Review – Hedge Fund Market Wizards
Review / April 29, 2018

Review: – Disclaimer: the German version comes as a trilogy, and I only read the first book about macro strategists, so technically this review only applies to one third of Hedge Fund Market Wizards. – Trading is easy now. Hundreds of online brokers and trading systems contend for your attention. Each one offers lower transaction fees, more professional analysis tools, better training videos and access to more exotic underlyings than the next. Trading consistently successful, however, is actually pretty hard. Like its predecessors (Market Wizards,  New Market Wizards, and Stock Market Wizards), Hedge Fund Market Wizards, contains a series of interviews with successful traders. Author Jack Schwager, himself a recognized trading expert and fund manager, sat down with some of the top hedge fund managers to discuss their personal background and strategies. There is a lot more to trading than you would initially think. Some people trade systematically (using an algorithm to decide about trades), some are discretionary (using their intuition). There are trend followers (expecting a momentary trend to continue for some time) and those who expect a trend to revert to the mean. Some analyze fundamental market data, some just look at price charts. And I’m still taking…

Review – The Daily Telegraph Guide to Investing
Review / April 22, 2018

Review: The Daily Telegraph Guide to Investing offers brief descriptions of investments, listed by risk category from pretty safe to high risk/reward assets. Discussed are standard investments like stocks, bonds and gold, but also more “wacky” physical assets like whisky, Lego sets and antique violins. What’s bad about The Daily Telegraph Guide to Investing? While Burn-Callander presents an illustrious variety of investment options, this is a rather slim book. Each investment option gets but a brief portrait, interested investors have to put in a lot of research to actually apply anything. Also, the book puts to much focus on rather obscure physical assets like red wine, Barbie dolls and comic books, that need tons of experience for even slightly accurate evaluations. Also, these kind of assets may be highly sought after by collectors now, but may be worthless in a few years. And even if they do accrue some value, all your profits are theoretical until you actually find someone to sell the thing to. Until then you get nothing and bear the full costs of ownership, like storage and insurance. The risk evaluation for each asset class is all over the place. Why is rental and let real estate…

Review – The Wealth Taboo
Review / March 27, 2018

Review: Just over a hundred pages is a plenty for a scientific thesis or any other format that presents one particular tiny detail with maximum depth. What can we find between the just over a hundred pages of The Wealth Taboo? The history and mechanism of the global banking system, how to read a balance sheet, personal finance and common financial instruments, the proper mindset, ways to generate income (with examples from a photography business), how to get a loan, the basics of networking, entrepreneurship, portfolio theory, the mechanics of inflation and how to find your purpose. The framing story of The Wealth Taboo is about Aguirre meeting his friends (he calls them his ”little friends”) for a picnic, and generously teaching them the most basic personal finance in a way that is both jovial and patronizing. The friends (they seem to be young adults based on what they do) ask questions so imbecilic that for a long time I thought they were young children. Or dogs. Nothing in The Wealth Taboo is wrong. But none of the many topics raised by the book is explained in satisfying depth. Readers with very little financial knowledge will take away some phrases…

Review – The Richest Man in Babylon
Review / March 23, 2018

Review: The Babylonians invented money. Unfortunately, not enough of it. The Richest Man in Babylon tells the secret how to acquire wealth, no matter what your current situation is. Does that sound too good to be true? Author George Clason chose to reveal the secret to through a series of unrelated fictional stories of rich and successful Babylonians. In the first story, we learn about the “seven cures for a lean purse”. The second story states the “five laws of gold”, which are basically the same thing. The other stories in The Richest Man in Babylon just hammer home the same points several times more. In a nutshell: keep ten percent of your income, reduce your expenses, invest profitably and get the advice of people that are experts in whatever investments you consider. Easy enough, almost trivial, but indeed the foundation of a future fortune. It is astonishing that not more people live that way. One question The Richest Man in Babylon leaves unanswered is how to spot and identify the good investments. Giving money to a brickmaker to purchase jewels is presented as an example of a stupid investment, because a brickmaker does not know enough about jewels. Then…

Review – Unlock your Business Voice
Review / March 8, 2018

Review: Simon de Cintra wants to help you unlock your business voice. What does that mean? Something about communicating better and getting heard. Like, when you are a subject matter expert you could learn to appear more leadershippy to add some gravitas to your speech. Something like that. How do you unlock your business voice, whatever that means? By applying the My Business Voice Methodology®. How do you apply the My Business Voice Methodology®? By using VOICE. The acronym stands for Vocation, Observation, Intention, Casting, Experiment. Let me quote from Unlock your Business Voice for you to clear things up: “The  first part of the My Business Voice Methodology®, Vocation, is all about choosing your mindset and therefore your role in any piece of communication that you deliver. This will, and indeed should, vary depending on the situation, but absolutely not according to the personalities involved.” Got that? Did you understand, what the vocation part is all about?  Well, I did not, so let’s have a look at the full programme to see if we can deduce the meaning of unlocking your business voice: “VOCATION – my new role requires me to contribute to strategic and therefore potentially ambiguous conversations,…

Review – Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Review / February 28, 2018

Review: The book that sparked a movement – a cult, really – and is still cited as the number one resource for learning how to amass wealth. Kiyosaki describes the lessons he learned from young age by his two father figures. His father – the poor Dad – was a teacher, highly educated and holding a well-paid job with the government, who struggled to pay his bills. His friend Mike’s father – the rich Dad – dropped out of school and owned several companies. So, how do you get rich? Buy assets first, then pay your bills. The rest of the book merely elaborates on this simple principle. But if it is that simple, why aren’t more people rich? Because it is not obvious, what is an asset, and what is a liability (so invest in your financial education). It is hard to spot great investments (so invest in your network). And it’s hard to not pay anybody else first (so form a company to buy assets with pre-tax money). Each chapter of Rich Dad, Poor Dad consists of four parts. First, Kiyosaki recites tales from his youth, and what his titular Dads taught him. This is followed by a…

Review – When
Review / February 1, 2018

Review: There’s no shortage of how-to books. There are books on how to get rich, how to be successful, how to become famous, how to be happy, how to win friends and influence people. Pink wrote a when-to book instead. When is a thoroughly researched book on chronobiology, the special effects of beginnings, midpoints and endings, and the stages of timing and synchronisation. Some people are larks, rise early and are obnoxiously high-spirited throughout the morning, but stumble through the afternoon. Some people are owls who go to bed in the early morning hours to sleep until noon. Should the workplace demand early attendance (it does), you recognize owls by their huge cups of coffee and their inability to talk without grumbling. Pink defines a third category for people who wake up moderately early, into which the majority of people falls. Your chronotype (which kind of bird you are) has huge effects on your mood and alertness throughout the day. Depending on what bird you are, and on the nature of the task, you will be more efficient at some things in the morning, while excel at other stuff in the afternoon. Most people, however, experience a significant trough in…

Blog Highlights of 2017
Blog News , Blogging , Review / January 7, 2018

Yay, one year of excellent reviews! Well, technically, this blog is less than one year old, but I think I started early enough to have a year-end conclusion of 2017 already. In 2017 I read and rated 15 books, and posted two special reviews, as well as two additional articles. I reached an average of more than one view per day, which is in tune with my efforts at promoting this blog. At least I now repost my reviews on goodreads.com. For the next year I aim for more of everything: more content, more books, more buzz, more growth. Let’s see how well that goes! But first, you’re in for the obligatory best-of section.   Best book reviewed in 2017: That’s a very easy choice: How to Win Friends and Influence People is probably my favourite non-fiction book of all time. This is easily the single most valuable book I have read in my life. Pretty much every tip Carnegie gives can be applied immediately, in uncountable situations. I learned from this book how to understand and relate to other people better, and have much more satisfying social interactions ever since. Best book published in 2017: Barking up the wrong…

Review – The Art of War
Review / December 27, 2017

Review: The Art of War is a collection of stratagems (bite-sized, aphoristic strategic teachings) by chinese military commander Sun Tzu (or Sun Zi or a dozen variations) – and well over 2500 years old. So why this review? Because The Art of War still makes the management book bestseller lists (like here, here, here or here). This review is based on the annotated german translation by Patrick Lindley of the 1910 english translation by Lionel Giles. There are several versions around, so your experience may vary slightly. I chose one of the tackier cover arts for this blog post, by the way.   The Art of War of the past Sun Tzu, as a seasoned general, has a pragmatic view of war and combat. Peace is best for everyone, but if war is inevitable, unnecessary battles have to be avoided. If a battle is inevitable, it should be fought with as few casualties as possible. According to Sun Tzu, to achieve this goal one needs preparation, discipline and execution.   To prepare for war, the wise leader adopts a holistic view of war, and takes into account the terrain, weather and timing, numbers and motivation of troops on both sides,…

Review – Leading with Kindness
Review / December 24, 2017

Review: When it comes to books on leadership, Leading with Kindness  is about as generic as it gets. Two leadership educators interviewed a bunch of leaders (with a slight bias to banking and investment) and aggregated their leadership experiences. A good, efficient and ”kind” leader sets expectations, sticks to the truth and focuses on mutual gain and growth. Baker and O’Malley then simply define this set of features and behaviors as “kindness”. The funny thing is, Dale Carnegie wrote pretty much the same in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People – in 1936. I found Leading with kindness very confusing. Books I read are never short of lists, but this one takes the cake. Baker and O’Malley start simply enough with three traits of kind leadership, that get their own chapter each. Every single chapter, however, meanders off into increasingly nested sub-lists that form sub-chapters, with several additional bullet point lists. And in-between the confusing list-within-list structure, some leaders offer their own three or so steps to leadership success. I had problems to keep track of which list-level the passage I was reading belonged to. The authors try to adopt an entertaining, positive tone, but only succeed…