Monday, 31 January 2011

The hidden charms of stepping aside (Part 1 of 3)


The 16th century was a period of extraordinary conflict and violence. Disputes about religious and territorial matters divided the population in factions engaged in continuous wars, persecutions, and torture. Luckily, not everybody fell prey to the dominant ideas of the time and a few men taught us lessons that we should strive to keep always present in our mind.

The French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is one of the most interesting personalities of that time. We would probably never have heard of him if he had been more successful in his profession and businesses, or one should rather say, if he had attempted to become more successful.

After learning Latin, the most widespread language at that time in Europe, and receiving some basic training in jurisprudence, Montaigne spent more than a decade as secretary of different legislative councils and courts of justice in the south of France.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by carderel under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The hidden charms of stepping aside
(Part 1 of 3)


The 16th century was a period of extraordinary conflict and violence. Disputes about religious and territorial matters divided the population in factions engaged in continuous wars, persecutions, and torture. Luckily, not everybody fell prey to the dominant ideas of the time and a few men taught us lessons that we should strive to keep always present in our mind.

The French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is one of the most interesting personalities of that time. We would probably never have heard of him if he had been more successful in his profession and businesses, or one should rather say, if he had attempted to become more successful.

After learning Latin, the most widespread language at that time in Europe, and receiving some basic training in jurisprudence, Montaigne spent more than a decade as secretary of different legislative councils and courts of justice in the south of France.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by carderel under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 30 January 2011

How to prevent a personal financial crisis (Part 4 of 4)


These are some lessons to draw from such stories:
  1. Live below your means.
  2. Save some money every month, even if it is a small sum.
  3. Take insurance to cover critical risks, such as major surgery or invalidity.
  4. Conduct your business or profession in a prudent manner.
  5. Choose slow but safe growth over wild and risky expansion.
  6. Diversify your investments amongst many different assets.
  7. Stay away from profligate individuals or businesses. Their tales seldom have a happy end.
The virtues of foresight and saving constitute the backbone of civilized society. Despite the negative stories presented by the media, millions of working men and women possess the habit of planning for the future. In fact, their prudent conduct and the ensuing peace of mind are what render them uniquely able to "enjoy the day."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Eric Perrone under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to prevent a personal financial crisis
(Part 4 of 4)


These are some lessons to draw from such stories:
  1. Live below your means.
  2. Save some money every month, even if it is a small sum.
  3. Take insurance to cover critical risks, such as major surgery or invalidity.
  4. Conduct your business or profession in a prudent manner.
  5. Choose slow but safe growth over wild and risky expansion.
  6. Diversify your investments amongst many different assets.
  7. Stay away from profligate individuals or businesses. Their tales seldom have a happy end.
The virtues of foresight and saving constitute the backbone of civilized society. Despite the negative stories presented by the media, millions of working men and women possess the habit of planning for the future. In fact, their prudent conduct and the ensuing peace of mind are what render them uniquely able to "enjoy the day."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Eric Perrone under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 29 January 2011

How to prevent a personal financial crisis (Part 3 of 4)


Unfortunately, he overextended himself by investing in ruinous printing and publishing ventures, as well as by purchasing a large extension of land and building a majestic residence. When the businesses in which he had invested went bankrupt in 1826, he still had to face massive personal debts, that he was unable to reimburse.

During the next years, he worked frantically, trying to write more books to pay off his debts. His health deteriorated rapidly and, finally, he died in 1832, physically and financially exhausted, when he was only 61 years old. Was it worth it that he had incurred huge personal debts in order to build a mansion? These are some lessons to draw from such stories:

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Clifford DMello under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to prevent a personal financial crisis
(Part 3 of 4)


Unfortunately, he overextended himself by investing in ruinous printing and publishing ventures, as well as by purchasing a large extension of land and building a majestic residence. When the businesses in which he had invested went bankrupt in 1826, he still had to face massive personal debts, that he was unable to reimburse.

During the next years, he worked frantically, trying to write more books to pay off his debts. His health deteriorated rapidly and, finally, he died in 1832, physically and financially exhausted, when he was only 61 years old. Was it worth it that he had incurred huge personal debts in order to build a mansion? These are some lessons to draw from such stories:

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Clifford DMello under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 28 January 2011

How to prevent a personal financial crisis (Part 2 of 4)


The horrid reports about financial irresponsibility that one sees on television represent conspicuous exceptions to the prudent mentality of millions of working men and women. This is not a new phenomenon and, without much effort, we can find traces of similar events in previous centuries.

The liquidity crisis that took place in London in the year 1826, almost two hundred years ago, was very similar to what we have experienced in the initial decade of the 21st century. Thousands of investors lost their fortune, including many famous personalities, such as the Scottish novelist Walter Scott.

You might know Walter Scott from his historical novels, such as "Ivanhoe" and "Rob Roy," which belonged to the the best-selling books of his time. If Scott had adopted the discipline of living within his income, which was considerable, he might have enjoyed longer and certainly healthier years.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by H√ľnerauge under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to prevent a personal financial crisis
(Part 2 of 4)


The horrid reports about financial irresponsibility that one sees on television represent conspicuous exceptions to the prudent mentality of millions of working men and women. This is not a new phenomenon and, without much effort, we can find traces of similar events in previous centuries.

The liquidity crisis that took place in London in the year 1826, almost two hundred years ago, was very similar to what we have experienced in the initial decade of the 21st century. Thousands of investors lost their fortune, including many famous personalities, such as the Scottish novelist Walter Scott.

You might know Walter Scott from his historical novels, such as "Ivanhoe" and "Rob Roy," which belonged to the the best-selling books of his time. If Scott had adopted the discipline of living within his income, which was considerable, he might have enjoyed longer and certainly healthier years.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by H√ľnerauge under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 27 January 2011

How to prevent a personal financial crisis (Part 1 of 4)


The Latin expression "carpe diem," which can be translated as "enjoy the day," has been elevated to a main component of our culture. The most popular interpretation goes as far as recommending people to "live for the day." This advice comes often accompanied by sneering remarks about those who save for the future.

The sad story of artists and athletes who make a fortune and end up bankrupt a few years later is told by newspapers with monotonous frequency. The message seems to be that there is no other way or, even worse, that human beings are unable to learn from someone else's disgrace.

Nevertheless, an objective assessment of the problem shows that the great majority of middle-class citizens in any country never go bankrupt. This is not a coincidence, but the proof that self-discipline and common sense are widespread in society.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Mara1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to prevent a personal financial crisis
(Part 1 of 4)


The Latin expression "carpe diem," which can be translated as "enjoy the day," has been elevated to a main component of our culture. The most popular interpretation goes as far as recommending people to "live for the day." This advice comes often accompanied by sneering remarks about those who save for the future.

The sad story of artists and athletes who make a fortune and end up bankrupt a few years later is told by newspapers with monotonous frequency. The message seems to be that there is no other way or, even worse, that human beings are unable to learn from someone else's disgrace.

Nevertheless, an objective assessment of the problem shows that the great majority of middle-class citizens in any country never go bankrupt. This is not a coincidence, but the proof that self-discipline and common sense are widespread in society.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Mara1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

One strategy, one direction, one number (Part 4 of 4)

The sheer exercise of decomposing our life into its main constituents can prove highly beneficial. Turning observations into numerals may, for example, allow latent irritation to be verbalized. The first time that someone takes the time to write all this down frequently results in a couple of surprises.

In fact, if you can figure out the way to do it, the only number that you need to watch is your overall happiness index, where it stands today and how to extend the years you have left in order to raise it to the highest level.


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Kenneth Hynek under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

One strategy, one direction, one number
(Part 4 of 4)

The sheer exercise of decomposing our life into its main constituents can prove highly beneficial. Turning observations into numerals may, for example, allow latent irritation to be verbalized. The first time that someone takes the time to write all this down frequently results in a couple of surprises.

In fact, if you can figure out the way to do it, the only number that you need to watch is your overall happiness index, where it stands today and how to extend the years you have left in order to raise it to the highest level.


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Kenneth Hynek under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 24 January 2011

One strategy, one direction, one number (Part 3 of 4)


If routine fills most of our days, we should not allow random events to eat up the little free time we have available. Becoming conscious of the status in each area of our life and pushing for improvement requires substantial effort. Reducing situations to fundamental numbers can contribute to remind us where we stand and where we want to go.

More often than not, one or two figures should be enough to identify the issues closest to our heart. Even when we deal with immaterial elements, such as the non-monetary aspects of a business or profession, we should force ourselves to come up with a number.

Let us establish, for instance, where we are today on a scale from zero to ten and where we want to be in a year from now. In a similar way, trainers encourage overweight people to track their slimming progress by means of a simple graphic.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jtillery under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

One strategy, one direction, one number
(Part 3 of 4)


If routine fills most of our days, we should not allow random events to eat up the little free time we have available. Becoming conscious of the status in each area of our life and pushing for improvement requires substantial effort. Reducing situations to fundamental numbers can contribute to remind us where we stand and where we want to go.

More often than not, one or two figures should be enough to identify the issues closest to our heart. Even when we deal with immaterial elements, such as the non-monetary aspects of a business or profession, we should force ourselves to come up with a number.

Let us establish, for instance, where we are today on a scale from zero to ten and where we want to be in a year from now. In a similar way, trainers encourage overweight people to track their slimming progress by means of a simple graphic.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jtillery under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 23 January 2011

One strategy, one direction, one number (Part 2 of 4)


When it comes to running your own life, could you reduce information to a small number of factors? Is it possible to simplify reality to such an extent? Can a few numbers suffice to express your level of happiness? Can we isolate the crucial components of our existence and make projections for the next decade? Here are some examples:
  1. The general condition of your health.
  2. Income from your main business or activity.
  3. Overall level personal freedom.
  4. How many close friends you meet regularly.
  5. The size of your bank account and other liquid assets.
  6. Level of satisfaction with your home and living environment.
  7. How you rate the non-monetary aspects of your principal occupation.
  8. Happiness derived from your spouse and other family relationships.
  9. Overall perspectives for personal growth.
To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by insane photoholic under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

One strategy, one direction, one number
(Part 2 of 4)


When it comes to running your own life, could you reduce information to a small number of factors? Is it possible to simplify reality to such an extent? Can a few numbers suffice to express your level of happiness? Can we isolate the crucial components of our existence and make projections for the next decade? Here are some examples:
  1. The general condition of your health.
  2. Income from your main business or activity.
  3. Overall level personal freedom.
  4. How many close friends you meet regularly.
  5. The size of your bank account and other liquid assets.
  6. Level of satisfaction with your home and living environment.
  7. How you rate the non-monetary aspects of your principal occupation.
  8. Happiness derived from your spouse and other family relationships.
  9. Overall perspectives for personal growth.
To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by insane photoholic under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 22 January 2011

One strategy, one direction, one number (Part 1 of 4)


Experienced managers tend to focus on a few key parameters that tell them how their business is doing. Seasoned investors proceed in a similar way. Since they know the kind of opportunities they are looking for, they are able to discard unsuitable investment proposals after checking a couple of critical figures.

No one can take correct decisions without knowing which elements are important. Gathering huge amounts of data will prove useless if complexity cannot be reduced to manageable levels. What you need are simple graphics or tables that show you how you are doing presently and what the trend for the future is.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dtydontstop under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

One strategy, one direction, one number
(Part 1 of 4)


Experienced managers tend to focus on a few key parameters that tell them how their business is doing. Seasoned investors proceed in a similar way. Since they know the kind of opportunities they are looking for, they are able to discard unsuitable investment proposals after checking a couple of critical figures.

No one can take correct decisions without knowing which elements are important. Gathering huge amounts of data will prove useless if complexity cannot be reduced to manageable levels. What you need are simple graphics or tables that show you how you are doing presently and what the trend for the future is.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dtydontstop under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 21 January 2011

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 4 of 4)


You will not have to seek long to find evidence of this phenomenon. Software programmes are installed and run without charge for six months. Novel delivery services offer you vouchers to transport your packages at no cost for a week. Exotic restaurants invite you to try out their menu without having to pay the bill.

The system of free samples can be practised in dozens of different ways. Complimentary demonstrations of new products and services provide the best proof of their value. Whatever your field of business or professional activity, if you are not already using this sales approach, you may be missing one of the most powerful tools for acquiring new customers.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by sup3r under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 4 of 4)


You will not have to seek long to find evidence of this phenomenon. Software programmes are installed and run without charge for six months. Novel delivery services offer you vouchers to transport your packages at no cost for a week. Exotic restaurants invite you to try out their menu without having to pay the bill.

The system of free samples can be practised in dozens of different ways. Complimentary demonstrations of new products and services provide the best proof of their value. Whatever your field of business or professional activity, if you are not already using this sales approach, you may be missing one of the most powerful tools for acquiring new customers.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by sup3r under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 20 January 2011

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 3 of 4)


The primary obstacle frequently remains invisible and might consist of any of these cases:
  1. Lack of credibility in the marketplace.
  2. Potential customers are unaware that a solution exists to their problem.
  3. High perceived risk of purchasing an unknown product.
  4. The advantages of the product are difficult to explain.
  5. General scepticism of potential buyers about anything new.
  6. Established suppliers dominate the market although they make inferior products.
Luckily, there is one sales method that addresses all those bottlenecks simultaneously. Giving free product samples and service demonstrations has become the marketing system of choice for new products in the 20th century and promises to maintain its prime status in the foreseeable future.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by coda under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 3 of 4)


The primary obstacle frequently remains invisible and might consist of any of these cases:
  1. Lack of credibility in the marketplace.
  2. Potential customers are unaware that a solution exists to their problem.
  3. High perceived risk of purchasing an unknown product.
  4. The advantages of the product are difficult to explain.
  5. General scepticism of potential buyers about anything new.
  6. Established suppliers dominate the market although they make inferior products.
Luckily, there is one sales method that addresses all those bottlenecks simultaneously. Giving free product samples and service demonstrations has become the marketing system of choice for new products in the 20th century and promises to maintain its prime status in the foreseeable future.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by coda under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 2 of 4)


Selling water to thirsty tourists in the desert would place you in the ideal marketing position. In that context, you would be able to charge a high price and hardly hear complaints from customers. The reality that most businesses face in our age is precisely the opposite. Large numbers of players compete in each market and customers have become increasingly difficult to reach.

If we try to apply the bottleneck principle to sales, we are going to face, first of all, the question of identifying the critical problem. In the example of furniture manufacturing, we were able to see the assembly difficulties. In contrast, when it comes to marketing, the primary obstacle frequently remains invisible and might consist of any of these cases:

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by sneakerdog under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 2 of 4)


Selling water to thirsty tourists in the desert would place you in the ideal marketing position. In that context, you would be able to charge a high price and hardly hear complaints from customers. The reality that most businesses face in our age is precisely the opposite. Large numbers of players compete in each market and customers have become increasingly difficult to reach.

If we try to apply the bottleneck principle to sales, we are going to face, first of all, the question of identifying the critical problem. In the example of furniture manufacturing, we were able to see the assembly difficulties. In contrast, when it comes to marketing, the primary obstacle frequently remains invisible and might consist of any of these cases:

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by sneakerdog under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 1 of 4)


In the last five decades, management thinkers have reflected and debated on how to increase the effectiveness of organizations. Different theories have been put forward, argued, and often withdrawn. Even nowadays, only a couple of management precepts enjoy universal acceptance. The bottleneck principle is one of those few.

This rule predicts that the positive short-term benefits of any action will always be the greatest when efforts are focused on removing a bottleneck from a process. For instance, when the production of furniture is being slowed down by assembly difficulties, such bottleneck could be removed by using a simpler fastening procedure.

This formula has been applied successfully thousands of times to speed up manufacturing and service operations. On the other hand, its application has been rare in the field of marketing and sales. In general, entrepreneurs find easier to create new products than finding customers willing to purchase them.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kimdokhac under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

In praise of low-key marketing (Part 1 of 4)


In the last five decades, management thinkers have reflected and debated on how to increase the effectiveness of organizations. Different theories have been put forward, argued, and often withdrawn. Even nowadays, only a couple of management precepts enjoy universal acceptance. The bottleneck principle is one of those few.

This rule predicts that the positive short-term benefits of any action will always be the greatest when efforts are focused on removing a bottleneck from a process. For instance, when the production of furniture is being slowed down by assembly difficulties, such bottleneck could be removed by using a simpler fastening procedure.

This formula has been applied successfully thousands of times to speed up manufacturing and service operations. On the other hand, its application has been rare in the field of marketing and sales. In general, entrepreneurs find easier to create new products than finding customers willing to purchase them.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kimdokhac under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 17 January 2011

Tele Norte Leste, a simple way to invest in Brazil


At the current price of USD 16.01, Tele Norte Leste (NYSE:TNE) represents an interesting way of participating in the growth of the Brazilian economy. The yield is around 10% and the price /earnings ratio around 10, although it is unclear if the company will be able to sustain its current level of profitability.

This type of investment entails higher risk than buying shares of a multi-national company with different operating divisions spread across the five continents, but in any case, the shares of Tele Norte Lest seem attractive at the present price.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by ImageryMaster under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tele Norte Leste, a simple way to invest in Brazil


At the current price of USD 16.01, Tele Norte Leste (NYSE:TNE) represents an interesting way of participating in the growth of the Brazilian economy. The yield is around 10% and the price /earnings ratio around 10, although it is unclear if the company will be able to sustain its current level of profitability.

This type of investment entails higher risk than buying shares of a multi-national company with different operating divisions spread across the five continents, but in any case, the shares of Tele Norte Lest seem attractive at the present price.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by ImageryMaster under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 7 of 7)


When Maimonides died in 1204, he was 69 years old. By that time, his son Abraham, who had just turned 19, had already acquired such a reputation as physician that he was also appointed to a position in the royal court. Apparently, the system of learning had worked its wonders once again, but the story does not stop here.

During the following decades, Maimonides' grandson and the son thereof also learned the same profession at a young age and, later on, practised medicine very successfully. During the 13th and 14th centuries, they belonged to the most famous physicians of Egypt.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by insane photoholic under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 7 of 7)


When Maimonides died in 1204, he was 69 years old. By that time, his son Abraham, who had just turned 19, had already acquired such a reputation as physician that he was also appointed to a position in the royal court. Apparently, the system of learning had worked its wonders once again, but the story does not stop here.

During the following decades, Maimonides' grandson and the son thereof also learned the same profession at a young age and, later on, practised medicine very successfully. During the 13th and 14th centuries, they belonged to the most famous physicians of Egypt.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by insane photoholic under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 6 of 7)


You may argue that such rules of learning were good for someone living nine centuries ago, but that they have become obsolete in our time. Modern schools and universities, such as those in the fields of law and medicine, impose strict requirements on which subjects are to be covered by students.

Although the environment and demands have changed, I submit that the principles of accelerated learning have remained the same. Curiosity, personal motivation, and a few good books is all it takes to get started. For those who possess the knowledge, passing formal exams has never been a problem. Other elements, such as working experience, can be picked up as you go along.

The ultimate proof of the learning method was provided by Maimonides himself. He got married when he was 50 years old and, soon after, he had a son, whom he named Abraham. The kid read at home the same books that Maimonides had read and, already as an infant, he began to assist his father during his medical consultations.


To be continued in Part 7

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by irwan223 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 6 of 7)


You may argue that such rules of learning were good for someone living nine centuries ago, but that they have become obsolete in our time. Modern schools and universities, such as those in the fields of law and medicine, impose strict requirements on which subjects are to be covered by students.

Although the environment and demands have changed, I submit that the principles of accelerated learning have remained the same. Curiosity, personal motivation, and a few good books is all it takes to get started. For those who possess the knowledge, passing formal exams has never been a problem. Other elements, such as working experience, can be picked up as you go along.

The ultimate proof of the learning method was provided by Maimonides himself. He got married when he was 50 years old and, soon after, he had a son, whom he named Abraham. The kid read at home the same books that Maimonides had read and, already as an infant, he began to assist his father during his medical consultations.


To be continued in Part 7

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by irwan223 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 14 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 5 of 7)


  1. Enormous curiosity to learn things that he considered interesting.
  2. Getting hold of a few good books in the areas of knowledge that he liked.
  3. Reading those books many times, year after year, making his own notes.
  4. Taking every opportunity to learn from experts and ask questions, driven by his curiosity.
  5. Concentrating on different fields of knowledge one after the other. In the case of Maimonides, he focused his research and writings, sequentially, on the areas of law, for about twelve years, then on philosophy, for about another twelve years, and finally, on medicine.
  6. Learning from mistakes and making corrections as he went along.
To be continued in Part 6

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by alainf1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 5 of 7)


  1. Enormous curiosity to learn things that he considered interesting.
  2. Getting hold of a few good books in the areas of knowledge that he liked.
  3. Reading those books many times, year after year, making his own notes.
  4. Taking every opportunity to learn from experts and ask questions, driven by his curiosity.
  5. Concentrating on different fields of knowledge one after the other. In the case of Maimonides, he focused his research and writings, sequentially, on the areas of law, for about twelve years, then on philosophy, for about another twelve years, and finally, on medicine.
  6. Learning from mistakes and making corrections as he went along.
To be continued in Part 6

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by alainf1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 4 of 7)


In addition, every afternoon, he ran his private medical consultation at home, both for the Jewish and Islamic community. As though this was not enough work, every evening, he tried to devote some time to read philosophy and to continue writing.

By the time he was 50 years old, Maimonides had completed his second major work, the "Guide for the Perplexed," an extraordinary intellectual attempt to reconcile religion with Aristotelian logic. The book had a major impact in later Western thinkers and, nowadays, in the 21st century, it is still in print.

This was just the end of the second period of his writings, since later on, he began to produce texts about medicine, including a commentary on the aphorisms of the Greek physician Hippocrates. How did Moses Maimonides managed to accumulate such an extensive knowledge in different areas? Here is the explanation that I can put forward:

To be continued in Part 5

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by thelastminute under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 4 of 7)


In addition, every afternoon, he ran his private medical consultation at home, both for the Jewish and Islamic community. As though this was not enough work, every evening, he tried to devote some time to read philosophy and to continue writing.

By the time he was 50 years old, Maimonides had completed his second major work, the "Guide for the Perplexed," an extraordinary intellectual attempt to reconcile religion with Aristotelian logic. The book had a major impact in later Western thinkers and, nowadays, in the 21st century, it is still in print.

This was just the end of the second period of his writings, since later on, he began to produce texts about medicine, including a commentary on the aphorisms of the Greek physician Hippocrates. How did Moses Maimonides managed to accumulate such an extensive knowledge in different areas? Here is the explanation that I can put forward:

To be continued in Part 5

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by thelastminute under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 3 of 7)


The jewellery business had its ups and downs, but Maimonides continued researching and writing during his twenties and early thirties until he finished his commentary, which today, nine hundred years later, is still considered one of the major scholarly works on Jewish law.

The family moved to Egypt in search of a better life, but a catastrophe was soon to wipe out their resources. Maimonides' brother, David, died in a shipwreck, taking down with him all the family fortune. Stranded in Egypt with no money, Maimonides opted for trying to make a living as a physician, using the medical knowledge that he had acquired in Spain.

As of 1165 C.E., during his thirties and forties, Maimonides practised medicine in Alexandria, the main port in the north of Egypt. His success was so astounding that, although Maimonides was a Jew, Sultan Saladin appointed him physician to the court. That entailed regular obligations and, every morning, Maimonides went to the royal palace to give medical consultations to the royal family and court officials.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Zesbienbeautouza under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 3 of 7)


The jewellery business had its ups and downs, but Maimonides continued researching and writing during his twenties and early thirties until he finished his commentary, which today, nine hundred years later, is still considered one of the major scholarly works on Jewish law.

The family moved to Egypt in search of a better life, but a catastrophe was soon to wipe out their resources. Maimonides' brother, David, died in a shipwreck, taking down with him all the family fortune. Stranded in Egypt with no money, Maimonides opted for trying to make a living as a physician, using the medical knowledge that he had acquired in Spain.

As of 1165 C.E., during his thirties and forties, Maimonides practised medicine in Alexandria, the main port in the north of Egypt. His success was so astounding that, although Maimonides was a Jew, Sultan Saladin appointed him physician to the court. That entailed regular obligations and, every morning, Maimonides went to the royal palace to give medical consultations to the royal family and court officials.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Zesbienbeautouza under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 2 of 7)


Let me tell you a story that illustrates how effective learning can take place at minimum cost. Moses Maimonides was born in the year 1135 C.E in Cordoba, in the south of Spain. His father was a rabbi and possessed at home a few dozen books about Jewish law, medicine, and Greek philosophy.

During his infancy, Moses Maimonides, together with his older brother David, received many hours of instruction from his father, although that cannot be compared to the thousands of lessons that contemporary children receive at school. What is amazing is that, with very limited resources, Maimonides absorbed knowledge like a sponge.

His brother David began a jewellery business and Maimonides also took some part in it, at the same time that he devoted a share of his time to writing a General Commentary on Jewish law. His writings were based on the books that he had read, to which he added his own reflections.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by quattrostagioni under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 2 of 7)


Let me tell you a story that illustrates how effective learning can take place at minimum cost. Moses Maimonides was born in the year 1135 C.E in Cordoba, in the south of Spain. His father was a rabbi and possessed at home a few dozen books about Jewish law, medicine, and Greek philosophy.

During his infancy, Moses Maimonides, together with his older brother David, received many hours of instruction from his father, although that cannot be compared to the thousands of lessons that contemporary children receive at school. What is amazing is that, with very limited resources, Maimonides absorbed knowledge like a sponge.

His brother David began a jewellery business and Maimonides also took some part in it, at the same time that he devoted a share of his time to writing a General Commentary on Jewish law. His writings were based on the books that he had read, to which he added his own reflections.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by quattrostagioni under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 10 January 2011

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 1 of 7)


Many universities and colleges offer courses to improve your learning effectiveness. In those sessions, usually spread across several weeks, you will be taught to define your goals, to get organized, to be disciplined in your studies, to take notes, underline the main ideas, and review constantly what you have learned.

Judging by the results, one might wonder if those courses work that well. The number of drop-outs from colleges and universities is still substantial. Wasted resources and wasted time. What a pity, people lament, but can the situation be improved? If we take a look at adult vocational training, the situation is somewhat better, but still far from ideal.

Indeed, there is plenty of room for improvement, but this is the kind of problem that cannot be solved by preaching. If conditions are going to ameliorate, this will happen only as a result of personal example. With good reason, people tend to believe more what they experience themselves than what they are told.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Monica's Dad under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The low-cost approach to personal development (Part 1 of 7)


Many universities and colleges offer courses to improve your learning effectiveness. In those sessions, usually spread across several weeks, you will be taught to define your goals, to get organized, to be disciplined in your studies, to take notes, underline the main ideas, and review constantly what you have learned.

Judging by the results, one might wonder if those courses work that well. The number of drop-outs from colleges and universities is still substantial. Wasted resources and wasted time. What a pity, people lament, but can the situation be improved? If we take a look at adult vocational training, the situation is somewhat better, but still far from ideal.

Indeed, there is plenty of room for improvement, but this is the kind of problem that cannot be solved by preaching. If conditions are going to ameliorate, this will happen only as a result of personal example. With good reason, people tend to believe more what they experience themselves than what they are told.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Monica's Dad under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Portugal Telecom, an interesting opportunity?


At the current price of USD 10.42, Portugal Telecom seems an attractive opportunity, bearing in mind that the company has also operations outside Portugal.

The current yield is more than 6% and analysts forecast earnings per share in the range of USD 1.00 for the year 2011. The operations outside Portugal should profit from the emerging markets growth.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by GregTheBusker under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Portugal Telecom, an interesting opportunity?


At the current price of USD 10.42, Portugal Telecom seems an attractive opportunity, bearing in mind that the company has also operations outside Portugal.

The current yield is more than 6% and analysts forecast earnings per share in the range of USD 1.00 for the year 2011. The operations outside Portugal should profit from the emerging markets growth.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by GregTheBusker under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 8 January 2011

A few impossible things that you can do or start today (Part 4 of 4)


These cases are not as rare as you may think. People who embrace major personal change come from all walks of life. Middle-aged or old, male or female, they hesitate long until, one day, they make the decision. Their determination to take a new road frequently antagonizes family and friends, who find their old expectations undermined.

It takes enormous courage to embark on this sort of journey. More often than not, what moves individuals to alter essential elements of their existence is the realization of the limited time they have. This may happen as a result of a major illness or simply because they outgrow their previous living conditions.

Have you redefined your long-term objectives? What aspects of your life do you wish to improve? Stepping out of our routine and taking a few days to reflect might be the initial step. Are you considering embarking on a major change or taking an unconventional path? Should that be the case, let me wish you a quick and successful transition.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mrkumm under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

A few impossible things that you can do or start today (Part 4 of 4)


These cases are not as rare as you may think. People who embrace major personal change come from all walks of life. Middle-aged or old, male or female, they hesitate long until, one day, they make the decision. Their determination to take a new road frequently antagonizes family and friends, who find their old expectations undermined.

It takes enormous courage to embark on this sort of journey. More often than not, what moves individuals to alter essential elements of their existence is the realization of the limited time they have. This may happen as a result of a major illness or simply because they outgrow their previous living conditions.

Have you redefined your long-term objectives? What aspects of your life do you wish to improve? Stepping out of our routine and taking a few days to reflect might be the initial step. Are you considering embarking on a major change or taking an unconventional path? Should that be the case, let me wish you a quick and successful transition.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mrkumm under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 7 January 2011

A few impossible things that you can do or start today (Part 3 of 4)


8. Cancel their affiliation to an organization that has been part of their lives for decades and cut off links to former associates.

9. Liquidate their assets, move to a tax heaven, and change their nationality.

10. Throw away all tobacco and alcohol that they have at home and never purchase or consume those again.

11. Start up their own business during evenings and weekends, while keeping their present employment.

12. Study nutrition, learn to cook, and lose any extra weight that they have accumulated over the years.

13. Tell your spouse that you want a divorce, move to another place, and start building a new life.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Mara 1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

A few impossible things that you can do or start today (Part 3 of 4)


8. Cancel their affiliation to an organization that has been part of their lives for decades and cut off links to former associates.

9. Liquidate their assets, move to a tax heaven, and change their nationality.

10. Throw away all tobacco and alcohol that they have at home and never purchase or consume those again.

11. Start up their own business during evenings and weekends, while keeping their present employment.

12. Study nutrition, learn to cook, and lose any extra weight that they have accumulated over the years.

13. Tell your spouse that you want a divorce, move to another place, and start building a new life.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Mara 1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A few impossible things that you can do or start today (Part 2 of 4)


1. Sell their house in the city, move to a village on the coast, and build up a new life there.

2. Drop out of their current circle of friends from one day to the next and seek out people with other values or interests.

3. Go through their kitchen, throw away all unhealthy items, and commit to purchase exclusively wholesome food in the future.

4. Look for a job in a field unconnected to their previous experience.

5. Buy a bicycle and ride it every day for an hour.

6. Unplug their television set, throw it away, and never spend another minute watching TV.

7. Learn a foreign language and find a job in another continent.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by masterplaan under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

A few impossible things that you can do or start today (Part 2 of 4)


1. Sell their house in the city, move to a village on the coast, and build up a new life there.

2. Drop out of their current circle of friends from one day to the next and seek out people with other values or interests.

3. Go through their kitchen, throw away all unhealthy items, and commit to purchase exclusively wholesome food in the future.

4. Look for a job in a field unconnected to their previous experience.

5. Buy a bicycle and ride it every day for an hour.

6. Unplug their television set, throw it away, and never spend another minute watching TV.

7. Learn a foreign language and find a job in another continent.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by masterplaan under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]