Notes From My Journal

Does the SEC Really Give a Crap About Small Investors?

Delray Beach, FL– “The private markets are awash in capital these days,” Jay Clayton, Chairman of the SEC, told entrepreneurs and business-school students in Nashville recently. “The question is, who is participating?”

For decades, regulators have walled off most private deals from smaller investors. Because of the added risk of private investing, they must meet stringent income and net-worth requirements to participate. As a result, small investors never had access to companies like Uber Technologies and Airbnb.

Mr. Clayton wants to change that.

“This is good news,” TM said in a memo to my partners. “And it would be no small potatoes as it would open a big line of biz. Early Seeds.”

TM was talking about the opportunity for businesses like ours, publishers of investment advice, to sell more newsletters and other advisory services focusing on this newly opened and quite exciting topic.

Here’s what I think: Yes, it will be good for financial publishers like us. And it will be great for financial advisors and brokers and all the guys with suits that live off Wall Street. But it will not be good for ordinary investors, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. This change will make the sum of them poorer. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Clayton knows that.


From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

A Serious Answer to a Dumb Question

 “What habit made the biggest difference in your life with the least effort?”

This is the sort of question you see on Quora – ultimately dumb but superficially interesting. I rarely open the links because I know the answers will likely be as silly as the questions.

That’s what happened when I saw this one.

But then I thought: If I am taking questions from an audience and someone asks this one, how would I answer it? I couldn’t dismiss it as a stupid. What would I say?

Hmmm… the audience is waiting. Clock is ticking…

The first habit that comes to mind is “early rising.” I figured this out nearly 20 years ago when I first began writing a blog that was named, appropriately, Early to Rise. I’ve no doubt that getting up early (so I can get to work before the world is stirring) has and will continue to be the most important factor in determining the quality and quantity of work I can do.

But getting up at the crack of dawn is a struggle.

It’s a struggle because I’ve come to realize that I need at least seven hours of sleep every night. Which means I have to go to sleep by about 10:30. And if I am reading or watching something interesting, 10:30 comes and goes and I ’m wide awake till the wee hours.

So although I often go to bed early and thus often enjoy the myriad benefits of early rising, it’s not yet – even after 20 years – a habit. I wish it were.

Let me think… If not early rising, what else do I do that’s made a huge impact on my life?

Okay, that’s easy. I reserve my first hour of work for something on my to-do list that is “important but not urgent.”

I’ve written about this many times, so I won’t elaborate here. But I will say this: Had I not put this protocol into practice, I probably would never have written the two-dozen-plus books I’ve written or produced the movies I’ve produced or achieved a half-dozen other personal goals.

But, again, I can’t say that it’s a habit. I manage to do it three out of four days, but not always.

So what else?

Being cheerful? Thankful? Positive? All good and beneficial attitudes, but none of them has become habitual.

Maybe there’s nothing…

Wait! There is one thing: having fun.

Learning how to put playfulness back into your life when you are my age is a terrific challenge. Yet I’ve managed to do it by scheduling Jiu-Jitsu lessons five or six times a week.

Jiu-Jitsu has tremendous benefits in terms of health, but it’s also an amazingly challenging brain game. It’s physical chess. Physical speed chess. If I were to practice Jiu-Jitsu competitively I’d probably hate it. But I train with the same people all the time – really good (world champion level) practitioners whom I know I can’t beat. So that takes the competition out of the game. I do my best, but I absolutely don’t compete. I just enjoy it.

I look forward to my Jiu-Jitsu training like I used to look forward to playing touch football with my friends when I was 11 years old. So it has become a habit, a habit that’s good for me.

But I know that an audience is not likely to be satisfied with that for my answer. They come to listen to me speak because they want my advice on how to increase their wealth and accomplish more in their lives.

What can I tell them that would satisfy that objective?

I have it! My “goaltending” system.

This is something I developed when I started writing Early to Rise. At first, my system was a fairly standard to-do list. But as time passed, I revised it, bending it towards the two protocols I mentioned above: getting up early and giving priority to important-but-not-urgent tasks.

Today, it’s anything but a to-do list because it’s all about priorities. A to-do list allows you to feel good about doing anything at all. Do one thing. Scratch out one item. My goaltending system rewards me only for making progress on prioritized projects.

It’s become much more than a way to keep track of everything I have to and want to do. It’s become an extremely effective productivity tool that is deeply addictive.

It’s the first thing I do every morning and sometimes the last thing I do every night. I do it even if I’m on vacation or sick. I can’t stop doing it.

It’s made a huge difference in my life. It’s easy and fun to do. And that’s why it’s become a habit.

The takeaway? If you want to achieve much more out of life than you are currently achieving, my goaltending system will help you do that.

So keep that in mind. I’ll give you the details soon…


Today’s Word: gainsay (verb) To gainsay (GAYN-say) is to deny or contradict a fact or statement. As used by the Marquis de Sade: “Human sentiments are baseless, mad, and improper; they are incredibly feeble; never do they withstand the gainsaying passions; never do they resist bare necessity.”


Fun Fact: The American sports industry employs 1% of the population and has sales of about $420 billion a year.


Worth Quoting: “No path of flowers leads to glory.” – Jean de la Fontaine


Read This…

Political and social ideas, like ideas about haircuts and shoes, have their seasons. The smaller ideas change almost every year. The medium-sized ones can last 5 or even 10 years, but then they pass. The big ideas never seem to die. They just shift their focus.

One such idea is zero tolerance — the idea that you can put an end to unwanted behavior by tolerating none of it and making the penalty extreme.

In the past, zero tolerance has been used to put an end to everything from burning the flag to burning bras to smoking marijuana. Today, it’s being applied to men “of power” acting out “inappropriately” in the presence of women “of less power.”

Here are two links that discuss some of the unintended consequences of that policy…