First of all, Jim Rogers, thank you so much for giving us this amazing interview opportunity to learn from you and share your wisdom with people around the world. I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity.
Jim Rogers is a businessman, author, and adventurer. He is well known as a legendary investor that co-founded the Quantum Fund. This fund gained 4200% in 10 years while the S&P performed 47%. Apart from the financial world, he has accomplished a motor-cycle travel around China. Today, he shares with us the essence of successful life.
-----Why did you accept this interview? Our platform is not as big as those famous media you are accustomed to?
I try to talk with people; because the more people you talk with, the better world you may reach out. That is on the condition that everybody talks together. I try to help out everybody. When I was young, people helped me. There was no reason for them to. I try to help people and as I said before : the more dialogs there are in the world, the better world you may reach out.
-----That is a great answer : Thank you. So , for those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. How did you get interested in analyzing the market? Had you been interested in analyzing in general, even before you started working in the financial industry?
Well, I had always been interested in what was going on in the world, and trying to figure out what was going on in it . Then, all of a sudden I discovered the investment world. They are ready to pay you if you could understand them and predict what was going to change in that industry. I thought it was wonderful. I didn’t know there was an industry paying you if you could do this. I knew nothing about the financial market before. Then, all of a sudden I discovered this wonderful world allowing me to do what I love and get paid.
-----Was there a specific moment? How did it happen?
I found a summer job on Wall Street. I just took the job because I liked the guy. I knew nothing about what it was like, but I got it and it was wonderful. That was when I learned about Wall Street. If I hadn’t liked the guy, I wouldn’t have taken the summer job.
-----When you look back, what helped you to develop such great analytical thinking as yours? Is that your inborn ability or acquired skill?
Well that’s a big question. I don’t know. I wish I could put it in a pill and then I could sell it. I don’t know how it works. I don’t know how you do it. I just know you have to have an insight, you have to be skeptical, and you have to know that most things are not what they appear on the surface. You have to know that you need to go against the conventional wisdom because it is almost always wrong. However, I don’t know how you tell people that. I don’t know where I got it. It certainly took me awhile to realize that I knew what I was talking about, but at first I thought that everybody on Wall Street knew more than I did. They were older, more experienced and smarter than I. Then, I found out pretty quickly that they didn’t know any more than I. I knew so much, but they didn’t know much of anything. Thus, I continued to analyze things from my own perspective without relying on other people. I realized the more I relied on other people, the more likely I was to be wrong; moreover, the more I relied on myself, the more likely I was to be right. That’s something you learn from experience. Especially in the beginning when you don’t know anything. I knew nothing then.
-----It is an ongoing learning process?
Yes, and it’s still an ongoing learning process.
-----Analyzing the market would be completely different from investing in the market. How do you control your emotion and how do you decide when to carry out some action?
Well, your first statement was very true. There are many people that could be great analysts but not great portfolio-managers. And likewise, there are others that make great portfolio managers but not good analysts. I don’t know why that is. They probably could do both. I try to control my emotions. I know that whatever I do as far as investing is concerned; I’m probably far ahead of the time. That’s what I’ve learned. So, I try to delay my actions because I now know that other people don’t know what I know or what I think I know. So, one way to control my emotions is to wait. Wait for some time to pass; otherwise, I would be acting too soon. I’m very bad at timing. As I said, I now know that other people don’t know what I know or what I think I know. So, I have to find a way to wait. It’s not always easy.
-----Do you need a certain ability to absorb yourself in your emotion?
Yes. If you act emotionally, you’re probably going to lose a bit of money.
-----You mentioned that you had a clear goal of going into retirement by the age of 35. For most people, it’s a fairy tale that they have never realized. Why could you have such a clear goal, and why could you desire it so strongly?
When you’re young, you say various things. You don’t really have a clue what the world is all about. I knew I wanted to retire early so as to have more than one life. I thought it’d be wonderful if I had more than one life or I had more than one career. I figured if I’d retire by the time I was 35, I could do that. I could then set out to have adventures. I wanted to have the first adventure within my reach. I had no idea if I would be able to do it; I had no idea how hard it would be; I had no idea if it could be done. Now I know many things I had said in my life turned out to be true. I learned to listen to myself better than I used to.
-----What was the most important thing for you to make it actually happen?
I certainly had a lot of money. I was able to go out and have an adventure if I wanted to. I didn’t really need more money. I don’t need a lot of money. I didn’t want to buy things. I buy very few things. I didn’t want to buy my freedom before I thought I could be free. So, I said alright to myself, “ Now I’m going to stop. I’m going to have another life. I’m going to see the world. And I’m going to have adventures.” I wrote a book recently, a sort of memoir called Street Smarts: Life On the Road and In the Market. It’s about adventures. I had adventures on the road and in the market. What I wanted from an early age was to have an adventure. Looking back on my life, I find my life full of adventures.
-----How did you cultivate that kind of mentality or mindset?
I’m not sure where it came from. I knew that I didn’t want to wake up one day on Wall Street with people saying he’s 75 years old and all he has ever done is oriented around Wall Street. I knew myself well enough to hear my inner desire: I wanted to do other things. I knew myself well enough to hear my inner voice: I didn’t need that much money. So, I set out to have adventures, which I had wanted for a long time.
-----What has changed and what has not changed, as you get more successful?
One major thing that has changed is that I now have children. I never wanted to have children before. I thought having children would be a horrible waste of time, energy, and money. Now that I have my own children, I am aware that I was completely wrong about them. This is another case where I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now that I have these girls, I’ve been given a really very exciting and wonderful adventures.
-----Did you have a specific moment that changed your mind?
When the little girl was born; I started being with her, watching her and experiencing her. I said to myself, “Oh, my gosh! This is fun. ” What was I talking about? I was all for her partly because I was ready when she came. Fortunately, I had enough money, experience and knowledge to afford her. One reason I didn’t want children before was that children cost a lot of money and take a lot of time and emotion. By the time she came, I had already had a little bit of money and I had some extra time et cetera. If I had experienced child rearing when I was thirty, I probably would have done a terrible thing for the child, for the mother and for myself. When I finally faced that, I had some extra time and money.
-----If you start everything from scratch without any resources you have now; with your wisdom, what would be the first thing you would think?
If I were younger, I would go to Asia. If I had been smart, I would’ve gone to Asia when I retired. I wasn’t smart enough to do that. I actually did go to Asia including China and other places. I realized it was very exciting. Wonderful things were happening there, but I didn’t actually pack up and move into. I knew later that if I had been really so smart I would’ve moved to Asia when I was 35 or 40.
-----If you can leave one message to make the world a better place, what would be your message?
Be very, very skeptical of everything you see and read.