“All we have to fear is fear itself” Franklin D. Roosevelt
I had two fortunate experiences in August, 2010, an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which came close to finishing me off (thus this blog), and termination from my lucrative job as a research scientist. The aneurysm was fixed with a rigid stent graft (Thank you UNC Hospital), and losing my job was softened by a generous severance package (Thank you Sanofi-Aventis) that helped me to ‘get my financial house in order’ in time for the summer of 2011. Now, you have to admit that I am a lucky guy.
I don’t have enough saved to live on for the rest of my life if I wish to do the many things I would like, so I have been pursuing both online (Old Dogs in Training LLC) and local (Johnny’s Gone Fishing LLC) business interests. This effort was initially motivated by concern for my family and their impending needs, but it was the pumpkins that changed my world view. Several blog posts ago, I wrote about the pumpkin sale with Rock, which taught me something very important. Having had a job for the last 50 years, and an excellent career, I finally realized that creating a job for someone else is even more satisfying. I risked $500 on someone I trust, and received $10 in interest about 3 weeks later (annualized rate of return 35%). I was surprised how good it felt to create a job, whilst risking only a calculated portion of my retirement capital.
I have now moved on to slightly bigger things, Christmas trees. I am again risking some of my retirement funds – about $6,000 on a handshake, with the ‘promise’ of a reasonable rate of return. This money has been used to purchase the trees, which will be sold by the original Johnny at Johnny’s Gone Fishing. The hoped-for profit from the Christmas trees will be plowed back into Johnny’s Gone Fishing LLC, of which FitOldDog will be a legal business partner within the next couple of days. More importantly, the capital that I am risking will employ the equivalent of three people for two months, or one person for half a year, which to my surprise feels much more important than the potential profit.
These experiences got me to wondering whether more people in my situation, with 401k accounts or other savings, could take a small amount of their resource and invest it into real people locally, in the way that I am attempting. They would be taking a risk, but it is a calculated risk and it will feed into their local community. They would also meet the people in whom they are investing.
As a youngster in England I was raised by my Mom on arcane quotes, many of them from the Bible. My ongoing experiences remind me of ‘The Parable of the Talents,’ except for the gnashing of teeth part, which I hope to avoid. Furthermore, I am putting Americans back to work, of which I can almost never be sure when my money is sitting in a large brokerage house. Think globally, act locally, is a good motto.
Oh! Yes! I nearly forgot. Learning new things keeps your brain alive and young, and may stave off degenerative neurological disease, so I’ve read. I concur with this concept based on my training in the neurological sciences (I was a neuropathologist many moons ago). I am certainly learning new tricks everyday from my business adventures. Exercising appears to be keeping my body young, or so I’m told, so why not my brain, too? According to Norman Doidge’s book, learning new things keeps your brain young and agile. That’s what I want, plus a small return on my investment in the form of social satisfaction.