Category Archives: book

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Business book: You Can Negotiate Anything

Today I finished reading Herb Cohen’s You Can Negotiate Anything:
How to Get What You Want
. Its main points were:

  • Almost everything is negotiable.
  • Recognize negotiating tactics and deal with them.
  • Be personal.

I liked how the book listed common negotiation ploys. If I recognize
the trick someone’s trying to pull on me, I can laugh it off and turn
the situation to my advantage. I can also try to avoid the bad
negotiation habits I might’ve picked up as a kid. The book had a lot
of good advice.

I think negotiation is a very useful skill that is well worth learning
even for techies. I was never keen on negotiating because I didn’t
like the idea of haggling, but now I see how the process of
negotiation can bring out other win-win scenarios that might not have
been considered in a straight deal. Negotiation isn’t just for project
costs or schedule commitments; it’s for relationships and day-to-day
work as well. Fun stuff.

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Business book: Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant

I read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant, another
book in his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series. While I’m generally not a big fan of the other books in the series, the book drove home the
difference between income sources that force you to keep working
(employee / self-employed) and income sources that make money for you
even while you’re asleep (business, investment). It also emphasized
the difference between taking risks _and_ paying for it versus taking
risks and being paid for it. I think its glowing recommendation of
small- to medium-size house/apartment renting needs to be taken with a
grain of salt, and I don’t have the cash or confidence to play the
real-estate games the authors are so fond of, but the book has many
insights anyone can use.

My dad is self-employed, but it’s the kind of self-employed that means
he has to keep working. My mom is working on the business system so
that it’ll function smoothly even if she’s not on-site. The other
people in the business are employees, and they’ll likely stay
employees unless they’re taking care of their own well-being. My mom’s
been trying to help them get the idea of stocks, though, and they hold
shares in the company. My mom’s also quite savvy, and I have much to
learn from her.

I want to go further. I want to learn how to build a good business
system. I want to learn how to do that from the beginning instead of
trying to fit a good business system in afterwards. I want to create
opportunities. I know what I want to be, and I know that just working
normal jobs isn’t going to cut it. I need to take risks.

Let’s take teaching for example. I love teaching, and I would like to
help more people enjoy computing. I can teach in one university and
hope to inspire other people by my example either horizontally (other
teachers picking up good ideas) or vertically (students becoming
teachers). Horizontal propagation takes time. Vertical propagation
takes even more time. I could focus on teacher training, but even
then, control is difficult and turnaround is slow. If I set up a
company for teaching and differentiate the company through philosophy,
techniques and strengths, then we can move much faster. There’s more
risk and I’d have to work outside the school system, but I just might
reach more people that way: tutors who go through the training, people
who learn, teachers who get inspired… There’s nothing stopping the
company from offering free training, either. This idea is an example
of how something like teaching can be more than just an employee kind
of thing. Of course, there’s a lot of risk (saturated market? what
about quality control?). It’ll be more challenging than a safe and
steady professorship dependent only on publications (and that only
until tenure), but challenges are fun.

I want to go out there and learn how businesses work. I want to learn
why and how they fail and how to recover from those things. I want to
learn how to sell ideas, business plans, work… I need to start
small: baby steps forward. I need to be able to make mistakes,
although of course I’ll try to avoid repeating mistakes.

I think I can hack this. =)

Love & Money: A Life Guide for Financial Success

Jeff Opdyke

I browsed through this book on a whim and ended up reading it cover to
cover. This John Wiley book is a great read if you’re looking for
sound advice on finances and relationships. Here’s the book blurb from
the publisher’s site:

Reviews: “The financial decisions we make in our lives are sometimes not the easiest to discuss but have long-lasting effects. [Opdyke’s advice] has opened the door in my relationship to conversations that were a long time coming.” – Josh, regular reader of Opdyke’s “Love & Money” column, Florida

Real answers to real questions about money and relationships:

  • I have too much debt and my credit isn’t very good. How can I fix my financial problems? And how do I break the news to my boyfriend?
  • How do I teach my kids the value of money, when my parents shower them with expensive gifts?
  • My wife makes more money than I do, does that give her a greater voice in our financial decisions? Are we still equal?
  • How much should I give my child in allowance? And will it really help him learn the value of a dollar?
  • We want to have our first baby, but we don’t know if we can afford it yet. How much money do we really need to have in the bank?

If you’re like most people, you’re struggling with questions like these. Whether we like it or not, money makes a big difference in the choices we make and the lives we lead. Unresolved questions about money can put unwanted stress on even the healthiest relationships–between spouses, between parents and children, and even between friends. In Love & Money, columnist Jeff Opdyke offers practical personal finance advice, as well as strategies for dealing with touchy financial topics–so that money doesn’t end up costing you something even more valuable.

Random notes:

Formative

  • Most people are terrified of budgets because they think of them as strict limits. Use a spending plan instead, and remember that you’re giving up that latte for something specific like a car.
  • Debt affects relationships and self-esteem. Tell your significant other if you have a debt burden so that it’s out in the open.
  • Little things add up. Be conscious.
  • Mix savings with investments. Find an emergency buffer level both of you are comfortable with.

Building a life together

  • Discuss finances as a couple.
  • Keep a joint account instead of his-and-hers.
  • Resist temptation to hide your expenses.
  • Keep your relationship as equals even if one person earns significantly more than the other. Recognize the value contributed by a stay-at-home spouse. Don’t let your money substitute for your time or effort around the house.

Kids

  • Consider finances when thinking about having a child. Will you be able to provide good opportunities without depriving your children?
  • Be careful about toys. Teach kids that material things != happiness instead of indulging them all the time.
  • Allowances can help your children learn how to manage money. Don’t have any big expectations like making them learn how to donate to charity or save for college. Resist the temptation to supplement this through your generosity. Make it regular, not dependent on their behavior: that way, they don’t see money as the reward.
  • Think about the messages you send kids. When they want something, do you tell them you can’t afford it—and then turn around and get yourself something?
  • Plan for education Really Early.

Middle years

  • One income or two?
  • Relocating because of a career is very difficult. Is the traveling spouse willing to give up that dream if necessary? Is the trailing spouse willing to walk away from his or her own career if necessary? Try to find a win-win. Acknowledge difficulties, particularly for trailing spouse.
  • People have different vacation needs. Find a good compromise. (It’s vacation, after all.) Might not even be together all the time.
  • Talk about your life goals. Check for compatibility. Find good compromises.

Retirement

  • Plan for retirement really early.
  • Medical aid is expensive. Think about that, too.
  • Should you support your parents? Should your children support you when you’re old? Book: Parents should have planned ahead for their own retirement, so should not oblige children as their children’s primary responsibility is to their new family. (For us Filipinos, though, this is practically a given…)

彼女には2人の兄弟がいて、コンピューター業界で働いている。 She has two brothers, who work in the computer industry.

UPDATE: Clair wrote:

I have been browsing through Logsense
(http://www.logsense.com) — that blog also some various tips that are
helpful :) Thanks for sharing your notes. Finance – that is something
I am horrible at. The game last Saturday just made me realize how
clueless I am. I ought to get a grip on myself. Am not getting any
younger. And I ought to think of the future, not just the now! Thing
is that with things overwhelming me now, I forget about things for the
future.

コンピューター産業の発展は非常に急速である。 The development of the computer industry has been very rapid.

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Book notes: Financial Freedom on $5 a Day

Title Financial Freedom on $5 a Day
Author Chuck Chakrapani
ISBN 0-88908-952-3

Like most personal finance books, Financial Freedom on $5 a Day
suggests a regular savings plan, dollar-cost averaging for no-load
mutual funds, and eventual diversification into investments that can
weather recession, inflation, and growth markets. The book also talks
about other investment options such as gold and silver trading.

I did find a nifty little tidbit, though: three different techniques
for saving a chunk of your income so that you can invest it later on.
On page 17, Chakrapani describes:

Minus Ten Automatically deduct 10% of your paycheck and put it into a savings account before you even see it. (Pretty standard advice.)
Plus Ten Every time you spend, put aside an extra 10% for your savings. Think of it as extra tax.
Day’s Due Save every day. Minimum recommended: Annual income / 3500. (Was that gross or net?)

The suggestion of saving $5 a day will be difficult for me to meet
considering my already-trimmed budget, but if I stick to my savings
plan and relieve my book expenses by satisfying my addiction at the
libraries, it might actually be doable.

The copy I read was so old that Amazon doesn’t carry it any more, but Amazon lists the 7th edition for USD 2.50 (used). Not worth shipping, though. Read this one at your local library.

Book notes: Rules for the Road

Title Rules for the Road
Author Eve Luppert
ISBN 0-399-52411-8

Luppert’s guide to surviving an entry-level job is a good read for fresh
graduates who need tips on surviving the mindless drudgery of their
first year. “Do stupid things brilliantly,” Luppert counsels, giving
hundreds of tips on surviving everything, including office gossip.

Of particular interest to me was the short segment on managing a
hands-off boss (hello, Mark! ;) ) on page 28. Luppert suggests finding
other people who have done what I’m trying to do and asking them
questions. Saving questions and ideas will help me make the most of rare
moments of contact, and I should take care to update him with tidbits
and stuff. Because he won’t give me constant feedback, I’ll need to give
myself whatever encouragement I need. Hmm.

Book notes: Life Matters

Title Life Matters
Authors A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

I totally, totally, totally like this book. It’s just _packed_ with
gems. A few pages into the book, I realized I had another must-read in
my hands. This book talks about balancing work, family, time, and
money, and it’s full of very real and warm stories. Don’t be
intimidated by its size. It’s really fun and easy to read!

Let me give you an example of how deep and wonderful this book is. In
the section on work, you won’t find tips on how to cut corners on the
job so that you can spend more time with your family. You won’t find
wheeling-and-dealing tips to help you get ahead. You will, however,
find them not only quoting Kahlil Gibran’s “Work is love made
visible,” but infusing every page with that creed. You’ll hear about
how involving your children in work can help give them an appreciation
of the joy and dignity of work. You’ll learn how to make the most of
your time, and how to stay energized and loving after a long work day.
This is Really Good Stuff.

What I really like about this book is that Rebecca’s stories show the
value of homemaking and how you can learn important lessons from that
underappreciated kind of work. I rarely find women’s insights in
productivity books unless the books are oriented toward women.
Rebecca’s stories about her family and her society, her writing and
her life were given just as much importance as Robert’s stories about
business.

There’s even an audio CD version for all of you podcast- and
CD-listening people out there. Get this book. It’s good. In fact, I
want to buy several copies of this to give to friends. It’s _really_ good.