Let's face it -- many of us are suckers for lists. We make them for ourselves, to try and maintain some organization in our lives: "Wash car, buy cherries, write to Norma, pay bills, open IRA account, water plants, sort through magazines." We respond to them in the media, too -- here, check out this list of 10 articles featuring lists:
- 7 Social Security Myths
- 5 Stocks I Still Like
- 10 Documents You Shouldn't Live Without
- 10 Things to Know About Mortgages
- 10 Monster Stocks for the Next Decade
- 5 Signs of Winning Growth Stocks
- 5 Reasons You Need an IRA
- 3 Growth Stocks for Your Portfolio
- 4 Critical Errors You Must Avoid
- 1,745 Reasons to Buy Dividend Stocks
There's a list that's recently been making a buzz in the business community -- it's apparently must-read material for those who crave management and investment wisdom. The perhaps unlikely author happens to be the CEO of a little outfit called Raytheon
After joining the Raytheon workforce back in the 1970s, Swanson began sharing some of his thoughts on leadership and kept expanding on them over time. Today, he's CEO, and his "rules of management" take up 76 small pages of a spiral-bound book. Over time, they've inspired managers and business thinkers far beyond Raytheon. Even Berkshire Hathaway's
Want to know what these rules are? Well, Business 2.0 published an excerpt, and a list of 25 of the rules are circulating online. Business 2.0 described the "underground hit" as "part Ben Franklin and part Yogi Berra, with a dash of Confucius thrown in" and quoted former General Electric
As I perused the rules, a bunch of them seemed very applicable for investing, while others might be applied to our work lives and personal lives alike. Here are some, with my comments in parentheses:
- It is easier to get into something than it is to get out of it. (The truth of this becomes clear when we buy something without sufficient research and it falls in value. Often, instead of cutting our losses, we hang on way too long, trying to get our money back. It's frequently smarter to get back the money that we lost in Stock A by moving what's left into Stock B.)
- Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what's there, but few can see what isn't there. (This pays off in investing. If you're hearing great things about a company, stop and look for holes in the story. Look at the financial reports. Determine the risks. I once wrote a piece about gnomes and underwear that addresses this topic, believe it or not.)
- Practice shows that those who speak the most knowingly and confidently often end up with the assignment to get it done.
- Cultivate the habit of "boiling matters down" to the simplest terms. An elevator speech is the best way. (This is what we often try to do here at the Fool. The financial arena is too full of jargon and confusing texts. Why make people's eyes glaze over when they should be intrigued by our marvelous business world?)
- Don't ever lose your sense of humor.
- Have fun at what you do. It will reflect in your work. No one likes a grump except another grump.
What are your rules?
Besides the obvious business insights offered by these rules, they also offer something else: a reminder that it can be very valuable for us to compile our own rules -- for business, for investing, for life. Spend an hour or two examining your beliefs, values, and lifestyle and you may be able to draft a bunch of rules that you live by. These would likely be a welcome gift for your children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews -- if not now, then at some point in their lives.
Having a list of your personal investing rules can improve your performance. If you find you have no rules, you may be in need of some. For example, do you prefer to focus on undervalued companies, seeking significant margins of safety when you invest (like Philip Durell and our Inside Value newsletter)? Do you seek mutual funds with outstanding managers, above-average track records, reasonable fees, and low turnover (like Shannon Zimmerman and our Champion Funds newsletter)? Get your principles down in writing and they might help keep you from straying next time you're tempted by some hot tip. (Try these newsletters for free, and you'll see lists of stocks and funds we're recommending.)
Share any rules of your own on our discussion boards -- or just drop in to see what others are saying.
Selena Maranjian 's favorite discussion boards include Book Club , The Eclectic Library, and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.