Saturday, July 4, 2015


In the 1920 s journalist Napoleon Hill had an opportunity to interview 73-year-old Pittsburgh steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, then the richest man in America, and that interview changed his life. Hill intently listened as Carnegie recounted his extraordinary accomplishments and proffered his theories on personal achievement. “It’s a shame that each new generation must find the way to success by trial and error when the principles are really clear-cut,” Carnegie told him.

Carnegie believed that “definiteness of purpose” was the starting point for all success—that “the man who knows exactly what he wants… has no difficulty in believing in his own ability to succeed.” The concept became the foundation for Hill’s later writing and professional focus.

What the world needed, Carnegie suggested, was a philosophy of achievement, a compilation of success principles from the country’s greatest businessmen and leaders to show the commonality of their stories, and serve as inspiration and enlightenment to those wanting more in life.

Carnegie issued a challenge to Hill: Commit the next 20 years, without compensation, to documenting and recording such a philosophy of success, and he would introduce him to the wealthiest and most successful men of the time. Hill jumped at the opportunity.

These are just a few of the influential people Napoleon Hill interviewed on his 20-year quest to discover the science behind success.

Henry Ford - Founder of Ford Motor Co.
Theodore Roosevelt - President of the United States
Charles M. Schwab - President of United States Steel Corp.
John D. Rockefeller - Founder of Standard Oil Companies
Thomas A. Edison - Inventor
F. W. Woolworth - Founder of F. W. Woolworth Co.
Woodrow Wilson - President of the United States
Wm. Howard Taft - President of the United States
J. Pierpont Morgan Sr. - Builder of “The House of Morgan”
Harvey S. Firestone - Founder of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
Wm. Wrigley Jr.- Founder of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
Julius Rosenwald - Chairman of Board, Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Based on those interviews Hill, he set forth the following 13 secrets to Super Wealth:


Desire is the starting point for all achievement, the first step toward riches. But it’s here that we so often run into a roadblock. A person will say, “I know what I desire, but can I get it? The answer was best expressed by Emerson: “There’s nothing capricious in nature, and the implanting of a desire indicates that its gratification is in the constitution of the creature that feels it.” In other words, you would not have the desire unless you were capable of its achievement.

Your burning desire is nothing more than an accurate picture of what you will one day become. So right here, firmly establish in your mind that which you desire more than anything else, and cherish and nurture that desire. Do not suppress or annihilate it. A man without desire has within him no principle of action, or motive to act.


Faith is the state of mind that may be induced or created by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind by conscious auto suggestion. By summoning over and over again a mental image of yourself already having accomplished your main desire, you will muster the faith you need. Faith is vital to accomplishment.

Have faith that you can accomplish that which you seek, for you would never have decided upon it unless it was meant for you to accomplish it. If you find it difficult at times to have faith in yourself, you may be certain that you can have faith in these principles.

Auto Suggestion

Through repeated suggestion, the subconscious mind can be put to work for you. It’s the faculty of being able to concentrate your mind on your burning desire until your subconscious mind accepts it as fact and begins to devise ways of bringing it about.

Here’s where hunches come from, sudden flashes of thought, inspiration, or guidance.
To access the power of auto suggestion, go into some quiet spot, perhaps in bed at night. Close your eyes and repeat aloud so you may hear your own words a careful reaffirmation of whatever your goal happens to be. If it’s the accumulation of a sum of money, reiterate the time limit for its accumulation and a description of the service or merchandise you intend to give in return for it. As you carry out these instructions, see yourself already in possession of your goal.

Specialized Knowledge

Knowledge is power only to the extent that it’s organized into a definite plan of action and directed to a definite end. Before you can be sure of your ability to transmute desire into its monetary equivalent, you will require specialized knowledge of the service, merchandise, or profession that you intend to offer in return for fortune.

Realize that you must learn all you can about your specialty. Set aside a definite time every day for learning more about what it is you do for a living. Take the courses that are offered on your subject and associate with people who know your business well.


Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Man’s only limitation, within reason, lies in the development and use of his imagination and subsequent motivation to action. The great leaders of business, industry, and finance, and the great artists, musicians, poets, and writers became great because they developed the power of self-motivation.

As you go about your daily work, think constantly of ways in which it could be done better, more efficiently. Think of the changes that are inevitable. Can they be made now? If you feel limited, remember the words of the late Frank Lloyd Wright: “The human race built most nobly when limitations were greatest and, therefore, when most was required of imagination in order to build at all.”


Analysis of several hundred people who’ve accumulated fortunes well beyond the million-dollar mark disclose the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly and of changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed.

When you make up your mind, stay with it. The majority of people who fail are generally easily influenced by the opinions of others. Opinions are the cheapest commodities on earth. Keep your own counsel when you begin to put into practice the principles described here by reaching your own decisions and following them. Take no one into your confidence except the members of your mastermind alliance (as discussed later), and be very careful in your selection of this group, choosing only those who will be in complete sympathy and harmony with your purpose. Close friends and relatives, while not meaning to do so, often handicap one through uninformed opinions and sometimes through ridicule.


Persistence is simply the power of will. Willpower and desire, when properly combined, make an irresistible pair. Persistence is to an individual what carbon is to steel. In uncounted thousands of cases, persistence has stood as the difference between success and failure. It is the lack of this quality more than any other that keeps the majority from great accomplishment. As soon as the going gets tough, they fold.

If you’re to accomplish the goal you set for yourself, you must form the habit of persistence. Things will get difficult. It will seem as though there’s no longer any reason to continue. Everything in you will tell you to give up, to quit trying. It is right here that if you’ll go that extra mile and keep going, the skies will clear and you’ll begin to see the first signs of the abundance that is to be yours because you had the courage to persist. With persistence will come success?

Enthusiastic Support

It is of great significance that behind practically every great leader has been the supportive love and inspiration of a spouse. When things get tough — and you can count on it, they will — you may be deserted by some you thought were friends. But if you’ve got a good woman or man supporting you, you will never be alone. He or she will be willing to start over again if necessary and will give you the new enthusiasm that comes through faith in you.

Having someone to love is having someone to share your success and accomplishments; to give you the praise that all of us need from time to time. A person can become successful without a spouse and family, but much of the real joy is lost if it cannot be shared. Take care of your spouse and children as your greatest possessions.

Organized Planning

The first of the six steps for transforming desire into reality is the formation of a definite, practical plan through which this transformation may be made. Once you do, it is critical that you ally yourself with one or more people or a group of as many people as you may need for the creation and carrying out of your plan.

These people are your “mastermind alliance.”

Before forming your mastermind alliance, decide what advantages and benefits you may offer the individual members of your group in return for their cooperation. No one will work indefinitely without compensation, though this may not always be in the form of money.

Arrange to meet with the members of your mastermind alliance at least twice a week, and more often if possible, until you have jointly perfected the necessary plan or plans for the accomplishment of your goal.

Maintain perfect harmony between yourself and every member of your mastermind alliance. Keep in mind these facts: First, you are engaged in an undertaking of major importance to you. To be sure of success, you must have plans that are as faultless as possible. Second, you must have the advantage of the experience, education, native ability, and imagination of other minds. This is in harmony with the methods followed by every person who has risen above the average. Work at this until you have a well-executed formal plan for reaching your objective. In this way you’re never confused or wondering what you should do next. Every morning you know exactly what you’re going to do and why.

Organized planning is one the most important principles, because a person without a plan is like a ship without a course. With no place to go, disaster is a probability.

The Power of the Mastermind

No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third — a third invisible, intangible force that may be likened to a third mind. You may have noticed many times that by discussing something with another person you suddenly get good ideas as a result of the discussion, ideas you would not have gotten without this association. Well, the same thing happens to the other person. A lot of good ideas have been born in individual minds as a result of having met in committee.

Associating with your mastermind alliance is not meant as a means of letting others do your thinking for you, far from it. It is meant to stimulate your own thinking through the association with other minds. No one knows everything. The more sympathetic minds you get together — that is, minds working for a common purpose — the more related information is going to be available. Great ideas are a combination of related information.

Pick the members of your mastermind group with care. Make sure they’re people you respect and who are hard working and conscientious. You’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll reach your goals just that much sooner.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is a mental area in which all inputs through any of the five senses are classified and recorded, and from which they may be recalled or withdrawn like data from the storage banks of a limitless computer. No one knows very much about what we call the subconscious mind but we do know that it is incalculably powerful and can solve our problems if we go about using it the right way.

The best way is to hold in your conscious mind as often as possible a clear picture of yourself already having accomplished your goal. Know what you want. Define it clearly, and then project it on the motion picture screen of your mind. Hold it. See yourself doing and having the things you have when your objective will have been reached. Do these as often as practical, particularly at night just before you go to sleep and the first thing upon waking? As you do this, your subconscious will begin to lead you toward your objective. Don’t fight it. Follow your sudden hunches, the ideas that come into your mind, knowing that they may well represent subconscious knowledge. If you’ll keep at this, you’ll be amazed and delighted by the ideas that just seem to come from nowhere.

The Power of the Brain

If you had access to all the wealth in the world and used only a penny, you would be doing exactly what most of us very probably have been doing in the use of our brains. You own in your brain the most marvelous, miraculous, inconceivably powerful force the world has ever known.

It is the brain that has given us the computer, supersonic airplane, our deep rocket probes into outer space, the sciences, and the arts. All of what we know today and will achieve tomorrow is born from this small, gray mass each of us carries around.
Can you doubt, even for a moment, that your brain can bring you and yours everything you want here on earth? Recognize its power, give it the job you’ve decided to accomplish, and watch it handle it.

The Sixth Sense

The sixth sense can be described as the sense through which your infinite intelligence may and will communicate. This principle is the apex of the philosophy. It can be assimilated, understood, and applied only by first mastering the other 12 principles. The sixth sense is that function of the subconscious mind that has been referred to as the creative imagination. It’s also been referred to as the receiving set through which ideas flash into the mind, sometimes called hunches or inspirations.

The sixth sense cannot be described to a person who has not mastered the other principles of this philosophy, because such a person has no knowledge and no experience to serve as points of reference. The sixth sense is not something one can take off and put on at will. The ability to use this great power comes slowly through application of the other principles we’ve outlined. So begin to develop it now by applying the principles we’ve talked about here.

Remember this: Man can create nothing that he does not first conceive in the form of an idea, a desire. Keep fear out of your mind. Concentrate on the mental picture of yourself achieving your desire. Cut yourself away from the average — from the mediocre — and chart your course on the dream in your heart. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Warren Buffett and Zen Buddhism

As modest as Warren Buffett is, he will tell you that he does not consider him to be a genius. He became so wealthy because Buffett has amazing common sense that is uncommon in the world today. The reason others couldn’t do what Buffett did could be better explained by dipping into Zen Buddhism. To better explain the reasons, since Zen is full of tales, let’s begin with a tale: a wealthy man who was constantly unhappy in spite of all his wealth, was once told that a Zen monk has the recipe for happiness. The wealthy man, having sold his business and having traveled a long way, comes to see the Zen monk only to be told that finding happiness lies in two simple words: paying attention.

Warren Buffett is living proof that anyone with some capital could make money in the USA today if he or she only pays attention and apply common sense. In that regard, here are the five tenets of Zen Buddhism one should follow to live a life of responsibility and fulfillment:

Right judgment
Right speech
Right company
Right vision
Right action

Take a look at Warren Buffett’s life and you will see how above-mentioned principles fit his lifestyle perfectly. His judgment on picking right companies to invest is impeccable. When you ask him about his ability to have Right Judgment he attributes that to common sense such as buying profitable businesses that you know about (preferably with a barrier to entry, to avoid competition) run by smart management with integrity. The point is anyone with access to capital could do what Buffett does and make money but they don’t. Instead they squander their money on speculation and consumerism. Spending on speculative activities is less painful for most professionals in the business since it is often other peoples’ money. If these professional managers actually invest their own money then they may have the chance of becoming like Buffett.

In the market today, when you give money to a broker and when he speculates and wins you both win. But when the broker loses money only you lose. Your professional money manager only shares your upside with you and avoids anything to do with the downside. So if you have the right judgment you have to make sure that your broker will not speculate with your money. Those who invest money with Buffett know that he does not speculate. The reason Buffett does not speculates is because he has paid attention and discovered that speculators lose their money sooner or later and the way to make money is to invest in good companies for the long term.
How do you distinguish speculation from investment? That perspective comes with knowledge and Buffett has gained the right knowledge by reading the right books. And that’s how you get the right judgment since no one is really born with knowledge. In that regard, practicality sets Buffett apart from Buddha the leader of Zen Buddhism. To get the right judgment (attain Nirvana) Buddha had to meditate for years (perhaps there were not enough books those days). But Buffett attained his Nirvana by reading books. The ever-practical man, Buffett, has a knack for picking the right books, and, as you will see, to pick the right teachers.

To scrutinize Right Speech, have you read some of Buffett’s speech? He never seems to say anything unnecessary. He has a reputation for liking to talk too much, and in most cases those who talk too much seem to bungle and put their foot in their mouth; Buffett seems to be able to even avoid that. I guess it comes from having the right judgment and discipline to follow that judgment. Most people lie because they lose control of their thought and speech. This discipline of being able to control his thoughts must account for Buffett’s ability to be truthful.

Warren Buffett’s lifelong business partner is Charles Munger. If you read Munger’s writing you will recognize him as an exceptionally smart person, you are likely to come across in life. Was it just a coincident that they both were born and raised in the Mid West? In fact they both were born in the same neighborhood and as a kid Munger worked in Buffett’s grandfather’s store. Generalization is often considered not appropriate but these two people seem to substantiate the inborn integrity and ethics of the people from the Mid West in America. Most probably they had something to do with making America Great!

The partnership between Buffett and Munger illustrates the third principle, the Right Company. Luck may have played a part in this too. Buffett inherited his characteristics from his dad. If you wonder why Buffett’s dad having the same characteristics did not become the richest man on earth, there is a good reason for that. Buffett’s dad was a Congressman and as we know there is no money in being a Congressman unless you work for the lobbyists (even then the money is not that substantial and not worth the aggravation- not to mention the destruction they bring to this nation). Buffett’s father anyway wouldn’t succumb to making money that way and in addition in good-old days there were not too many lobbyists.

Well Buffett’s dad also had a stock brokerage in the later stage of his life and that goes to show that he got the right judgment later in life. But those days the US stock market rose only gradually—as it should be in a free market with no government interference—as the true value of the companies listed on the public markets increase its share of sales and profits proportionately. So those in the ownership society became wealthy gradually and moderately with wealth being spread evenly in the society. But the USA became an entirely different society as Buffett began investing his money in the market. The US stock market rose so rapidly even the town-crier could have become very wealthy by investing in the general market and staying home. Just to give you an idea the Dow Jones began the 1980s around 830 and in the next few years went on to become over 12,500 making Buffett the richest man on earth. So that’s where luck played another major part in his life; no wonder some call Buffett the Forest Gump of Wall Street.

Buffett was the best student of legendary Benjamin Graham who is considered the best investment teacher ever lived. Graham wrote the book Security Analysis that still people consider the bible of investment. Anyone who had a teacher like Graham and followed his advice couldn’t fail in life. For that matter all of Graham’s loyal students are quite wealthy in the country today. Buffett had read Graham’s book as a teenager, and made a wish to learn under the master. Finally when Harvard University rejected Buffett as a student (reflect on the judgment of Harvard to pick so many bad apples including the future CEO of Enron and turn down Buffett!) Buffett got his opportunity to attend Colombia and study under Graham.
One of the rules of the book Security Analysis is to invest in companies only when the value of stocks reach below its intrinsic value keeping a margin of safety. When Buffett entered the world of investments, the stocks were still over valued and had he followed the rules in Security Analysis to its finality, he should have stayed away from the market till the market corrected itself bit more. In fact, Ben Graham, according to an account advised Buffett to stay on the sidelines a little longer since there was still more space for correction for the market to reach intrinsic value. Had he adopted that strategy then that would have cost him the opportunity to cash in on the steepest rise of stock market, associated with early years of a long bull market because a pullback to buy stock at less than intrinsic value never materialized during the years following that beginning.

According to Buffett, it was Charles Munger who persuaded Buffett to invest in stocks even without a margin of safety or at above the intrinsic value. Munger’s proposition was to buy stock of excellent companies at reasonable prices (even in a bit overvalued market) and then to keep on buying more of the same stock, if prices continued down but without over-leveraging. So at this point Buffett had the right judgment not to follow what the Bible of investment laid down, but to go along with the trends in the society as pointed out by his company. Perhaps both Munger and Buffett watched the political and economic trends and saw what’s in the offing in the coming decade.

With due respect to Ben Graham, let me add that technically he was not wrong about waiting for a further correction because his strategy and contribution was to make money in a free and a transparent society operating under rule of law. So Graham couldn’t have imagined what is to come. In fact, I doubt even Buffett and Munger team thought the stock market would rise that high considering that it took Dow Jones close to 200 years to get to 830. I doubt not only Graham but even Buffett, Munger team anticipated that in the ensuing decades, the US government would be capable of borrowing so much money to turn the greatest creditor nation to the biggest debtor facilitating most of such borrowed money to end up in the stock market. Also I bet that none of these intelligent investors had any clue as to the chutzpah of the Federal Reserve Board, not to be outdone by the treasury, to print so much money and pump into the market. Nevertheless Buffett was a major beneficiary of that recklessness. His 4 billion invested in the market in the 1970s ballooned to over 20 billion dollars by the 1990s.

What could have made Buffett/Munger team insightful at that time in history? Perhaps they witnessed the end of the Gold Standard and saw the beginning of unfettered monetarism, and being the practical men they were, made no objection to any of it (perhaps sensing the futility in that) but rode the trend to their benefit. Also witnessing the Japanese experience with monetarism that ran the Japanese stock index also over 1500 percent may have added to a vision of some remote possibility of the USA going in the same direction.

On the point of Right Vision, Buffett’s expectations are quite simple. He wants to be happy doing what he likes to do. I doubt he has any goals of changing the world or helping out the victims in the society, although he has the capacity to do so. Many eastern philosophers in history have pointed out that trying to help all the victims in the world as an impossible task. Thus they have spread their wisdom teaching people to take life for what it is and be happy within those constrains. Buffett in that regard, in contrast to another similarly smart and wealthy man George Soros—who spends his time and money performing active and constructive charitable deeds—do not actively involve himself in charitable activities.

On the point of Right Action, Buffett lives a simple, uncomplicated life and that is right if you believe the purpose of life is to be happy. Trying to accumulate material goods and compete with others and be in a rush to make money is the root cause of unhappiness. Living a humble life with people you love to be with is the way to ultimate happiness. Buffett does not buy expensive cars or shop at expensive places or eat at expensive restaurants. He is reputed to visit McDonalds so often that they have given him a platinum card so he can eat at any McDonalds for free; it definitely pays to be rich.

The price of Berkshire Hathaway (his company) stock began at $5.00 per share and now stands over $200,000 per share and often moving up or down $2,000 a day. It is the most expensive stock in the world. As you may know all those who invested with Buffett in the early days are now worth lots of money. However, let’s not forget although Buffett does not live an extravagant life with money he makes, as the stock of his company appreciates, the others who own the stock live very flashy and extravagant lives. He has nothing against anybody being happy doing what they want to do.

Getting back to the tale that we brought up before, the wealthy man who went to see the Zen Monk to find happiness, having heard the simple rules to being happy, asked the monk if being happy is that simple why not everyone is equally happy. The Zen master replied it is because most people do not like to find simple answers but for some unexplainable reason complicate all matters.

This is the same answer Warren Buffett gives to those who ask him, if making money is that simple (as he often claims) then why not everyone is wealthy as he is: because most people have a pervasion to complicate simple things in life. In that regard, Warren Buffett is as close to a Buddha on Wall Street; a task quite simple to do since it is all in one’s mind.

As the Zen philosophy advocates anyone could become Buddha by following above-mentioned five tenets. Similarly anyone can become wealthy in America by paying attention and following the simple rules followed by Buffett. Don’t take my word for it; ask Warren Buffett