June 22, 2003 money

Them that know, don’t tell”

In general, I suspect all members of the financial education market, from authors to radio talk show hosts and everyone in between. When I obtain financial independence, I don’t plan on teaching anyone but my own friends and family. Why would anyone do otherwise except to fleece the public?

And then, having said that, I realize that every single book I’ve written, I wrote because I had a burning story to tell; I couldn’t not write it. My motivation to write novels is grounded in my need to take my writing into a completely different direction w/o the requirement of generating an income stream. So it’s likely that at least *some* of the folks in the financial education market are in it for love, but how can you tell which ones?

Further, it’s not generally true that them that know, don’t tell.” I know that I know how to write real software and how the technologies that form the topics of my writings and teachings really work, so at the very least, I’m the exception to that rule. However, there are an awful lot of exceptions, like all of my friends in the Windows developer education industry, so I reject the rule out of hand for at least a significant percentage of participants in any given field of education (certainly a significant percentage of them conform to the rule, of course, and those are likely to out number the ones that are the exception).

However, all of us in the Windows developer education industry make our living on education, not on the technology itself. We’ve chosen education because it’s more lucrative then being a practitioner. (This may help explain why elementary school teachers choose their field: can you think of a place that they can make more money on basic readin’, ritin’ and rithmatic than as a teacher?)

So, if it’s the case that education is more lucrative than practice, why should I buy someone’s financial book, since they’ve obviously decided that selling me a book is more profitable than practicing what they’re preaching. Further, the real-time markets have the built-in handicap that when a technique for really making money is widely put into use, the market adjusts for it, bringing the returns for that technique back in line with the market as a whole. If I discovered a new way to make real money, publishing how it works is the last thing that I want to do. Definitely, those kinds of books, like The Motley Fool’s Investment Guide, are not what I want to put my trust into.

Things I find I can trust more are books that inspire me, like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, or change the way I look at things, like Fooled by Randomness, or help me to establish a foundation of knowledge, like Investing for Dummies or Learn to Earn. These are books that don’t promise to make me rich (except the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books, but I’ve learned to discount that promise : ), but that help me align my brain cells so that I can take control of my own financial health.

So, all of this boils down to Be a skeptic” from the Epilogue to Effective COM, furthering my belief that the ability to learn how one system works, e.g. COM, can be effectively translated into learning how another system works, e.g. investing. And so what’s my motivation for this writing and others like it? It’s purely selfish, I assure you. Writing something clarifies my thinking and posting it gets me access to, and feedback from, like-minded folks that can help clarify my thinking even more.