Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Augusta Views: A Successful Volunteer Company

I love the internet. The other day, through a bizarre series of clicks, I came across a company that I doubt I would've ever found on my own: Ouray Ice Park Inc.

Aside from being an easily accessible place to go ice climbing, if one is so inclined, the Ouray Ice Park is about as close to a complete volunteer organization as you can get! Located in Ouray, CO, the ice park was started by a small group of volunteers and funded entirely by donations. Now they have 5 part-time employees, memberships, corporate sponsors, and an annual festival to sustain them. To boot, it's touted as the "greatest ice climbing facility in the world." And climbing is free!

Click here for more info from the history page of their website.

Something tells me that I'm going to be learning to ice climb in the near future. Wanna come?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Abolish Trays!

Looks like it's time to abolish lunch trays. Very interesting...

Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.

Book Review: "The Daily Drucker"

This was a great book I skimmed through when I had a brief break back over the holidays to step into the local Barnes and Nobles. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
  • Are you a great actor in a terrible play? What are you going to do about it? (From February 11)
  • Do not separate personal values of what is right and wrong from the values you put into practice at work (April 27)
  • Make sure in the pursuit of economic performance you develop people (June 28)
  • Create a time log of your activities. Eliminate those activities that are time wasters (September 2)
  • Explain why this is true: in order for a business to "do good," it must first "do well," and indeed very well (December 22)
As many of you already know, Peter Drucker is arguably the most influential thinker in management and perhaps business. He wrote books for around 60 years and The Daily Drucker is a collection of his most powerful thoughts and lessons spread out over a year, giving you a nice dose of Drucker everyday. This book makes a great gift for the business inclined.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Google Linked Us

Specifically in this post their team had about a post we had around Christmas a few weeks ago... we're the link at the bottom! Very neat...

A Quote from NNT

A fascinating quote to get you thinking straight from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's webpage:

My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously and those who don't have the guts to sometimes say: I don't know... (You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment and make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race).

Oh and here's what NNT considers a nice summary of his ideas.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Illusion of Knowledge

This was a great piece on the illusion of knowledge via Ben Casnocha. I've blogged before about Ben, but he's actually very accessible - Ben has answered my emails in the past very promptly.

Anyways, hopefully everyone had a good weekend... Monday can be a tough day for students and workers. It won't be too tough for Orion, though, since it's his birthday today.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Great Quote!

This afternoon I started reading a book that I've been meaning to read for a while now, and so far so good! The book is entitled What We Believe But Cannot Prove and is a collection of short essays by the leading thinkers answering that very question. I can tell I'll be raving about it further when I've finished, but this quote struck me today & I couldn't resist sharing! A slightly morbid, but still amusing, reason to believe in faith without proof:

"We have no guarantee of eternal life, not at all. The enigma of death is still there, ineradicable. But the basic fact that we are still here, despite snakes, stupidity, and nuclear weapons, gives us reason to have confidence in ourselves and each other, to trust others, to trust life itself. To have faith. Because we are here, we have reason for having faith in having faith." - Tor NΓΈrretranders

A Gem of a Comment

I'd like to point you to a gem of a comment that Orion left. Definitely worth a read.

The Joys Of Travel

I feel strongly about travel. As regular readers have gathered, I enjoy traveling almost every weekend. In 2007 alone I made (in many cases multiple) trips to the following places:
So why do I share this? Because I believe that travel is one of those great ways of getting and understanding different perspectives. Plus, given the way air travel has become, it is a great way of building up one's patience. To me, travel and reading are two of the best ways of broadening one's horizons and understanding the world.

The ultimate point of this post is to encourage you to travel as much as possible; if you're deciding between saving a few bucks or heading out for a weekend, I will tell you from experience that travel is one of those things you usually do not regret doing, particularly if it is a unique travel opportunity. Of course, it helps to have great friends in these locations to help you save on hotel costs. Regardless, I hope you consider exploring as much of the world as possible!

P.S. An informative and usually fun take on travel is Arthur Frommer's blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Augusta Views: Reflective Listening

I started thinking about this topic a couple of weeks ago with this post, and again today I realized how important it is to be a good listener.

Reflective listening (aka. active listening) is a way to make sure that you're hearing what the other person is saying. I think of it like those mirrors in shoe stores, you know that slant upwards so you can see the shoe properly? The mirror shows you what's in front of it, your shoe, but that tilt lets you see if it looks the way you think it looks.

Similarly, when you're listening to someone, repeating back to them what you've understood helps them to know you're on the same page. This technique is more useful in some situations than in others, admittedly. I hardly recommend it on a first date for instance! But in conversations where it is effective, reflective listening can make all the difference.

Take education, tutoring specifically. Upon initially meeting a student, it is the tutor's job to find out where exactly that student needs help. (Calculus is a pretty big subject!) If the tutor practices reflective listening as the student explains his issues, he gains a better picture of that student's needs and can therefore tutor him more effectively. The reverse is true as well. In any learning situation, whether from a tutor or a professor, the student will always do well to listen reflectively. Simply rephrase the concept & ask whoever is teaching to confirm your understanding or lack thereof. In fact, it's most helpful when you find out that you don't understand because then you can figure it out...before the test!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Who are your heroes? That is, who do you look up to/learn from/emulate/etc?

This may be a generalization, though I will be careful to word it so that it's not all encompassing: A good number of young boys look up to athletes and (this is my guess) a similarly good number of young girls look up to movie stars... but it's interesting to see how one's heroes change as one grows up. And I've been thinking that maybe the kids who don't have typical heroes go on to live atypical lives (that's opening up a big can of worms!)

I'll offer my own feelings as an example:

In this rough order, and as well as I can remember, I looked up to athletes such as Michael Jordan. Then I looked up to successful people like Bill Gates. Then I got into my "I want to go to law school" phase and started looking up to lawyers like Alan Dershowitz (it helps that he came to speak at Galloway one year). Then I decided, for much of my college years, that I didn't really look up to anyone before finally I realized how lucky I am and started looking up to my parents.

So how do you differ? Is your timeline of heroes vastly different? And could who we look up to impact our current successes? I'd venture it at least impacts our current desires, if not being a good reflection of these desires...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Congratulations, Rafael!

I am thrilled to announce that Rafael Corrales, Co-Founder of College Knowledge, has been accepted to the Harvard Business School for the MBA class of 2010! Congratulations!

Needless to say, this is terrific news for College Knowledge. A company that has already enjoyed phenomenal success & shown tremendous promise can only benefit from such an opportunity for one of its founders. As a student at HBS, Rafael will no doubt learn many new and exciting ways to make College Knowledge even better than it already is!

This step in Rafael's career relates to so many of the things that we try to emphasize here on CK's blog. First and foremost, I think it shows that we are 110% committed to education and lifelong learning. Rafael & Orion clearly know a little something about business, so one could easily wonder whether or not he needs Harvard Business School to be successful. But that's just the point. Being successful is not just about having the skills; broadening one's horizons and expanding one's network are often of equal importance. And that's what Rafael will gain from Harvard. Well, that and his business card's gonna look a heck of a lot snazzier!

Congratulations, again, and well done! You've shown us all that having a few things in the pipeline (or up your sleeve) can seriously pay off!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review: "The Amber Spyglass"

Take some time to reflect on MLK Day...

I love when "it all comes together" in a book series. This experience is similar to what I felt when I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... it's too bad The Amber Spyglass originally came out over 10 years ago (it's too bad because I wish I had read this series earlier).

This third book starts off slower (and does not throw you into the action like the first two) but the pace quickens and, of course, the plot thickens. In fact, one thing I noticed is that even halfway through the book I had no clue how most of the plot was going to resolve itself... which makes it even more incredible when it all comes together in the end.

I greatly enjoyed this series and if you have a couple hours free time I encourage loyal readers of this blog to pick up the first book, at least, and try it out. Worst comes to worst you spent $7 or 8 dollars on the book; in the best case scenario, you become thoroughly entertained and read a wonderful series that touches on all the major themes of life but teaches a wonderful (and to me surprising) lesson about love.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"Out Of Pocket" for MLK Weekend

I will be "out of pocket" from today through Monday, January 21st enjoying New York City with my family and I will be returning with more posts and insights on Monday, January 21st!

I hope everyone uses at least some time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 21st) to think about the life and contributions of MLK to our society.

"See you" all Monday (unless something crazy comes up)...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Augusta Views: Snow & American Idol

I am here to report that snow has officially fallen in Augusta, Georgia! ...As part of a wintry mix, but hey, I'll take it! And American Idol has started up again to boot! It's a great Thursday.

Snow & American Idol are two things that simply make me happy. (They'll definitely both make it to my thankful list tonight!) While I normally wouldn't pair them, they happened to come together today, so....

I've really been missing the snow since I moved from Utah. Most people who live around it long enough begin to hate the stuff; I guess 4 years wasn't enough for me! It's just a magical feeling to see snow falling. The big fluffy kind makes the whole world quieter & more peaceful-feeling. Not to mention the endless entertainment possibilities that come with freshly fallen snow! I absolutely love the stuff. Even the wet, wintry mix kind! Not nearly as good for playing in, but equally fascinating to watch.

And American Idol...well, I can't say I've "missed" it per se, but I am glad that it's back. Two reasons really: first of all, the auditions are marvelously amusing and secondly because the WGA strike has deprived me of my "regularly scheduled programming." (Not that I think that the writers aren't entitled or anything, I'm merely being selfish.) But really, aside from the crazy people who will do ANYTHING to get on television (I'm sure YouTube has some great clips by now), I really admire these people who have the confidence to audition. For Simon Cowell no less! I enjoy watching the show as much to applaud the people who try as to laugh at the ones who are clearly there for no other purpose...I hope.

This seems to be a theme that I come back to a lot, that is, things that make me happy. Like the "thankful list" that CK suggested yesterday, taking note of the things in life that you enjoy can really keep you thinking positively. Today, it just happened to be snow & American Idol that got me smiling. What was, or is, it for you?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Making a Thankful List

Stressed out? I suggest making a thankful list. All you do is write down three things you are thankful for at the end of the day - it can be anything, from a person, to an object, to an activity, etc.

I started this practice a few months ago, stopped for a while after I was robbed (sadly this is right when I should have been going strongest), and continued the practice into this year. It has been something small and private that has helped me stay positive through those stressful or occasional tough moments. Indeed, there's nothing like a dose of personal perspective.

For a bit more perspective, make sure to watch Steve Job's commencement speech from a few years ago - it is excellent and worth your time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Review: "The Subtle Knife"

I had blogged earlier about the first book in the "His Dark Materials" series by Phillip Pullman and I had also mentioned wanting to see The Golden Compass in theaters. Well, I decided over the holidays that I would start and finish the second and third books among other things and I finished the second book in the series: The Subtle Knife.

Well, The Subtle Knife starts off in the same fashion as The Golden Compass - the book throws the reader right into the action. This time the perspective begins from Will's point of view (you've got to read the book to get all the details!) and then, almost immediately, his plot line meets up with Lyra's. The rest of the book is an incredible adventure and I had to "step back" to think about some of the more interesting fiction and points that the author makes in the story. It's also amazing to see the parallels between the story and current events.

I don't want to talk too much about the plot, particularly since describing the plot in this book would ruin parts of The Golden Compass, but I must say that so far both books have been incredibly entertaining. And I'm well aware of the religious aspects touched upon in the books but I think those are separate issues that can be acknowledged or ignored, depending on one's perspective or beliefs. The important thing is that the book is entertaining and makes you think. I would rate this book an 8.5 (and by the way I would rate The Golden Compass as an 8); I am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy.

P.S. In the previous book review about The Golden Compass I discussed going to see the movie. Well, I saw the movie a few weeks ago and I was somewhat disappointed by major plot points being flipped around or even changed. I much prefer the Harry Potter movie series because in those movies they stick (almost faithfully) to the original books.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Business Rules of Thumb

For those of you interested in business, here's a great collection of quotes that comprise the business rules of thumb from Ben Casnocha. Great stuff from a great guy!

Lessons From Newport

It seems like every time I come back from Newport I end up being tired but thankful for such a good time. In fact, I always have good conversations that range from reflecting one's parents to talking about books and getting started on book reviews. Of course, you can look back through the blog (just run a search for "Newport" in the blog search and you'll see the various posts referencing a weekend or trip there).

All that being said, this past weekend was interesting because I had never been in the winter. Newport is rather rainy this time of year and it's more similar to a ghost town because of the weather and off-peak travel season. Sure, I wasn't able to play golf or enjoy the outdoors, but the important thing is I was in great company and had a wonderful time. Even in the winter, Newport is special to me!

My favorite lesson (re-emphasized) is that to be successful and happy you must surround yourself with people who care about your success and happiness. Seems an easy lesson to remember, but being with great friends drives home the point!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Book Review: "Leaving Microsoft To Change The World"

Leaving Microsoft To Change The World is a book that had a profound impact on my thinking. In fact, halfway through the book I got up to go buy my parents some impromptu gifts; granted, this isn't the same as going to Nepal to give books but it made me feel a bit better. (By the way, one of the impromptu gifts was this book for my dad!)

Anyways, the story is your (mostly) basic feel-good story about a corporate fellow (John Wood) who gives up his high-paying and high-stress job at Microsoft to go start a non-profit after he travels through Nepal on vacation. Well, it's actually that he's traveling and is stopped by a stranger who takes him to a school; once there, he promises to come back (with books!) and so begins the excellent adventure that is this book.

I'll leave the rest up to you, readers of the blog, because this book is also worth getting. I know I recommend a lot of the books that I book review, but this one is entertaining and heartwarming. I'll rate it a solid 7.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oboe Advice Anyone?

Today's is quite the self-centered post, but I'm in a quandary. I used to play oboe in high school, and I've recently decided that I would like to play again. Problem is, I lack the instrument itself. I never knew too much about it to begin with, but upon Google searching "oboe for sale," it became apparent that I know even less than I thought about purchasing an oboe. I'm trying to strike the perfect balance between quality and expense. (These things apparently run around $5000 new!)

Thus, I turn to you, oh faithful readers of this blog, for help. Do you have any advice about purchasing an oboe? Or any type of musical instrument?

If you have friends who are "in the know" about such endeavors, please pass this on. I offer endless gratitude & valuable advice about leash-training a guinea pig in return! (That is, if you're interested.)


Augusta Views: People Skills

I was reminded today of the importance of having good "people skills." As medical students, we have several opportunities to interact with Standardized Patients. These individuals donate their time, pretending to be patients, and allow us to practice being physicians. We then get a chance to receive feedback & discuss ways to improve. Today, we had one such session during which we were practicing conversations about behavior change, such as smoking cessation or diet & exercise for weight management. I had absolutely no idea how to address these issues with a patient, so naturally I was quite nervous! We were given some direction, but mostly left to "wing it," while still managing to gather all the required information. I ended up doing well which I attribute primarily to having good people skills.

What are people skills and how can we develop them? To me, "people skills" include, among other things, the ability to carry on a conversation as well as the ability relate to another person. And as with everything, practice makes perfect. I enjoy going out with people I don't know very well as a way to practice my conversation skills, and I take every opportunity learn more about being empathetic. This probably also explains why I'm constantly trying to incite dialogue here on the blog!

I went into the exercise today worried that I didn't know the right questions to ask or the proper suggestions to make, yet it turned out that all I needed to do was to start the conversation and the rest followed naturally. The same is true for a variety of applications, in all walks of life, thus I think it is important for everyone to develop their people skills. It makes you more confident, and so often confidence makes all the difference.

Moral of the story: forget class, go out to dinner more often!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mavericks at Work Quotes

We here at College Knowledge originally offered up some Mavericks at Work quotes a few months ago but they may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Here are two of my favorites:

It’s a make-or-break insight for an open-source world: the most effective leaders are the ones who are the most insatiable learners, and experienced leaders learn the most by interacting with people whose interests, backgrounds and experiences are the least like theirs (112-113).

The best leaders understand that the best rank-and-file performers aren’t motivated primarily by money. Great people want to work on exciting projects. Great people want to feel like impact players inside their organizations. Great people want to be surrounded with and challenged by other great people. Put simply, great people want to feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves (255).

Like what you're seeing? Keep reading!

Most Popular

December's most popular post (by measured hits) on our blog was actually this post followed by this one. Click the first if you have a few minutes to kill and the second if you'd like an interesting perspective on maturity.

Surprisingly, the third most popular post by hits was this book review - could it be Mezrich's fans are more web savvy than the readers of other books we've reviewed? Or perhaps that I mentioned a best seller in the post and that prompted it to show up in other Google and non-Google searches?

Got something to say? Feel free to check out and comment on our blog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Philosophy on Reading

I have always been an avid reader, but never to the levels that I reached in 2007. In many ways, it was a wonderful year of self discovery; however, I highly doubt I would have grown half as much as a person were it not for the amount and (fortunately!) quality of books I read. Though I stopped keeping track after the first few months of 2007, I will estimate that I read (or re-read) over 100 books in 2007.

Now one might think that setting an arbitrary higher number for "books read" in 2008 would be the way I would go about things, but I think such a thing is highly necessary; rather, my goal in reading for 2008 is to read a wider variety of books and thus expose myself to more randomness. This should help me develop my ability to form and articulate ideas "from left field" and hopefully continue to help me grow as a person.

And I've been asked a few times about the best books I read in 2007 as well as books I'd recommend in a variety of fields (i.e. investing, business, life) so such queries will certainly drive a few more posts in the coming weeks!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Best of E-Ticket

I've always enjoyed ESPN's E-Ticket series offering an in-depth look into sports issues that would never make it onto their main page but are perhaps more relevant to everyday life. The pieces are longer than typical ESPN articles but are well worth the 10-15 minutes it takes to read.

Here are some of my favorites from 2007:

- Base Jumping
- Continuous Running
- China and 2008 Olympics
- Save the Whalers
- Rolling in Rubles
- Death Race 2007

All of these in-depth articles made me learn and see new perspectives: for example, I'd never have known how dangerous base jumping is, how crazy continuous running can be, the issues China is facing heading into the Olympics, the passion of high school football in Alaska, the money being thrown around in the "new economy" of Russia, or anything about the Death Race. Make sure to read some of the E-Tickets linked above!

Don't miss the whole blog!

"EI": Financial Papers

Part of what I believe encompasses being a successful investor means keeping up to date on the latest developments in finance/financial theory. Therefore, I dutifully point you over to this post that quickly summarizes some recent finance related papers.

Another recommended method of "keeping up" that perhaps should come before diving into these papers is reading Capital Ideas Evolving, a neat and informative book on the major developments in financial theory over the past 40 or so years. Warning: this book some heavy hitting stuff that'll take a while to get through but that has helped this author immensely in the financial markets.

If you're looking to improve your ability as an investor, it will only help to make the book a reading priority for 2008. Get started now!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Back home!

First, a recap. I spent a week and a half with family in the UK, and it was FANTASTIC. I got to see my uncles and aunts, play with my cousins, meet new cousins I never knew existed, and spend time with my dear grandparents. It was everything I could have asked for.

Then this past Wednesday I flew into Boston and touched down on US soil for the first time in the past 6 months. what an AMAZING feeling to walk through the airport and see an ENORMOUS American flag stretched across the ceiling, and to realize in your heart, with much relief, "I’m back home." I met up with Duke, my roommate who flew in from DC so that we could see apartments together, and we took a shuttle down to our hotel [which is of course on the company dime]. Now Duke is starting at the office on Monday, although I have a little more time, so finding an apartment in the next 2 days was of the utmost importance. Checked in and went straightaway to our first destination, Ten Faxon [] to have a look around and whatnot. Liked what we saw, called it an evening, and went out for yummy sushi.

The next day we went to Munroe Place [] to see what they had to offer. Finally, we met up with a young fella named Evan, who showed us around some places in South Boston. After seeing all these apartments, we realized that we both had settled on Ten Faxon a while ago, and so we went back with money orders in hand to initiate the application process. Got that taken care of, decided it had been a good day, and went out to The Four's for dinner and to watch the Orange Bowl. Kansas won. =( We were rooting for VT.

Friday we checked out of our hotel and went into town to meet up with a friend of mine, Bella. She let me leave my suitcases at her place, and then we hung out for the day. By 3:30 pm Duke and I found out that there were only a couple more steps to go before the lease would be ready, so we left to go to the bank, get the rest of our deposit money, and head down to Ten Faxon. Duke had a flight that night at 8 pm, so he had to be at the airport by 6:30, which meant he had to leave Ten Faxon by about 5:45 at the latest. By the time we got to the leasing office at 5:30, the last of the paperwork - the employment verifications - had JUST been faxed in, so Duke signed the lease and left straightaway to catch his flight. I stayed back, looked over the entire lease in detail, signed, and received the keys to the apartment and other stuff.

So basically, within two days and after a lot of hassle that I haven't even really talked about here, we had our apartment locked in. Now I can leave all my clothes and other stuff from India here in my apartment before I go back to Atlanta for the rest of the month.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Magical "Click-throughs"

I've been running a small experiment at this blog by randomly (and not randomly) adding "click-throughs" to the bottom of posts and then measuring how traffic patterns change at our blog.

Of course, the practical reason for adding the "click-throughs" is to drive more traffic from our imported Facebook notes to our actual blog, where we can measure that traffic. This matters because by having readers consume our material on the actual blog we're able to see what posts and subject matters resonate most positively (popularly?) with readers. In Facebook there isn't a tool yet to measure readership/clicks/etc and so we're not able to see if 50, 100, 200 or more people are reading the blog daily through Facebook Notes alone.

The results of the experiment? A weak (almost non) correlation between the "click-throughs" at the bottom and increased traffic on the blog. The problem is that it's difficult to control for differing content matter, timing via holidays/other matters, and other factors.

Any suggestions? For that matter, any ideas about click-throughs?

Here's another click through. This is intended to show you the rest of our great blog.

Physics... (Part 2)

About two weeks ago we wrote about how physics can be cool... and we hope you all enjoyed the post. But I was trolling through the Freakonomics blog and found a post called Physics with a Bang! with Steven Levitt calling attention to two professors at University of Chicago. Since we here at College Knowledge enjoy physics (and learning for that matter) be sure to click through to both links in this post!

Reading in Facebook? Click through here to read the rest of the blog.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Augusta Views: New Section On The Right

Becca is back so we figured we'd take the time to add a nice section reflecting her blogging efforts. You'll notice that as of today there is a section on the right called Augusta Views where you can easily see the posts that Becca has penned for the College Knowledge (CK Tutors) Blog.

Enjoy the new section!

Want more? Find it here.

Augusta Views: And we're back!

Happy New Year! I hope that 2008 will bring only the best to you all!

After a wonderfully relaxing break, I am back to Augusta & very excited for this semester. Sadly, I missed the first day of school today to an awful cold that has knocked me flat! It's taken a fair amount of decongestants to let me breathe; thus, I think it's in everyone's best interest that I do not attempt to write a coherent blog today.

I do have some great ideas in the works though, so stay tuned!

How To Read Better

Here's a great bit on reading above your level, via MR. Definitely worth at least a skim.

Money quote that I fully agree with:
Reading to lead or learn requires that you treat your brain like the muscle that it is--lifting the subjects with the most tension and weight. For me, that mean[s] pushing ahead into subjects you're not familiar with and wresting with them until you can--shying away from the "easy read."
When you start thinking of reading as a mental workout, it becomes even more fun knowing that you're enjoying yourself while improving your capabilities.

Having a good new year? Great! But be sure to check out the rest of our blog.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Powerful Quotes for the New Year

Two quotes have stuck with me for a while and I thought they'd be great to share as we kick off another exciting year:

There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming. -Soren Kierkegaard

Inside books you will find hidden the mysteries of the world. With books, you can learn, and you can make a better future for your families and for our country. -Nepalese headmaster from Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

The first reflects my belief in every person's potential; the second my belief in the power of learning and capitalizing on previous experiences/mistakes. Also, look for a book review next week on Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood (founder of Room to Read).

Curious? There's plenty to learn in the College Knowledge blog.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Everything Investing: 2 Years of Results

I've been investing for a few years, but I'd like to share how I did in my first two full years of investing. Perhaps these results will help drive more readership in our Everything Investing series though I'll warn that I never give out my stock picks or specific ideas:

76% overall return for my portfolio for the full year 2006 vs. 15% for S&P 500
21% overall return for my portfolio for the full year 2007 vs. 3.5% for S&P 500

Now I know benchmarking against the S&P 500 isn't the perfect way to measure one's investment success (believe me, there are many other indexes, risk adjustments to make, etc) but it's a very good track record when you look at the CAGRs of the greatest investors:
  • 29% for 37 yrs. - George Soros
  • 21% for 40 yrs. - Warren Buffett
  • 29% for 18 yrs. - Eddie Lampert
  • 29% for 18 yrs. - Peter Lynch
  • 24% for 13 yrs. - Jim Cramer
  • 15% for 20 yrs. - Benjamin Graham
Here's the source for those numbers.

And though I'm not anywhere close to them in terms of sustained performance, here's mine:
~46% CAGR over 2 years

Here's to a Happy New Year and many more years of high investment returns!

So Thankful for Milk and Oil

I never thought I'd write a post on this, but after seeing some family from Venezuela over the holidays and hearing their stories, I thought I'd share one of them to help anyone reading this be just a little more thankful for the wonderfulness of the United States.

Last time I went to Venezuela was in 2005, so I have been there relatively recently but have not witnessed the country's deterioration firsthand. When I went, Caracas seemed more run down than before, crime was way up, and it seemed to me that the city had lost a bit of its old extravagance.

Well, things have gotten much worse (though I needed first hand stories to jog my memory). This isn't a post to harp on Hugo Chavez, since that's neither here nor there, but it is amazing to hear about how my aunt has to search around day after day looking for milk. The source of this pain? Government price controls and other inefficient initatives... which is proof that capitalism would be a welcome addition to the country.

Anyways, my aunt is wise in that she has stocked up milk (powdered) to last her family for what I assume will be a few months, but I could barely believe her when she told me that she has been searching almost daily since October for milk and oil, two of the basic food staples that are difficult to find in Venezuela.

Hopefully this little story will help anyone reading this post realize how good we've got it in the U.S., even if oil prices are high, milk prices are going up, etc.

To read more on Venezuelan food shortages, click here or here.

Like our blog? Check out the full blog here.