“Sharpen the saw” —Stephen Covey
I was inclined to write about investments in this article: How this is an exciting time to invest particularly in our country, and how to take advantage of these opportunities and the strategies, techniques and tactics that go with them. There are a lot of investment tools now: stocks, bonds, UITFs, mutual funds, forex, real estate, etc. A mixture of these would be very much desirable because it would offer diversification and multiple sources of income for one’s needs.
And why not? For these are the buzz words of finance people, bankers, brokers, entrepreneurs, agents, book authors and writers. Seminars, blogs, social media, advertisements and commercials abound with them. But there is one investment that is oft- forgotten and ignored: the investment on the self.
Basic economics tells us the basic resources are land, capital and labor. The last one may also be called “human capital.” Here, training and education is integral, which adds value to the other resources, for without human skills, talent, creativity and knowledge, we cannot do anything productive or even form decisions central to them.
This fact is even more apparent with the knowledge-based economy that we are living in right now, where information is always readily accessible across various media: the radio, TV, print, and the internet. So how do we keep up with knowledge and make ouselves grow? How do we invest in ourselves? Here are five easy, yet effective ways:
Join seminars and trainings. If you are working for a company, chances are that training sessions are available and usually for free. Company-sponsored seminars offer a range topics that include effective communication skills, management skills, selling skills, and other technical skills. Outside of your own company, various organizations also give free seminars on stock market trading, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and others that can further enhance your knowledge and skills. Check out the classified ads of newspapers which have a section on trainings and seminars, most of them offered for free. Expos and trade fairs offer seminars also, and most of them are free.
Take an interest in hobbies and activities. Learning need not be formal. In my alma mater, we have a favorite saying that goes, “Do not let the four corners of the classroom get in the way of your learning.” Join clubs and hobby groups and meet people with the same interests. It is a good place to network with other people whom you can learn from and maybe do business with. Moreover, not a few successful entrepreneurs today were just hobbyists before who turned their favorite pastimes into business ventures.
Volunteer. One author puts it this way: “If you want to see leadership skills, put your employees into volunteer work”. Volunteer work, either in the church or community, is an avenue where you can develop interpersonal, communication and leadership skills—without the pressure, rigidity and formality of the workplace. As no strict rules on hierarchy or ascendancy are given and the organizations are relatively flat, open and receptive, you are freer to let your personality flow and natural leadership capacity surface. Moreover, you can learn from the practices and skills of the organization you are in. For instance, in the past I did various kinds of volunteer work in church and school organizations, and these greatly honed my leadership and decision-making skills, which laid the foundation for what I have now.
Do extra studies. Usually, it is a post-graduate one, but you can also go for technical courses that certify their graduates, like on fixed income trading, treasury professional, stock market trader, Registered Financial Planner®, among others. Some companies actually subsidize or shoulder the courses of your interest; just check with your company policy. You can also access online courses of reputable universities wherein you can watch videos and download lectures of your choice. I recently came across online learning courses from prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Yale, with courses on economics, sciences and the arts, and have been learning from their lecture classes.
Read. Read dailies, magazines, books and internet sites that carry interests aligned with yours. The dailies ‘sharpen your saw,’ well, daily by keeping you up to date with events and issues that can impact your work, career and life. In my career, it is very useful to be updated in economics and personal finance, that’s why business newspapers as well as finance websites are a must. Being updated with what’s happening allows me to give relevant and useful information for the people I work with.
Aside from investing in other outlets, we must not forget also to invest in ourselves because the knowledge and skills that we get along the way are the same ones we will use in investing in other ventures. The more skills and knowledge we have, the better the edge we have in dealing with our work and the challenges—like financial investing and personal finance—that confront us.
Rienzie Biolena is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. He is chief financial planner of WealthArki& Consultancy, Inc. a financial planning and wealth management advisory firm aligned with international best practices. To learn more about financial planning, attend the 63rd RFP program this July. To inquire, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or text <name><e-mail><RFP> at 0917-9689774.