chose that name because he claims he became a millionaire overnight after discovering the true secret of making a fortune. He claims he can help anyone become a millionaire overnight — or at least acquire the mentality of a millionaire.”

His uncle turned to a large map on the wall and pointed to a small, somewhat isolated town.

Have you ever been there?”

No.”

Why not give it a try? Go and find him. He just might reveal his secret to you. He lives in a fantastic house, the most beautiful one in the whole town. You shouldn’t have any problem finding it.”

Why don’t you just tell me the secret? Then I won’t have to take the trouble of going there.”

Simply because I don’t have the right to. When the Instant Millionaire confided it to me, the first thing he did was make me swear never to tell it to anybody. However, he did say I could refer people to him.”

All of this seemed both surprising and involved to the young man. It certainly aroused his curiosity.

Are you sure you can’t tell me anything? Anything at all?”

Absolutely positive. What I can do is recommend you highly to the Instant Millionaire.”

The young man’s uncle pulled out a sheet of elegant writing paper from a drawer in his massive oak desk, took his pen, and hastily scribbled a few lines. He then folded the letter, put it in an envelope, and handed it to his nephew.

Here’s your introduction,” he said, “and here’s the millionaire’s address. One last thing. You must promise not to read this letter. If ever you do open it, despite my warning, and you still want it to work for you, you’ll have to pretend that you haven’t opened it. But how can you undo what’s already been done?”

The young man didn’t have the vaguest idea what his uncle was talking about, but he agreed. His uncle had always been a bit eccentric, and he was doing him a favor, after all, so he decided not to press the point. He thanked him warmly and left.

Excerpted from The Instant Millionaire © 2010 by Mark Fisher. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.

That concludes by brief book review. You can checkout this book at the New World Library website. Also you should know that if you live in the United States you get free shipping on all orders – nice!

By the way, If you can recommend to me any other books of similar scope feel free to drop me an e-mail (use the “About” link at the top to find out my address)

In closing I’d like to wish you all peace and prosperity! Hope you all become millionaires!

Cheers,

Alan

Book Review – Entrepreneur Journeys: Bootstrapping: Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction by Sramana Mitra

Hello dear readers. Normally I do not do book reviews but I decided to give it a go this time, and if I get sufficient positive feedback I may do this on a regular basis (note to authors: get in touch with me to have your book reviewed – books related to the subject of business/trading or money making only please!)

As you can tell by the title of this blog post, the name of the book I am going to review today is “Entrepreneur Journey: Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction” and it is written by Sramana Mitra. Although the title is in my opinion a bit clunky it is nonetheless pretty descriptive.

Before I go any further I must thank Sramana’s wonderful publicist for furnishing me with a copy of her book – thanks! I’ve been procrastinating a bit in finishing this review after I’ve read the book and for that I must apologize. I’m not much of a book critic/reviewer but for what it’s worth here is my best attempt at it.

A little bit about the author of this book – Sramana Mitra:

Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies and writes a business blog (hey we have something in common!) entittled “Sramana Mitra on Strategy” at http://www.sramanamitra.com. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (aka MIT).

Where I know her best is as a columnist for Forbes. I came across of few of her columns, although I must confess I’m not a regular reader as the subjects she usually discusses didn’t really interest me. This book though has peaked my interest in the world of entrepreneurship and venture capital to the point that I’m dreaming of coming up with the next so called “big idea” or the next “hot thing” that will set the tech industry a blaze. Who knows, my dreams just may come true – maybe then Sramana will use me as an interview subject in the next version of the “Entrepreneur Journeys” (you’ll get what I mean if you continue to read on) But I believe I’m digressing a bit here so let’s move on.

What this book is all about:

Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction is Sramana Mitra’s second book in the Entrepreneur Journey series. It takes aim at a core issue that she believes is missed by most entrepreneurship books: bootstrapping as an essential route along the roadmap to startup success. Mitra uses an interesting narrative style to showcase a dozen entrepreneurs and their lesson from the “bootstrapping trenches.” Mitra’s analysis takes the reader through an interesting expedition into venture land, a territory she hopes will be claimed by many more in the years to come.

In a world battered by economic crisis, Mitra believes entrepreneurship is the only sustainable path forward, and I would have to strongly agree with her. Entrepreneurship has always been in my opinion the true engine of growth and prosperity and I’m glad to see that both Mitra and I are on the same page here.

Mitra structures Entrepreneur Journeys as a series of interviews with people who have started businesses and willingly (or unwillingly) went without massive funding for the first part of their histories. The range of personalities is rather wide; everything from veterans of startups who have “been there, done that” to youngsters who happened to be at the right place at the right time, and organically grew an idea into a money-generating website. Some of the individuals couldn’t get a venture capitalist to listen to them, and others decided not to go that route in order to retain control. But in all cases, these entrepreneurs were able to successfully negotiate that tightrope between growth and funding.

As you delve further into the book Mitra points out a number of flaws in our current VC (venture capital) mindset that cause many good companies to die off too early. Running a company for the first time is hard, and mentoring is even more valuable in many cases than money. Normal VC arrangements don’t do a good job in close mentoring. Instead, it’s a push to build up the value so the VCs can cash out. Angel investors are more likely to work closely with the business, helping them reach their potential without sacrificing the longer-term potential of the business.

The interview style used by Mitra may turn some people off, but I found myself rather liking it. The only that I didn’t like about this book are the parts where Mitra rants about Obama’s economic plan. I found these bits unnecessary, but some may beg to differ.

In  I’d say that If you’re starting your own business in the technology industry, Mitra’s book might well give you some perspective on initial funding that you may not have considered. And given what is at stake, it would be advisable to take the time to read this book.

If this book sounds like something you’d like to read you can grab a copy from Amazon.com by clicking below: