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Climate change has been in the headlines for the last few decades, but today we are seeing a near consensus, both on its reality and the need to address it in an urgent manner. In 1995, a small group came together in Berlin for COP1 – in 2021 we saw a record 25,000 attendees from 200 countries attend COP26. We are now seeing some of the largest asset managers in the world conclude that climate risk = investment risk. The result has been an explosion of sustainable investment managers, accelerated significantly during the pandemic (global sustainable fund assets hit $2.3tln in 2021 according to Morningstar). Nine of ten companies in the S&P 500 now issue annual sustainability reports. Though as the first article in our list highlights, asset managers have struggled to integrate ESG data into their investing. The article opines that value principles will help drive the ability to address systemic challenges. I recently heard a saying that “change comes at the speed of trust”. Once investors can trust the ESG process, we will see some real momentum on the sustainability front.

Aside from climate change and sustainability, similar themes continue to reverberate in 2021: higher inflation, supply chain disruptions, and vaccinate mandates. While we can’t predict the direction of inflation, the Bank of Canada signaled recently they anticipate rising interest rates in 2022 in response to inflation. Supply chains continue to be clogged and everywhere you look there are shortages (housing materials, cars, and even Christmas trees!); these supply chain snarls appear to be with us heading into 2022.

On a brighter note, it’s nice to see more people traveling again. And with the holidays just around the corner and families able to gather responsibly again, the end of 2021 is likely to feel much more familiar. As we head into the holiday season, we’ve curated our latest reading list including interesting books, articles, and some podcast and streaming options that might interest you. I hope you enjoy the below selection of content and wish you and your family a safe, healthy, and enjoyable holiday season.
Northwood Reading List

Book Recommendations

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

Zero To One, Notes on Startups or How To Build The Future | Peter Thiel
Peter Theil founded PayPal and Palantir. His 2014 book is a book about questioning and rethinking conventional wisdom in order to help us “see beyond the tracks laid down” to the “broader future that there is to create.”

Open: An Autobiography | Andre Agassi
In this autobiography, tennis legend Andre Agassi shares the highs and lows of his extraordinary journey to becoming one of the biggest sports stars in the 1990s. Setting aside his spiky mullets and flamboyant outfits, Agassi’s pro-athlete story is like no other. It’s intriguing and moving but most importantly, Open showcases to its readers what it takes for a person to reach full potential, whatever their calling may be.

Lying | Sam Harris
Neuroscientist Sam Harris argues that we can simplify our lives by merely telling the truth in all situations. We all know lying erodes trust, but Harris details how lying even over the smallest reasons needlessly damages personal relationships and public trust.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most | Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen
An older read from 1999, but the lessons in this book still ring true today. This book is a practical guide on how to talk about “what matters most” when the subject is really, really uncomfortable.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success | Adam Grant
We have always assumed the drivers of success are passion, hard work, talent, and luck but as Adam Grant shows us, success is increasingly based on how we interact with others. Grant classifies people into takers, matchers, or givers and shows how these styles impact success.

Article Recommendations

Click on the title below to see the full content.

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | A New Way of Seeing Value
Witold Henisz, economist and professor at Wharton, dives into the flaws in ESG data and how managers of $35t in assets are struggling to integrate ESG data into their investing. The article touches on the early focus of “responsible investing pioneers” was around moral values, not financial value and paves a potential path forward for asset managers.

The Atlantic | IPCC Report My Climate Tipping Point
Climate change no longer feels like an abstract future problem. But this article touches on how the pandemic has shown us that proximity to disaster can change minds and as the global climate becomes ore obviously chaotic, the public’s self interest should accelerate.

Collaborative Fund | Getting the Goalpost to Stop Moving
Morgan Housel reminds us that if expectations grow faster than income, you’ll never be happy with your money. The contrast between the 1950’s and today’s easy ability to show off wealth help explain why managing expectations is so critical.

New Yorker | Is It Time For A New Economics Curriculum?
Queen Elizabeth visited the London School of Economics in 2008 and asked the school’s economics professors why no one had seen the 2008 crash coming. As the article highlights, economists are often wrong; the new CORE (Curriculum Open-Access Resources in Economics) curriculum aims to move beyond abstractions to make the real-world implications of economics clear.

New York Times | Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications
This piece touches on the implications of long-term global population changes – most countries continue to see falling fertility rates and some demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or earlier, global population will enter a period of sustained decline.

New York Times | The Quiet Scientific Revolution That May Solve Chronic Pain
This article highlights the three distinct stages of the pain system and details that the underlying science around chronic pain is robust and continuing to grow.

The Atlantic | What Winter-Haters Get Wrong
Sunshine and warmer temperatures increase happiness, but as the articles points out there are many other factors to consider.

Harvard Business Review | Every Leader Has Flaws. Don’t Let Yours Derail Your Strategy.
We enjoy a good self-help piece and this one reminds us of the importance of self-regulating reactions.

Beside | A Death Full of Life
Have you really thought about how your death plans can affect not just your loved ones, but also our environment? This thought-provoking article explains how the industry has evolved over the centuries alongside different religions and beliefs.

BBC | Where Is The World’s Most Expensive Painting?
BBC summarizes two new documentaries which tell the fascinating story about the ongoing saga around Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (or as some say the possible-Leonardo treasure).

Streaming Recommendations

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


Cautionary Tales by Pushkin Industries – stories of great crimes, accidents, and disasters.

Presidential by Washington Post – 40 min podcast on each president.

The President’s Inbox by Council for Foreign Relations – great for geopolitics/international relations. The Fiona Hill interview episode is worth a listen.


Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Clarkson’s Farm
Nine Perfect Strangers
White Lotus

Other Noteworthy

  • Canadian Family Offices Website | This new website shares topics of interest to ultra-high-net-worth Canadians. The group combines journalism with expert insight and practical information from service providers to ultra-high-net-worth clients, with the goal to educate and empower readers while demystifying the family office industry and exploring how this sector manages and grows clients’ wealth. Northwood has contributed to the website a few times this year – it’s worth checking out.
  • What’s Driving Inflation Visual | A useful visual of the handful of items driving inflation in the US.

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 Thanks to the many people who have already shared their ideas.

All the best,

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.

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