The Top Soundview Live Webinars of 2015

In 2015 we have hosted 60 Soundview Live webinars with top business authors and leaders. So I went back to see which were our most popular. You may be surprised by those that made the list – or perhaps not.

Kory Kogon – The Path to Extraordinary Productivity: In this Soundview Live webinar Kory Kogon offers powerful insights drawn from the latest neuroscience and decades of experience and research in the time-management field to help you master your attention and energy management through five fundamental choices that will increase your ability to achieve what matters most to you.

Scott Eblin – Mindfulness Basics to Thrive in a 24/7 World: In this Soundview Live webinar Scott Eblin offers practical insights for the executive, manager or professional who feels like their RPM is maxed out in the red zone. By making the concepts and practices of mindfulness simple, practical and applicable, this event offers actionable hope for today’s overworked and overwhelmed professional.

Daniel Weiser – How to Become an Expert Negotiator: You may be a high-ranking CEO or a first day salesman, a service provider or self-employed. If you face encounters with your partners, clients, suppliers or employees, in which you want them to think differently at the end of the meeting and actually do what you want – this webinar is for YOU. The objective of this Soundview Live webinar with Daniel Weiser is to improve your negotiation skills and to move you one step closer to closing your deal.

Steve Shallenberger – How the BEST Leaders Ignite Energy and Fuel High Performance: In this Soundview Live webinar Steve Shallenberger will help you leverage the 12 principles that propel teams and organizations to the top! These tools and processes drive the kind of innovation that turns good teams and companies into industry leaders – all while living a well-balanced personal life. Steve will provide advice, tools and examples for turning your thoughts into action and bringing out the best in your teams and employees!

Daymond John – The Power of Branding: In this Soundview Live webinar Daymond John tells how four ordinary guys from Queens, New York, rose from street corners to corner offices and became the greatest trendsetters of our generation. He lays it all out on the line- his secrets to success, his triumphs, and his utter failures- to show what it takes to harness and display the power that resides in us all.

Marshall Goldsmith – How to Create Behavior Change that Lasts: In this powerful Soundview Live webinar, bestselling author and world-renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith examines the environmental and psychological triggers that can derail us at work and in life. Filled with revealing and illuminating stories from his work with some of the most successful chief executives and power brokers in the business world, Goldsmith offers a personal playbook on how to achieve change in our lives, make it stick, and become the person we want to be.

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi – Unlock the Power of Whole Brain Thinking: Filled with real-world examples and essential charts, exercises, action steps, and strategies, this Soundview Live webinar shows you how to rethink your business, prepare for the future, realign your goals, and reinvigorate your team — by putting your whole brain to work.

Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor- How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures: In this Soundview Live webinar Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor explain the counter-intuitive science behind great cultures, building on over a century of academic thinking. They share the simple, highly predictive new measurement tool—the Total Motivation (ToMo) Factor—that enables you to measure the strength of your culture, and track improvements over time.

Not surprisingly, six of the eight top events are about improving personal skills, rather than focusing on the business. Webinars are the perfect venue for personal development and that may have been their main attraction this year. If you had a favorite Soundview Live webinar this year, let us know by commenting on this blog.

How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations

Succeeding as a Newcomer

In an old commercial, a cattle rancher is asked when he last left the “county.” The look on his face reveals that he can’t remember. Cattle ranchers notwithstanding, most of us have lives filled with moves: to new places, new companies and new teams, not to mention new hobbies or new sports. We’re in unfamiliar environments, dealing with unfamiliar people and trying to accomplish unfamiliar tasks.

whattodowhenyourenewIn a new book entitled What to Do When You’re New, author Keith Rollag has written a manual to help us successfully navigate the unsettling experience. At the heart of the book are five actions that, Rollag writes, newcomers must master: introducing yourself, remembering names, asking questions, starting new relationships and performing in new situations. For each of these actions, Rollag explains why, as newcomers, we are reluctant to perform these actions, offers different strategies and techniques to accomplish each action effectively and finishes with ways to practice the techniques.

Is This a Good Time?

For example, Rollag writes, the first important step to integrate successfully into a new situation is to introduce yourself to others.

While this might sound easy, most people, Rollag writes, are reluctant to introduce themselves for a number of reasons, including the fear of interrupting people at the wrong time and place; introducing yourself to people who don’t want to meet you; or making a bad first impression, for example by doing something that annoys the other person. Rollag’s advice: Just do it. The social risk is in most cases much less than you think. To help readers take the first step, he lists the key parts of the opening conversation: Lead with a greeting, state your name, establish the introduction as an introduction (“I would like to introduce myself ”), state who you are and why you want to introduce yourself (including the fact that you are new), quickly ask for permission to continue (“Is this a good time?”) and be brief. If you are humble, respectful and show an interest in the person to whom you are introducing yourself, you will make a good first impression, Rollag writes.

Rollag offers equally practical advice for remembering names, asking questions, starting new relationships and performing in new situations. After explaining why the names of new people escape our long-term memory, for example, Rollag gives a number of techniques to remember names, including mentally attaching silly visuals to the face based on the name (Phillip Harper is imagined trying to play a musical harp with his lips).

Perhaps the most challenging action to take as a new- comer is to perform in front of others. Whether you have just been hired by a new company or are taking dance lessons for the first time, you are expected to perform in front of a group of critical quasi-strangers. Rollag presents some helpful psychological insight related to talent and performance. Many people believe that they have a pool of defined talent. Thus, when they perform for the first time in front of others, Rollag explains, they see the initial performance as a “big reveal” — in other words, “I have to be good because this is the best that I can do and will ever do.” In truth, Rollag writes, newcomers should reject the mindset of “being good” and adopt instead the mindset of “getting better.” This mindset lowers the expectation of the performance. You focus on the fact that you are new at this (or new here) and you will get better. Importantly, you realize that this is what others are thinking. Suddenly, the enormous pressure of trying to be a star from the first day disappears.

Over the past 20 years, Rollag has interviewed a wide variety of newcomers in a wide variety of situations both in the workplace and outside of the workplace. What to Do When You’re New is built on real-world experiences and research and offers readers a practical guide to succeeding as a newcomer.

How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards created the music of the Rolling Stones. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack built Apple. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe brought us iconic musicals, including Camelot and My Fair Lady. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were America’s most popular movie critics. All of these famously productive partnerships had one thing in common: They brought together an introvert and an extrovert.

The common wisdom is that introverts and extroverts do not work well together. The common wisdom, as author Jennifer Kahnweiler makes clear in her new book, The Genius of Opposites, is absolutely correct in the sense that the collaboration is often going to be contentious and difficult, filled with battles and miscommunications and sometimes deliberate sabotage. Somehow, however, the introvert/extrovert partnerships such as those cited above, as well as the many unknown partnerships that fill Kahnweiler’s book, produced extraordinary results. The key to such success, according to Kahnweiler, is the five-step process at the heart of her book.

The ABCDEs of Collaboration

The first step, Kahnweiler argues, is to accept the alien. If introverted and extroverted people want to partner, they have to realize that they will never change the personality of the other person. Instead, each partner has to make a conscious effort to understand the other.

The second step is to bring on the battle. Kahnweiler explains that battles don’t have to be avoided (unless, of course, they destroy the partnership). Instead, they can be the means through which each partner is challenged by the other, resulting in solutions that are better than those that might have been developed individually.

The third of Kahnweiler’s steps is to cast the character. Because there are two very different personalities in the partnership, partners should take on the roles that best fit their unique personalities.

Kahnweiler’s fourth step is to destroy the dislike. It’s easy for two people with such clashing personalities to develop deep animosity toward each other. They must work, instead, on learning to respect and like each other as much as possible.

The fifth and final step is that each can’t offer everything. Introvert/extrovert consulting partnerships are often powerful because neither partner could offer clients all they want — but the two partners working together are able to present a much more diverse but complementary product or service.

For each step of her ABCDE methodology, Kahnweiler covers why that particular step is important, the pitfalls that can break down the step and the solutions that ensure success. Bring on the battles, for example, is important because the energy and creativity that emerge from constructive conflicts are best for the organization and lead to better solutions. Also, Kahnweiler writes, a major conflict can actually be a turning point in the relationship, paving the way to a productive collaboration.

Kahnweiler warns, however, that battles can also deal fatal blows to introvert/extrovert collaboration, for example, if one partner considers him- or herself more important. Hiding your concerns is another way that battles can be fatal, according to Kahnweiler. If partners don’t bring out the “elephant in the room,” the result — passive-aggressive behavior from the extrovert and internalized resentment from the introvert — can eventually destroy the partnership.

Battles can be productive, however, with a little work from each partner. Clear communication, bringing in a third party to break through an impasse and taking time-outs will help conflicts from degenerating.

Kahnweiler doesn’t gloss over the difficulties in making extrovert/introvert partnerships work. The Genius of Opposites is filled with stories of conflicts, most resolved through an effort at communication and a foundation of respect. Not all stories have a happy ending. Kahnweiler reports that in his memoir, Lerner believes he and his partner Loewe could have written more wonderful musicals if they could have gotten along. “In the end we were a little like the couple being discussed in one of Noel Coward’s plays. ‘Do they fight?,’ says one. ‘Oh, no, said the other. They’re much too unhappy to fight.”

The Genius of Opposites is an important manual for partners with clashing personalities who never want to become too unhappy to fight.

November Best Business Books

Our November issue of Soundview Executive Book Summaries includes summaries of three great titles. These three books provide guidelines to help you improve yourself and your company across the areas of innovation, design thinking and informal teams.

thefourlensesofinnovation

The Four Lenses of Innovation

A Power Tool for Creative Thinking

by Rowan Gibson

Rowan Gibson presents an innovation methodology for systematically stretching your thinking, discovering inspiring new insights and producing a portfolio of high-quality ideas and radically new growth opportunities. You will learn how to reverse-engineer creative genius and make radical business innovation an everyday reality using four key business perspectives.
theachievementhabit

The Achievement Habit

Stop Wishing, Start Doing and Take Command of Your Life

by Bernard Roth

Bernie Roth, co-founder of the Stanford d.school, offers a guide for harnessing the power of design thinking to help meet life’s challenges and fulfill goals. Behaviors and relationships can be transformed as you become more effective at solving problems, more focused on things that matter, and more satisfied with life. Achievement is like a muscle; learn how to flex it.

teamgenius

Team Genius

The New Science of High-Performing Organizations

by Michael Malone & Rich Karlgaard

Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone focus on the critical role of Informal teams within the core of successful companies. Combining best practices and the latest in scientific research, the authors show how to build the dynamic, robust and great teams leaders need in order to compete in today’s world.

If you’re a Soundview subscriber, check out your new titles in your online library today. And if not, click on a title to purchase it; or perhaps now is the time to Subscribe and get these great titles and much more to strengthen your business skills.

Do You Know How to Manage Your Boss?

Our guest blogger is Mary Schaefer, co-author of Character Based Leader.

Your relationship with your boss can be one of the most complicated relationships you have. It doesn’t have to be.

Whether you think you have a boss you can work with – or not – take charge making it work. After all, your boss’s opinion matters. His or her opinion has a significant impact on your earnings, your enjoyment of your work, and your future employment.

Look at the list below. Being clear on these points can be the difference between smooth sailing, or navigating rough seas with your boss.

  • Getting agreement on your work objectives and how they will be measured.
  • Knowing your boss’s hot buttons, e.g. what she always looks for, what he never asks about.
  • Addressing any proposal/concern you have in terms that influences your boss to buy-in.  In other words, make it clear what is in it for them and the organization.

So, you get your boss’s opinion. You may not agree with it. But that’s all good. You have more information now. You may conclude you need a different assignment or even a different employer. Knowledge is power. Being informed supports good decision-making.

Don’t take anything for granted.

You may find that you and your boss have experienced disconnects in the past. Looking at the list above, any one of those points could be at play, but are not being spoken or clarified. But now, using the right tools, you can get a common understanding of your job.

Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your boss, you can use the list above in any number of ways, like:

  • You can initiate a meeting. Take this list and say, “I realize these are things that I’ve taken for granted. I want to understand how you see them.”
  • You can bring up one point in particular. Your boss might keep focusing on one issue that you think you are addressing. Now that you look at this list, you might think, “You know, I bet that’s about interdependence. I ought to ask her perspective on that.”
  • You can keep these in your back pocket to bring up at an opportune moment or when you begin to observe that something is off.

Be the leader of your own career.

You own your career; no one will ever care about it as much as you do. We talk about managers and organizations creating environments of empowerment, but you have the ability to empower yourself. When I say this what I mean is for you to:

“Claim and embody your own authority, i.e. own your dreams, decisions, actions and impact.”

With the simple points in the list in this post, you can get clear now rather than pay a price later because you didn’t. Learn to show the value of your ideas and performance. Earn trust and credibility and set the stage for more opportunities.

You have a right to expect a lot from your boss, and you are not always going to get what you need. You are responsible for making the relationship work for you. You can do it.

To learn more about how to manage your boss, join our webinar with Mary Schaefer: How to Make Your Relationship With Your Boss Work For You.

How to Thrive in a World of Too Much

STOPPING THE CYCLE OF OVERLY BUSY

How did they do it before? It’s a question many of us ask, as we stay glued to our laptops or our phone, always present, always working, always trying to be “productive” at all hours of the day. And yet, we can’t keep up. Which leads to that question: How did they (which, for those of us of a certain age, means “we”) do it before?

In his book Busy, business psychologist Tony Crabbe offers a succinct answer: because we are trying to resolve information-age problems with industrial-age solutions. We try to be more productive, we try to “manage time” — when the problem, according to Crabbe, is not that we have too little time to do what we have to do. The problem of the information age is that we give ourselves too much to do.

Busy is not just a burden. It has become a badge of honor. One brags about how busy one is.

Stopping this cycle of being overbusy and never actually catching up — which, despite our bravado, just makes us exhausted and frustrated — begins with understanding what Crabbe calls “the three faces of busy.”

The Three Faces of Busy

Each of the “three faces of busy,” writes Crabbe “refers to a different way in which we relate to busyness.”

The first face sees “busy as an experience.” This is the busyness, he writes, that keeps us harried and overwhelmed, the busyness that makes us feel that we don’t know how to manage our time.

The second face of busy is, according to Crabbe, “busy as a success strategy.” In this case, we believe that success comes by busy more productively, by always striving to do more and more. Unfortunately, this type of busyness leaves us little time to do the “big stuff,” such as taking the time to think creatively.

Finally, the third face of busyness is “busy as an approach to happiness.” This busyness face, writes Crabbe, refers to the goal of having more and more — more stuff, more popularity, more status. Values, relationships and our health are put on hold during a relentless acquisition frenzy.

Three Strategies to Battle Busyness

In his book, Crabbe offers three distinct strategies to battle each of the faces of busyness. The first strategy, aimed at getting beyond busyness as an experience, is a strategy of mastery. The goal is to become masters of our lives, Crabbe writes. It means to stop trying to get everything done through more efficient organization and start, instead, to make tough choices about what to eliminate. Mastery also involves, Crabbe writes, “shifting our focus from managing time to managing attention.”

The second strategy is to differentiate. This strategy is aimed at getting beyond busyness as a success strategy. As noted above, if we only focus on being more productive, we don’t take time to reflect or be creative — the keys to standing out in our overcrowded world. In this section of the book, Crabbe urges his readers to focus on innovation, not productivity of more of the same. He also argues that too many people see busyness as an effective brand, when all it really does is convey your lack of mastery. A truly effective brand is a simple summary of what makes you unique (for example, one of his clients had “no problem!” as his brand, which is the nickname he had been given in his business for his can-do attitude.)

Crabbe’s third strategy, engagement, is designed to overcome busyness as an approach to happiness (the “having more makes me happy!” attitude). The three steps in this strategy are let your values define your meaning of success; develop deeper relationships with fewer people instead of piling up the number of connections; and replace the addiction to shallow buzz (“I’m flying from meeting to meeting.” “I’ve taken up this new hobby.” “I’m a player!”) with the joy of flow — Mihaly Csikszentmihaltyi’s famous term for losing oneself in a task and not realizing the time flying by.

Busy is very clearly organized into the three sections focused on the three strategies. Each of the chapters in each section ends with a summary of the “big messages” of the chapter as well as one- to three-paragraph “go-do” and “experiment” sections. Perhaps some readers addicted to buzz and productivity might be tempted to focus on these end-of-chapter summaries. If so, they will have missed the point of this innovative and important book.

The Purpose of Mentoring Has Changed

Modern Mentoring

Unfortunately, according to Randy Emelo, most mentoring relationships today are obsolete. Traditional mentoring, he writes in his book Modern Mentoring, does not truly meet the needs of the modern organization.

The reason, as he explains, is that “the purpose of mentoring has moved away from getting a handful of people ready for leadership roles.” Instead, mentoring according to Emelo, is an organizational practice that should increase an organization’s intelligence, including emotional, leadership and technical intelligence; enhance the organization’s competitiveness; and “accelerate” employee development.

In other words, the traditional approach to mentoring, focusing on a few select individuals, should be replaced by an approach that is much broader and inclusive, he writes. Instead of mentors only consisting of top leaders, and mentees consisting of high-potential employees, mentors and mentees can be anyone in the organization, at any level.

The connections of modern mentoring are no longer one-to-one, Emelo writes, but many-to-many.

Building Blocks

In the opening chapter of his book, Emelo lays down the building blocks of modern mentoring:

Open and Egalitarian. The goal of mentoring is to enable “uninhibited and meaningful learning,” Emelo writes. For such learning to take place requires, he writes, “an open environment where people have equal access to one another.”

Diversity. The diversity in question involves different perspectives coming from different functional, geographical, hierarchical or generational backgrounds and experiences. These different perspectives are valuable in helping mentors develop innovative solutions for the people they are mentoring.

Broad and Flexible. One person does not have all the answers. Such a mindset, Emelo writes, “is outdated and inefficient.” The ideal mentoring relationships are those that involve multiple people who are simultaneously advisors and learners. The relationship is flexible, depending on the situation at hand. A person can be an advisor in one situation, and a learner in another. As Emelo writes, “modern mentoring breaks the cycle of the sage on the stage and pushes the idea of the guides on the side.”

Self-directed and Personal. In today’s world, people must take the responsibility to direct their own personal development. They have to choose what they want to learn and from whom they want to learn it. “By allowing participants to control the process,” Emelo explains, “they can tailor their learning so that they reap the benefits.”

Virtual and Asynchronous. In traditional face-to-face, one-on-one mentoring, advisors and learners made arrangements to meet. Such arrangements are no longer necessary, given today’s technology, nor even logistically effective given the broad “many-to-many” reach of modern mentoring. Thus mentoring sessions, writes Emelo, are more likely to be virtual as well as asynchronous — that is, the teaching and learning do not have to occur in the same window of time. Mentors can share their knowledge and experience through virtual communication, which is then captured at the learner’s convenience.

Modern mentoring as described by Emelo is a significant change from traditional mentoring, and therefore often requires a significant and perhaps difficult culture change in an organization. Leaders used to the traditional methods will need to be “reeducated,” Emelo writes.

Another challenge is the vital role of trust. Today’s virtual capabilities allow long-distance mentoring but hinder trust-building. Emelo includes guidelines for trust building and many other facets of modern mentoring in this eloquent and compelling addition to the personal development literature.

Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change

learningtosucceed2

Learning to Succeed

Your company may be profitable today, with a solid product, plenty of buyers and healthy pricing. If so, congratulations –– it’s an enviable position. Now throw out everything you’re planning to do to stay competitive. Your future survival means keeping pace with a world in flux, as expanding global markets, shorter and unpredictable business cycles and increased ROI pressures reshape industries and erode market share for even the most venerable companies. “Cheaper, bigger, faster and newer” are the imperatives driving organizations, no matter how thinly spread their people and resources.

So how can your organization stay ahead of competitors ready to spring from any corner of the globe? Learning to Succeed provides a deceptively simple yet effective solution: Become a dynamic learning organization that actively embraces learning across the ranks, from the executive offices to the mailroom.

Expanding on Peter M. Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, corporate learning expert Jason Wingard draws from hundreds of interviews with senior executives, surveys and questionnaires with division heads and business unit managers, and personal observations at companies big and small to show that corporate learning is not just an “intangible” hit-or-miss pursuit. It’s a critical shift achieved through careful implementation –– and the most reliable solution for anticipating change, shifting gears and thriving in our fast-paced world.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• The pressures and opportunities of the global marketplace.

• How to supply a Continuous Integration of Learning and Strategy model.

• How to create a culture of excellence that attracts and retains top talent and nurtures manager effectiveness.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

How Adaptable are YOU?

Today’s guest blogger is Tony Alessandra, CEO of Assessments24x7, a company that equips coaches, trainers and consultants with dozens of assessments (DISC, Motivators, HVP, etc.) from one, easy-to-use online account.

What IS Adaptability?

The concept of adaptability, as developed by Dr. Michael O’Connor, co-author of The Platinum Rule®, is a two-part process.  It combines flexibility with versatility.

  • Flexibility is your willingness to adapt. It is your attitude.
  • Versatility is your ability to adapt. It is your aptitude.

The first half of the high adaptability formula – Flexibility.

Confidence + Tolerance + Empathy + Positiveness + Respect for others = FLEXIBILITY.

  • Confidence – you believe in yourself, you trust your own judgment and resourcefulness.
  • Tolerance – you are open to accepting opinions and practices that are different from your own.
  • Empathy – a deep understanding of another’s situation.
  • Positiveness – a positive attitude leads to positive events in your life.
  • Respect for others – the sincere desire to understand and consider other people’s choices, commitments and needs in relation to your own.

BEWARE!  These are traits that undermine your ability to successful adapt:

  • Rigidity -“It’s my way or the highway”
  • Competition with others – “I’m smarter, prettier, etc., thank you”
  • Discontent – “No, I don’t like it this way.  Why can’t we…”
  • Unapproachable – “Don’t bother me unless it’s worth my time and you agree with me”
  • Difficulty with Ambiguity – “Let’s nail this down right now”

The second half of the high adaptability formula – Versatility.

Resilience + Vision + Attentiveness + Competence + Self-correction = VERSITILITY.

  • Resilience – knowing how to overcome setbacks, barriers and limited resources.  If you keep on going until you succeed, that is resilience.
  • Vision – having the power to imagine, be creative, and suggest alternatives.
  • Attentiveness – knowing when to act and when not to act. It means paying attention to more than your own needs.
  • Competence – begins with expertise. In addition, it also involves a problem-solving ability that goes beyond your specialty. It means having a can-do attitude and following through on it.
  • Self-correction – once you initiate a project, you ask for feedback and place a high priority on problem solving, not on being right. It is being able to say, “I think this approach isn’t working.  I’d better try something different.”

BEWARE!  There are traits that undermine your ability to successful adapt:

  • Subjectiveness – “This is the way it looks to ME”
  • Bluntness – “That’s a stupid idea!”
  • Resistance – “This is the way we’ve always done it”
  • Single-mindedness – “It’s my goal and nothing else matters”
  • Unreasonable Risk-taking – “I’m going to jump, won’t you come with me?”

Adaptable people meet other peoples’ needs and their own. They know how to negotiate relationships in a way that allows everyone to win.  With adaptability, you are practicing what I call The Platinum Rule® – treating other people the way they want and need to be treated.

To hear more from Tony Alessandra, join him for our Soundview Live webinar on August 27th: Turning Every Business Encounter into a Mutual Win.

Taming the Markets to Achieve Your Life’s Goals

A DIFFERENT KIND OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY

To succeed as an investor, you need to beat the market. That, at least, is how most investors view their financial goals. Discussions with financial advisors are focused on whether investments did better than the market; if they didn’t, the advisors better have a good explanation for their clients.

According to Ashvin Chhabra, Chief Investment Officer of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and the author of The Aspirational Investor, investors have their priorities mixed up. The goal should not be to beat the market; the goal is to build an investment strategy that helps you achieve your personal objectives and aspirations. As Chhabra shows, refocusing on personal objectives and aspirations rather than just beating the market requires a different kind of investment strategy.

Traditional investing is designed to manage risk through what is known as modern portfolio theory. Modern portfolio theory is not so modern (Chhabra calls the name “ironic”); it was developed by a University of Chicago graduate student in the 1950s named Harry Markowitz, who argued that the only way to manage risk in volatile markets was to invest in a portfolio of stocks and bonds with a variety of risk. For example, if stocks take a hit, bonds go up. Therefore, a combination of stocks and bonds is less risky than a portfolio of only stocks.

For Chhabra, modern portfolio theory is based on investments as a supplemental source of income for an era in which retirement income was based on social safety nets and stable pension plans. Those days are gone, he writes, and now it’s mostly through investments that individuals must not only create wealth but also build a foundation of financial security. In other words, investors today must use their investments to achieve three objectives, Chhabra writes: “financial security in the face of known and unknowable risks,” “maintain your living standard in the face of inflation and longevity” and “pursue aspirational goals, be it for personal wealth creation, to create positive impact or to leave a legacy.”

Unlike the general, all-encompassing goal of beating the markets and making money, an investment strategy based on personal objectives implies three different risk strategies. This “allocation” of risk is at the heart of Chhabra’s theory, which he calls the Wealth Allocation Framework. Risk allocation, Chhabra explains, “is achieved by creating three distinct risk buckets to support each of the corresponding three key objectives of your wealth management strategy.” The three risk buckets are

  1. Personal Risk. Investors must “immunize” themselves against personal risk — not being able to pay their bills. No matter what the markets do, personal risk is non-negotiable: Failure is not an option.
  2. Market Risk. The cost of living will inevitably increase over time. Maintaining your lifestyle thus requires, according to Chhabra, “earning a rate of return in the financial markets that is comparable to the increase in the cost of living.” To earn such a rate requires adopting the diversification principles of Markowitz’s portfolio theory.
  3. Aspirational Risk. To fulfill your aspirational goals, you will need to create significant wealth; the only way to build substantial wealth is to invest in high risk/high gain portfolios. You can’t win big without taking the risk of losing big.

As expected from a chief investment officer, The Aspirational Investor is not a theoretical treatise on financial markets but a practical guide for investors. Chhabra digs deep into the investment-decision implications of the three risk buckets, including, for example, a seven-step implementation plan for what he calls “objective-driven investing.”

Most investors should probably read this book before making any further decisions on their investments: Very few of us can afford to ignore any of Chhabra’s three risk buckets.