I subscribe to several newsletters and magazines, but my favorite financial publisher is  http://www.stansberryresearch.com/ and here’s a snippet that isn’t exactly pure finance, but an example of the punchy style I admire so much.  The below is in response to a reader writing in asking for career advice:

You’re unlikely to follow this advice, but here’s what I recommend. First, figure out what you want to do with your time. Not your life. Just your time. If you think really hard about what you want to do every day next week, you’ll stumble onto what you should be doing with your life. That’s actually the hard part, believe it or not. Most people don’t think this way. They have some idea of what they think they should be doing with their lives – and the ideas are usually pretty big and grandiose. In the meantime, they don’t stop and consider what the day to day will be like once they’ve “arrived.”

Take doctors. Lots of folks want to be doctors because it’s challenging to get through med school and because they believe they can get rich in medicine. Then… once they’ve racked up $50,000 in debt (or more) and completed 12 years of training, they suddenly realize they’re going to spend almost every day for the rest of their lives in a hospital, surrounded by sick and dying people. They discover that working every day with the public is simply retail. Wearing a white coat doesn’t actually make it all that much more enjoyable. (Obviously, some people love being doctors… but I’ve met lots and lots of people who didn’t love the long hours or constantly being subjected to the medical emergencies – real or imagined – of their patients.)

So you might think you want to be in finance – but what does that really mean to you, in terms of what you’ll be doing day to day? Lots of folks want to be investment bankers, until they spend five years doing that kind of work, which normally entails spending all night, several times a week, working a copying machine. Or spending days on end in front of a Bloomberg terminal. Or learning how to make love using an Excel spreadsheet.

Figure out the day-to-day stuff first, not last. And don’t kid yourself. You won’t be able to fake it. Here’s why this is so important: Eventually, you’re going to have to compete against people who actually love what they’re doing every single day. They love it so much they literally devote their entire lives to doing it. They will sacrifice everything just to be the best at this thing they do. You will meet people like this, no matter what field you end up in. And they will crush you if you don’t actually love what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.

In the real world, there’s a huge difference between the 20% at the top and everyone else. If you don’t truly love what you do every day, you’ll never be in the top 20%. And you’ll never be very successful.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to do each day, find the 10 best people in the world at it. Don’t narrow your search to Chicago or New York. Chances are, the 10 best don’t live there. They’ll live in much, much nicer places, like Aspen or Miami or Newport Beach. And you’ll want to live there too, trust me.

Spend a while researching these guys. Get to know every single thing about them. Act like a private detective. Spend three months on each guy. Pay attention to how these guys actually spend their time. Make sure that’s what you want to do with your time, too. Finally… approach them.

The best way to do this is to compliment their work and to send them ideas that mirror their approach. Show them you love to do what they do and you’re good at it. Find a way to make their lives easier or better. Then, volunteer to work for them, for free, for as long as it takes to prove your value to them. Be prepared for them all to say “no” at least a dozen times. They’re just testing you. Very few people turn down a young, hard-working, bright person who is self-directed who volunteers to work for free – if he’s persistent.


Porter Stansberry

Now that seems smart to me.