Investing Is Much More Than Numbers And Graphs

John Osbon - May 9, 2018

Investing Is Much More Than Numbers And Graphs: Participating In The “Search Inside Yourself” Weekend Program Designed Google Employee Number 107


I’ve always felt an advisor must do much more than open accounts, analyze investments, trade securities and send quarterly reports. I’ve continually looked for deeper, better ways to relate to and communicate with clients – ways that help both parties understand and maximize the benefits of investing. That’s what led me to a fantastic leadership retreat this past weekend created by ex-Google employee #107 called Search Inside Yourself (SIY).

SIY changes how we think, work and achieve

Search Inside Yourself teaches leadership of all kinds – self and others – through emotional intelligence and mindfulness. Emotional intelligence (EQ) was first popularized by Daniel Goleman in the ‘90s. He added mindfulness and meditation to EQ ten years later since EQ was missing the implementation part (“the billion dollar mistake”).

Meditation has been around forever it seems, or at least since Buddhists have been practicing it. Meditation is a practice; mindfulness is a state of being – a result of meditation. The value of meditation has since been verified in the West by scientific research. There are numerous case studies on implementing emotional intelligence programs in an organization.

The science shows that the brain makes many new connections when influenced by meditation (neuroplasticity). The effect – mindfulness – shows up in brain scans as more gray matter making more connections in the brain. Richer is better; this holds true in mindfulness, investing, relationships, and all of life.

So what’s the Google connection?

Google employee #107, a bright engineer from Singapore, joined Google in 1999. Chade-Meng Tan was a standout at his job, but his thinking was never constrained by his immediate responsibilities. He became fascinated with how to have an impact beyond engineering and systems.  His quest produced a unique career path from Engineer to Chief Greeter to Jolly Good Fellow and later, founder of SIY.

As a major initiative for Google, more than 30,000 of its engineers have participated in SIY since the program was founded, and thousands more from outside the company, including the 50 attendees at my retreat. (By the way, our location was the Garrison Institute, across the Hudson River from West Point. The Hudson Valley location was inspiring in all respects.)

Why I went to SIY

What attracted me to SIY was that leadership begins with ‘me’ and spreads to ‘you’. In other words, it’s incumbent on me to develop my EQ and apply mindfulness before I can expect clients to do it. In fact, some clients may be well ahead of me. Now that I have completed SIY our group has a 28-day daily program, a buddy system, and a follow-up webinar on June 12. SIY is ongoing for all of us.

SIY and Investing

The techniques you learn at workshops like SIY can make you a better investor. Meditation, mindfulness and other thoughtful disciplined practices have worked for me for a long time, especially as an investment advisor and investor. Strategies that help you stay disciplined for long periods, or through turbulent periods, can be quite valuable to investors because they help you mediate unhelpful emotions through the investment process. All investors risk being reactive, especially at the wrong times. Professional investors typically learn through experience to pause, reflect, and then respond when necessary to volatility, or boredom, or shocks. I’ve observed over many years varying levels of reactiveness from people who can ride through investment drama without the slightest raise in their pulse to people who want to sell whenever the market dips by more than 200 points. If possible I would recommend all investors go through an SIY program.

Work in progress and progress in work

I’m excited by the possibilities SIY presents. You may not notice any big or immediate change in our conversations or communications. It may take me some time to absorb and apply what I’ve learned. Certainly, after 28 days I expect you will notice some positive changes. Please let me know as you do.

We can talk about it

For those of you who would like to know more, SIY can be easily found and accessed. Just Google it! You may be interested for your company, for yourself, for your family or for a friend.

If you have any questions or would like to talk more about how SIY can affect your investments, please call me on my cell phone. I am energized and excited about what I discovered this weekend.

– John Osbon

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