A comment made by comedian and actor Kevin Pollack — “nobody dabbles at dentistry” — has been making the rounds on the blogosphere, highlighted by marketing blogger Seth Godin and investment blogger Tadas Viskanta in recent posts.
Pollack was making the point that some professions, such as dentistry, come with an assumption of extensive training and great skill. However, with others, such as comedy, people often underestimate what it takes to do those jobs well. Some people think that with a little bit of dabbling, they could be a professional comedian, too.
Godin argued that "most jobs" are actually like this and that, "If you’re doing one of these non-dentist jobs, the best approach is to be extraordinarily good at it."
Viskanta saw a parallel to investing. While investing isn’t a profession for most investors, he said it’s the type of activity that can fool people into thinking it’s easier than it is. But most people can’t succeed at investing by dabbling, he said. Instead, you should "treat it as an educational opportunity."
The points made by both bloggers resonated with me, especially at this time of year when many people make resolutions or set goals for the New Year.
Investing is far too important to our role as stewards of God’s resources and to our families’ financial well-being to dabble at. If we’re going to take up Godin’s challenge to be "extraordinarily good at it," we would be wise to do what Viskanta suggested and treat investing as an ongoing educational opportunity.
So, let me ask you:
How could you improve as an investor?
Where could your knowledge base use some shoring up? Do you need a better understanding of how bonds work? If so, you may want to review this article, which explains many of the essentials about bonds. Or this article about bond duration.
Is this the year to become more conversant about gold? If so, we have a free bonus report about gold that includes the fascinating history of this precious metal.
Could your emotional fortitude use a boost? Gaining some knowledge of the many so-called behavioral biases we’re all subject to may help. Read an excerpt from Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, one of the leading researchers in the field of behavioral economics. Or this article from another leading voice in behavioral economics, Dan Ariely.
No one’s looking for 20 more things to add to their to-do list. I get that. But because investing is so important and because it can get somewhat complicated, it would be good to choose one or two areas to work on each year in an ongoing quest to grow as an investor.
Of course, our hope is that by reading SMI on a regular basis, you’re on a "continual growth" path as an investor. Still, there’s probably an investing topic or two that you’re not as conversant about as you’d like to be.
What aspect of your investing knowledge are you trying to improve this year?