When Morgan Housel published The Psychology of Money, I wrote that it would be the finance book of the year. I grossly underestimated it. Psychology of Money has sold over 4 million copies. It has become my standard gift to graduates and young people searching to learn about money and investing. Now, that gift will be a one-two punch. Morgan has written the perfect complement we never knew Psychology needed, Same As Ever, A Guide to What Never Changes. If you are looking for a holiday gift for your intellectually curious family and friends, here it is.
Morgan describes Psychology as the way humans relate to money as individuals, while Same As Ever addresses how we behave in groups. The book is divided into 23 short, independent chapters, that can be read in any order. Ever the rule follower, I, of course, read them in order. I dove in the first night I received an advance copy, with the explicit goal of finishing it before the release date. As a parent of two young children, I am proud to say I accomplished that goal, even though I didn’t get this blog post about it out in time.
I recommend reading the chapters in order, if only for the succinct, James Patterson-style cliffhanger sentences at the end of each chapter that keep you turning the page.
By exploring what never changes about human behavior, Morgan uncovers incredible wisdom about structuring our relationships with money, investing, and business. I would argue that this wisdom can also be applied to building a meaningful and fulfilling life in general. Full stop. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways. I will leave you to explore further with your reading of what I believe will become a timeless classic.
Anything worth pursuing is hard, and it’s supposed to be.
This concept resonates with me and was music to my ears. Shortcuts will eventually fail. Achievement only feels good because it requires effort, even pain, to succeed. The trick is to learn to live with that pain because the reward at the end is worth it.
“If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it – every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting.” Jerry Seinfeld
A simple rule that’s obvious but easy to ignore is that nothing worth pursuing is free. How could it be otherwise? Everything has a price, and the price is usually proportionate to the potential rewards.
Stress has its advantages.
Despite all of the health advice telling us to reduce stress, some of the world’s greatest breakthroughs result from times of stress. Put another way, humans have a unique talent for rising to meet the challenge when things get tough.
A constant truth you see throughout history is that the biggest changes and the most important innovations don’t happen when everyone is happy and things are going well. They tend to occur during, and after, a terrible event. When people are a little panicked, shocked, worried, and when the consequences of not acing quickly are too painful to bear.
Stories are more powerful than statistics.
This last highlight is hard for me. A good story beats a good work product every time. As an introvert who struggles with the art of storytelling, I yearn for this not to be true. The best idea should shine, not the best story! Alas, humans are social animals who flock to stories, learn from stories, and even progress through stories (i.e. the story of money).
The valuation of every company is simply a number from today multiplied by a story about tomorrow. Some companies are incredibly good at telling stories, and during some eras, investors capitvated by the wildest ideas of what the future might bring.
As I review the book to write this blog, I realize that Same As Ever will be one of those books I pick up occasionally to absorb more of its wisdom. It’s not simply a compilation of short stories about the things that will never change. It is an endless treasure trove of wisdom to be interpreted into everyday life and a must-read for all who are curious about how the human condition impacts our relationship with money.