015-2020 Extreme Ownership

Title: Extreme Ownership (How US Navy Seals lead and win)

Author: Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Good morning my fellow readers.

It’s been quite a week already, and now bringing the book review on this book to you will also be quite a treat.

This book was authored by two Navy Seals that have been tried and tested in battle and leadership, and with this book they want to bring those lessons to you to learn from. Quite frankly, I believe that one can learn a few things by going to the military which you might not have learnt otherwise if you weren’t taught them directly.

I started with this book last week Sunday, and managed to finish it off on Friday. With that I don’t mean to brag at all. In fact, I’m only pointing out that I read it in that period because I got hooked quite well from the start of the first chapter, and tried to cover some proper ground every day.

Every chapter was written in the following structure:

  • Scenario in Ramadi (Iraq)
  • Principle learnt (ie. moral of the story)
  • Application in business

Meaning, he plots a few stories in Iraq he faced with his brothers, and slips in the lesson he learnt in that story. Then he takes that principle and breaks down the importance and value of that principle, before applying it to the business life the rest of us find ourselves in.

Also, every chapter brings you a separate principle, so with every chapter you learn one additional thing, but in summary see how all those principles link up to the main principle stated in the book: Extreme Ownership.

Without wanting to give away too much from the book, these are the principles I took away from the book:

  • Extreme Ownership – take ownership of everything within your control
  • There’s no such thing as bad teams, only bad leaders
  • Only if leaders believe in the mission can they make their teams believe as well
  • Don’t let your ego cloud your judgement
  • Cover and Move – teamwork
  • Simple – keep plans and instructions simple, not complex
  • Prioritize and Execute – faced with multiple situations, prioritize and then execute them in order
  • Decentralize leadership – giving lower ranks a voice (and confidence to contribute)
  • Plan for the mission
  • Leadership requires hard decisions – make decisions that best follow the mission

The big message I took away from the book was Extreme Ownership. Take accountability for everything around you so you can lead your team better to achieve ultimate success. This mind-set will break away the habit of becoming defensive and not taking responsibility when something didn’t go right, and maybe even blaming others. It makes you take responsibility as the leader of the group for the failure, and learn from those mistakes to correct your actions for the future.

Summary:

The book is easy to read, easy to understand and associate the principle with the real-life events. The principles taught are true pointers of what we could see a good leader to possess, and have respect for. Even if we don’t all strive for the ultimate leadership role, small leadership roles can also benefit from these principles in order to exhibit the best leader we can still be. Therefore, the book will take my rating of 4.9/5.

In my opinion, you will get the best value from the book when you read the full story that goes with each principle, and not just any summary. I strongly recommend this to anyone that feels they got a nudge from my review to buy a copy, and really buy yourself a copy, and take notes from all chapters for proper application.

Until next time, keep well!

014-2020 Currency Wars

Title: Currency Wars (The making of the next Global Crises)

Author: James Rickards

This is my second book with this author (the first being “Aftermath”), and just as with the first book, he has given me more to think about regarding our finance system.

Our currency system, exchange of paper money in return for goods or services, is based on the mutual trust we have that the paper money is representative of value. As long as we maintain that trust in the currency, the society can continue to function the way it currently does. But, once we lose that trust, people make a run for the banks to get out as much as possible.

In the kingdoms of the past our currency system was made up of coins, which were minted from real commodities. Additionally, the coin that was issued by the kingdom had the assurance from the king that the coin would be accepted as legal tender to take part in trade in that kingdom. Then, the invention from Asia was brought to the West, paper money, which proved much easier to carry around, and therefore a lighter coinpurse. However, that paper only had value because it must have been backed by something that held value in such a kingdom, this was gold. For a fixed amount of paper you could buy a specified amount of gold, or other commidity.

Therefore, as long as we had trust that for the paper money we used there was gold for which it could be exchanged, a simpler currency system could be used in daily circulation.

Entry, the chapters to the book.

Prior to the First World War, different countries had set a fixed exchange rate. One was allowed to exchange currency for a certain amount of gold. Every nation had fixed a different rate to gold, and thereby indirectly created an exchange rate between different currencies. Then, the war broke out and countries took out loans to finance the war from their side.

After the wars ended via an armistice, the winners wanted the losing countries to paid for all their debts which they had incurred to run the war. England and France were eyeing the erves of the losing country, whilst America wanted them to be afforded the chance to repay reparation costs through future economic output returns. Thereby, the losers would be able to build up their economy again, and also be able to repay reparation costs, rather than losing their ability to generate any economic output at all, and be in ruin.

Germany then underwent a currency devaluation (ie. making the purchasing power of other countries in Germany stroonger) to become an attractive country to manufacture goods. France followed soon after, since they wanted to regain the competitive advantage that Germany had gained, and afterwards countries like England and America experienced their Great Depression. The purchasing power of the currencies dropped significantly, and many people lost savings and were financially ruined.

Throughout all this Germany became stronger again, and a strong economic player in the world trade. Sadly, the country engaged in war again in 1939, and led to World War 2.

After the end of the second war, the different countries came together and decided that all the different currencies of the different countries should be pegged to one currency, the strongest currency, which had value for the other currencies since that currency was backed by gold reserves. This was settled in the Bretton Woods conference, where the US Dollar was then set as the pegged currency.

Since that day, the US Dollar was backed by gold, and other countries that traded with the US Dollar in their transactions had the assurance that for every Dollar in circulation there is a certain amount of gold stored somewhere. Some countries, however, became stronger than after the war had ended, and decided to build up their gold reserves. It became so bad that in 1971 the then President of America decided to take the US Dollar off the gold standard, and no one was allowed to exchange their dollars for physical gold. This was done in order to preseve the gold levels in the country. Further, America wanted to devalue their currency against other countries, because it felt the Dollar was overvalued, which would make other suppliers in other countries cheaper to buy from, and result in loss of jobs to America. By devaluing the US Dollar, the purchasing power was dropped in relation to other countries, in order to improve its competitiveness against other trading countries.

Another way the purchasing power of the US Dollar was dropped was when during the Financial Crash (2007-2009) the Federal Reserve printed money from thin air, which should be injected into the economy to get trade going again (called Quantitative Easing – QE). Since more paper money was in supply the demand for it wasn’t as strong as when there were fewer, so the price to acquire a Dollar dropped.

Now, you may want to ask me, when am i will come around to write the review on the book. Well, what I have recounted above is what the book is about. It elaborates the hsitory of the US Dollar in the 20th century, and how volatile paper currency is as money. Our paper money can have one value associated with it one day, and the next lose it, which means saving all our money in the bank is not necessarily equivalent to becoming rich, or ensuring ones financial future. Our modern day currency is so susceptible to lose its value that we actually need to consider more than one way to maintain wealth, and not through saving money in the bank only.

Summary:

The book gave me really more perspective on the matter of currency, and how important it is not to rely on something like paper to sustain our future retirement. We need to become financially educated and never rely on another person to take care of us, but work and build our asset columns. Book takes my rating of 4.3/5

I hope that when you decide to read this book one day you will also get a shock, and wake up to realize just how volatile our modern-day currencies are, and that more than savings in the bank will do the job of securing a financially securer future.

Happy future reading!

013-2020 Who stole my pension

Title: Who stole my pension

Author: Robert Kiyosaki & Edward Siedle

I might have finished this book last week, but I only bring you my review today. Last week we had quite the weekend and so I just decided to postpone for a short while.

I am still young and hope to have a few more decades to live and earn enough to build up my asset column until the day that I call it quits and start receiving payouts from my pension. Therefore, you may say that you don’t need to spend too much time on checking in on your pension.

What the idea is behind the book is that it explains to you that you should actually not rely on the idea that you will be taken care of with the pension that you built up in your years of work. Rather, you should take more control, and make sure that the overseers of your pension you are relying on are doing their jobs properly right now, and not mismanaging your funds.

The first half of every chapter is written by Edward, and then Robert closes off the second part with his contribution. Edward explains that pension funds which he has looked into have not been doing their jobs well enough, and to rectify for their mistakes they cut benefits to the beneficiaries, you. I’ll be honest, that sounds like that may be happening, and that is really sad that people do this to other people.

Us youngsters may think that we don’t need to worry too much about this right now, because still have a while to go, and that if the pensions of the older retirees go bust right now, that it won’t be our problem. Well, I think you may be surprised. I don’t believe that we will get off that easily. I think that if their pensions are lost, the government may intervene and bring in policies to help them get something out of the collapsed system. Maybe taxes, maybe something else. And if you have parents that could lose their pensions, they might just fall back on us to take care of them.

So, as much as we may think we are not impacted by this, it could just be that we get hit by this in a way we didn’t think about before, and by then that will have become our new reality.

Summary:

Although I received the message which they wanted to convey to us as readers, that people managing pension funds are being reckless, and to make up, they cut pension benefits (pay-outs) to its beneficiaries, and that we should therefore take a more active role to keep them in line, the book didn’t really feel like it gave very much new information. I didn’t get much more value than I did when I bought the other books from Robert (“Rich dad, poor dad” and “Fake”) and therefore don’t rate this book as highly among my reading list.

I therefore rate this book with a 2/5, because it does bring attention to the mismanagement issue for our pensions, but it doesn’t give very much helpful information in the book to learn much more.

Regardless, I still think the message they are relaying to us is important for all of us, and that we should take steps to ensuring we can become financially independent.