Once upon a time, two years ago, Sean Castle came to me with an idea. "Tricia, I'd like for you to write a book with me."
"That's one of my favorite things to do," I said, my heart lifting at the very idea. "What's the topic?"
My heart dipped at that very idea.
"Oh, Sean. I don't think I'm the writer for that book. I don't know anything about investing. I've made all of my financial decisions with the advice of advisors and professionals and brokers like you. I wouldn't even know what questions to ask you."
"That makes you the perfect writer for this book."
He wanted to offer a resource to people who don't know anything about how to get started planning for their financial future.
Ah. Now, this I could relate to.
If the highest form of learning is teaching the new information to someone else in a language they can understand, then I had a whole lot of learning to do.
Sean spent a few dozen Wednesdays teaching me, giving me an introductory course into understanding investments. He's been managing money since 1987, and he founded a successful investment company in Denver in 1994. After thirty years in the financial industry, he has navigated the ups and down, the ranges of emotions, and ultimately the psychology of investing. He knows what worries novice investors, what obstacles trip people up, and he knows how to coach each of us to a place of peaceful decision making.
He said the very first thing he suggests to new investors is this: Turn Off the Noise. The news is not your friend. Stop riding the waves of "panic porn," he calls it, where talking heads release information to make people freak out and sell their stocks. Don't let those bullies boss you around. You can start small, and you can start today, but for the love of all financial wisdom, turn off the noise and get started.
I am thrilled to tell you: his book is on the shelves.
Here's a sneak peek into the first pages:
Imagine the last time you were on an airplane. I travel quite a bit, and I imagine you follow a similar routine every time, like we do. You know the drill. You board the plane, you find your seat, you stow your luggage above, and you settle in with your books and snacks. (I do hope you're not one of those people who buys garlic-infused sushi to stink up the plane.)
Just before takeoff, the flight attendants take their places in the aisle to tell us everything we need to do regarding cabin safety in the event of an emergency. We're all supposed to watch the demonstration to learn where the exits are, how to buckle our seatbelts, where to find oxygen masks and life vests, and not to smoke on the plane. Some airlines require the flight attendants to follow a script, and others let them be creative with their own shtick. Either way, formal or funny, the flight attendant becomes the guide for the journey.
You have probably noticed, as I have, that people respond differently to flight attendants and their instructions.
Some people don't pay any attention to the spiel and the speech. They've flown so many times that this announcement is background noise, as invisible as the purr of the engine. They don't fold up their newspapers or turn off their tablets. They're trusting the captain and crew to get them safely to their destination, and they're not worried. Could they reach their destination without instructions? Likely. They're willing to let someone else be in charge.
Other passengers sit up straight and tall, attentive like they're in the front row of a lecture hall. They take notes as if there will be a quiz. They want to know what to do and how to respond, should there be anything unexpected on this flight. Will they benefit from paying careful attention? Perhaps. If the plane hits some turbulence, we're all going to be thankful someone paid attention.
Perhaps this book is the beginning of a journey for you. Maybe you've come into some money, and you're wondering how to make it grow or last. Maybe you have landed your first salaried position as a young adult, an inheritance in your midlife, or a 401(k) at the brink of your retirement. You have started on a journey of understanding your investments, and now you're wondering how to navigate this path. Let's talk about it.
Could you travel each of these journeys without a guide? Probably. But if things get rough ahead, you're going to be thankful someone paid attention.
My goal for this book is to provide you with a foundation to begin your journey. I want you to learn and understand the basics. I want you to understand what’s happening here. In fact, I want everyone to understand what we're doing.
I’ve got a map, and I can show you a path to get you on the right track. My goal is not to be the pilot of your plane, but the guide for your path.
You can start small, and you can start today. Let’s go, shall we?