skip to Main Content

I hope you are enjoying the “dog days” of summer (late summer in the Northern Hemisphere). Why are they called the dog days? For the Greeks and Romans, the dog days occurred around the time Sirius (the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, which means big dog in Latin) appears to rise alongside the sun in July. They believed the heat from the two stars combined to bring extreme summer weather.

Sticking on the theme of stars, space tourism is now “hot” with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos travelling further than 80 kms above Earth’s surface. This is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) requirement to qualify as a “commercial astronaut”. Ironically though, the same day as Bezos’ recent flight, the FAA clarified that in order to be considered an astronaut, one must have “demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety or contributed to human space flight safety”. It’s not apparent if either Branson or Bezos met the threshold.

Back on Earth, we continue to toil with the pandemic and an endless onslaught of variants and new challenges. However, some normality has returned to life in recent weeks with vaccination efforts, warmer weather here in Canada and a resumption of visiting with family and friends, and other regular life activities. The Olympics also brought familiar viewing pleasures. While there was significant controversary around the Tokyo Olympics, there is always something special and inspiring about watching athletes from around the world compete at the top level while representing their countries.

Of course, we continue to read and come across thought provoking material. In our latest reading list we have include interesting books, articles, and some podcast and streaming options that might interest you. We’ve also added a new section to highlight other noteworthy organizations or links we’ve come across during the quarter.

Book Recommendations

Click on the title below to be redirected to the book.

Atomic Habits – Making Small Changes to Build New Habits | James Clear
A useful resource for those looking to break old habits or develop new ones. The book unpacks how habits form and allows you to be more deliberate about the changes you make. Also, rather than attempting to make big changes rapidly (like taking up a new fitness regime on the 1stof January), Atomic Habits promotes the benefits of small, easy, and incremental adjustments which compound into large positive and lasting changes over time.

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family | Thomas Mann
This book led to a Nobel Prize in literature for Mann in 1929. Originally published in German in 1900, the novel was translated in 1984. The Buddenbrooks of successive generations experience a gradual decline of their finances and family ideals, finding happiness increasingly elusive as values change and old hierarchies are challenged by Germany’s rapid industrialization.

What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars | Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan
This book highlights the rise of fall of Jim Paul who rose quickly to become the governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, but lost his job, fortune, and reputation. This cautionary tale includes strategies for avoiding loss tied to a simple framework for understanding, accepting, and dodging the dangers of investing, trading, and speculating.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion | Jonathan Haidt
This is one of my ‘must read’ books and shed new light the origins of the many divisive issues facing us today. Drawing on his 25 years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.

The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness | Morgan Housel
Money – investing, personal finance, and business decisions – is typically taught as a math-based field, where data and formulas tell us exactly what to do. But in the real world, people don’t make financial decisions on a spreadsheet. They make them at the dinner table, or in a meeting room, where personal history, your own unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing, and odd incentives are scrambled together.

In this book, Morgan Housel (one of the Best investment writers) shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches us how to make better sense of these important topics

Article Recommendations

Click on the title below to see the full content.

The Atlantic | Perfectionism Can Become a Vicious Cycle in Families
This article dives into what psychologists’ term “other-oriented perfectionism”, where people direct their unrealistic expectations outward towards partners, co-workers and children. Recent studies suggest one in three children and adolescents now has some form of perfectionism. It’s key for parents to communicate unconditional regard, which is really the antithesis of perfectionism.

HBR | Do Most Family Businesses Really Fail by the Third Generation?
There are lots of versions of the three-generation myth out there. It’s at the root of the expression “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves,” which suggests that the money made by one entrepreneurial generation is gone by the time of their grandchildren. Where did that three-generation idea come from? Amazingly, a single 1980s study of manufacturing companies in Illinois is the basis for most of the facts cited about the longevity of family businesses. And not all of its conclusions are as obvious as they are purported to be. Worth a read.

1729 | Founding vs. Inheriting
This piece argues that heirs failed, and founders succeeded during the COVID pandemic, and that older, inherited institutional ideology and “read-only” culture is giving way to beta-tested founders who took over many of the functions of running American society during the pandemic.

The Atlantic | How America fractured into four parts
In this brilliant and thought-provoking article, George Packer explains about how and why America ended up in four distinct and divided parts, who do not agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history and meaning. He identifies the four groups as Free America, Smart America, Real America, and Just America and wonders if reconciliation is possible and what it will look like.

Wired | What really happened in Iceland’s four-day week trial
Iceland’s recent four-day work week trial was deemed an overwhelming success. Employees reported better wellbeing, less stress and burnout, while productivity stayed the same or improved even with one less day with a few caveats. The takeaway: we unquestionably waste hours at work.

Wall Street Journal | Finance Chiefs Weigh the Impact, and the Odds, of a Global Minimum Tax
Led by the OECD, 130 countries, including the US, have agreed to a global minimum 15% corporate tax. The potential deal would also allow countries to tax 20% of profits in the country where products are consumed (targeting large technology companies). Other details are limited at this time and rules would take effect in 2023.

New York Times | How Long Can We Live?
Medical and social advances are leading to a sharp rise in the number of exceptionally long-lived people. Some researchers think we have already reached the ceiling on life span while others view it as an infinite elastic band. This article is an interesting perspective on both viewpoints!

Nexus Investments | The Times They Are a-Changin’
This article touches on the path to “getting back to normal” and controlling your re-entry back into society. It highlights the importance of pausing and evaluating what parts of pandemic life have been a positive change, and then figuring out how to maintain at least some of those parts. “Like a fish not knowing it’s in water until it’s left the fishbowl, many of us aren’t aware of the existence or importance of our rhythms, routines and rituals until they get disrupted.

The Atlantic | How to Buy Happiness
Studies show that happiness flattens significantly after $100,000 in annual income. However, how the wealthier spent their money makes a big impact on happiness. The article discusses how spending on experiences, buying time, and giving money away to others all reliably raise happiness.  

Harvard Business Review | Slow Down and Write Better Emails
“Misunderstandings are rampant in today’s workplaces”. Poor communication habits are even more apparent during the pandemic. This article provides three questions to pause and ask yourself before you send off that next email.

Financial Times | What the new Beanie Baby bubble tells us about the future of markets
This article highlights the beanie baby mini-bubble of the late 1990s which still provides lessons today.

BBC | Can financial therapy untangle our relationship with money?
This piece touches on financial phobia, which can manifest differently in people – for instance, some may avoid engaging with issues around money due to the emotional stressors tied to money (data shows money is a significant driver of divorce). Others may spend excessively as a response to anxiety. A new field – Financial Therapy – is emerging as a response to help untangle their relationship with money.

Melting Asphalt | Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole (Longer Read)
A long, but interesting read on the idea of prestige being separate from dominance. It explains a lot of behavior I’ve seen throughout my life.

Streaming Recommendations

A new addition to the reading list. Click on the titles below to see the streaming options.

Podcasts

99% Invisible
This narrative podcast hosted by Roman Mars dives into all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about. Recent episodes on the “right to roam” land rules in the UK and continuing use of seals or “Hanko’s” in place of signatures in Japan (even during the pandemic) are fascinating.

Hidden Brain
This is a great podcast, but I’d specifically like to highlight episode from May 17, 2021 with Daniel Kahneman about “noise” in decision making. For those who’ve read about cognitive biases, this is related in that it impacts decision-making but in a different way.

Cautionary Tales
Great podcast about historic events and what we can learn from them. Very well produced.

The History of English
This is a fascinating chronological history of the English language and the origins of words, and right up your alley if you like this kind of thing as much as I do. There are 150 episodes and I’m now on episode 50! Probably a little nerdy, but really interesting! Make sure you listen to them in order.

Movies

1917
Black Widow
Jojo Rabbit

TV

Clarkson’s Farm
Explained
Indian Summers (British elites in India in the 1930s)
Naomi Osaka

Other Noteworthy (New)

  • SheEO – I came across this great Canadian founded organization recently. Currently less than 4% of venture capital funding goes to women. SheEO seeks to change this with their global community of radically generous women who are supporting women working on the World’s To-Do List.
  • Napkin Graphs – I’ve included some fun napkin graphs to cap off the list.

As a lifelong learner, I am always interested in reading or listening to material that broadens my horizons, challenges my thinking, and provides all-important context for the decisions we make. This is true for the entire Northwood team.

We’d also be interested in hearing what you’ve been reading or listening to lately. If you’ve come across any particularly insightful books, articles, shows, or podcasts, please feel free to send them to me at tm@northwoodfamilyoffice.com. Thanks to the many people who have already shared their ideas.

All the best,
Tom

Northwood Family Office

Tom McCullough

Tom McCullough is Chairman and CEO of Northwood Family Office, which looks after the investments and integrated financial affairs of wealthy families with $10 million or more. He teaches ‘The Management of Private Wealth’ in the MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and is also co-author of the books, Family Wealth Management and Wealth of Wisdom: The Top 50 Questions Wealthy Families Ask.

Back To Top
×Close search
Search