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Life is an adventure – das Leben ist ein Abenteuer

Browsing Posts in Books

World Without EndEveryone, who is interested in the historical life of the 14th century and read Ken Follet’s book “The pillars of the earth” will enjoy Ken Follet’s latest book.

It tells the story of one generation during the mid of the 14th centuries following some characters from their childhood until the evening of their lives.

Merthin and Ralph – brothers, who cannot be more different. The one (Merthin) a great builder, who ran village of Kingsbridge as an alderman. Ralph – a ruthless soldier making his career through the ranks becoming an Earl despite of murder and raping.

Caris – a girl from a rich family with her own free mind, which brought her more than once in trouble during her life. In love with Merthin, but urged to live as a nun in a cloister, where she began her second career as a healer.

Gwenda – grown up as the opposite of Caris (nevertheless her friend) in a pour laborer family, sold by her own father, learned early enough to fight for herself and lived her hard life at the fields with her husband Wulfric

These four people were bound together since the age of 10, when the witnessed a assassin in the forests.

Beside telling the different stories of the four characters in great lively pictures, Ken Follet created a great plot, from which we can still learn in today’s business life. Only the tools and weapons have developed – interestingly enough the behaviors and politics are all the same today.

I guess that’s where we can (should) learn from history…

imagePeter D. Schiff explains the economy based on the growth of an Island.

It feels at the beginning like the start with Adam and Eve in the bible. 3 Fishermen on an Island are fishing – one fish per day with their hands, which is enough for everyone to survive each day. Through the risk taking of one of the three, the economy was born: he starved one day and created a net to fish. This brought him two fish/day – so he could fish one day and look for other opportunities the other day without starving and started a net-business. Guess what happened: he build two additional nets and rented them two his two friends – for an interest of 1 fish.

That’s the start – Peter D. Schiff moves on explaining the economy building on the story of the Island – with increasing productivity, specialization (surfboard builder), founding of a bank (for saving fish), engaging with other Islands and finally electing the senate for the founded republic. This was necessary for protection of theft (as the productivity increased, there were lots of fish, which could be saved) and against foreign aggressive countries

With the start of the republic he describes in great pictures the dilemma of power, elections and spending for the wealth of everyone, where soon the budget exceeded the taxes and productivity was not the major driver of wealth anymore.

To finance this gap, the finance department found a way to make 10 fish out of 9, then 5 out of 4, 2 out of 1 until they were down to the bones. And people had to eat more than one fish a day not to starve — an excellent description, how inflation works

But soon there was nothing left from the fish, so they replaced the fish with paper, which could be easily printed, distributed etc. — backed up by the fish (which nobody knew, that there were only some left)

But due to the fact, that other Islands saw the benefit of the paper based currency, they began to export fish in exchange for the paper and the banks were filling up again

You can read Schiff’s book in one or two days – and if you had no clue, how economy is working in our days, you at least got a glimpse. The most important take away: Economy is easy – and it’s made complicated and difficult by the governments. Don’t let yourself blend by promises and quick wins, like the house crises in US. Everyone could have seen, that this cant work for a long time.

The end of the book is foreseeable and I would agree it will be a matter of time, until we see an inflation in the foreseeable future – it will be only a matter of how big and if it becomes a hyperinflation over the next decades in certain countries (e.g. US).

imageThe book tries to find out the keys of Bill Gates enormous success during the last 30 years. Des points out eleven secrets of his success:

  • Be in the right place at the right time
  • Fall in love with the technology
  • Take no prisoners
  • Hire very smart people
  • Learn to survive
  • Don’t expect any thanks
  • Assume the visionary position
  • Cover all the bases
  • Build a byte-sized business
  • Never, ever, take your eye off the ball
  • Know when it’s time to move on

He elaborates every topic in a separate article and gives detailed explanation covered with anecdotes and quotes from Bill.

My essence of the book is — you have to work hard for success and then luck comes to you as well. Sometimes it is missed, that Bill worked more or less 24h a day, was seeing holiday as weakness and finally being on holiday read books, you probably wouldn’t like to read, if you study biology to make your living later on.

… and I like some quotes, which are still (or even) relevant today:

“[,,] every successful business requires three people: a dreamer, a business man and a son of a bitch [..]”

“We’ve always said that, given our long-term approach, this business will definitely go through cycles. There will be ups and downs.”

“We are always telling analysts: Don’t recommend our stock. We sell software, not stock. Lower your earnings estimate, be more conservative. It’s not a long-term approach to promote the stock in any way”

… guess we can still learn from this

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