BOOKCASE Habits and How to

The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffet and George Soros
By: Mark Tier
Publisher: Inverse Books
Price: $39.95

Successful investing, like successful management, requires mental discipline or, as the author calls it, “mental habits and strategies”. And by adopting that approach, writes the Hong Kong-based Australian writer/investor, Buffet and Soros made their billions.
Investment tip books are not usually the fare of this column, but the approach taken to this book tweaked my interest. It is almost case study of two very successful operators and contains some intriguing insights into the individuals. Besides, it won’t tell you how to make money, simply how to approach the process if you happen to have the inclination and the funds to invest in equities or currency trades or, well whatever.
Tier suggests that while Buffet and Soros might, on the face of it, appear as different as dollars and doughnuts, their approach to making money through investment is similar. For instance, they share the same beliefs about the nature of markets; they don’t focus on the profits they expect to make; they focus more on not losing money than making it; they never diversify and always buy as much of an investment as they can get their hands on and their ability to predict the market or economic trends has absolutely nothing to do with their success.
What Tier claims to have found is 23 mental habits and strategies that the two super-successful money makers both practice “religiously”. And, he says, readers can learn every one of them.
But you need to remember, both Buffet and Soros are obsessive, self confessed or not. Buffet for instance, will work out what his wife’s $15,000 home refurbishment cost him in lost earnings over 20 year compounding return. To Soros, Jewish refugee from Europe, an investment loss, no matter how small, is considered threat to his survival and step on the road back to the “bottom”. Soros, it seems, is even more risk-averse than Buffet.
The book is, for my money, more interesting than motivating. It is cleverly constructed and well written piece of interpretation and hero watching. It provides its author with compelling resource material for seminars around the world on how Buffet and Soros do it. Whether individuals can turn the advice to account will depend on changing their mental habits and strategies.
But after spending an hour talking with the author in his Auckland hotel room last month during which he smoked four, or was it five, cigarettes and drank two cans of coke, there are few habits I think he should seriously reconsider.

Women Don’t Ask
By: Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Price: $44.50

Women don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities. They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do. They don’t ask for help at home. In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.
If you want to understand why, read Women Don’t Ask – Negotiation and the Gender Divide. The book is fascinating expose, an eye opener, even call to arms, but I’m not sure it lives up to the claim of being plan for action.
Women have, say the pundits, made great progress in the workplace since the 1980s but, the authors argue, things have stalled. Badcock and Laschever tell, chapter and verse, how and why this has happened. It has happened, in large measure, because women have difficulty negotiating on their own behalf.
The authors tell the story with style and humour and they provide example after example of the financial and emotional impacts. That is where my criticism lies. This intriguing tale is short on sound advice and great examples of just how to go about turning this state of gender affairs around. But maybe I missed something.
What also concerned me was the piece of advice that suggested women could learn to negotiate better by practicing at home, particularly with their spouses and partners. Still, it is compelling and fresh look at the gender-in-negotiation question. By looking at negotiation through the gender lens the authors explain why we – men and women alike – develop our skills as negotiators. Perhaps, as one critic suggests, “negotiation is one of feminism’s final frontiers”.

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