Some of the most encouraging quotes I’ve come across

Jim Rohn

  • Success is like the ocean, it is not in short supply.  The problem is, some people go to the ocean with a teaspoon.
  • Better is not something you wish for, it is something you become.
  • To lead a life worth living, you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to try, you’ve got to stay and you’ve got to care.
  • The sale will make you a living, the skills will make you a fortune.


Tim Ferriss

  • We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training (Archilochus originally)


Benjamin Franklin

  • Happiness does not come from great successes, but from small daily achievements.  Success is measured through pleasure – you must learn to enjoy the process.


Lao Tse

  • Sometimes it is better to advance by retreating, wards can be won by losing a few battles and long term goals can be achieved by accepting long term reversals.


Sun Tzu

  • Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without even fighting.


Lao Tzu

  • Mastering others is a strength, mastery os self yields true power.


Niel Strauss

  • The biggest mistake you can make is accepting the norms of your time, challenging the norms is the key to success and changing the world.


Benjamin Disraeli

  • Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.


Gary Keller

  • Don’t pursue being in the middle, because all the magic happens at the edges.  You need to know when to aim for the edges and when to aim for the middle.

A few points on personal finance….

A friend of mine has asked me for some advice on personal finance, not because I know much about it, but more because I like to read, and she thought that I’d be able to summarise some tips and tricks I picked up.  Lucky for her, she was right ( I hope).  The notes below are borrowed from Martin Lewis, Ramit Sethi, George Classon, Robert Kiyosaki and Tony Robbins.

What habits do I need to work on?

Awareness of expenses (mindful expenditure) : This is the most important first step of understanding your own financial situation.  To improve, control or work on something, you need to know what the reference point is i.e. to what can you measure if your actions are successful or not.

Action: Make a list of all your financial commitments – monthly bills, donations and charitable contributions, regular expenses (transport, food, clothes).  Don’t forget to take into account less frequent payments (e.g. annual insurance payments, vehicle servicing and licensing) and a rainy day cash reserve.

From the list above, with your know salary : How much money you can “do without” each month?  Whether this is 5%, 10% or even 50%, this is the first choice you need to make.

Always pay yourself first : After you’ve made the decision above, you need to ensure that you stick to paying in this amount each period (even when times are bad).  This reinforces the action.  Plus, set it up to be an automated system (such as a standing order), which psychologically makes you feel the pain of loss a lot less, and our brain is more sensitive to loss than gain!

How do I manage expenditure?

Cutting Down Expenses: An effective way to reduce expenses is shopping around for a new deal, if possible. Armed with you list of expenses (from above), systematically go through the list from highest to lowest expense and check either (a) your current provider can offer the same service for a lower price – if there is a change, negotiate; (b) can you switch provider to get a better deal? Try to perform this check every 12 months.

Use of Multiple Purses: Another effective cash flow management tool is the use of multiple “purses”.  This can be in the form of actual purses, envelopes or virtual , e.g. bank accounts.  The idea is that if you allocate a group of expenses to a “purse” , then once that “purse” is empty, you can no longer use money on that group of expenses.  e.g. if you set aside £100 for groceries and food, you can cap the limit you spend on food, but still retain the freedom to cater for your fancies/cravings on a given day.  Some people prefer to not be so specific about the purses, and as such will have a “general” purse, which allows you to spend on whatever you decide on the time, however, the risk of this is that tracking expenditure requires more effort.  The virtual method, in which you can open multiple accounts with a chosen bank, but limit access to them all (e.g. online only/branch only accounts).

Another interesting way of allocating funds to e.g. curb a clothing habit: consider how much you’d spend on something like a shirt, if it was to be last you one year only.  that can become the measuring stick for all other clothing items.  If you think a piece of clothing would last you longer, e.g 5 years, then multiply the number of years and the baseline cost to find the maximum you should pay.

e.g. if I spend £30 on a shirt (as described above), and I wanted to buy a coat that would last me 5 years, the maximum I should pay is £30 x5 = £150.

Create a wish-list: Often people say stuff like “I won’t buy nice stuff until I own my own place”.  Personally, I disagree with this philosophy. Anoter friend of mine says “buy cheap, buy twice” – this I agree with. “Stuff” can be expensive, especially home ware, such as furnishings and kitchenware, but seeing as you can’t have it all (at least initially and not at the same time), I do not think its worth delaying having useful “stuff” in your life (i.e. inconveniencing your life) if you’re in a position that allows you to invest in something you actually use.  This is subjective, and some people use the same argument to justify unnecessary expenditure, so this is a judgement call.  In reality, what difference does it make if you hold off for that vacuum cleaner until you buy a place, for example.  If you need a vacuum cleaner now and can afford it you should buy it, because the habit you’re reinforcing in this manner is to live without one.  Nothing magically changes when you move from rented accommodation to a place you own, but enough of the side-bar…

Making a wish list is handy as it allows you to objectively prioritise your expenditure.  Also, having the list available to you, makes you assess the need of each of the entries.  But ultimately, you end up purchasing what you need at the quality you want and can afford.

What do I need to know about goal setting?

Continuing from the above point of making a wish list and prioritising purchases, the same should be done for large financial commitments – purchase of a new car, house, holiday or wedding..for example!  Ideally, one of the purses, mentioned above should be for short term savings goals (1- 10 yrs), with another for long term savings goals (10yr+).

Short Term Goals

Money towards shorter term goals, such as planning a wedding, buying a new car or house need to be separated from longer term goals of financial freedom.  It is essential to remember that whatever you can afford, will offset the cost of the goal, which reduces the potential debt you get into.

Divert some cash to a short term goal savings “purse” to minimise the impact of a large expense in the near future.  But remember, this is only for the goals you set, not to be dipped in and out of!!

Long Term Goals

“Building of an estate starts by diverting a single piece of silver from income to investment” – George Classon in The Richest Man in Babylon.

Long term goals are designed to let your money grow and as such either (a) provide you a return in the future, through interest gains and appreciation or (b) provide a lump sum that can be drawn down in in the event of loss of a source of income in the far future.

The most effective way of capitalising on the long term growth of capital is to make sure that a regular amount is saved and not drawn from.  Effective tools for saving long term are usually Stocks and Shares ISAs, where the money can be invested in something like a tracker fund.  This means that the Funds are managed electronically (instead of by a person) and try to mimic the performance of a stock market index.  Most providers now allow saving from £30 a month provided it is done by direct debit.  In addition, the gains are exempt from income tax.

What about the rainy day fund?

This I would recommend – another purse to ensure that in an unforeseen event, you are not wiped out of cash! Of course, once the rainy day fund has built up to reasonable quantity, you can stop monthly contributions to this and redivert them to other purses, such as short and long term savings.  Men’s Health suggests having approximately 2-3 months of bills+ expenses money as a rainy day fund, but its a personal decision.  You need to be realistic with the time it takes to build up this emergency cash reserve!

What if I cannot save still?

So, you’ve decided that everything you spend money on is important to you, so the scope for saving from your current income is limited.  You can always create another source of income.  This is easier said than done, few people who embark on this venture actually stick to it and accomplish it.  This is something that I am working on and is one of my upcoming year ambitions/resolutions.  The idea is that this reduces dependency on your “main” job and could potentially liberate you from the so called rat race, when you find a purpose worth striving for.

One of my friends says that within her was instilled the values of treating your household like a business – understanding your inflows and outflows of cash.  These practices then can be translated to commercial opportunities.  She used to practice this by keeping track of all her receipts each month and analysing her expenditure patterns.

Make use of other benefits available to you

Some employers offer Free Health Schemes (Physiotherapy, Dental, etc), Investment Share Schemes.  If these are offered to you , they’re almost always worth it.

Anything Else?

Meditate on these points:

  • What would you do if you had all the money you thought you’d ever need?
  • What does your versions of “happy”  and “rich” look like?

Write down the answers on a piece of paper and take time to thin about them as you’re doing it.  Keep the paper and repeat the exercise 1 week to 10 days later and compare your thoughts.  Chances are the second time, you’ll have more detail.  Having these targets in mind opens your mind to more possibilities , which all contributes to making a more future-proof plan.

In summary, planning finances is important, you cannot afford not to save!  But the idea is not that you live a deferred life, where you have zero enjoyment and save everything for the future – the balance that needs to be found is personal and will require some work, but in the long term will be worth it!  Use tool like MS Excel or Open Office to create wish list, track your goals, and plan milestones.

Remember, the most important thing is to get started, you can always iterate and improve your automated savings plans.


Don’t worry about the lack of spontaneity with this approach, you can always create a “spontaneous purse”!!

Happy Planning!


3 currencies and triple bottom line (3BL)

The three currencies:

In The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, there are 3 universal currencies he talks about:

  1. Resources – tangible goods: money, traceable items, commodities
  2. Flexibility – allowing you to make another option and utilise or gain opportunity cost.
  3. Time  – capacity to generate more revenue, embark on another venture….this is limitless.


Image from : thekidonomicsseries

There is another concept in business sustainability that I think is related to this philosophy.  This is Triple Bottom Line (3BL), which takes responsibilities beyond the economical aspects – People, Planet, Profit.

I learned about this during an interview with 2 executive level engineers at a steel company!

A sustainable business decision should have the following considerations:

  1. Financial /Economic : What quantifiable value will an activity generate?
  2. Environmental:  What is the impact on the planet? Is it reversible?  What can be done to offset it?
  3. Social: How does an activity benefit the community and the country?


Image from : Tools4Management

For more information, The Personal MBA provides an easy to understand holistic overview of markets, business and general value creation.

Do you make sustainable business decisions?  Do you value all three of the universal currencies?


Getting things done!

According to Deepak Chopra:

Preparedness + Opportunity = Good Luck

There have been a few books I’ve found useful in inspiring productivity and successfully getting things done.  Here are a few key notes:

The One Thing – Jay Papasan and Gary Keller

  • Success is sequential not simultaneous
    • You need to be accepting that all things don’t happen at once and it takes time to achieve your goals.  We fail our way to success.
  • No two things are equally important: there’s what matters most and the rest.  Think big, aim high; act bold; go small
    • Think big but go small: what is the one most important thing to do today
    • Balance: go short in your personal life, so nothing is left behind (i.e. all the important things are taken care off).  In your professional life, accept that you may need to go out of balance for a longer time, as priorities dictate so.
  • Find the one person who can relate to your dreams and help you deliver
    • Mentorship is important for guidance and as a sounding board to keep you focussed and conscious of your decisions.

The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Guwande

There are 2 main reasons for failure:

  • Ignorance – knowledge is available but not used
  • Ineptitude – knowledge unavailable
    • Training increases the likelihood of reduced ineptitude, but failures can still occur even with a well structured training scheme.

Why are checklists important? They build on experiences and knowledge as a strategy and make sure nothing is left behind.


The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success – Deepak Chopra

What is success? The ability to fulfil your desires with little effort and the journey in which abundance flows towards you.


Deepak Chopra’s book looks at the spiritual elements that are necessary to achieve true success and the application in daily life, in all situations.

This is an extremely well explained short read and definitely inspires thought and meditation.  Below is the summary of the seven laws and how they can be applied in daily living.

  • The Law of Pure Potentiality: This is the field of all possibilities and infinite creativity.  It can be experienced through silence and through appreciation of nature .  We should recognise that our basic being is spiritual.   Take time daily to just be, meditate and experience silence and practice non-judgement .
  • The Law of Giving (and receiving): Whatever you want to receive, you should give it…generously, this applies to material and immaterial things – friendship, love, a smile!
    • Shona Equivalent: kandiro kanoenda kunobva kamwe.
  • The Law of Karma: “You reap what you sow”. The critical thing to remember is that for every action and decision  taken, the effect will come back to you – but you ALWAYS have a choice to make good or bad actions and decisions.  So be conscious in decision making.
  • The Law of Least Effort: When your actions are inspired by love and you’re in harmony with the knowledge of yourself, all actions appear effortless.  This is achieved though acceptance (people, things, events are what they are), taking responsibility (not blaming others) and defencelessness (allowing flexibility for correction of your actions or thoughts, from others)
  • The Law of Intention and Desire:  Intention is desire without attachment.  Attention triggers transformation i.e. whatever you put your attention to, you can improve/transform.  Keep a list of your intentions and desires, share it with none and detach from the outcome.  Use this list for meditation and together with knowledge of self (as above).
  • The Law of Detachment: Detachment is freedom to create.  Go with the flow. Attachment (to symbols, e.g material objects) comes from poverty consciousness, whereas detachment is wealth consciousness.  Any physical thing can be acquired through detachment.  Going with the flow puts you in the realms of the unknown.  And uncertainty is the fertile ground of pure creativity.
  • The Law of Dharma : We all have a  purpose and responsibility that we’re here to fulfil.  Find it – what are you talents? what can you do to help others?


For more information:


Six Thinking Hats – Edward de Bono



What’s this book about?

This book has been classed in the genres of psychology/business.  It presents a workflow to be used in thinking through problems using 6 distinct stages, or putting on 6 different “types of hats”, in an effort to maximise the use of your/your groups intelligence and experience.

The book emphasises how thinking/thought process is a skill and can be learned, trained and improved.

More info on the authors website:

My summary

“The biggest enemy of thinking is complexity, which leads to confusion”

The 6 hats remove the complexity of the thought process.

The hats indicate a direction of thinking, and as such should be referred to by their colour and not function.  The colour refers to ideas and thoughts, NOT people.

Human beings cannot think in more than one direction at the same time, so these hats help to focus the brain in one direction, before moving onto the next.  This helps to go around the natural biases of the brain and not could thought with emotion, judgement and ego.

The 6 hats method allows one to:

  1. Think in one direction at a time
  2. Switch between different directions of thinking when necessary

The 6 hats are to be used one at a time and in a sequence.  Note that not all hats need to be used and the sequence can be pre-set (best if you’re trying it for the first few times) or evolutionary.

It may be worth noting, that in a group scenario, controlling the amount of time per hat may be useful, to ensure the discussion remains objective.  You can always come back to another hat.


 The WHITE Hat

  • Neutral and Objective
    • Based on Facts, verifiable figures, opinions
    • Facts can be proven or unchecked
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • What info do we need? What info do we have?
  • Cue: Paper (i.e. Information Only)

The RED Hat

  • Emotional
    • NEVER justify them
    • Rage, anger, suspicion, hunches, intuition, GUT
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • How do I feel about this? How do I feel now I’ve resolved….?
  • Cue: Fire (e.g Warmth)


  • Serious; Sombre; Skeptic
    • Questions EVERYTHING
    • Survivalist, cautious, careful
    • Points out weaknesses
    • Questions values and ethics
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • Are the facts correct? Is that the only course of action? What are the risks?
  • Cue: rock (i.e. resilient, slow changing)


  • Positive, Optimistic
    • Sees the good
    • Value Sensitive
      • Puts a value on good ideas
    • Displays hope LOGICALLY, i.e will still need to result in value
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • What if?
    • What are the positive aspects?
  • Cue: The Sun (i.e. bright)

 The GREEN Hat

  • Growth
    • Creativity, explores possibilities, forward thinking, change
    • Seeks out provocations
    • New ideas
      • modify or improve
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • What are the alternatives? What does the future hold?
  • Cue: The Grass (i.e. vegetation, abundant, blooming)

The BLUE Hat

  • Control/Organisation
    • Facilitation
    • This is a permanent “role” in a though process, it ensures structure is maintained in the thought process
  • Questions (e.g.)
    • What is to be achieved?
    • What “hats” are yet to be considered? or revisited?
  • Cue: The sky (i.e. Overview, above all)


Where can you get the book?

I read the hard copy, purchased from Amazon.  As there are no visual aspects in the book, I would also recommend listening to it as an audiobook.

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