People are fond of the idea of getting rich through investing. They would watch movies like The Wolf of Wall Street or TV programs such as The Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous, and think that investing or getting rich is only for high rollers and the affluent. What most people don’t know is that the game of investing is open to everyone—from the simple to the sophisticated, from the young to the old, from the rich, the middle class, and even to the poor. Today, the game has drastically changed. The only thing that is standing in our way is FINANCIAL LITERACY.
My good friend Randell Tiongson, one of the 11 most influential people on finance in the Philippines, has been a staunch advocate of financial literacy. He used to organize events where he was the lone speaker, until he finally realized that the job is bigger for just one individual to educate Filipinos on personal finance. That’s when Icon was born. Randell gathered the top finance speakers and practitioners in the Philippines to promote financial literacy.
Financial Literacy is the ability to understand how money works. So before we start investing, we need to invest in ourselves first. The idea is to know what will work beforeyou work. As the old saying goes, “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.”
Icon is a great place to learn about finance, both for the novice and the adept. For beginners, the conference introduces the different aspects of personal finance, which includes financial behaviors, debt, investing in real estate or the stock market, and so much more. For the accomplished, the conference will update their know-how by getting added knowledge from experts in different fields.
Investing is not just a method of accumulating wealth, but it is also a way of life. In preparing for this lifestyle, Icon helps us invest in four key areas:
1) Invest in your Financial Well-Being.
One of the main objectives of Icon is to spur people towards financial freedom. That’s why preparation is key, because financial freedom is impossible to attain without financial literacy. A healthy financial well-being is about cultivating a “Wealthy Spirit.”
When my business went bankrupt, I lost millions and fell into debt. Although my future looked bleak, I never considered myself poor. I only considered myself broke, because poor is permanent and broke is only temporary. I also know that I have a rich God.
In December 2010, I gave a speech for 300 people about my debt story. To conclude my talk, I raised a credit card and a pair of scissors for everyone to see. I told them that my wife and I had eight credit cards with debt, and it took us two years to pay off each one. The card I was holding was the last one, which we paid that same week. I cut the card in half and shouted, “Freedom!” The audience gave me blank stares. I told them, “I don’t care if you think I’m corny, but I’m a big fan of Braveheart.” Then I shouted again… “Freedom!” This time, everyone shouted with me. I later found out that those that shouted with me were also in debt. Something in my heart whispered, “Share your story to inspire people. Show them that if you can get out of debt, then they can too.”
A healthy financial well-being is a reflection of our wealthy spirit and, in turn, touches the spirit of others. Once you have it, a wealthy spirit is contagious.
2) Invest in Wisdom.
Wisdom is not just knowledge or information; it is about insight and understanding on how to live life skillfully. You will often hear old people say, “The best teacher is not experience, but other people’s experiences.” Icon gives us more than 100 years combined experience from the top finance speakers and practitioners in the country. They will share their success and, most importantly, their failures in life. If you heed their advice, this will cut out years from your learning curve.
3) Invest in Key Relationships.
Icon gives opportunities to build new relationships. In fact, I met many of my friends in the finance industry from public seminars like Icon. This avenue is a great way to add to your contact list. Look for mentors who will teach and guide you, peers who will support you, and mentees whom you will mentor to pay it forward. After all, what’s the use of learning something if you can’t share it with others.
4) Invest in your future.
“Why ask someone to predict your future if you can create it?” I heard this quote more than a decade ago, yet it still rings in my mind. Spend less than you earn and do it for a long time, then you will be financially independent. Of course, this is an oversimplified maxim to financial independence, yet one can use its wisdom as a powerful blueprint towards creating the future.
Just like what my good friend Marvin Germo, author of Stock Smarts’ “Stock Investing Made Easy,” would always say, “This is the best time to invest in the Philippines. Why should foreigners be the only ones to benefit when we ourselves could benefit by growing with our country?” After attending Icon, you will discover that investing in your future means investing in the Philippines.
To recap, Icon’s goal is to inspire you to invest in your financial well-being, invest in wisdom, invest in key relationships, and invest in your future. But even before Icon, whatever you do, wherever you are, my advice is to “START INVESTING IN YOURSELF NOW, SO YOU CAN START INVESTING!”