This article will be quite different from my previous ones. I am not going to talk about the stock market, particular stocks, the economy, or the new president. Instead I’ll talk about life.
If the following is of no interest to you, no worries, skip this one. I promise you I’ll discuss the regular stuff in future emails, but in this one I just want to let myself wander into topics that somehow seem more important to me right now.
Several quotes I read recently had a disproportionate impact on me. Here’s the first one:
“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” – Vern McLellan
That one sent me on a rollercoaster ride of new year’s resolutions. Some are personal, some business-related. One was about health. I decided that I want to eat better in 2017. I do not want to go on a “diet,” which to me means eating things you don’t like and feeling hungry. Some people can do that, and most, including me, can do it for a week or two and then give up. For a diet to be permanent I have to enjoy it. As my friend Ethan Berg puts, it has to be EFA – easy, fun, automatic.
Ethan has been trying to convince me to do smoothies for years now, and I wish I had listened to him sooner. I have discovered that I love to drink smoothies, and most importantly, I love to make them.
The difficulty in making smoothies is having consistent availability of ingredients. We don’t go grocery shopping every day, and fresh fruits and vegetables spoil. I overcame this problem by freezing portion of fruits and veggies. I peel bananas, cut them in half and freeze them. We visit Costco every two weeks or so, I buy a few bags of frozen blueberries, spinach, and kale. I take about two thirds of the spinach and kale (after I cut the kale into smaller pieces) and freeze it in ziplock bags.
I started my smoothie adventure with smoothies for breakfast. However, a few days later I came to the realization that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (I love eggs) and I didn’t want to give it up. In addition, I only consume a few hundred calories for breakfast, and I actually enjoy cooking eggs.
Lunch is my least favorite meal for several reasons. First, it interrupts my workflow. I have to stop my research and start thinking about where I am going to eat. (The fewer unimportant decisions I have to make, the better. If my wife would let me, I’d buy ten identical sets of clothes and wear the same thing every day. Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs did that.) Also, I consume too many calories at lunch, and in all honesty, my lunch food choices are not very healthy. Therefore, instead of replacing breakfast with a smoothie I have it for lunch.
When I started, my smoothies were mostly fruit-only concoctions. Gradually I started throwing in vegetables – spinach, kale, tomatoes, avocados, celery, and other defenseless veggies I found lurking in the fridge. I was surprised at how, even though I was adding more and more vegetables, my smoothies still tasted fruity. I give credit to my core ingredients: blueberries, bananas, tangerines (which are sweeter than oranges), and a healthy fistful of almonds (important for keeping me topped up energy-wise for five or six hours) and honey.
The blender is the key tool in this process. I found that traditional blenders are too klunky and messy, and instead I am using the NutriBullet – it’s compact and easy to clean. I make my smoothie first thing in the morning at home, pour it into a jar, and take it to work, where I stick it in the fridge. Then I enjoy a liquid salad of fruits and lots of veggies for lunch!
I don’t cook much, but now I understand why people enjoying cooking: it gives them a sense of accomplishment. I get that feeling every sunrise: I have created something I am proud of. (Yes, I am acutely aware that I am talking about mixing fruits and vegetables in a blender.)
Starting your morning right is very important. I stopped listening to news in the morning on my way to work as it usually irritated me (especially during election season). Instead, I now listen to podcasts. Three podcasts I recommend are Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz, The Tim Ferris Show, and Full Disclosure with Roben Farzad. Roben had the poor taste to interview me last year, but other than that he is one of the most talented hosts I’ve encountered in a long time – he’s very witty.
I drive my fifteen-year-old son, Jonah, to school, so we listen to these podcasts together at 1.5x speed.
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I am the CEO at IMA, which is anything but your average investment firm. (Why? Get our company brochure here, or simply visit our website).
In a brief moment of senility, Forbes magazine called me “the new Benjamin Graham.”
I’ve written two books on investing, which were published by John Wiley & Sons and have been translated into eight languages. (I’m working on a third - you can read a chapter from it, titled “The 6 Commandments of Value Investing” here).
And if you prefer listening, audio versions of my articles are published weekly at investor.fm.