What I Learned Last Year

biscottiTwo themes have dominated my goals for the last couple of years: my relationship with my eldest daughter and my finances.


Kids – my daughter worked herself out, no input from me. I didn’t change her nature, I accepted it, and we enjoyed the inevitable progression from preschooler to school-age girl.

For my pals with kids – avoid abandonment and retaliation – everything else is details.


Optimism is the only worldview borne out by the facts.

At the end of 2008, I wrote-off 65% of my family balance sheet, was unemployed, owned a loss-making business and was facing civil liability relating to large-scale fraud.

You may have forgotten but everything we were reading was doom and gloom. In reality, that was one of the most useful periods of my life because I was forced to face the gross inefficiency of my spending choices.

The changes that result from earlier setbacks lead to an appreciation of a more simple life and I’ve continued to strip away non-core activities.

My wife is stumped when asked, “What does Gordo do?”

I enjoy my life and serve my family

Act in the spirit of service to the people that love you.

Act as if things will work out.

Keep simplifying.

Free yourself to spend time on what matters.

For the pessimist in your head that likes to point out that we’re all dead in the long run… be wary of overstating your importance in the world.

My death will be a setback for a few people but it won’t change the positive trajectory of history. I will play my role then hand off to the younger generation.

There will be tears and that’s OK.


Human Capital & Family Finances

What can each of us bring to our families, and communities?

Strong relationships built on mutual respect and strengthened via self-improvement.

Six years ago, I was left with a home and cash assets. With interest rates moving towards 200-year lows, I realized that I had to be invested. I made an error by going all-in with real estate. Why an error?

  • I was geographically concentrated – the bulk of the portfolio was within two miles of each other.
  • I invested too much – I failed to understand the short-term cash needs of my young family, which arrived in 2008/2011/2012.
  • Each asset represented many years of living expenses – lumpy assets are inefficient when you’re moving towards retirement.
  • Real estate takes a long time to sell. With a traditional portfolio, a gradual sell down is easier to achieve.

My purchases had a margin of safety and I was able to trade my way out of the situation – 4 out of 8 addresses have been sold. Start to finish, it will take 8-10 years for me to change my asset allocation. Our family financial structure gave me time to make the change, we earned income, and we had exposure to asset appreciation.

Time worked things out – we did well but so did all others that were invested from 2009 to 2014.


The final lesson – I am greedy in irrational ways. I can soothe my ego by noting that my flaws are widely shared.

I am susceptible to the Endowment Effect. I overvalue what I have – my wife had to force me to sell our old house, I wanted to hold out.

I overvalue future desires. I’m constantly fooling myself that MORE will make a difference.

My antidote:

  • Write down my desires (steam shower, truck, boat, kitchen appliances, vacations, clothes, car, office, ski chalet) then wait and let desire pass
  • Make the wealth cost of “more” both painful and visible
  • Note the choices that create my best days (train AM/PM, help someone, learn, write, teach, spend time with my wife, under scheduled)
  • Spend money to create true luxuries (childcare, time to think, time to learn)
  • Schedule my happiness essentials (time in nature, time with my wife, quiet time to think)

Keep it simple:

  1. Notice the good in life
  2. Write good things down
  3. Do more good things