Sunday, October 23, 2011

 The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever Own: A Do-It-Yourself Breakthrough Strategy

THE SMARTEST PORTFOLIO YOU’LL EVER OWN: A Do-It-Yourself Breakthrough Strategy Daniel R. Solin. Perigee.

Not having read the author's other books, I generally consider most investment gurus and books with a jaundiced eye. I think he spends a lot of time, too much, in fact, disparaging traditional mutual finds and investment advisers but that is what his goal was. His philosophy seems to make sense and I'm curious how well he would fare in the schizophrenic market we experience daily.  I wish he had put his money where his words are and shown actual investment gains and losses of his own money using the portfolio; his credibility would have been stronger. Marvin Stein, Coral Springs

Clear and easy to read and understand. However, the portfolio strategy delivered in the book is not really a breakthrough, as claimed in the book title. There is no new concept here. I found myself flipping through the pages. I think the book message could have been delivered in a 2 to 3 pages article. I like the quotes at the begining of every chapter and the takeaway at the end of each one. Smadar (Sammy) Sasson, Aventura

Solin's strategy for The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever Own seems feasible but its feasibility can not be proven without trying it out first which means an investment is necessary unless you just keep track of things and watch to see what happens without investing actual money.

In his own words he recommends not going with an adviser or listen to someone who pushes their own
agenda and yet he does just that with index funds which is his expertise.  He also seems to be recommending following the global market. In light of what is happening there in today's market, it makes me skeptical to follow his advice there.

It is interesting to find at the back of the book in the Publishers Note the statement that the contents of the book should not be taken as financial advice. The reader should consult a registered investment adviser prior to making investment decisions even though Solin says one is not needed. The publisher clearly states in the disclaimer that the views are exclusively the author's and do not represent views of anyone else.

Perhaps Solin is only offering his views and ideas under the guise of advice.  The standard advice for investors he presents would more than likely hold true, however — diversify your investment holdings and remain alert! Margot Byrnes, Miami

To be honest, I was prepared to hate this book as I hate most books that are focused on the stock market. Many similar books have sucked me in under the guise of being the investment guide for the layperson and have failed, leaving me feeling stupid and inept. However, author Daniel R. Solin was able to explain the most complicated theories in a way that a person of average intelligence, or an English major like me who thinks that algebra -- the mixing of numbers and letters is the work of satan -- could understand. These are cynical times and, I, like most people watch the daily ups and downs of the stock market and on a down day, my reaction is, "Oh, THEY'VE manipulated the market again and must be taking their profits."  Feeling like someone emerging from an abusive relationship, I'm no longer engaging with the wild mood swings of Wall Street.

This book encourages you build your portfolio on the model that reflects your retirement horizon and has suggestions for everyone from the novice to the more seasoned investor. Just when Solin would venture into areas that could make the reader say to him/herself, "What the *&^@ is Fama and French and why do I care about their theories?" he would explain in easy-to-understand nuggets and then summarize before moving on. In fact, the short "What's the Point?" boxed summaries did a good job of cementing each chapter before moving on to the next idea. I also like the fact that the author provided many options for the reader to choose from in terms of investing for retirement. For example, my current plan is to set my retirement on autopilot and hope for the best, so Solin has an option for me. He explains that the Target Date plans allows an investor to minimize their risks over time by choosing a Target Date handily named the year of one's retirement (Vanguard 2023). The investor basically "sets it and forgets it" with a Target Date plan. These plans become more conservative over time (more bonds than stocks) which supposedly mitigates the risk. The average individual probably doesn't want to spend the time figuring out that approach and then jiggering their portfolio accordingly, so Target Date portfolios are one viable option.

If you can suspend your disbelief that the entire system is manipulated by insiders gaming the system with computerized, short-term trading and other tricks that generate profits not based on reality, then "The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever Own" could go a long way in helping you plan for your retirement. Kathy Doran, Miami

After reading this book, I was disappointed.  Alot of the language used in the book is for someone who is an investment broker or advisor.  I could not do my own portfolio without understanding why I would need to choose a particular bond or stock.  Each chapter was very small one or two pages with a noted thought on the last page.  What I hoped for was to learn about stocks and how and why to choose, what to look for in that stock, how long to invest and see the movement of the stock.  I currently choose my stock and someone who worked as an investment broker told me what to look at and if I wanted to take risks with stock I would have to monitor the movement.  I was also told not to put all my money into one stock (basket) but to split it like 30%, 40%, 30% to equal 100% in different stocks.  This idea has worked for me and I have seen my money grow.

In the beginning the book referenced the horrific mess we are in today with our mortgages as well as  the Mondoff Ponzi scheme.  He was a trusted advisor and no one questioned it; they were getting a return on their investment so they let it ride.  He played on his clients trust and he know who would be interested and who wouldn't.  I am sure everyone would love to invest and get 25% or 35%  back on their investment.  But in closing there is no sure thing out there.  Patricia Garcia, Miami

Daniel Solin’s book follows the KISS principle—Keep Investments Simple Stupid.  Determine if you want to be an active or passive investor.  Do you want to invest in a financial advisor or a Dimensional Fund Advisor?  What is your risk tolerance?  Once you figure out the answers to these three questions, you can delve into one of four different approaches that will limit you to ETFs or index funds, plus a few bond funds, with low management fees.  Rebalance the portfolio a couple times a year and call it a day.  Easy.

Solin’s approach is brilliant in its simplicity and logic.  His explanation has made me rethink entirely the individual equities I have traded and has made me realize that my advisor has truly  been looking out for my best interest in steering me towards the very structured portfolio outlined in the book  that can maximize my returns so I can retire when I want.

Bottom line—no one person can “beat” the market day in and day out.  The data and analysis he shares clearly demonstrates that those who try to time the market will lose.  He further debunks some of those old adages that buying a good company means buying a good stock.

The problem of course is that picking a hot stock can be exhilarating.  It’s gambling, just without the blackjack dealer.

I promise to shed the equities. I will drop my subscription to Motley Fool and Jim Kramer’s newsletter.  But it needs to be next week.  I want to try to ride this latest uptick in the market just a little longer… Kim Miller, Miami

Excellent book I wish I could have read thirty years ago but great advice for anyone who wants to put their investments on cruise control.  I especially liked the ability to lock in your retirement date and work backwards.  I have recommended this book to both of children who are just starting out and who needs to manage their own 401k and retirement plans.  Quick read and to the financial point. Paul Bartoletti, Scranton Pa


Next: WE ARE ALL WEIRD by Seth Godin

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Next book club selection is by Seth Godin. We Are All Weird just came out. The hardcover edition is limited to 10,000 (or 11,000) copies. Lots of nice reviews, posts, interviews, podcasts and more.

I'm an unabashed fan of Seth's and have reviewed nearly every book he's published during the last decade and beyond.

This latest is short, sharp and quite enjoyable, and I'll review it more fully later.

If you want to review it too, you can.

Please click here to sign up through Paypal (or here:

It's only $5 so how can you pass it up?

As a bonus, you'll also get a copy of Derek Sivers' Anything You Want. You can read a review of that here.

 So, yeah. Two very cool books for $5 and an opportunity to review. If you're interested, here's the link to sign up (or go to:

If you have any questions, please leave 'em in Comments, and I'll respond.



Club Reviews: Credibility

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner)

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner. Wiley. 368 pages.

Kouzes' and Posner's credibility is more than that. Theirs is clearly about moral credibility concerning
conduct and attitudes judged from a moral value standpoint.  That leaves out such leaders as Charles Manson, various dictators and other leaders without moral values.
Practicing the moral values goes along with knowing how to proceed in order to show competence.
The authors present their message as a clear and concise logical guide with a checklist for attaining moral credibility.
Included are the necessary behaviors, qualities, and characteristics with positive examples of successful
leaders with moral values such as honesty.
If more people, leaders or otherwise, would read and follow their guide to credibility and hold their leaders more accountable to their message, the world would be a better place and we would all benefit from it.
With today's world situation with lack of confidence in various institutions and their leaders, this book
seems to have the perfect message.
Perhaps if enough leaders and aspiring leaders would read this inspiring book, trust and credibility may come back to the forefront along with competency.
Just reading it is helpful but the key is to follow its guidelines with sincerity. Margot Byrnes, Miami

The authors of "Credibility" got across their message. Honesty is good. It may be the most important attribute a leader needs to establish credibility. It is also a vital attribute for a good coworker. This is not surprising. People tend not to give credence to those they know to be dishonest. Alas, the rest of the book is no more insightful than that.
It does advise many behaviors for good managers and leaders. For example, “Credibility” strongly recommends being enthusiastic, educating constituents, and listening to others. But those subjects are all covered in countless other books and articles. Even the first person accounts by successful people of leaders that changed their lives seemed bland. The stories often revealed more about the tellers, because of what they did with a situation than about the managers who made such strong impressions.
On the plus side, this book is easy to read and not too long. The reader who wants a quick survey of easy to understand human relations concepts for the workplace may be well served by it. Heidi Markovitz, Washington, DC

he credibility gap that emerged after the the last big fiscal crisis is finding a rebirth with the recent financial meltdown.  Trust, the key component to credibility, has been taking a slapping and the timing for this book couldn’t better.  While the character traits we all look for in our leaders have changed little,  the need for it is at an all time high.
Whenever fear and uncertainty  become the lead story night after night, that anxiety will play out at the office which could impact trust and productivity.  Instead of building relationships, actions comments and too much talking and not enough listening can actually create barriers to success.
“Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It”  offers terrific insights in what employees expect from their leaders AND their coworkers.  The personal stories of how actions of past supervisors permanently impacted individuals is inspiring and practical.  The research in the book clearly demonstrates how making personal meaningful relationships with colleagues is more important today than ever before.  There are real, practical conversation starters to help build those relationships.  And, for supervisors or others who believe they have lost credibility the book offers hope too.
This one got me thinking.  If you don’t have time for a deep dive, focus on the key ideas at the end of each chapter and, if you read only one chapter,  focus on “The Struggle to be Human.”  This isn’t just a touchy feely approach to managing.  It provide hands on tools to create optimism, trust and passion within our teams. Kimberly Miller, Miami

More than ever, but especially in the Financial Services world, to have credibility "makes a difference".
As a professional in said industry, I have sensed a very scarce presence of credible representatives. Those who lack any credibility have damaged the reputation of  those who do not compromise with the gyrations of their "easy money" efforts. This book summarizes in a brilliant manner the process to restore credibility and sustain it. Each chapter is full of concrete principles and actions to accomplish these two objectives. In particular the chapter entitled "Affirm Shared Values" provides specific recommendations to build productive and genuine working relationships. This book is permanently on the top of my desk to be able to go back to its valuable strategies in order to succeed through genuine credibility. Ariel Gonzalez-Medel, Palmetto Bay

What a classic analysis and template that will make any officer, manager, or team leader a success. The well documented evidence from many business areas and levels of sophistication shows the universality of their message. Well respected leaders have learned these lessons to earn credibility, but the tenets are always worth repeating. Image how  the culture of corporate America would be changed in a more productive,innovative and respectful manner  If more credible leaders were created. Marvin Stein, Coral Springs

It was very disappointing book — I had hope to get more from it that what it delivered.
The first thing that I did not like was the constant reference to the previews book and the research — the authors did not need to make a reference to it on every page as it detracts from the reading and it breaks the flow of the message, it spend too much time discussing that and very little delivering a real message 
Authors could have deliver the message in one third of the pages.
I will not recommend the book I think that in the end it does not delivered what it promised.
To me credibility is based on a persons integrity, character and convictions all of which seem to have gone out the window in a society that is hungry for power, money and fame at any cost, we saw it with the recent failures of the financial markets, banking, car companies, and politicians every day and as long as their main objective is their own selfish pursue of money, power and fame... credibility will be hard to find in our current leaders, bosses, politicians etc. Theresa Jacome, Miami


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