A few years ago, after I read Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, I made a deliberate decision to maximize doing things I love and minimize doing things I am indifferent to or simply hate. I outsourced low-value daily tasks that had gradually slipped into my schedule to my very capable and awesome assistant, Barbara, who actually loves doing them. The time I “found” I reallocated to things I love: research, reading, and writing… and also to my family.
However, there are tasks that I cannot outsource and one of them is public speaking. I love public speaking, but I absolutely hate giving speeches. Confused? Stay with me… A week or two before a speech, I find myself stressed; my brain cannot stop thinking about the speech. I want to deliver the speech with the same clarity as I write, which is impossible because every sentence that you see on this page has been rewritten two or three times.
On the other hand I absolutely love answering questions, or simply having a fireside-chat-like conversation on-stage. I have found that audiences sense my predilection and therefore enjoy my Q&A sessions a lot more than my speeches. All the events I did in Omaha this year were in a Q&A type of format. I don’t prepare for these events, and I find that I always learn something, because the questions make me think about new topics.
So now when I am asked to speak, be it at a conference or on a university campus, I agree only on the condition that the event be in a Q&A format. As I started doing so, I found that people don’t usually have a problem with this request. However, it may not be appropriate for every event. I do only a few speeches a year (not counting the quarterly Q&A talks I give to students at Denver University, which is where we get most of our interns). If I do fewer talks but enjoy them, my life only gets better.
On May 24 I’ll be speaking at the London Value Investor Conference. My super-smart friend David Shapiro is the conference’s MC, in addition to running a very successful fund of funds in London, he will be conducting a fireside type of chat interview with me. The conference concludes with Big Ben –well, kind of; actually it’s a dinner at the House of Commons. I’ve never been there and I’m really excited about it. I have a lot of friends in London and am looking forward to spending time with them, but on either May 23 or 25 I’ll try to do a get together with UK readers. If you’re interested, drop a line to Barbara: pa [at] imausa [dot] com.
I’ve also been invited to speak to finance students at Pepperdine University in Laguna Beach, CA. Michael Kinsman, professor at Pepperdine, has asked students to read my articles and bring questions to class. This is a great opportunity to turn a speaking engagement into a family vacation. My kids love California it’s hard not to – and we plan to go to Legoland and Disneyland. We’ll be in Laguna Beach June 6th through 13th. I’ll try to squeeze in a meeting with readers there as well – if interested, drop Barbara a line: pa [at] imausa [dot] com.