Now that we’re coming to the end of one of the “most volatile weeks in Wall Street history”, I thought it would be an ideal time to review a Havard Business Review Blog post that I found a couple of months ago, aptly titled “The Best Investment You Can Make.” Those with finance and market tuned brains might be thinking bonds or (gasp!) real estate might be safe assumptions here but the author, Umair Haque, suggests something different, something much more radical: invest in the people you love, your dream and living a full life.
Haque quickly points out that his advice might sound naïve and idealistic, especially given the dire state of America’s financial systems, but he counters his perceived idealism with a wider criticism of the current capitalist system. He argues that the current systems of human organization, including political, social and economic, might allow us to become rich and buy lots of things but they don’t help create meaningful prosperity or develop human potential.
If we were to instead have the courage to invest in ourselves, our interests or our dreams we might not be winning the proverbial “rat race” but we would be confident in our investments and would not face the risk of devaluation. Extending these personal investments to financial and professional investments, such as to social businesses, would allow us to take the recent stock market crashes a little less, well, personally. We wouldn’t need to rely on our hedge-fund investments to make us happy – we could be happy all on our own. In fact, Haque argues that we would be rebuilding the engine.
I think he sums up his point best here:
“The economic spark plug missing from our so-called prosperity won’t be invented in Silicon Valley, manufactured in Shenzhen, hawked by Madison Avenue or Wall Street, or ordained by Washington. It will be found in the pursuit of wisdom, grace, humility, courage and great achievement. It’s the hard work of investing in the people you love, the dreams you have, and living a life that matters.”
So, given Haque’s advice, what would you invest in?