27 January 2024

On today’s show, Stig Brodersen talks with co-host William Green, the author of “Richer, Wiser, Happier.” With a strong focus on kindness, they discuss what has made them Richer, Wiser, or Happier in the past quarter.

Subscribe through iTunes
Subscribe through Castbox
Subscribe through Spotify
Subscribe through Youtube


Subscribe through iTunes
Subscribe through Castbox
Subscribe through Spotify
Subscribe through Youtube


  • What we can learn from the greatest investors about being authentic.
  • How to stay true to yourself.
  • If principles are truly timeless.
  • How we change throughout the stages of our lives.
  • What William learned recently about Charlie Munger’s kindness.
  • Why we want to take a simple idea and take it very seriously.
  • The challenges of the three phases in life.


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

[00:00:02] Stig Brodersen: Every quarter, I look forward to speaking with a friend and co-host, William Green. We talk about what has made us richer, wiser, and happier. In today’s episode, we talk about what Berkshire Hathaway Director, Chris Davis has taught us about the three phases in life and how each phase is both wonderful and challenging.

[00:00:21] Stig Brodersen: In life, the destination isn’t the goal. Rather, the journey is the best part. William outlines why you should not partner with your friends until you’re 40, and after that, only partner with your friends. And he also tells us what he recently learned about kindness from the late Charlie Munger. I hope you’ll join William and me on our quest for a richer, wiser, and happier life.

[00:00:45] Intro: You are listening to The Investor’s Podcast. Since 2014, we studied the financial markets and read the books that influence self-made billionaires the most. We keep you informed and prepared for the unexpected. Now for your hosts, Stig Brodersen and William Green.

[00:01:11] Stig Brodersen: Welcome to The Investor’s Podcast. I’m your host, Stig Brodersen and today, as always, for these quarterly calls, that’s called Richer, Wiser, Happier, of course, I’m joined by William Green. William, how are you today?

[00:01:23] William Green: I’m great. I’m very happy to be here with you.

[00:01:26] Stig Brodersen: So, William, I want to continue this conversation where we left off last time, and perhaps the audience is sitting out there thinking, I have no idea what they talked about last quarter.

[00:01:36] Stig Brodersen: But the thing I wanted to get back to here is not so much what we talked about last quarter, but I remember whenever we chat and we end the recording, I usually say something along the lines of, William, you know, I’m going to let you go here soon, but just one quick thing, and then we end up talking for like an hour or whatever.

[00:01:52] Stig Brodersen: And we talked about, authenticity last time after our call and I remember thinking, and I think I also mentioned that to you, William, we should probably have a longer discussion about that. So that’s going to be the first segment here of today’s episode. And, you know, I don’t know if it’s a law of attraction kind of thing, but I kind of feel in the world that I’m navigating right now.

[00:02:13] Stig Brodersen: I continuously hear so many people talking about that we need to be authentic, and I would also say that I used to drink that Kool Aid completely. After all, who doesn’t like to be told, don’t change anything about yourself but perhaps that’s also not what authenticity means.

[00:02:29] Stig Brodersen: And so, I remember Mohnish Pabrai, he talked here on the show about, you know, having met up with Warren Buffett, having met up with Charlie, and he said that, you know, what you see is what you get with Warren Buffett, like whenever he’s sitting up there during the Berkshire meeting, that’s who he is whenever you’re having dinner with him.

Read More

[00:02:46] Stig Brodersen: Whereas he said that Charlie was quite different. He was filtered whenever he was on stage, which I remember to me, it came as a surprise because he doesn’t seem that filtered, at least not compared to Buffett. But I, it also, I think also raises the question, is there, there’s anything wrong with that?

[00:03:02] Stig Brodersen: And I should probably also put that over to you, like as introduction now that we talk about authenticity, you recently did a wonderful tribute to Charlie Munger, and you also had the chance to interview him. And what’d you say with Charlie Munger, what’d you see is what you get with your interactions that you had with him.

[00:03:17] William Green: Yeah, I mean, people are complex, right? That’s the first, there’s a beautiful there’s a beautiful teaching from a great teacher I’ve studied, this guy called Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who I’ve had on the podcast before, who talks about the different forms of “I”, like me, and, you know, there are different, there’s a kind of public “I”, that, I remember saying to him once, you seem incredibly free, and he said, well, it’s a kind of dance where, you know, not really, attached to this kind of public “I”, the way the public sees me, I don’t really care about it that much, you know, I’m just, I play with it and so I don’t, I think to some extent, Munger and Buffett have always been kind of playing with their public persona, right?

[00:03:57] William Green: I mean, Munger had his kind of gruff, I have nothing to add kind of persona, but I think in private, there was a different part of him, it’s not that it’s inauthentic, it’s that there are so many parts of us, and a different part of him, came to light.

[00:04:10] William Green: I had an extraordinary thing yesterday, an email exchange where a venture capitalist who was part of the zoom call that I had with Munger wrote to me with his response to the episode that I did about Charlie It was really beautiful and one thing he said to me is that in his, he obviously had a very close relationship with Charlie, he’d known him for a long time and he said in his final conversation with Charlie. Charlie said to him, I may have been a better investor than you, but you’ve been a better father than me.

[00:04:40] William Green: And that’s an extraordinary thing to tell someone, that’s an incredibly generous thing to tell someone who you’re mentoring and that’s a side of Munger that we haven’t seen. We haven’t seen that part of him in public. The bit that is so honest and so self-aware that he’s basically saying, Yeah, you’ve been a much better father than me.

[00:04:58] William Green: And it’s very helpful because it’s also, it’s reorienting for us because it’s him saying, that may be more important. In a certain sense, like here we are, we’re all sort of focusing on becoming successful investors and becoming richer and more financially independent and more successful in the material world.

[00:05:15] William Green: And here you have this guy, just shy of his 100th birthday, this great sage, one of the greatest investors of all time, saying to the guy he’s mentoring, you’ve been a better father than me. I may have been a great investor, but you’ve been a great father. So, I think you’re seeing different aspects of their personality.

[00:05:32] William Green: It doesn’t mean they’re inauthentic, it means they’re playing a public role, and, you know, you and I are playing a public role here, there are things that maybe you have to be more careful about saying in public, or maybe you’re worried about people judging you in a certain way, and maybe you sense it yourself. I don’t know.

[00:05:47] William Green: I try not to, but I think there is a kind of different persona. So, I think it’s just more helpful. I find increasingly the older I get, the more I look at people and I just think, you think of that beautiful line from the poet Walt Whitman who said, I contain multitudes. We contain multitudes. We’re so complex. We’re so contradictory and a person is simultaneously kind and decent and loving and probably immoral and full of lust and desire and judgment and competitive spirit, and you know, and these things can coexist and under different circumstances, different parts of a personality will come to the fore.

[00:06:24] William Green: So, I don’t think it’s really a matter of authenticity if a different part of that person’s personality shows up in public or is different to different people. And this is one of the reasons why you read literature, right? I started doing Baffle again the third time in my life with Marcel Proust, who I think is my favorite novelist of all time.

[00:06:42] William Green: And you start to read Proust, who’s really amazing and an incredible observer of human nature. And you see there’s this extraordinary character, Charles Swan, at the center of the novel. It’s a, I mean, it’s a million and a half words. It’s 3,000 pages, this novel. And this is why I’ve failed to get to the end twice in the past.

[00:06:58] William Green: And you start to see that everyone is viewing Swan through a different lens. And they’re kind of constructing this character. They’re creating narratives about this guy that aren’t very partial. They’re not the whole truth. And so, your kind of, and he doesn’t even understand himself. He’s deluding himself.

[00:07:15] William Green: And so, I think when you’re trying to judge a person, you need to be aware there’s a public persona, there’s the private life, there’s the bit they don’t even understand about themselves, there’s the virtues wrapped up with the flaws it’s all there. And it’s kind of humbling. I think it means that we should be a little more tolerant, a little less judgmental, and maybe a little more compassionate towards ourselves as well, because we also contain all of these different aspects. We’re not one thing. I don’t know, does any of that resonate at all for you, Stig?

[00:07:46] Stig Brodersen: I think all of it resonates with me. First of all, I think that there’s something to be said about potentially defining what authenticity is. You know, sometimes whenever I hear people arguing about something, I very much think about, do they have the same interpretation of the words, the situation, like whatever it is, and perhaps that’s where the miscommunication happens.

[00:08:08] Stig Brodersen: You know, I thought a lot about it here on CIP, for example, you know, Authenticity gives us this warm and fussy feeling and it sounds good. It’s almost like, you know, don’t give up. Like it sounds good. Yeah, I’m not a critter. And then, you know, there are probably a lot of things you should be quitting.

[00:08:22] Stig Brodersen: You know, , there was like, if you’re four, two years old and you want to be a professional footballer, you should probably be quite a long time ago because that’s not who you are and you know, I remember, oh, I don’t even, it was probably like four or five years back, whatever. Like we, we started our Bitcoin show and I remember Preston got a lot of flak for that because he set it up.

[00:08:42] Stig Brodersen: And now whenever you come from the school of Buffett and Munger, you’re not supposed to say anything about Bitcoin but I, whenever I look back, well, there was so much to say about that, but if now that we are having the angle here, authenticity, wouldn’t it be terrible if Preston talked about Buffett and Munger, if he, if his life was, you know, more centered around Bitcoin or his not life, but you know, his professional journey is more surrounded by Bitcoin, that seems to be a very inauthentic way of living your life and that’s not what you should be doing and so I thought a lot about that situation.

[00:09:14] Stig Brodersen: And also, I was meeting up with a relatively new friend some time ago. And it was someone who’d been listening to the show for four years. And then he sent me an email and he asked me if I wanted to meet up with him. And, you know, he promised me lunch. So, I said, sure. But that was interesting and, you know, we became good friends. We are still good friends. And then. After, I don’t know, we probably met four or five times, something like that, and he said one thing to me, and I should probably ask him if it’s good or bad at some point in time, but he said to me that he thought that I was a good suburban dad, or, I don’t know if you use the word good, but he said, like, he thought I had a life like a suburban dad, and now that he got to know me, he realized I lived just like Mick Jagger and, again, I don’t know if that was good or bad, but a small part of me was like, This is not good.

[00:10:00] Stig Brodersen: Like the first thought I had was this is bad, not because I have anything against Mick Jagger, but there was something about the person telling me that I was not authentic, or he was not who I believed I was, where I thought to myself, that can’t be good. And so, leaving Mick Jagger aside, let’s probably just do that.

[00:10:20] William Green: And what is it that he thought resembled Mick Jagger in you? You were going off and sleeping with tons of groupies and traveling around the world?

[00:10:30] Stig Brodersen: I hope that wasn’t the case. I actually had to look up afterwards. I should say, like, I always listen to the Stones, so I don’t want this to come across as, I actually had my first concert with the Stones when I was like 13 years old or something like that. So, big fan.

[00:10:48] Stig Brodersen: I think it was very much that I think the reason why it happened was that I told him about the way that I lived my life in the sense that every time I make a decision, I try to reject, I’m not always successful, but I try to reject how happy it’s going to make me. And I put, it’s going to sound really nerdy, but I can’t help myself.

[00:11:07] Stig Brodersen: I’m going to put a number on from one to 10 for the remaining time units of my life. on that decision, whatever it might be, big or small and it’s not like an Excel sheet type of thing. It’s more like a mental exercise. And then I’m going to make my decision based on that and that’s how I made all my big decisions in life.

[00:11:26] Stig Brodersen: And he felt it was such a hedonic treadmill type of way of doing it. And Mick Jagger, like, isn’t that? And I don’t know, because I think he said, I don’t remember the right number, but I think like Mick Jagger has I don’t know, eight kids with five different women or something like that. I had zero kids and one wife and I’m very happy about her. So, I hope it doesn’t come across like in any kind of wrong way. But anyways, yeah, I don’t know if that was a good response or if I was [Crosstalk].

[00:11:53] William Green: It was just more the focus on pleasure and happiness that he’s drawing the connection.

[00:11:58] Stig Brodersen: Probably yes but, and I should also say that whenever you do that, I think it’s natural to think that you’re very short term focused.

[00:12:06] Stig Brodersen: I don’t think it is. I think if you play that game, well, depending on their temperament, I think you’re very long term focused. It’s the same reason I only own five stocks in my portfolio. I think it would drive me crazy to own 20 stocks. Like I would be too stressed about all the competitors and 10Ks I have to read and all of that.

[00:12:24] Stig Brodersen: Like it just doesn’t seem to be a good life for me. And then there are probably some would say they’re not diversified enough. Probably depends on, on, on your temperament whenever it comes to that. But I think what I wanted to. Get back to here. And actually, William, you had a very good point here before we started, because I prepared like a six-page outline.

[00:12:42] Stig Brodersen: And one of the things you said to me was, we should probably just see where it takes us and not always stick with the outline, which is something I absolutely love about you, William.

[00:12:51] William Green: It’s also because I’m incapable of sticking with an outline. So, I mean, my point to you is. Look, you prepare, but then let’s just be present and talk and see where it goes.

[00:13:01] William Green: And so, you know, do you remember in my conversation with Annie Duke? I think we discussed the fact that the opposite of a virtue is also a great virtue, right? So as she pointed out in her book, Quitting, or quit, the ability to fold, when you have a bad hand, in life, or in poker, or in business, or whatever, is actually really smart, but also the opposite of that virtue of being able to quit, is grit, and resilience, and sticking, which is also a virtue, and so I think one of the things that’s difficult, and complex, and nuanced about life, is that whenever you talk about a virtue, like authenticity, There’s a sort of polarity to it, right?

[00:13:40] William Green: Like, it can be a problem, if you’re so authentic, that you’re anti-social, or a sociopath, and you just say anything that comes to your mind, and you’re just brutal to people. Likewise, if you’re so prepared for something, so maniacally prepared, and then you stick totally to your strategy, you can’t just be present and go with the flow.

[00:14:01] William Green: And if you’re so committed to going with the flow, and you’re just present, and you don’t do your preparation, It’s also out of whack. So, there’s always got to be this kind of dynamic tension between two virtues, I think. And even there, I’m wrong as well, because there are times where you have to be really extreme, right?

[00:14:17] William Green: You listen to the episode that I just did with Rick Rieder, who’s this guy who, as you know, manages 2.6 trillion dollars, which probably means he manages more money than anyone else in the world and he’s very extreme. He’s like an extreme mental athlete, a guy who only sleeps, you know, four and a half hours a night.

[00:14:35] William Green: And he just has, like, this weird wiring that enables him to be, like, this super intense mental athlete, just driving himself too extreme. So even here, when I’m saying, you should be balanced, you know, it’s always balancing to the two sides of a virtue, because it can be a flaw as well as a virtue. Even that’s kind of wrong.

[00:14:52] William Green: Sometimes you do really well when you’re just incredibly extreme. So, I think it becomes really, I mean, I don’t want to tie us up in knots, but I think it becomes hard to make rules in life. And so, one of the real challenges is You know, I think this is really what we’re talking about with authenticity is groping towards a way of life that’s true to who you are that’s congruent with who you are at the deepest level.

[00:15:16] William Green: So, when you just mentioned that you own five individual stocks, because it would drive you nuts to own 20 stocks, you found a way to invest that’s congruent, that’s aligned with your personality. with your mind, with your temperament. That’s very important. Likewise with Preston, the fact that he’s so focused on Bitcoin in some way is deeply aligned with who he is.

[00:15:45] William Green: My podcast I had a chat with Preston over the phone, and I was asking him about Bitcoin, and it became pretty clear that he didn’t want to tout any other cryptocurrencies on the show because he was like, well, they’re just not safe enough. They’re going to, people are going to get hurt. I’m kind of paraphrasing him in a way that’s probably misrepresenting him, but there was a real sense of responsibility You know, he’s a guy with a sense of duty and responsibility.

[00:16:08] William Green: And so even though he’s, you know, in some ways violating the code of, you know, the value investors like Buffett and Munger, by exploring a cryptocurrency which, you know, doesn’t, you know, it’s hard to value in the way that you could value a business. It’s a different type of asset, different type of investment.

[00:16:26] William Green: More of a speculation, probably, in Buffett and Munger’s view. It’s true to Preston to who he is and the fact that he’s doing it in a way that’s kind of responsible in a weird way, and dutiful is also true to Preston and his nature.

[00:16:40] Stig Brodersen: To your point before about being authentic, like it’s difficult to do something if it’s not congruent with who you are as a person, and I think one of, one of the challenges that you’re going to face.

[00:16:51] Stig Brodersen: Whenever, for example, the twenties, you make a lot of mistakes and you do a lot of things that probably seems like it’s not you, but I think it still is you. You just, you can’t skip your youth. You have to figure it out who you are. I think that’s another element to it. And so, for example, For me, it’s not uncommon to spend 30 hours preparing for an episode, which probably sounds ridiculous, and it’s not uncommon for me to perhaps type up 10 pages of what I’m going to talk about throughout an episode, like whenever we’re having an episode, like with you, William or someone else, I don’t know if I can work any other way, and I can’t help but wonder if I should do it differently, or if that’s just my way of doing interviews.

[00:17:31] Stig Brodersen: And I look at, for example, you, William, and It seems to me that you’re extremely prepared whenever you speak with your guests, at the same time, you’re willing to take the conversation in whatever kind of way, without preparation, without thinking, you know, for hours about which question you’re going to ask, but at the same time, you spend five years on your book, Ritualize the Happier, which is in a way, extremely authentic, but at the same time, so perfect into the very detail.

[00:17:56] Stig Brodersen: How much do you prepare and curate before you say anything? And how’s that perceived in, in, in practice? And I want to throw it to you before I pin myself too much into a, to a corner here. William, does that make any sense to you whenever you’re thinking about your own process as a writer, as a podcaster, as a businessperson?

[00:18:12] William Green: Yeah, there’s a very important insight from Ray Dalio, who I’ve interviewed a couple of times on the podcast. And Ray, who’s an important figure in your life intellectually as well, did this book, Principles, your guided journal. And one of the things that he said that I quoted back to him in my interview, cause it’s so important and it’s a really important guide on to what you just said is he said, life is a journey to learn about your own nature and find the right paths that are consistent with it.

[00:18:43] William Green: And when I said that he was sort of horrified because he’s like, people need to understand your accent. And he said, life is a journey to learn about your own nature and find the right paths, not paths that are consistent with it. And this is such an important insight, right? I mean, it’s really important.

[00:18:58] William Green: This is something I think people need to internalize, or at least that I need to internalize, which is, this all starts with self-awareness, right? So, you need to start by understanding your own nature, understanding your own talents, your own principles, your own beliefs, your own priorities your purpose, your mission, what your skills are, what you’re wired to do, what game you’re equipped to succeed at.

[00:19:23] William Green: And then, having figured out your approach, whether it’s to interviewing, to investing, to writing, to combining work and family, whatever it might be, then you have to find the right parts that are consistent with it. And so, that’s very helpful because it adds a little bit of a system, a process to this kind of question about how to be authentic, which I, you know, can be interpreted so many different ways.

[00:19:51] William Green: And so, one of the things I liked about the guided journal that Ray put together is he would list various goals and priorities in your life. And he would say, okay, so you figure out which of these things matter most to you. So, he would say, for example, is you would pick, I think it was the top three.

[00:20:10] William Green: So, there would be things like. One desire might be the, to be liked or loved, one might be to be ethically good or to create something new or to have an impact on the world or to help other people, or to keep learning and evolving or to understand the world or to have good friends or to have a thriving family.

[00:20:31] William Green: And so, once you start to look at what actually matters most to you, then you can start to construct a life that’s consistent with that. And one of the things that I figured out as I was working on the book, Richer, Wiser, Happier, particularly when I was writing the epilogue, which is really about what constitutes a truly successful and happy and truly abundant life, is this very, very basic, fundamental, mundane point, which is that this is different for each of us.

[00:21:02] William Green: It’s so different. And I remember having this conversation once with Tony Robbins, and he said He was talking about what constitutes a beautiful life, and I remember him saying well, so for one person might be having two or three kids, and just having this beautiful life at home with their two or three kids, for another person might be having a really beautiful garden.

[00:21:18] William Green: It’s about leading a life that’s consistent with your values. He also once said to me that every morning, he thinks about, I think his phrase to me was he said, he’ll ask, let me be a blessing to everyone I meet today. So that’s really interesting to me and that that’s pretty congruent with me.

[00:21:37] William Green: I mean, I hear that and I’m like, I understand that. You know, I’ll often think to myself, let me be a force for good. Please help me to be a force for good. And so, I’m not just going out there in the world thinking, let me sell more books. Let me become, you know, more powerful. Let me become richer.

[00:21:55] William Green: I’m thinking, help me to be a force for good, please. And so that’s very idiosyncratic. My sense of priorities and so I like the fact that Dalio with his system of doing things, because he’s much more process oriented than me, is getting you to really probe who you are, what’s important to you, what your values are, what your priorities are, and then you find paths or paths that are suitable to it.

[00:22:20] William Green: And I think when I look at the great investors, there’s a kind of there’s a there’s an ability to harness their own idiosyncrasy, or craziness, or crazy talent. I mean, look at Bill Miller, who I’ve become friends with over many years of interviewing, over probably 23 years, amazing investor. And when I think of Bill, I had this revelation where I was interviewing him for Richer, Wiser, Happier, and I spent a couple of days with him, and I was at his home in the suburbs of Baltimore, and he also lives elsewhere, but I was in his home, and we were sort of walking into his garden, and I was looking at where he plans to have his ashes scattered and stuff like that, and I had this revelation as we were walking into the garden, that what I’ve observed over 23 years of interviewing him on and off, is the process of Miller coming unbound, like that he’s become more and more true to himself and there’s a, I think in some strange way, I felt kind of sense of pride in Bill doing that.

[00:23:20] William Green: In the fact that this brilliant guy had gradually become more and more true to himself and so he’s so idiosyncratically brilliant and so when he was at his peak of fame, when he beat the market for 15 years running, which is impossible and unprecedented, and he did it and then got to something like 77 billion dollars in assets under management he was sort of, there was something extraordinary about it, but in some ways, he was part of this big institution at Legg Mason, and so he had to report to the board, and he had, you know, he had constraints in what he could say and what he could do, and then when he left and set up his own company and he was working with his son and he was working with Samantha McLemore who we’ve also interviewed on the podcast, it was much smaller.

[00:24:05] William Green: He only had a couple of billion dollars in assets under management, but it was very true to who he was. And then he got to a point over the last year or so where he retired and he’s just managing his own money. And I was telling him a few months back and he’s like, yeah, I have the Holy Trinity of investments now.

[00:24:22] William Green: He’s like, I’ve got my Bitcoin, which he bought massively early, between 200 and 500 a coin, much of it. He had his enormous stake in Amazon, which he’d owned for more than 20 years, which at one point he was the biggest individual shareholder of Amazon, whose name wasn’t Bezos and then he had a private investment in the company, clear that, you know, when you go through an airport it checks on you.

[00:24:46] William Green: Now he has lots of other investments, so he’s not as concentrated as it sounds, but that he described as the Holy Trinity and so there’s something about how he’s become more and more true to himself and so now, I remember talking to his wife as well, he got remarried, and she was so excited about this new chapter of his life, because he was really free now to manage his own money to read and to think. And so, there’s been this process of becoming more and more congruent with his inner self.

[00:25:16] William Green: And so, I think in some ways, what we’re wrestling with here is this practical question of how do we find our own place in the world where there are so many compromises, right? You need to work with other people, you need to have a job, you need to make money, you need to have a family, or whatever, or friends, and their interests may not be the same as yours, or maybe you have your mortgage to pay, and stuff like that.

[00:25:38] William Green: How do you do all of that while also being true to your own nature? And it’s hard, but I think that’s what we’re really wrestling with. And it helps to start with self-awareness to know what’s really valuable to you. What’s really important to you. What really constitutes a beautiful life to you.

[00:25:55] Stig Brodersen: What you mentioned there about becoming more and more true to who you are. If I can push a big bag on that, and the reason why I’m doing that, it comes from a mindset of, we tend to, perhaps for better or for worse, put a lot of emphasis on what we would say on our deathbed. Like, this is what was right, this is what was wrong and I, you know, there, whenever you read about it, like there, there are certain things that people say on the deathbed that are super, super important to them.

[00:26:23] Stig Brodersen: I can’t help but think, whether or not we are true to ourselves, we’re just true to different types of selves throughout our life. And so, let’s say that you are the age dev of Bill Miller today. Should you regret that you worked so hard whenever you were 28? Like, one of the things that we say to each other on a deathbed is, I should spend more time with friends and family.

[00:26:46] Stig Brodersen: I don’t, I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t spend time with friends and family, you should spend more time working. But I also can’t help but think, some of those people, like really successful people they’ve really achieved their flow state whenever they were working and loved what they did.

[00:27:01] Stig Brodersen: Was that a mistake necessarily? And I’m, I don’t know, there’s probably a middle ground. I’m not trying to say either or, but I wanted to throw it back over to you, William. Open up whenever I say perhaps authenticity and being true to who you are. Yes, you have to learn who you are, but even whenever you reach a certain age and you are quite sure of who you are and what makes you happy and what doesn’t make you happy, even that changes as you grow older.

[00:27:24] William Green: Yeah, it changes a lot. When I look back on my own life now that I’m 55, I can see that, and I think we’ll talk about this later in more depth, this idea of the phases of life. I can see that my own ambitions and priorities have changed. So, this isn’t a set thing.

[00:27:43] William Green: You’re constantly readjusting. And partly you readjust because you see that certain things didn’t work. So, you know, when I got to 40, well, I got off to a very quick start in my twenties, right? So, I left college at basically 20 because it’s only three years in England and I was young for my year, and I didn’t take a gap year or anything and so I left Oxford at 20.

[00:28:04] William Green: I started writing for things like The Spectator, which is great English magazine. And then the New Yorker when I was in my early 20s and so I and back then the New Yorker at the top of the town section that I wrote for didn’t have byline So I used to joke that I was anonymously famous So it wasn’t like I was such a big shot, but I was doing well writing for these good magazines And then you know, I started to I went to Forbes someplace like that I wrote for a place like fortune and I felt like kind of a big shot.

[00:28:29] William Green: I really wanted people to notice me It was really important for me To get my byline in big magazines and have people see how smart I was and how you know I would sometimes write these kind of investigative pieces where I would take people down And so it was like I was fearless and I was tough and I was combative and at a certain point that part of your character just doesn’t Exist in quite the same way I’m just not as combative now and so one of the things you see in Richer Wiser Happier in the book Is I really only write about people I like?

[00:29:02] William Green: I kind of intentionally didn’t give much space to people who were just rapacious billionaires, who didn’t care about how they behaved, and didn’t care about other people, and had no depth to them, were only interested in the money, and just winning this game, maximizing their performance. That’s a reflection of my own weird idiosyncratic value system, that I just wasn’t interested in writing about people I regarded as shallow, or so deeply flawed, or immoral, or that they, you know, in David Hawkins terms, they make you go weak.

[00:29:37] William Green: And so, I was writing about people who make you go strong. And, so, choosing to write about, say, Nick Sleep and Qais Zakaria was a very idiosyncratic thing, because they were these young guys who had retired at the age of 45 and closed down their fund, and nobody had ever written about them, because they’d never given any interviews, and so, that, I was taking a huge risk, spending probably five or six months working on that chapter, about these two unknown guys who represent an extraordinary way of operating in the world, a very high quality way of operating in the world.

[00:30:10] William Green: So, I don’t know, I feel like when I was a 26 year old, hungry, hard edged journalist desperately hoping for people to notice me, I wouldn’t have been as impressed with Nick and Zak but, as a middle aged journalist, I look at them and I’m like, those guys embody so much that’s right about how to operate in the world.

[00:30:34] William Green: Let me hold them up as a counter example for all of the people who think that capitalism is just scummy and hard edged and selfish and mean spirited. And these are two guys who, you know, made a fortune for their investors. kept closing the fund to new investors whenever it got too big.

[00:30:52] William Green: They first closed the fund when it was like a hundred million dollars in assets when it was tiny and then returned three and a half billion dollars to their investors because they were like, you know, well, we only really own Amazon and Costco and Berkshire and a couple of other positions that are less important.

[00:31:08] William Green: Why should we charge you for that? And when I talked to Charlie Munger, Munger said, I’ve never talked about this publicly, Munger said, can you imagine those two guys, how ethical they were, that they did that? That they returned all of that money? You know, what an unusual piece of behavior that was. I mean, that was one of the things Charlie liked most about the book, I think, was the chapter about Nick and Zack, because they represented this different way of doing business, and in an industry that kind of appalled Charlie in many ways, because people were overcharging for lousy products that were too complex and self-serving.

[00:31:43] William Green: Here were these guys who had this very simple product, this very simple vehicle that wasn’t designed to maximize their assets under management or their fees. It was just maximized. It was optimized to get great performance. And to turn a dollar into ten dollars. And they decided they were just going to treat people ethically and treat each other ethically.

[00:32:02] William Green: And that really impressed Charlie and so I think, as you evolve in your own life, the things that impress you and interest you just change, and maybe some of that early, ego driven stuff, where you’re just like I hope people notice me. And I hope I beat these other guys, and I hope I’m better than my brother, and I hope, you know, I, I get more clicks, or more, you know, there’s still that part of me, I mean, it’s not like it’s all gone, but it’s less insatiable and a desire to do something that’s good and helpful becomes much more prominent, and so focusing on people like Nick and Zak is a way of in a way promoting a different form of capitalism that’s kinder, more decent, more honorable.

[00:32:46] William Green: So, I would have rolled my eyes at that 20 years ago. I would have thought, really, you’re going to be out there on your soapbox, proselytizing for how to do things more honorably? I would have been exposing the scummier side of capitalism because it would have made me feel good to kind of take people down because I think I probably had more of a chip on my shoulder back then.

[00:33:06] Stig Brodersen: William if I can just paint a bit more color around this chapter with Nick and Zak and I don’t know if it surprised you, William, and obviously you spoke with a lot of people about your book, but what I hear people mainly talking about is chapter six, which is very telling here, which is about Nick and Zak.

[00:33:23] Stig Brodersen: For those of you who are not as nerdy as me, it’s like, oh, that’s so much chapter six of the book. Perhaps you haven’t read or perhaps you have, but, and it’s probably healthy. You don’t remember what all the chapters are all about, but. So, Nick and Zak have this amazing track record. So over 13 years, the Benchmark is MSCI world index they returned 117 or the index returned, and they returned with in their portfolio, which is mainly Amazon, Costco, and Berkshire, like you said, a few other positions, but those are the three big positions, 921.

[00:33:53] Stig Brodersen: So it’s like the return was just amazing and then whenever they could, You know, could chuck all this money in performance fees because it was poor performance fees, you know, they decided to close down the fund probably because I think you mentioned that Nick wanted to travel and, you know, spend some time with his kids and he wasn’t like, like we say here on the show, you don’t need to be financially independent 20 times over. Like if you do, if you’re financially independent once, that’s enough.

[00:34:17] William Green: Yeah, and they wanted to quit. So, they could give back the money to society in a way that created enduring value. And Zak said to me at one point, he said, I felt like we had solved the problem of investing. We’d figured out the best business model.

[00:34:34] William Green: We’d figured out what worked, and it would have been a bit more like rinse and repeat if we had just kept going. And I mean, there’s more about this that I could say that I don’t really want to say, but I think. I think Nick would have happily gone on a little longer, I think Zak for various personal reasons and for intellectual reasons kind of wanted to be done, and to focus on family and the like, so that’s interesting as well, right, it was about the solving of the problem, it wasn’t about the maximizing of money for them, and that’s very idiosyncratic, and so that gets again at this issue of authenticity, one of the reasons why Nick and Zak make you go strong, is because they operated in such an ornery way where they were like, no, we’re just going to do it our way.

[00:35:22] William Green: And there’s this wonderful story that they said that I think is in the book where the heirs to the Tetra Pak fortune had some people managing money for them. And they came through to the offices in Chelsea and London. When Nick and Zak were working and they were like, yeah, we’ll invest a big amount. I don’t know, maybe it was a hundred million or something.

[00:35:39] William Green: It was a big amount. But they wanted to see Nick and Zak’s research on each stock so that, you know, basically they could piggyback on the research and use it for themselves. And I’m guessing a lot of people who ran a small fund would have said yes to that. And Zak said to me. That he was watching Nick get more and more irritated by these guys coming in and demanding this and he said, You know, Nick is such a nice guy and he’s sitting there like crossing his legs and crossing his arms and getting more and more Irritated and Zak because he knows him can see that he’s getting more and more irritated and he said after about 15 minutes, Nick just showed them the door.

[00:36:16] William Green: That’s an extraordinary piece of self-awareness, right? That they knew That the fees didn’t matter that much to them. That they wanted to partner with people who were aligned with them. They would get people to sign a piece of paper saying they understood, this is as I recall anyway, that they understood that they were going to invest for basically at least five years.

[00:36:37] William Green: And it wasn’t binding in any way, but it was placing in a different mental space this fund, this investment, that it wasn’t about short-term trading. This is a long-term thing. And even five years, not very long term. And they had a lot of institutional investors who were extremely long term. So, there was an alignment in the way that they chose their partners.

[00:36:57] William Green: There was an alignment in the type of investments that they had, which had a very long shelf life. These were companies that were, you know, think of something like Costco, right? I mean, it embodies this business model that they loved, that was their favorite business model, which is scale economies shared, right?

[00:37:14] William Green: So, as it grew in scale, as it had more revenues, And, instead of pocketing all of that money for itself and giving it to its shareholders, it would give a better and better deal to its customers. And so, it was sharing those scale economies and as it did that, the customers became more and more loyal, loved the company more, did more business there and so it became kind of this virtuous cycle where instead of size becoming an anchor, it became actually a strength.

[00:37:43] William Green: And so, it’s a really interesting thing because if you think about the principle that embodies the way Costco was behaving It’s very long term, right? It’s long term greedy rather than short term greedy as Buffett might put it and so it’s saying well No, if we defer gratification and we don’t line our pockets as much as possible now and we just keep acting decently and keep creating a great product.

[00:38:07] William Green: In the end, it’ll benefit everyone. They were trying to take care of all of their stakeholders, right? They tried to keep their employees happy. They tried to not squeeze their partners so brutally, their suppliers so brutally, that they’re going to hate doing business with Costco. Although, obviously, it’s a super-efficient and tough place to be a partner with.

[00:38:26] William Green: They treat their customers very well. And Wall Street couldn’t stand this, right? Because it meant they had very low margins. And so, when Nick and Zak bought it, it was very cheap because Wall Street couldn’t understand the benefits of this long-term principle. And built into that long term approach is a focus on sharing.

[00:38:43] William Green: It’s that you receive these great bounties from your customers and then you share those spoils with them. And so, it gets at a kind of deep principle in life. So, the companies that Nick and Zak were investing with were deferring gratification, were treating people decently and honorably. The partners they had in their fund were long term and were deferring gratification.

[00:39:07] William Green: The way that they read and studied material, research, was congruent, was consistent with who they are, they were. So, Zak said to me at one point, yeah, we would get all this Wall Street research and we’d let it kind of gather in a pile and then you dip into it once in a while for a few minutes and then you’d realize what rubbish it all was and you’d tip it into the trash can and then you’d go off and you’d just do your own research and so they were doing independent research, they were visiting masses of companies and they were studying business models and they were reading a lot and so their research process was consistent with their character and then the way they treated each other, the way they structured their own partnership was very consistent With their values so that the partnership was built on kindness and as Nick said to me kindness has a you know, good behavior has a longer shelf life And so all of these things in a world of short term ism They had chosen a longer term approach a high quality approach over the low quality approach And so if you look at them, one of the reasons they make you go strong is that there’s an authenticity, even in their oddness, their idiosyncrasy, in, in every area of their life in, in where they had their office.

[00:40:22] William Green: Their office was above, like, you know, a Chinese herb store on Kings Road. Everyone else is working in Mayfair in London, in like these fancy offices. And they’re working, you know, in this light filled office full of art, full of books in Chelsea. And when I went to visit them there, Zak didn’t even have a desk.

[00:40:41] William Green: Literally, he’s so idiosyncratic that he just has like a kind of lazy boy kind of chair. And they have like their beekeeper suits that both of them had hanging on the wall next to each other. So these guys were like these two Beautiful, oddball humans who didn’t really care about the money so much and didn’t really care about publicity, didn’t care about marketing, all they cared about was this intellectual experiment of, let’s see if we can turn a dollar into ten dollars, and perform in a really ethical, decent way, and then once we’re done with it and we’ve solved the problem, let’s figure out how to give the money back to society in a way that creates the most enduring value for society, while also taking care of our families, so, you know, it’s not like they’ve taken a vow of poverty, But they decided that there was going to be a certain number that they, you know, X that they needed and above that everything was going back to society.

[00:41:32] William Green: So, there’s something beautifully consistent about that and all of us are going to make different decisions about what really is valuable to us, what values we’re living by, how we want to treat other people. But knowing that there’s this example of Nick and Zak is an incredibly helpful thing because you can say, I want to be more like that.

[00:41:52] Stig Brodersen: And William, can we talk a bit more about the intersection between authenticity, values, principles, and the reason why I bring it up is that you mentioned Dalio’s book Principles before, which is just such a wonderful book and the idea of principles, something that is timeless, something that’s, you know, in all cultures would be perceived the same way.

[00:42:16] Stig Brodersen: And I thought a lot about that. And I also thought a lot about as I was reading your book, and I’m sure a lot of people have been reading your book, thinking about. How can I apply the teachings from the book? And I think it’s different for everyone. I also think it has to do with the obvious fact that you’re speaking with these extraordinary people who are just wired a certain way that not a lot of people are.

[00:42:37] Stig Brodersen: So, we can probably not all for example, Rick Rieder, I don’t think he was a part of your book, as I remember it. I don’t think we can go out and just say, Four and a half hours sleep. Brilliant. Like that’s enough for me. That’s like, there are some people who can do that. Perhaps we probably not all of us can.

[00:42:54] William Green: Yeah, it may be one in a thousand. It may be that he’s a physical anomaly. I used to work with this multibillionaire who I helped write his autobiography and he survived on four hours sleep and he was just, he was a very unusual man. He was wired very unusually. You felt like if you went into a market, like a souk or something where they had carpets and artworks, and he went in with 5,000.

[00:43:17] William Green: You knew that he would come out with 100,000 worth of stuff. Like he just, there was something very idiosyncratic. So, a lot of this is about understanding your own strengths and so, you know, Nick and Zak had very different strengths. Nick was very broad in his reading. Zak was narrower and was more mathematical. So, again, with all of these people, it’s understanding what your strengths are, what game you’re equipped to win.

[00:43:44] Stig Brodersen: And so, William, I wanted to talk about perhaps my favorite part of Chapter 6 here with Nick and Zak where they talk about the way that they structure their investment company. And so how the story goes is that Zak insisted that Nick should own 51% of their investment firm, because if there wasn’t a disagreement, then he trusted Nick enough to make the right decision.

[00:44:04] Stig Brodersen: And Nick said that to him, it was impossible to abuse a partner who were basically handling him and a loaded revolver and passed across the table, said, go on, shoot me if you want me or shoot me if you like. I think that’s such a wonderful story and I’ve been telling everyone and their mother about this wonderful book and I won’t make a blast because I think I already praised it 10 times, but I really have mentioned, especially this principle and I think the more affluent my friends, like I have a group of friends are more affluent than perhaps another group of friends.

[00:44:37] Stig Brodersen: And especially if they’re part of the value investing community, like that part, like really, Resonates with them. You know, they’ve seen the way that Buffett and Munger interact and, you know, having a business partner and Charlie Munger in this relationship has been the junior partner, the way that everything was structured back in the day.

[00:44:54] Stig Brodersen: And it makes a lot of sense to them. And then I’ve spoken with other friends about this wonderful principle, which I thought was a principle that perhaps even transcended, you know, cultures and time. And they look at me and at best, they look at me as gullible. Because who would ever hand someone a loaded gun and that’s just ridiculous.

[00:45:14] Stig Brodersen: And so one of the things I wanted to mention here, which is going to sound perhaps a bit like a nog on Nick and Zak, which is not at all of the probably wonderful human beings is that perhaps it’s easy to have principles whenever you can afford them, which by definition means that they’re not principles. And again, please feel free to challenge the very premise of me asking you this question.

[00:45:36] William Green: It’s very complicated and I’ll remind people of a quote from Ben Franklin that Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett often used, which is an empty sack can’t stand straight. And I think it’s difficult when you come from a place of emptiness, when you feel a lack, when you feel a sense of poverty in your own life, it’s difficult to stand straight.

[00:45:57] William Green: And they’ve talked about this in terms of countries as well, that if a country has a lot of poverty and lawlessness, you know, it’s difficult for the company, for the country to operate in a really upstanding way. Then, there’s also this opposite side of it, which is that, as Guy Spier would say, you know, people would often say to Guy, well, look how kind you are, look how much you spend time, you know, helping other people and trying to be decent and trying to be honest and stuff and they would say, you know, if I was successful, if I were rich, I would do that too.

[00:46:27] William Green: And Guy’s point when I’ve had this discussion with him in the past is, you have to kind of make the decision before you’re really rich and successful that you’re going to operate in this way, and then good things tend to follow, and Tony Robbins once said the same sort of thing to me where he was talking about philanthropy and charity.

[00:46:43] William Green: And he was saying, look, if you, I’ll get this slightly cobbled, but he was basically saying, if you won’t give away 10 when you have a thousand dollars, you’re not going to give away, you know, whatever, 10,000 when you have a million, you know, it’s, you start giving money away and helping others when you have almost nothing.

[00:47:01] William Green: And you just give a small amount. You don’t wait until you’re rich before you start helping others. And I think there’s an act of courage and trust in deciding that even though my sack is not full, and I don’t feel a full sense of abundance, I don’t feel fully secure, I’m still going to help other people.

[00:47:20] William Green: I’m still going to try to operate in a decent way. I’m still going to give money away. I think comically you get more brownie points for I mean, it’s a ridiculous way to put it, but comically you get more brownie points for operating well when it’s harder, I think and I remember I mean, I talked to Chris Davis years ago, I think, for the book, we also had him on the podcast recently, about Munger, and I was asking Chris, who is close to Munger, about Munger’s spiritual beliefs, and whether Munger had any religious belief, or whether he was agnostic, or atheistic, or whatever, and he said that he thought that for Munger, operating in a really moral, upright way, when he didn’t think he was going to get rewarded in the afterlife, actually was made Munger almost happier.

[00:48:07] William Green: There was an aspect of wearing a hair shirt, like not, he wasn’t doing it to get his reward in the afterlife, he was doing it because it was right to behave in an ethical way. And so, I don’t know it’s complex, this stuff, but I think I would encourage people not to fall into the delusion that you should wait to behave decently and honorably and charitably and the like.

[00:48:29] William Green: You know, I wrestled with this myself, right, because there were times in my life where I was struggling more financially, or where I’d been laid off from a job, and I had enormous expenses, because I was living in London, and had two kids in private school, and the like, and lots of, and big rent in London, and the like, which is a very expensive city, and I felt that sense of lack, and that sense of fear, and when I look back, I’m really glad that I did certain things during that time where I look back and I’m like, that was really irrational, really, I gave money to that or I did the you know, and I’m not saying it in a self-righteous way, like a self-congratulatory way, I look back and I’m like, it was almost kind of nuts.

[00:49:04] William Green: But actually, it was very important because it was an act of trust and faith in the future. And so, yeah don’t wait. Don’t wait and don’t assume that for very rich people, it’s really easy to give stuff away, because I think part of what you’re doing when you help others, and you try to be charitable, and you try to act ethically and the like, you’re breaking your addiction to money, your dependence on money your delusion that the money is going to be the thing that’s going to make you happy.

[00:49:35] William Green: And when you let go of it by giving some money away, there’s a kind of, there’s a kind of psychological freedom that comes with that. where you’re trusting that there’s going to be more. There’s a I often talk with you about the Zohar, this beautiful ancient mystical text, which is written in Aramaic, which I try to read almost every day, a little bit of, and there’s a bit in it where it talks about being one who gives and yet increases.

[00:49:59] William Green: I love that idea that you can tap into this consciousness where you’re one who gives and yet increases. It’s not a zero-sum game. And so, as you give money away, or as you help people, you give your time away or whatever. Strangely, you can tap into this system where you end up with more, you end up with greater abundance, however you define it, not just financially, but in terms of your happiness, your relationships, all of these things, and so it’s a different type of consciousness, and it’s a leap of faith, and it can seem kind of gullible to do that, but you and I have done this in our business dealings ourselves, right?

[00:50:33] William Green: I mean, when you and I were first negotiating to be partners on the Richer, Wiser, Happier podcast, I mean, because you’re open about these things I don’t mind telling our audience. You said, well, let’s base it on, you know, the number of you, what you’ll get paid will be based on the number of downloads over the first month, which is when most of the downloads are for any episode.

[00:50:53] William Green: And I was like no, let’s do it for the number of downloads over a year and don’t pay me until after a year. And so, we were building in. deferred gratification. It wasn’t me trying to get money immediately. It was like, I’m doing this job. That’s a ridiculous amount of work and I’m not going to get paid a penny for over a year.

[00:51:12] William Green: And then when we started to renegotiate after a year, I think I just wrote you a message and I sort of said, have I been paid about the right amount, or should it be more, or should it be less? And you told me, you know, here’s the situation and you’re like, okay and I didn’t question it or anything.

[00:51:27] William Green: And then at a certain point you told me. Oh, I’m giving you 10 percent more and I’m making it retroactive, you know, so it’s like we were very much taking the spirit of Nick and Zak in deferring gratification and operating as if the other person was looking out for us and so neither of us was trying to get an edge over the other one and I think there’s something kind of beautiful about that and we’ll see in two or three years’ time whether we look back and we’re like, God, that was naive.

[00:51:57] William Green: But I’m hoping not. I mean, I’m hoping that it’s a model of how Charlie and Warren treated each other and a model of how Nick and Zak treated each other, and we’ll look back and we’ll be like, yeah, it requires you to have good judgment and to be partnering with people who are honorable. And I don’t know that I’m that good a judge of that.

[00:52:17] William Green: And so, I’m also making a slightly sort of mystical judgment where I’m just like, I feel like the. The universe, the creator, however you want to see it. I feel like I’m going to be taken care of.

[00:52:29] Stig Brodersen: I do remember because I was sitting in this very chair and you said, this is the type of relationship that I want to have where you say X number.

[00:52:38] Stig Brodersen: And I say, just say yes and I’ve used that principle with other people too, but I will also say that it has not always been successful whenever I’ve done that. But I think if you team up with the right people, it can be a very beautiful thing. Also, I think it’s important not to judge. To your point before about wealth and how it magnifies who you are.

[00:53:01] Stig Brodersen: You referenced, you know, Tony Robbins before. I think that’s even his quote or I think that’s where I heard it the first time that he really magnifies who you are. And I think that’s true. But you know, I’ve been traveling to a lot of different countries and one of the countries that I visited was probably back in 2019.

[00:53:18] Stig Brodersen: It was before Covid. I think one of the things that was extremely stressful, and I don’t know if this example resonates with all the listeners. I think it might have it, it might do for those of you who have visited whenever you go there, and I clearly, I, you know, I’m a tourist and I do touristy things and I was there with a friend, and then someone would walk alongside you and start to chat with you.

[00:53:38] Stig Brodersen: And I’ve read about it already, you know, before we got there, there is a very common practice and it’s kind of difficult for me, you know, wanting to be a well behaved Dane, not to, you know, if someone’s asking me to have a good day and ask me like, ask me what I had for breakfast or whatever, it’s really difficult for me not to ignore them or if they’re wanting to be helpful it’s hard for me not to say yes, you know, you’re wonderful. And so, the quote unquote trick is that the person will, you know, walk alongside you for like five minutes, whatever, start chatting with you. Perhaps he’s going to say something like oh, so where are you going?

[00:54:13] Stig Brodersen: And you’re going to say I’m going to this mosque, whatever. It’s like, Oh yeah. Remember, you know, go right. Whenever you were at the end of the street, whatever. And so, whenever you end there, he’s going to tell you, so you need to pay me X amount of dollars for the service that I provided you.

[00:54:28] Stig Brodersen: And you go like, what? You didn’t provide me any service. It’s like, no. I was your tour guide and it’s going to be like 30 bucks or whatever outrageous amount. And you go like, and this happened, I don’t know how many times, like it happened everywhere. And so, my friend and I have read about this, you know, going there, but it was like, it was really unpleasant.

[00:54:47] Stig Brodersen: And at some point, in time it was, I was starting to get worried that it became a bit physical. Like it was like people ganging up on us and stuff. And there was a group and like they wanted money. And so, it was. It wasn’t nice. And I remember like leaving Morocco, which otherwise was a great trip and thinking, I am never going back here.

[00:55:05] Stig Brodersen: Because it was, it felt I was a target everywhere I went or everywhere we went and to this very day, depending on which mood I’m in, I’m thinking what a wonderful trip and some unfortunate incidences. And I’m also sometimes thinking, the person that I’ve been saying, like, especially this group, were they bad people or was that just was that their job?

[00:55:25] Stig Brodersen: Was that just the circumstances that made it so? And what if they said to me, it’s going to be like 30 bucks and I said no, you’re so wonderful. Here’s a hundred bucks. Would that person have said no, you actually don’t have to pay me at all. Because you know, we have this wonderful connection.

[00:55:40] Stig Brodersen: So, you don’t have to pay. No, the person would probably have said, Give me a hundred bucks. And so, my point of all of this was not to tell you about my experiences, but just more being in a mindset of being more forgiving. It’s, it could just be the circumstances that those people are in.

[00:55:57] William Green: Yeah, I mean, there’s a beautiful Buddhist phrase. I’m no great expert, although I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading and studying Tibetan Buddhism. There’s a beautiful phrase where they talk about causes and conditions. And once you start to understand the causes and conditions that put someone in a particular circumstance and make them behave that way, you can be much more compassionate about it, because you’re like, well, if I had the education, the culture, the parents, the financial situation, whatever, I would have developed different survival skills, different priorities, different values, whatever.

[00:56:31] William Green: And you can apply that sense of understanding the causes and conditions that determine. Everyone’s behavior also to yourself because you can see oh, well, I lost my temper in that situation. I behaved in a really poor way, and you look and you’re like, well, yeah, but this is what I was going through at the time.

[00:56:48] William Green: And this is the background I had and these, I once said to my son, Henry, I was a good father. Right? And he said, yeah. You did the best that you could with the tools that you had at the time. And it was a wonderful put down that was sort of honest and smart and thoughtful. And I, I didn’t know if he was kind of taking the Mickey.

[00:57:03] William Green: And I looked at him and I was like, no, I think he’s kind of serious. And so, yeah, I did the best that I could with the tools that I had at the time and the character that I had at the time and the other thing I would say that’s been very helpful to me I had a great teacher, Karen Berg, who passed away a couple of years ago and she once said, she was a very tolerant, very unjudgmental person, a very joyful person, and she said There’s so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us That you really can’t judge and I found that very helpful because again it kind of goes back to what we were saying At the start of this conversation that we contain multitudes where we’re all of these different things, you know Charlie could be gruff and bruised and rude and yet There’s that incredible kindness of that statement that he made Well incredible kindness in his behavior to Monash over many years and to Li Lu and the like But also that incredible kindness just that I learned about yesterday and saying to that venture capitalist I may have been a better investor than you but you’ve been a better father to me That’s a side of him that we haven’t necessarily seen publicly because he has this public face that’s different.

[00:58:14] William Green: And so, for me I was telling my wife about this the other day that she was upset by someone’s behavior. of a something, and I said, I just think I have lower expectations of people. And I don’t expect people to behave particularly well, because I know that under certain circumstances, under different conditions, I can behave pretty poorly.

[00:58:33] William Green: I mean, particularly when we’re under great stress, we can behave pretty poorly. And so one, I mean, I have an upcoming episode of the podcast with Dan Goldman that may or may not have come out by the time this comes out, and I talked to him recently, and he’s a very wise man, he’s someone I kind of regard as a mentor and a role model, and we talk about this, about how you actually deal with your own flaws and your own combustibility and the like, and one of the things that he’s done that’s just helped him massively is 50 years of meditation, and it means there’s a bigger gap between stimulus and response to put it in terms that Viktor Frankl, the famous psychologist would use, you know, there’s a stimulus, the trigger that makes you want to behave in a way, and then there’s a response.

[00:59:16] William Green: And in that space, there’s an opportunity to choose how to respond. But if you’ve had a different type of training, for example, where You’ve learned to meditate or you breathe differently or you count or whatever it is You know you count down or whatever to give yourself some space You’re less likely to behave badly, and I had a long conversation with a friend of mine yesterday a guy called Adam Kane who’s a wonderful Meditation teacher and just a really wise guy really lovely guy You can see him if you look at my interview with Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Dan Goleman.

[00:59:47] William Green: He was the guy translating for Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and he’s a really special guy and he was saying to me, the wave of emotion is still going to occur. However, evolved you are, you’re still going to have that wave of anger or sadness or self-pity or whatever it is that’s your particular flavor of emotion, of excessive emotion.

[01:00:09] William Green: He’s like, it’s not going to disappear because you become more evolved. But he said, you can actually be present with it. With a sufficient amount of training, you can be present with it as the wave crests and not behave in a lousy way. And so that to me is kind of an important insight that it’s not that we’re going to become so evolved that we’re not going to feel anger or resentment or jealousy or sadness or self-pity or whatever our particular flavor of emotion is.

[01:00:38] William Green: It’s going to still exist. But we’re going to become wiser at dealing with it, more equipped at dealing with it if we use various techniques like meditation or whatever, you know, breathing techniques, whatever else it might be that helps you.

[01:00:52] Stig Brodersen: I wanted to talk to you about what you said there about low expectations and your, whenever you and your wife, Lauren, we’re talking about this specific situation.

[01:01:00] Stig Brodersen: And, you know, Buffett has this wonderful quote that the secret to good merits is low expectations. And then, you know, Munger have talked about, you know, how to get a good spouse, to serve a good spouse. And I think I come at this from different angles. I’ll be very curious to hear your thoughts.

[01:01:15] Stig Brodersen: And so, one of the things that always upset me a bit in corporate life has been bosses who said, I said really high. I have really high expectations of other people, but I would never have expectations of them that I wouldn’t have for myself. And I also always kind of felt there was a. There was a, that’s a terrible point, you know, because perhaps the ownership of the company, in any case their conversation might be a hundred times bigger and they can more or less determine their own job description, whereas another person, you know, five tiers down, they just don’t have that flexibility and, you know, they have a job because they need to pay their mortgage and feed their kids.

[01:01:54] Stig Brodersen: Like I always kind of felt that type of argument of yeah, I said high expectations, but only what I said to myself. I can set that to other people I kind of felt that standard was wrong again. I’m terribly biased here.

[01:02:06] William Green: There’s a great observation That’s been very helpful to me which actually by the son of Karen Berg. Michael Berg who I had on the podcast has been an incredible teacher for me and I in some I mean I’ve been very lucky in having a set of different teachers from different spiritual and philosophical paths that I think have tremendous wisdom that’s been handed down to them over, you know, through centuries of their lineage and studying these great ancient books and like.

[01:02:32] William Green: And Michael Berg said years ago and again, I had him on the podcast. I really encourage people to listen. He is a very wise person. He said, you should be very precise with yourself and not with others. And so, when you’re looking at your behavior and other people’s behavior, be much more precise. in your judgment of your own behavior than your judgment of other people’s behavior.

[01:02:54] William Green: And so, it’s almost like a, an inversion of that focus of saying, you know, the boss has to beat himself up in exactly the same way that the employee has to beat himself up. It’s like, no, let me be more demanding of myself, my own behavior than I expect other people to be in their behavior.

[01:03:10] William Green: And I think it’s good because it’s. It places you in a position where instead of constantly judging other people and complaining about other people, you’re taking responsibility for yourself. And there’s something very stoic about it as well, right? The idea of controlling what you can control and letting go of the rest.

[01:03:27] William Green: And so, I can take control to a great degree of my own behavior, and my own ethics, and my, I can keep working on that, despite how flawed I am, and despite my wiring, and despite my tendency to be irascible, and to be irritable, and self-pity, or all of these different flaws that I have. I can take responsibility for that and can keep working on it.

[01:03:50] William Green: Whereas I don’t really have control over other people’s behavior. And so, there’s something all, so it’s not naive, it’s actually very pragmatic to say, well, let me focus on trying to become better myself. And then there’s also this very mysterious thing. Maybe it’s not mysterious, maybe it’s like the most practical and mundane thing that when you see people who behave really well, they draw remarkable people into that orbit.

[01:04:14] William Green: And so. Think of that great quote from Janet Lowe’s biography of Munger, Damn Right, where Buffett wrote the foreword and he said something to the effect of, in 41 years, I’ve never seen Charlie try to take advantage of anyone. He said, I’ve seen him knowingly take the worst side of a deal with me and others countless times, and when there’s blame to be apportioned, he takes more of the blame, and when there’s credit, he takes less of the credit than he deserves.

[01:04:40] William Green: If you have a reputation, for operating that way. You’re going to draw extraordinary people into your orbit who want to do business with you, who want to deal with you. And we still shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that those people are going to be perfect because like us, they’re deeply flawed under certain circumstances are going to behave poorly.

[01:05:01] William Green: Maybe there are some exceptions, but I think most people will behave poorly under certain circumstances and things like money or divorce or, you know, sexual desire or whatever have a way of kind of distorting people’s values and their behavior. So, everyone under certain circumstances can behave pretty lousily.

[01:05:19] William Green: But I think this is one of those things that, as Tom Gayner would say, is directionally correct. If you keep operating in that way. Trying to be better, trying to improve, trying to be more honorable, trying to be fair, trying to be ethical. You are going to draw great people into your orbit. And so, this is something I spoke to Monish about in the podcast, right?

[01:05:39] William Green: One of the great lessons Monish had learned from Munger was that it’s actually enlightened self-interest. To be ethical. To be ethical is actually you’re going to do better. I mean, I think if you felt that I tried to take advantage of you in some way. You would have less warm feelings towards me, and it would be less of a good partnership, and likewise the other way around, and so I think as with Nick and Zak, our partnership is built on kindness, wanting the other one to do well, and as Nick said, good behavior has a longer shelf life, so it’s really profound, but it takes a leap of faith, and it also probably takes good judgment, so Tom Gayner said something very helpful on this front, where Tom said, You extend trust first, you extend love first, and then you see how the other person behaves and whether they reciprocate.

[01:06:29] William Green: And so, he has a kind of sorting mechanism where if people show that they’re unworthy of that trust, then you’re just like, okay, great, go do business with someone else. So, I don’t think this is about being naïve and credulous and gullible. I think this is about behaving in a decent way that you can respect yourself.

[01:06:51] William Green: You want to have self-respect, so you want to feel like you’re trying to behave in a decent way yourself. And then trusting that there is a system at work in the universe where you’re going to be somehow rewarded in practical terms because people like to cooperate, they like to work with people they trust.

[01:07:08] William Green: There is something kind of magical about how this works, but it’s an act of faith to leap from the dog eat dog, zero sum game to this other model. of saying, no, I’m going to try to be decent and we’ll see how it works. And you could say that is just a luxury. That it’s a luxury that you can only afford when you’re rich and successful.

[01:07:30] William Green: But I think it taps into a deep power principle of the universe. There’s something, I may be naive and overly mystical about this, but I, and you could explain it scientifically. I mean, you can explain it in terms of the, you know, evolution and the desire to cooperate and the like. But it’s a very beautiful thing when you observe it and you start to see incredible people working together, collaborating together, helping each other.

[01:07:53] William Green: And you see this sort of alignment of people. So, you see Buffett investing in Markel that Tom Gayner runs, and you see Tom Gayner working, you know, being close friends with Chris Davis and being chairman of the board of Davis’s firm. And you know, and Mohnish becoming close to Charlie Munger. And so, you sort of see people being drawn together almost energetically, it seems.

[01:08:17] William Green: Because they have the same kind of consciousness, the same kind of mindset, the same kind of philosophy of life. And so, then you just have to choose, like, well, how do I want to operate? And Tom Gaynor once said to me, look, I’d operate this way, even if I didn’t think it really worked. And I think that’s probably true.

[01:08:34] William Green: I feel like what you’re grappling with Stig, in this whole conversation, actually, is I feel like you’re wrestling in your own life with trying to figure out how to operate in the world in a decent, honorable kind way while thriving in business so that you can run a company that employs lots of people and people you care about in the Philippines who maybe don’t have a, you know, huge resources and are trying to support their families and the like.

[01:09:00] William Green: How, you know, you’re trying to figure out how to operate in the world in an ethical, honorable way without being a mug, without being a dupe, without being naive. And all of these questions really about authenticity and principles and integrity and quality and the like and partnership. They’re all really about the same thing.

[01:09:20] William Green: It’s all you trying to figure out, am I being naive if I behave in this way? Am I fooling myself if I try to be authentic? Am I, you know, and I think part of what I’m trying to do. It sorts of reassure you and kind of say no, Stig, you’re on a great path. You’re doing the right thing. These things aren’t simple.

[01:09:39] William Green: It’s not, you know, it’s like, yes, extend trust first and then see if the person reciprocates. Don’t be a fool. Don’t be naive, but you’re directionally correct. You’re, and have trust in this path that I think you’ve intuited and you’ve seen by studying successful lives, you can see it works, but there’s a part of you that’s like, sort of on the ledge trying to decide whether to leap or not and really embrace, you know, like be like no, if I leave the universe is going to catch me and I’m going to be okay.

[01:10:13] William Green: And it’s going to take care of me. And so, I can really trust that if I behave honorably and decently and selflessly, and it’s not just naive, and I’m not going to jeopardize the future of this podcast. company and the lives of the people who are dependent on me and I’m not going to take, get taken advantage of and seem like a fool. And does that resonate with you at all?

[01:10:35] Stig Brodersen: I think what I realized is that this is the right path. You will get some bruises. So, it’s very important whenever you extend trust that you only do it to a certain extent. And I also realized that as much as I like to think I’m doing it for other people, I’m doing it for myself.

[01:10:50] Stig Brodersen: It really makes me feel good to help other people if I can. And yes, of course, you know, there was something about helping other people, but going back to what Arnold Van Den Berg said in that wonderful episode you did with him, you know, I, it’s sort of like the, whenever Mohnish and you talked about, it’s crazy to do illegal stuff in business because it’s so much easier just to be ethical.

[01:11:11] Stig Brodersen: It’s a competitive advantage. And it’s the same way. Like, if you really want to make yourself happy, I talked about this framework before about, you know, putting a one to 10 only time units for the rest of your life, whenever you’re making decisions. And of course those decisions might be different because we’re all wired differently and we all have different values, we all appreciate different things, but one of the things I realized a long time ago and I’m going to come across as crazy selfish as I’m going to say this, is that it just really makes me happy to be kind to other people and I don’t know if I’m doing it for them or if I’m doing it because it makes me feel good.

[01:11:44] Stig Brodersen: You know, Lincoln has this wonderful quote where he says, do good, feel good. That’s my religion and I kind of feel like I’m on the same team as Lincoln on that one.

[01:11:54] William Green: I think I’d like to focus people’s attention on one idea that comes from Mohnish, where he said in the chapter that I wrote about him, chapter one of my book, he said, when you come across a good idea, like compounding or like doing good because you’ll feel good or Being ethical or just telling the truth, which he learned from studying David Hawkins and power versus force and like he said, you want to go a thousand percent on that idea.

[01:12:22] William Green: And he said, most people, they learn about something like cloning, for example, the power of taking other people’s ideas, their insights and reverse engineering them and then replicating them. They learn about these powerful ideas like cloning or compounding or being truthful. And they say yeah, that sounds good.

[01:12:39] William Green: Let me try that out and Mohnish said, that does not work. He said, you go a thousand percent. And I think that’s a very interesting insight that, you know, think of that great line from Munger that I quoted in the book, where he says something to the effect of take a good idea or take a simple idea and take it seriously.

[01:12:56] William Green: And that’s one of the most important lessons that I learned from Munger when I was writing the book is, when you find a good idea, take it seriously. So, if any of these ideas resonate for you that we’ve discussed, you don’t want to just take it for a spin around the block. You want to kind of say, okay, this is a way of operating in life that I believe in.

[01:13:18] William Green: Let me have courage in doing this and let me persevere in doing this. And there’s something about that intensity, that ferocity that has great power, the consistency. I remember when I sent an early copy of the book, an early manuscript of the book to Guy Spier to read, he sent me back a note that I think I quote in a footnote in chapter one where he said, I worry about your use of Mohnish’s phrase where Mohnish describes himself as a shameless cloner, and he says, you know, I never had a, an original idea in my life, I just clone other people’s ideas.

[01:13:54] William Green: Guy said, that doesn’t convey the ferocity of the way that he’s cloning. It doesn’t convey the intensity, and he said, when you look at these kind of charming, polished, affable investors, you know, like, like a Joe Greenblatt, right, who’s a very nice man, or a, or Rick Rieder, who’s a very nice man, or Will Danoff, very nice man, I mean, I, you know, I tend to see the good in people, but I think, you know, I’ve tended to focus on these people who I think are really, they are good people, underneath what Guy is saying is, there’s a ferocity there.

[01:14:26] William Green: There’s like this ferocious intensity. I think that was what I was trying to bring out in the interview with Rick Rieder is you can see why he’s so successful. Boy is that guy intense. And he’s a nice guy, but boy is he intense. And Joe Greenblatt, who’s a very nice man, very comfortable in his skin, and has five kids, and has written terrific books, and has, you know, has an amazing investment record, there’s a deep competitive spirit there and an intensity to his desire to crack the problem of how to invest. And so, this gets at something important. It’s not just about finding these principles for how to operate in life, and then say yeah, that’s nice, and then moving on to the next thing. It’s about taking one or two things, three or four things, and making them central to yourself.

[01:15:14] William Green: And so, this is one of the reasons why Dalio’s Guided Journal is kind of a helpful thing, because whatever the process is that you go through, You want to start to figure out the operating principles, the guiding principles that you’re going to stick with through time. And so, for me, the phrase that came through as I started to think about this more and talk about the book more in public, is I started to think you want to find principles that are approximately true on average over time.

[01:15:43] William Green: And so, I don’t think there’s, I don’t think it’s that there are things that in all circumstances, this is going to work. If you decide that you’re just going to be. extent trust and be decent and be kind and do good and you get in bed with a sociopath who’s very good at concealing their sociopathy, it’s not going to end happily.

[01:16:06] William Green: And so, it’s not that it’s always right but if it’s approximately true on average over time and you keep applying these principles and you set yourself up so that you’ll survive when you’re wrong. so that It’s not like you go into business with one person and everything that you have is going to Crumble your whole life is going to crumble if you have misplaced your trust you need to hedge That’s why we diversify.

[01:16:31] William Green: I had an extraordinary taxi driver a few months ago when I was in London who Came back from a vacation and discovered that his partner in their construction business was a very successful sort of landscape design business had literally fled the country with all of their money, all of their money, bankrupted him.

[01:16:50] William Green: And guy he’d been partner with for like 20 years and was his closest friend. They used to go on vacation with their families together. And the guy, he thinks he went off to Australia and just like, and he’s never tried to track him down. And he was a remarkable guy, the taxi driver, and he’s just sort of rebuilt his life in a different way.

[01:17:05] William Green: And he’s like, no, it’s good. It’s fine. I almost fell apart, but I discovered, you know, that I was leading my life wrong, and I’ve constructed a different life. But so, even there, like this idea of trust, I’d rather be a little bit naive and over trusting, but I also, I want to hedge my bets a little bit, just by diversifying, just by making sure I’m going to stay in the game if I’m wrong.

[01:17:31] William Green: But this idea of finding a few operating principles that you really believe in is vital and I would suggest that people write them down, that you put them on. Post it notes that you put them on your phone that you put, you know, put them in a prayer book or a meditation Instruction manual that you use something that you’re going to come back to again And because you’re trying, this is a very Charlie Munger esque kind of technique, you’re trying to pound them into your head through repetition.

[01:17:58] William Green: There’s a reason why prayers and meditation, you know, like loving kindness meditation, for example, the instructions are repeated over and over again. And so, I think repetition is hugely important. So, when you find a good idea or a good principle, you stick with it. I was thinking of this you know, because I have a lot of them on post its and the like.

[01:18:16] William Green: And so, I can sort of go in and I can find certain quotes that I just go back to again and again. So, I have, literally someone wrote, I got a guy to write in Hebrew, this sort of pyramid of short lines that had particular phrases that I know the meaning of that, that get me to think about certain things.

[01:18:36] William Green: And it’s on the wall of my study, framed, so I can look at it every day. And I also have it. In my phone as well. And so, for example, there’s a phrase, which basically translates as this too is for the best, this too is good. And so, it’s like, whenever anything difficult happens, whenever I’m hit with a challenge, I can be like, no it’s only light.

[01:18:57] William Green: It’s only good. I know this in some way is for my benefit. I know that there’s something I have to learn from this. Maybe it’s not what I wanted. Maybe it’s not what I hoped would happen. But it’s in some way for my benefit. Now, that may be delusional, but I think it becomes self-fulfilling, and so that’s become a very core belief of mine.

[01:19:18] William Green: There’s another one from this woman Sharon Salzberg, a great meditation teacher, who would say, let go and begin again with self-compassion. And so, this idea of every time you screw up, every time you trip up, every time you behave in a way that you don’t, admire that you’re embarrassed by, or you lose your consciousness or whatever.

[01:19:36] William Green: Just be like, okay but you fail at something you trip up and you have an embarrassing failure at work Okay, let go and begin again with self-compassion and that’s really important for me and I say that to my kids a lot because another thing she would say is all is not lost and so That I think builds in a kind of resilience where when things go wrong When you screw up, when you mess up, when you make a mistake, to be like, no, all is not lost.

[01:20:05] William Green: Let go with self-compassion and begin again. And so, I think there’s great wisdom in these old aphorisms, these old sayings, and they’re different for each of us. I mean, when I mentioned a couple of these things to Dalio, he didn’t respond. He wasn’t like, Oh yeah, that’s a good one. I should add that.

[01:20:19] William Green: But he’s looking at like Martin Luther King, and he’s seeing things that Martin Luther King said that really resonated deeply for him. So, he. He said at one point he, I remember Dalio quoting on Twitter this great line from Martin Luther King, where he said, every person must decide at some point whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

[01:20:43] William Green: So Dalio, who’s the ultimate pragmatist, right, is going around the world looking for lines like that and saying, Okay, what can I internalize from Martin Luther King? So, it’s very different for each of us. But you want your collection of guiding principles that you can keep coming back to and you want them, you want to repeat them, and you want them in a place where you can see them frequently so that they guide you in every situation. I think this has been very helpful to me anyway.

[01:21:12] Stig Brodersen: I have in my calendar every day a note that I need to look at my principles. I have 20 principles I carry around my wallet. And for example, one of the things it says is seek first to understand then to be understood. Which is some, one of them I shamelessly cloned from Stephen Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

[01:21:30] Stig Brodersen: To me, that has been really helpful, and I don’t necessarily think you need to learn that, William, at least the way I know you, it comes very natural to you. It doesn’t come natural to me, and I’ve, you know, gone through all those personality tests, and Ray Dalio suggests, which is completely free, and you can find online.

[01:21:46] Stig Brodersen: And I know I’m quick to make judgment on different things, it’s just it, unfortunately, it comes very natural to me. And so, I, I need to look at that every day, see first to understand, then to be understood, which to me has been very helpful.

[01:22:00] William Green: It’s deferred gratification. Like you’re broadening that gap between stimulus and response, right?

[01:22:05] William Green: You see poor behavior and like, let me judge that and you found a technique that’s allowing you to expand that space between stimulus and response is an incredibly wise thing to do. One thing that I found very helpful, I drew a lot of things I think I talked about them in one of, one of the podcasts, I can’t remember when, I drew a, oh maybe when I was talking about things that I’d learned from Mohnish, I talked about a lot of things that I’d learned from David Hawkins, and there’s a list of things in one of his books called something like Transcending the Levels of Consciousness, or something like that, and I have a list of principles that he wrote out at some point that are basically these very profound, timeless spiritual principles, And one of them that I loved is he said forgive everything that is witnessed no matter what and that’s really powerful Like when you see someone behave in a way that you’re like, that’s unforgivable.

[01:22:57] William Green: You’re like, why is it unforgivable like why? What I don’t know. I mean, yeah, there are things no doubt They’re unforgivable that humans can do to other humans, but it’s not for me to you in like regular life in New York I don’t know that’s pretty helpful for me to say forgive everything that’s witnessed no matter what or another one that’s been very profoundly important for me from David Hawkins that I think came from power versus force Was where he said simple kindness to oneself and all that lives is the most powerful transformational force of all and that to me That’s something I think about hundreds of times a year I mean, that, that idea of simple kindness to oneself and all that lives, that’s the most powerful transformational force of all, because then, however confused I get, or however poorly I behave, or whatever, I can just be like, just try to be kinder, you know, like I can look at my kids and I can see that they’re irritating me in some way, or I can see that, you know, I look at someone and I think they’re delusional, or kind of, you know, whatever, and I can just be like, just try to be kinder.

[01:23:59] Stig Brodersen: I wasn’t sure whether or not I should play a clip from your episode with Ray Dalio or when he talks about the three stages in life or Chris Davis and talks about the three phases in life and I opted to play the latter with Chris Davis and I think that both Chris and Ray would forgive me for saying that they’re more or less the same thing.

[01:24:16] Stig Brodersen: At least I’m going to group them into the same thing. Where phase one, that’s whenever you depend on other people. Phase two is whenever other people depend on you and then there are phase three, where you can live and die without sin. And so, with that said, and we’re going to explore that a bit more. I want to play this clip from the episode 35 of the Richer Wiser happier show.

[01:24:37] Stig Brodersen: And you interviewed Chris Davis, not just keep on saying Chris or Chris Davis, but perhaps as a quick segue into us playing this clip. Could you please make a short introduction to who he is?

[01:24:49] William Green: Sure, yeah, Chris is a very prominent investor who spent basically almost all of his career at a firm called Davis Advisors, where he manages something like 19 billion and what’s unusual is that he’s part of this family of legendary investors.

[01:25:03] William Green: So, his father, Shelby Davis, was a famous investor. And then his grandfather was an extraordinary private investor, a guy called Shelby Cullom Davis, who. turned I think a hundred thousand dollars into something like eight hundred million dollars over the course of his career and Chris is a very charming guy. He’s immensely likable and you know, we all have our superpowers in Chris’ case he’s very affable, garrulous, amiable guy, and so he’s become close friends with this amazing array of the world’s greatest investors, so he’s really, you know, he became close to Buffett, he was close to Munger, he’s close to Bill Miller, Mason Hawkins, Tom Gayner, and he actually a couple of years ago got made a director of Berkshire Hathaway, and so one reason I was fascinated to talk to him in my podcast, I’ve interviewed him multiple times over the years. But we focused a lot on the podcast episode that I did with him on what he learned from actually being in the room behind closed doors during board meetings with Buffett and Munger, what they actually say in private.

[01:26:07] William Green: But you’ll be glad to hear as someone who’s very organized, I started my interview with Chris, and we hadn’t seen each other for a few months, and we started to chat and before the conversation began. He started to talk about this concept of the number of days in your life and I was like wait, dude, stop right there.

[01:26:27] William Green: We have to talk about this during the conversation and so I then had to jettison all of my plans and immediately start with this question because I knew that if I waited two hours until the end of the interview, I’d probably forget to ask him this question. So this is a moment where my, cause I always have about 12 or 15 pages of questions before an interview that then I try to whittle down to about 8 or 9 pages that’s a little bit more manageable, so I’m maniacally prepared, but in this case, I had to actually jettison everything, so what people are about to hear, so Is this moment where I’m like, Oh God, I got to go in this different direction and ask Chris about this concept that he just mentioned before the interview began.

[01:27:08] Stig Brodersen: Thank you so much William for that introduction. Let’s go to the clip.

[01:27:11] William Green: And before I forget, since we were talking about it right before we got on, talk to me about this idea of our 30,000 days, because it’s such a beautiful idea, and two hours from now I’m likely to have forgotten that we talked about it, so discuss the significance of this before we get started on anything else.

[01:27:29] Chris Davis: Well, I’m going to start, I’m going to go back to my days as an accountant because this is actually when I first sort of started thinking about it, I’m not much of a birthday celebrator but one of the things I’m particularly struck by is the ones that are hallmarks tend to be tied to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and so on.

[01:27:48] Chris Davis: not a lot of life changes around those sorts of random decades. And when I was working back at State Street as an accountant, I had the worst job, which is I had to, at one part of my job was to calculate the NAV of money market and bond funds. And that meant accruing the interest by the day. And so, Lotus 1, 2, 3 had just come out.

[01:28:13] Chris Davis: and so, I was using that to write a little program to make it easier to calculate bond interest and count all the days and so on. And when I was testing it, I put in my own birthday and ended up, I was at the time, something like 9,500 days old. And that was sort of the genesis of this idea where I started thinking, you know, we live about 30, 000 days or generally have 30,000 really productive days.

[01:28:38] Chris Davis: and our life divides much more naturally on the 10,000-day increments. So, after 10,000 days, you’re about 27 or so, 28, somewhere in there, and you often think that first 10,000 days is about going wide, experimenting, trying new things, new places, new professions, new people, new towns. It’s a time of exploration.

[01:29:04] Chris Davis: And 21 years old doesn’t capture it or 20. And by the time 30 comes around, usually you’re already into what I would call that second phase of life. So right around 10,000 days by then, usually on average, people have decided what they want to do, where they want to do it, who they want to do it with. And instead of going wide as they have for the first 10,000 days, it’s about going deep, just the depth of relationships that comes through marriage, through family, through your vocation, your profession, your colleagues, you sort of have 10,000 days to execute. 10,000 days to accomplish and build what in many ways will be the sort of monuments of your life, your family, your kids, your profession, and then right around 55, 56, 57, somewhere in this 50s range, but what happens, your kids are grown and beginning to leave, what you’ve achieved professionally is fairly settled.

[01:30:05] Chris Davis: And in a funny way, it lifts an enormous weight off many people. I think it’s one of the reasons people actually end up growing happier as they get to their 50s, 60s, 70s. Because you’re in a time when you can, in a sense, go wide again, you have more perspective, you have less of that urgent depth of the day to day.

[01:30:24] Chris Davis: So, anyway I know when we started talking, we were talking about this idea of both sort of completing the, maybe our second 10,000 days and now looking at how we think about this next 10,000. This chapter that sorts of gets us from here to around in our 80s.

[01:30:43] William Green: And how does this affect the way that you’re actually living?

[01:30:46] William Green: Like, what is this awareness of these three phases do to your view of how to behave and what to focus on and what you’re actually optimizing for at this point?

[01:30:59] Chris Davis: Well, this sort of ties in with how I think about investing is so much about it. It’s about anticipation and preparation.

[01:31:06] Chris Davis: So, I think a lot of people go through unhappiness in their thirties in part because they’re sort of thinking, where did my youth go? I used to be able to do all these different things and now I’m tied down and if instead you have this mindset, you really look forward to that. The privilege of being able to go so deep to concentrate and I think how it’s affected me thinking about this next 10,000 days is a little bit about this idea of inverting it and thinking about what would stand in the way of this 10,000 days being a very enriching time of life.

[01:31:42] Chris Davis: And of course, health is one of them. So, it becomes, as you think about going into this next third, it becomes a time where you think a lot about taking care of yourself. You think about investing in relationships. When you’re raising a family, when you’re in the office every day, when you know, a lot of your life and your social life are structured for you.

[01:32:04] Chris Davis: As you get to the next 10,000 days, people can lose touch. So, I think it’s also been a time when I’ve really invested in maintaining, invigorating, revisiting relationships, deeply getting to know my children’s partners and spouses. Making sure that there are aspects of friendships as people, I, we may get to this, but I, the idea of retiring has no appeal to me.

[01:32:32] Chris Davis: I mean, I love what I do. It always seems startling to me that we get paid so well for studying something so interesting and it should be a profession where we get better over time, provided we’re not creating behavioral and psychological roadblocks. And if that is the case, I would like to continue as long as I could, but of course, I also recognize that’s not the same for many of my closest and oldest friends.

[01:32:59] Chris Davis:  And so, as they contemplate retirement and moving and going to different places, old patterns can dissipate. o, I think it’s a time to really invest in being prepared for this sort of exciting chapter that’s in front of us. It may not end very well but 10,000 days, it’s a long time and so I think it certainly has impacted how I think about preparing for that transition.

[01:33:27] Stig Brodersen: So, William, I absolutely loved this snippet of the interview, and I should say I loved the entire interview. But I wanted to start with this because I recently thought a lot about the three phases in life and like I was mentioning before here in the interview I’m turning 40 next year, so I don’t know if it’s that because if that’s why I’ve started to think more on, on the three phases of life, or it’s the whole thing about aging parents or whatever the reason might be, but I would say that the thirties has been the best decade so far, but also be the first to say that it’s not the same as saying that everything has been easy, obviously.

[01:34:03] Stig Brodersen: And I think that Chris did such a wonderful job explaining perhaps why that’s the case in more generic terms. I wanted to start by telling a quick story, and growing up, I loved the Godfather movies. Have you ever watched the Godfather?

[01:34:17] William Green: Yeah, and I’ve watched Godfather 1 a lot, and then recently I re-watched Godfather 2 when I was flying back from Australia to New York, and I bought it before, and it’s Yeah they’re wonderful movies and kind of, I mean, Godfather 2 is very interesting because you start to see their lives unravel.

[01:34:35] William Green: You start to see the price of being utterly ruthless. So, you start to see the marriages breaking down and the family splitting apart, and the kids being taken away from, I guess, Michael, the powerful patriarch who’s taken over the family. And so in a way, it fits into what we’ve been, what we’ve been talking about, that there’s, if you want to talk about a moral life and doing business with integrity, a pretty good thing to do is to invert, as Charlie would do, and say, so what happens when you don’t behave that way?

[01:35:08] William Green: And in a way, Godfather 2 is a pretty good reflection on what happens. It’s like, yeah, you can have a lot of power and a lot of money, but you also end up in court, you end up with people trying to kill you, you end up with your wife. bailing with your kids and saying she hates you and hates what you’ve become. So, they’re very rich morality tales, the Godfather movies.

[01:35:28] Stig Brodersen: If you haven’t watched The Godfather, so, Don Corleone, he’s the Godfather in the first movie, and his word is the law and so, and this is like a, this is a terrible organization. So, they’re gambling, bootlegging, union corruption, like, you name it.

[01:35:42] Stig Brodersen: If it’s illegal, these guys are probably doing it. At the same time, the Godfather is also known as a kind and generous man who lives by this strict, self-defined moral code, I should say, and he is very loyal in his own ways to friends and family. And the first movie starts with his daughter getting married, and per the tradition, he cannot refuse a request that’s made that day.

[01:36:05] Stig Brodersen: And Hollywood criminals, they’re often, you know, idolized, and that’s, as you can tell from our discussion here, that’s not the intention of doing this. But I think the example might resonate with some of our listeners. At least, I remember as a kid, seeing, especially in the beginning of the first movie, and thinking about how wonderful it must be to be, you know, the Godfather.

[01:36:29] Stig Brodersen: You know, he is, he’s this powerful person who can make anything happen and so many people are depending on him. And fast forward, I’ve never found anything to give me as much purpose, not just, you know, the selfless fulfillment we talked about before, but really. As much purpose as helping other people and see what happens whenever you do that without expecting anything in return, which is the best kind if you’re able to do that.

[01:36:51] Stig Brodersen: And I think that’s what I love most about this second phase of my life. You know, being, not being Don Corleone with all the criminal stuff, but like being the guy, you know, like, but you also experience that it comes at high emotional costs. And as a kid, you just don’t see any of that. And I imagine that many of our listeners, they might be in, in what Chris Davis talks about as the second phase of your life, you have a lot of people who depend on you and you experienced yourself, how wonderful that is, but also how tough it can be, perhaps like me that they’ve realized that headwinds are a great, but mainly if you’re going the other direction And, you know, this fall I bought one of my family members a condo before that I helped finance another three homes for friends and family.

[01:37:37] Stig Brodersen: And now this is an investing show, or at least it’s meant to be an investing show. And I’ll just say that giving homes away for free is not a good investment. But like having kids, you don’t do it from the financial upside. You’re doing it to help people you care for and love. And I think even so.

[01:37:54] Stig Brodersen: I’ve been surprised to, to learn how meaningful it can be to help others financially, of course, not just that, but also emotionally, but also experienced how complex it can make some of your relationships all of a sudden, whenever there was money involved and even so I, there was this something to be said about the relationships change throughout life.

[01:38:13] Stig Brodersen: It could be the relationship with your parents that before it was, of course, your parents are still your parents, but Your relationship changes and perhaps you’re more equals now than you were before. Perhaps now you’re starting to care for your parents, and you didn’t do that before. How has your relationships changed in your second phase of life?

[01:38:33] William Green: I’m 55 and I plugged in the other day in ChatGPT thinking about Chris Davis calculation. I said, okay, so, so by December 28th, I think, which is when we’re doing this conversation, how long will I have lived in days? And I think the answer came back 20, 198 days. So actually, I just entered the third phase, I just finished the second 10, 000 days.

[01:38:58] William Green: And so, the first, in terms of relationships, that first phase, the first 10,000 days, you’re thrown together in schools, in your neighborhood, there are people who you see because your family knows their family or whatever. And then, and so in a way it’s easier, right? You’re living with people at college or whatever who you build relationships with.

[01:39:16] William Green: And then the second phase, I made this big mistake where I would say from my early twenties, when I moved to New York from London, I was so focused on getting ahead in a very difficult business of writing, becoming a successful writer, becoming an editor, all of these things where you’re trying to build a career in a In an industry that was always sort of diminishing, I mean, when I left Columbia Journalism School when I was about 23 or something like that, you know, there was so, there were so many journalists struggling to make a living, and then the internet came along later and kind of hit a lot of these old time magazines and newspapers, and, so it was just a very difficult business, and I was ambitious, and I was driven, and I’m not fast at what I do, I, It takes me a long time to write as well as I can.

[01:40:09] William Green: And so, and I can never really relax my standards with the writing. This goes back to the question of authenticity of being true to who you are. So, you have to decide what you’re prepared to sacrifice for your values. And for me, I was never really prepared to sacrifice quality. And so, what that meant with my writing is I had to sacrifice time.

[01:40:32] William Green: I was so maniacally focused on making everything that I wrote as good as I could make it, even though I was slow, that I For example, when I worked on my book, Richard Wise and Happier, I didn’t take a vacation for five years. And so, I try not to work on Saturdays, but I frequently work on Sundays. And so, I was sacrificing time, I was sacrificing Vacations.

[01:40:55] William Green: I sacrificed my health often because I don’t particularly like exercising so it’s pretty easy for me to say, I mean I played a lot of squash and the like and a lot of real tennis, the old version of tennis in my youth. It’s called court tennis in America, Jeu de Paume in France, and so I played a lot of that.

[01:41:12] William Green: But once I left university, I didn’t do that much exercise, I neglected my health, I neglected my friendships. Because I was so maniacally focused on getting ahead in work. And also, I got very lucky that I met my wife Lauren when I was 22. And so that sort of, that took care of a lot of stuff because I wasn’t alone.

[01:41:34] William Green: I had someone really kind and lovely who I was happy to hang out with. And, you know, here we are, thank God, 33 years later, she’s still putting up with me. Although I have to complain that I’m drinking this cup of coffee that she incredibly kindly made for me as I was rushing out of my house. That’s in a very fruity flavored teacup.

[01:41:53] William Green: And I’m like, wait, she gave me the so This is about the biggest complaint that I have about my wife Which gives you a sense of just what a lovely human she is and how tolerant so I neglected a lot of stuff I don’t think I don’t think I neglected my work, but I neglected my relationships, and I think there’s a and then I moved home quite a lot, I mean, I moved from New York to Boston, then I moved back to New York, and then we moved to Hong Kong for five years, and then we moved to London for seven years, and then we moved back to New York, and so, if you’re working really hard and you’re maniacally focused, you tend to let a lot of good relationships wilt on the vine, and so there are people that I really love that who are very close friends that I just don’t see anymore.

[01:42:35] William Green: That’s really sad and I don’t know there’s a conflict here because I think to get ahead, I did have to be a little bit maniacal. But I also think it was naive and it was misguided, and it was a failure to understand actually what constitutes a rich and happy and abundant life and just how central to it relationships are.

[01:42:54] William Green: And so, in this phase of life, I think. It’s become much more central to my life to build really beautiful relationships with really fantastic people and I’ve put much more effort into it recently and I think One of the things I’ve learned about this that may or may not resonate with people is a friend of mine, Matt Ludmer, who I share an office with in this beautiful space in Westchester in New York, north of New York City.

[01:43:23] William Green: He talks about creating containers. And so, he created this beautiful container, the Alliance Center, where I have this office and where he and I get to hang out and talk with a few other really special people who come through like great. So that’s where I met people like Dan Goldman, who’s friends with Matt.

[01:43:39] William Green: And that’s where I saw someone like Sharon Sulzberg, who came through to listen to this amazing Tibetan meditation teacher. And, you know, so Matt has kind of created this container. in which remarkable people end up meeting, and I did a similar thing when I set up a book group a few years ago, maybe four, four, probably four years ago, where I set up a book group with more or less only writers to discuss great fiction, and so it’s sometimes been kind of tumultuous.

[01:44:07] William Green: It’s not been easy because, you know, they’ll go off on book deadlines and stuff like that, and it’s really hard to schedule, and people have dropped out and have moved and stuff, but You know, people like Jason Zweig, who’s, you know, been a guest on the podcast one of the great financial writers of our generation.

[01:44:24] William Green: He would be in the book group and he’s incredibly literate. And the phrase that I got from Matt Ludmer that, who I mentioned before, who I share this office with, that’s really helpful to me, is he would use this this phrase, friends along the path. And that, to me, has become really helpful, this idea of finding friends along the path.

[01:44:41] William Green: Friends who are working on themselves, studying stuff, trying to evolve, trying to learn, try to study, and hanging out with them, surrounding yourself with people who you can learn from, who are trying to improve, who are deeply engaged with the sort of things that you’re engaged with. And so, I would say in the past, that would have seemed kind of a distraction to me, a digression, a luxury I couldn’t afford.

[01:45:05] William Green: And now it’s become much more central to my life. You know, this week in particular, I mean, I think I’m meeting Francois Rochon, who I’ve had on the podcast, for coffee on Saturday. I’m meeting John Gertner, this friend, who’s this wonderful writer, for lunch on Saturday. So, I’m really trying I’m devoting much more time to friendships.

[01:45:23] William Green: And I think some of it, it gets back to that sentence that an empty sack can’t stand straight. I think When I felt this sense of emptiness where I was just like trying to survive and get ahead in a brutally difficult profession It was very hard for me actually to invest in my relationships. So there is a practical issue here a practical limitation but partly the fact that I’ve put all these relationships front and center in my life is actually a result of working on the book and spending so much time interviewing these famous investors and studying what constitutes a rich and abundant life and realizing Oh God, I’ve been pursuing the wrong thing.

[01:46:01] William Green: And if all I’m chasing is building my reputation and impressing people and trying to write great stuff and trying to have a great podcast, and I end up with no friendships or no really rich friendships, what kind of life is that? So, in a way, I think what you want to do is follow Chris Davis’s advice and invert and as Charlie would and speak.

[01:46:24] William Green: Okay, so what’s going to stand in the way of this 10,000-day period being great? And so, as he pointed out, ill health is a big one. So, for me to neglect exercise or neglect good nutrition is just stupid. Likewise, loneliness would be a big problem. And so, I have to, you know, invest in friendships. Likewise, having a lack of mental resilience would be a real problem.

[01:46:56] William Green: So, I have to invest in things that are going to build my mental resilience, whether it’s having a community or meditation or spiritual practices or exercise or whatever. Financial insecurity would be a disaster in terms of the next 10,000 days being successful. So, I think, in a way, it’s a form of destination analysis, which also comes from Nick and Zak, where you ask yourself, what’s a desirable destination for these 10,000 days, or for a lifetime, and then let me work backwards.

[01:47:25] William Green: And I’ll finish just by mentioning this one thing, sorry, I know this has been a long and rambling answer. I went to a funeral the other day for my father in law’s brother, my wife’s uncle. And he’d lived into his late eighties, a guy called Herb Cooper. And I didn’t know him tremendously well, but I would see him at family events over the last 30 something years.

[01:47:42] William Green: And I had three or four speeches, and the one that had the most impact on me was from his granddaughter, who said that when she was in 8th grade, she was really struggling with math. She was having a terrible time with math. And her mother said, Call your Grandpa Herb. Ask him for help. And he was like a guy who came from nothing, and he ended up with a PhD in, I think, electrical engineering.

[01:48:03] William Green: So, he was a very bright guy. and taught at college and stuff and ran his own business for like 50 years, chemical engineering kind of business. And so, this girl calls her grandfather, and he spends the next hour kind of going through her math homework. And then he bought the textbook and for the next year, for about an hour a day, he would go through her math homework with her, teaching her and helping her and she would cry a lot during those sessions.

[01:48:29] William Green: And he just, he had the patience. to help this girl with her math homework from her textbook every day for a year. And here he was after this life of 80 something years, nearly nine decades. And that was kind of the sum of the life, right? It wasn’t, nobody talked about how much money he’d made off the business, how profitable it was or anything like that. It just wasn’t an issue. I have no idea how successful it was. I mean, obviously it sustained him and his family nicely, but the sum of the life was the most valuable memory that I take from that funeral is this act of kindness to his granddaughter. That’s kind of bracing, right?

[01:49:10] William Green: It reorients you and it start it makes you realize, Oh, it’s the relationships. It’s not the money. It’s not the power. It’s not the fame. That when you look back at the end of your life, you’re going to be like, thank God I made so much money. Now, the money is not unimportant. I mean, Dalio makes this very important point where he talks about, like, don’t forget the money.

[01:49:35] William Green: Like the money enables you to live the way that you want to, that you want to live. And I think that’s important. This isn’t about being naive, but it’s about understanding what’s really going to. What’s really going to make for a truly rich and abundant life and relationships have to be at the center of that.

[01:49:52] Stig Brodersen: That was beautiful, William. And yes, the quality and quantity of your relationships are just so important. I think that there is Mohnish, who we often reference here on, on our conversations. I he said to me that his dad always said to him, you need one wife and one good friend. That’s enough.

[01:50:11] Stig Brodersen: With that being said, I do think that there was something beautiful about, I think it was Buffett who said the quality and quantity of your relationships. That’s truly what counts. And to your point, William, about traveling to meet up with friends and money still being important as much as we talk about, it’s not about how much money you make, but money is still enabled for you.

[01:50:32] Stig Brodersen: So, I think this episode is going out late January and you and I are going to meet up with good friends in Switzerland. And requires money to go to Switzerland, it requires time and not everyone can just stop doing their job and just go to Switzerland and have the finances to, to do that. And so, I think there was something to be said about whenever you are in that phase, perhaps in the beginning of the second phase of your life and you are, you’re out there making a name for yourself.

[01:51:00] Stig Brodersen: Perhaps you are neglecting a few things. Perhaps you are not as, you don’t pay as much attention to your friendships as you should be. And, that’s probably not the way you want to live, but it’s also very understandable if that is the way you live, you’re probably very busy with your career, you might have a few kids, and it’s very important to you to be a good parent, and there are choices and consequences, and you only have 24 hours in a day, and I had a conversation with my mother a few years ago, and I asked her what the best years of her life, whenever that was, You often hear people talking about how much fun they had in their youth and I don’t know if that was what I expect her to say, but she said that it was right after I left home, which I decided not to take too personal.

[01:51:50] Stig Brodersen: I’m the youngest of three siblings, but my mom luckily did reiterate that it was my fault. But she said, so that was, that would be in her early mid-fifties. So just between the second and third states of her life. You know, she and my father had time, money, health to travel, spend more time with her friends, do all the good things in life.

[01:52:10] Stig Brodersen: Whereas she felt whenever she was younger, she was like, there was just so many things to do all the time. And now she’s gotten a bit older, and she didn’t, you know, she, her and my dad can’t do the exact same thing like we could whenever they’re younger. And so, I think I want to use that as a segue way to, into asking, I’m sure you learned a lot in your second phase about relationships.

[01:52:30] Stig Brodersen: How do you expect your relationships to change in the third phase and how do you want them to develop?

[01:52:37] William Green: I think to go big on this idea of finding friends along the path to really high quality people who decent trustworthy kind people who wish you well and who are a force for Good in the world and spending time with those people learning with them and being with them There was something interesting that Chris Davis said the I’ll misquote where he was basically saying before the age of say 30 or 40, you don’t want to partner with your friends but after the age of 40, you only want to partner with your friends like at a certain point you’ve seen whether they’re successful whether they’re smart whether they’re honorable whether they’re decent and There’s enough evidence that you should only partner with those people And so I think it becomes clearer who you want to hang out with and so there has to be some kind of filtering mechanism I’m not as ruthless about filtering as someone like Monish where Monish is like no I get that you out of your life and Monish will just like get them out of his life But I am I have sort of limited time and I’m not very organizationally oriented and so I think having these structures Where it’s just in place where you’ve got the container where you know that on a Friday morning You’re going to meet, you know, your friends who are studying this particular thing.

[01:53:56] William Green: So, having some structure where you’re with great people who are friends along the path who you’re learning from and you’re evolving with and you’re doing business with or you’re helping in different ways or you’re just learning together. That’s a beautiful thing So I think that will become I hope that will become more central.

[01:54:15] William Green: So, there’s a kind of, I remember Tony Robbins once saying that you need there to be, he said it’s wrong to think of a work life balance. He said you, what you want is a work play integration. So, you’re sort of integrating work and play. And so, it’s funny to me that in some ways, like, I’m finding that people that I’ve invited on the podcast in many cases end up becoming friends or they were friends before, and they become better friends.

[01:54:39] William Green: So, there is this kind of integration where you’re building relationships with people who are studying the sort of things you’re studying and are interested in the same sort of thing. And the division between work and play becomes much less obvious. It’s all part of the same thing. That’s kind of fun.

[01:54:56] William Green: I like that integration and I see that these are all people who are trying to help each other in different ways. And so, there’s less ego involved. I don’t know if it’s just a matter of the stages of life that earlier in your life Maybe you have to be a little hungrier and a little more driven by a desire to prove yourself and get ahead and it’s Not like that’s gone but I naturally feel more of a desire to be a force for good in the world to kind of help others and I think earlier on I was so busy trying to find my footing in the world That it would have been scary to turn my attention to helping others.

[01:55:36] William Green: I would have been, it was kind of cowardly, but it was kind of, kind of selfish, but it was also a time constraint. I think I was hustling so hard to try to get ahead that I didn’t really focus on other people. And the great paradox is that you only actually become happier once you start focusing on other people.

[01:55:57] William Green: So, the irony is that I spent all of those years on that treadmill of desperately trying to get ahead and trying to prove myself and trying to impress people and wasn’t really very happy I mean, you know, I was happy at times. It was fulfilling. It was exciting. I had lots of amazing experiences Reporting all over the world and stuff like that But it was a very It was a very insecure life in a way and you were always waiting to get laid off or waiting for someone to screw you In some way or to lose some political battle or waiting for a story that you’d written for a magazine to get killed or to get edited badly or there was always this sense of combat.

[01:56:35] William Green: It felt like combat. And maybe one of the great gifts of this stage of life is that I’ve done enough, thank God, and been successful enough that I can relax that kind of ferocious sort of self-preservation and self-seeking just a little bit and can focus a little bit more on other people. And then you discover this glorious paradox that People have told us all along, but that we never believed, which is that helping other people is going to make us happier, and maybe I’m just a slow learner, and it just took me a long time to get to this stage, but I think part of it was discovering that the other way of living mostly for myself, and, you know, my wife and kids, didn’t really work.

[01:57:20] William Green: Like, it works at a superficial level, that you achieve a level of success and that’s important in many ways, But it doesn’t, it’s a weak, fragile foundation on which to build a life, and so I, I think it’s not about being naive, I mean, I’m reminded that, you know, Dalio said, earn more than you spend, and that will give you freedom, safety, and the power to do what you want, and so it’s not like you can ignore the money and the financial security and stuff, you don’t want to be just taking orders from people you dislike.

[01:57:51] William Green: and have that sense of fragility and never to be able to afford to go on vacation, never to be able to afford to take time off and the like. So, the money and the success are not unimportant, but the realization of how little that would contribute to my real sense of abundance in life. I was a slow learner in figuring that out.

[01:58:13] William Green: And so, I’m trying to convey some of these discoveries. Both in the book and in the podcast by studying other people’s lives and showing look this is what worked for them This is what they figured out They’re wiser than me and they’re older than me and they figured this out and we should learn and I think it does help to Understand these principles and to reverse engineer them because then you can clone them it gives you clarity But it may be that we do have to make these mistakes ourselves to some extent that you have to discover what doesn’t work through some painful, searing, visceral experience. And if you can, as Buffett says, learn from other people’s mistakes, it’s cheaper and easier and better and faster. But maybe we do have to make these mistakes ourselves to get to the point where we’re like, well, that didn’t work. Let me try to focus on something a little wiser.

[01:59:03] Stig Brodersen: Yeah. I don’t think you can skip that part. I think that’s just the way it is. And I’m reading right now a book about tribes in Papua New Guinea, which is a probably weird way to segue into my, to my point here. And there are tribes in Papua New Guinea that sees even infants as individuals.

[01:59:21] Stig Brodersen: And so, whenever there are toddlers, for example, the adults do not take them away from the fireplace. And so, you see a lot of the adults in that tribe, they all have terrible scars from, you know, not navigating fire well because their parents didn’t take them away, it’s the same with knives. A lot of them have scars from knives because even as a toddler, you’re, you know, have the permission actually you don’t even need permission to do whatever you want with knives and their philosophy is, you know, you learn from your mistakes.

[01:59:53] Stig Brodersen: And so, my point of saying that is that like, I don’t think I don’t think you have to do it as extreme as that. So please don’t get me wrong, but I think that there was a period of time in your life where, you just can’t skip that. You have to experience it yourself and you can read about it and other people can tell you about it and your parents can tell you about it, even though that’s probably the last thing you want to hear at a certain age in your life, but you have to make some of those mistakes yourself.

[02:00:16] Stig Brodersen: And I like to think that the journey is the best part and I’m not looking to be like 90, look back on my life and said, I finally figured out how to live a good life. I do think that there’s something to be said about all the different ages and not necessarily having to regret what you did at certain stages of your life.

[02:00:36] Stig Brodersen: You know, my wife and I just renewed our passports. And so here in Denmark we do that every 10 years. And I got so many stamps in my old passport. And you know, there was a period of time in my life where I probably traveled every 6 weeks, 8 weeks. And I discussed that with my wife, and I said to her, I don’t think we’re going to, like, the next passport here for the next 10 years, I don’t think we’re going to have as many stamps.

[02:00:59] Stig Brodersen: Some time ago, you could put me on any plane, I almost didn’t care where the plane was going, because I just wanted to experience things, and now I’m like, I hope the hotel is nice. It doesn’t have to be like, super luxurious or anything, but you know, I tried staying in dorm rooms with 8 other strangers, and even cup noodles, and like, I don’t want to do that anymore.

[02:01:17] Stig Brodersen: I don’t regret doing it. Like, the journey is the best part. I met wonderful people and, you know, my point of telling that story is also, I guess, point one, never stay in a dorm that’s a kitchen slash bathroom. I learned that in Australia, a long time ago. But also, don’t think that don’t think that whenever you’re looking back, that you should be, that you’re looking back at all your mistakes and look at them as bad things. I just, the journey is the best part, and you can’t skip those steps.

[02:01:48] William Green: Yeah, I agree. I mean, if you take the point that I was trying to beat into my own mind before, which is that which sounds like really mystical, but I sort of believe which everything is light. It’s all light. The mistakes were light.

[02:02:00] William Green: That’s, you know, I mean, it’s a tough word to use because people will have resistance. Some people will have resistance. But if you’re just like, it’s all good. Everything was for my benefit. You know, Tony Robbins would say life happens for you, not to you. It becomes a kind of self-fulfilling belief that if you go into life thinking, God, that was so brutal, and this guy screwed me, and that guy did that to me, and poor me, and nobody understands me, that becomes your reality.

[02:02:26] William Green: Whereas if you go through your life saying, looking back and saying, God, it’s absolutely extraordinary what I went through, even the most brutal things that I went through, difficult relationships, heartbreak, illness, fear, economic uncertainty, all the things we went through, In a way, there were these beautiful things that came of them, and even the things that you wouldn’t wish on anyone, you’re like, Wow, I wouldn’t have become that person if not for that thing, I wouldn’t, and so that ability just to have this working assumption that it’s all kind of a beautiful part of the journey, and is leading to something beautiful, is very helpful.

[02:03:01] William Green: I think 20 years ago, I would have thought, ah, that’s kind of delusional, and Pollyanna-ish, and you fool, and I would have been slightly embarrassed to say it, and I’m still slightly embarrassed to say it. But I happen to believe it, and I think it’s kind of self-fulfilling. So that’s my bet, whether it’s right or wrong.

[02:03:17] Stig Brodersen: William, it’s always wonderful to have these quarterly episodes about the things that have made us richer, wiser, and happier. Before I let you go here, any concluding remarks about anything we talked about here today?

[02:03:30] William Green: No, I would just like people to go back and listen to some of the episodes of the podcast that maybe they missed that were not as obvious because there’s some beautiful stuff in, not from me, but from the guests, and so I would encourage people to go back and listen to something like the Pico Iyer interview, which remains one of my absolute favorites, Daniel Goleman with Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Michael Berg, these people who like why am I listening to this person?

[02:03:58] William Green: I thought this is an investing podcast and you’ve got like this enlightened guy in saffron robes talking, but they’re very profound thinkers. And I, you know, maybe this gets back to the issue of authenticity, which is part of what I decided at a certain point in doing the podcast is I’m going to share with people things that I’ve found incredibly helpful and rich in life.

[02:04:21] William Green: And so when you see an episode of the podcast that has someone who’s totally not obvious, someone like a Michael Berg, who’s a great Kabbalist, or Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who’s a great Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, or Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, who’s an extraordinary human being and thinker.

[02:04:40] William Green: There’s a reason, or Pico Iyer, who’s remarkable. There’s a reason why these slightly odd choices of guests are in there, and it’s because, usually it’s because there’s something actually more important there that I’m trying to convey that I think will help people have a richer, wiser, happier life. So, when you go back and you listen to those episodes, really try to think about, like, what can I learn from a Pico Iyer about how to handle uncertainty, about how to handle change and impermanence, things like that.

[02:05:09] William Green: Because, these things that seem a little bit off center, you know, they’re not telling you how to value a stock and how to, you know, how to learn from your mistakes with investing or whatever, but they’re telling you things that actually are oddly related to investing and money and what it takes to build a really rich and abundant life and a resilient life.

[02:05:29] William Green: So, I would just encourage people to go back and listen to some of those really key episodes with a Pico Iyer, a Michael Berg, Daniel Goleman,

[02:05:39] Stig Brodersen: Wonderful. We’ll make sure to link to that in the show notes. With that said, thank you, William, for your time as always. And thank you for everyone who stayed with us until the very end.

[02:05:49] William Green: It’s always a pleasure chatting with you. And you as well, Stig, you’re a friend along the path. So, in that spirit, thank you for your friendship and for being such a great partner.

[02:05:58] Stig Brodersen: Thank you. Thank you so much for saying so, William.

[02:06:01] Outro: Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to Millennial Investing by The Investor’s Podcast Network and learn how to achieve financial independence. To access our show notes, transcripts or courses, go to theinvestorspodcast.com. This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision, consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


Help us reach new listeners by leaving us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts! It takes less than 30 seconds, and really helps our show grow, which allows us to bring on even better guests for you all! Thank you – we really appreciate it!




Support our free podcast by supporting our sponsors:

Disclosure: The Investor’s Podcast Network is an Amazon Associate. We may earn commission from qualifying purchases made through our affiliate links.




Check out our latest offer for all The Investor’s Podcast Network listeners!

WSB Promotions

We Study Markets