How can we possibly make all the best decisions when we are also overwhelmed with all the other challenges of life with our families, children, hobbies, church and other community commitments?
The worlds of personal finance and productivity are very complex. Just take a moment and think about all the areas that we, ideally, should be knowledgeable about: Our chosen career and how to be successful in it (this is a whole book for any job), expense control, insurance (home, life, auto, disability etc…), investing (CD’s, stock, bonds, mutual funds, 401, 403, IRA, Roth and real estate to name a few), time management, technology (voice mail, email, twitter, PDA’s etc…) and the list goes on. Face it, we have not even scratched the surface and already we have listed more than any one person can be proficient with.
I just left a comment over on one of my favorite blogs, Bargaineering; Jim (The Bargaineer) suggested for the same reasons that we should consider finding a business manager. He makes a great point, that while we focus on living our lives to the fullest that we could benefit from some sound guidance.
Jim did not suggest that you actually hire someone; just that you find a voice of reason that you could lean on. As I was commenting, all the various areas of expertise required (noted above) came to mind. If you and I are not proficient in all these areas, how can we expect any of our friends or family to be? Is one person enough?
It dawned on me that I have accumulated something like what Jim suggests, but for me it’s not just a single voice of reason, it’s several.
A board of directors is a better term for the circle of advisors that I have at my disposal. For legal issues, my best friend Reed (aka The Great Big Book of Everything) is always available to guide me. On investing concepts Bill (aka my Warren Buffett) is only a phone call away. For technology, Jason (aka Google) can be emailed. With all matters related to real estate, my realtor Pam is happy to help.
The challenge that I placed on Jim is how you pick the right advisors. Lots of people talk a big game, but how many can walk the walk? There is no single testing procedure or Talent-o-meter that can be used to weed out the best advisors from the worst. You have no choice but to cultivate your board of directors, “hiring” the best volunteers you can find at the time and being prepared to make the tough business decision to fire them when you find better talent.
However, part of being able to rely on your volunteer board of directors is a willingness to contribute. You must be willing to provide some expertise to the party as well and always be willing to donate your time and effort to help them in areas that you excel. It is a two way street.