Ideas Are the Best Gifts 

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.
[Woman in Santa hat with bag of gifts]

There are only a few more days until Christmas, and while I hope you have completed your holiday shopping, I suspect that you still may have a few names you haven’t crossed off your list yet.

Hey, I know gift giving can be difficult, as it is often hard to find the right present for someone. Fortunately, I had some help on this front from a wise mentor of mine, who told me some years ago that he had two rules when giving gifts. 

The first applies more to a man courting a woman, and it goes like this: “The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”

From experience, I can confirm that this maxim works exceedingly well. 

As for maxim two, it is as follows: “It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be special.” This rule doesn’t just apply to lovers, but to all of us during the holidays.

Now, I am of the opinion that the most special gift you can give or receive, and the gift that matters most, is the gift of ideas.

That’s why today, I am going to tell you about some of my favorite holiday gifts, gifts brimming with great ideas.

The easiest, most cost-effective and arguably the best way to give ideas is through books. Whether it is a great work of literature, an insightful self-help manual, or a great “how to” book on a subject close to the recipient’s heart, a really good book has got to be my all-time favorite special gift to give (and one that also happens to be inexpensive).

For those who love literature, fiction, action, adventure, mystery and philosophy, then give the gift that asks, “Who Is John Galt?” Here I am recommending the greatest novel ever written (in my humble opinion), “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.  

If you’ve read the novel, you know how brilliant it is. But if you haven’t read it in some time, give yourself a gift and read it again. And, if you have any young minds on your holiday shopping list, then giving them “Atlas Shrugged” will make them remember you forever — and it may indeed alter the course of their lives the way it altered mine.

For those who prefer self-help style works, I recommend one of the original works on how to be human, “Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius.

This work is more than 2,000 years old, but the wisdom in it applies to what you are doing right now — and what a human being should do every day to maximize their time on earth. The insights, wisdom and practical guidance delivered on every page of this work are amazing, and the subjects vary from how best to deal with life’s inevitable adversity to how best to interact with others. I also highly recommend the Gregory Hays translation, as I think it is the smoothest and most poetic out there.

As for the “how to” category, well, I’ve always felt that a collection of wisdom from the best brains in that industry has been most special to me. And on this front, there is no better “how to” anthology than the one by my friend, fellow Fast Money Alert co-editor and brilliant economist, Dr. Mark Skousen.

The work I am specifically referring to here is “The Maxims of Wall Street.” This is a collection of some of the greatest wisdom ever to flow from the biggest and brightest names on Wall Street. Great investors such as Jesse Livermore, Baron Rothschild, J.P. Morgan, Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and John Templeton are just a sneak peek at some of the names you’ll discover in this fantastic collection. 

Then there is profundity from the likes of Ben Franklin, John D. Rockefeller, Joe Kennedy, Bernard Baruch, John Maynard Keynes, Steve Forbes and numerous other luminaries too copious to mention.

Your editor with his signed copy of “The Maxims.”

As Mark puts it, “For years, I’ve been compiling these financial adages, ancient proverbs and immortal poems found in new and rare financial books and quoted regularly by investors, money managers, brokers and old timers.”  

So, whether this gift of ideas is to yourself or to someone special, you should definitely do everyone a favor and give “The Maxims of Wall Street” to those you value.

Now, for those who are into health and fitness, there’s one must-read book full of brilliant ideas on the subject that I recommend with all my being, and that book is “Body By Science” by Dr. Doug McGuff and John Little. 

This work presents a scientifically proven formula for maximizing muscle development in the briefest time possible (although don’t confuse brevity with being easy, because these workouts are killers!). Yet the best part of the “Body By Science” protocol is that you can do it in about 12-20 minutes a week. 

And while that may seem like an incredible claim, it is one backed by rigorous research. Moreover, I can tell you from personal experience that this training works, as the concepts contained in this work have been the basis of my workout protocol for the past three decades.

So, there you have it, a few practical ideas on how to give the best gift anyone can ever give or receive — the gift of ideas. 

*************************************************************

Wednesdays Mean Wisdom 

This time of year is replete with reflection on the past 12 months. 

It is also a time when we prepare ourselves for the coming year. But before we get to either of these things, it behooves us to consider some wisdom from the great Benjamin Franklin on the importance of conscience.

You see, when our hearts and minds are clear, we can see the past for what it is and the future for what it should be. And that, my friend, will bring you holiday cheer throughout the year. 

So, from all of us at the Way of the Renaissance Man team, we wish you the very happiest of holidays. And be sure to catch this week’s Wednesday Wisdom, featuring the genius of one of our most-brilliant Founding Fathers. 

*****************************************************************

Christmas Mirth 

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”

— Garrison Keillor

The humorist reminds us that this time of year can be trying and tumultuous. But in the end, the chaos is benevolent.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

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