Let’s Make An Inspirational Snowball!

Roughly ten years ago, I sat in a Denny’s diner with Dr. Bob Clarke

He took me out for breakfast to talk about stocks, and after half an hour, he had to remind me to eat my food.  I talked and talked and talked.

And like the gentleman he was, he listened and listened and listened.

A short while later, he died of cancer, but this pillar of the Comox Valley community told me something I’ll never forget:

“Money is like manure.  It doesn’t do any good, unless you spread it around.”

If I had talked less and listened more, I would have gleaned other jewels of wisdom from this widely respected gent.

Dr. Clarke was probably using “money” to relate to me.  Using a bit of Dale Carnegie 101, he was likely trying to teach me something else.

From what I knew of him, he was a selfless man who raised three great kids, and was always available when somebody needed a helping hand.  If I had talked less and listened more, he might have told me how he lived his life….helping others.  And naturally, I would have been inspired.

Money, of course, isn’t important….unless you don’t have any.

And readers of financial blogs, from what I have learned from reading their comments, have gone out of their way to financially help their friends, family and colleagues.  Let’s uncover some of those stories, shall we?

Have you convinced anyone to pay off their credit card debts?

Have you taught anyone how to negotiate the rate on their mortgage?

Have you shown people how to avoid excessive investment costs?

This is why I ask.

When I was reading about Benjamin Franklin’s life, I was very impressed by the earliest Junto Society that he formed.  Weekly, he and a group of men (yeah, he was sexist) met to discuss their successes.

But “success” was defined by how each man added value to society that week.

You can call it boasting, but I won’t. 

The inspirational meetings he established encouraged the Junto Society members to perpetuate their good deeds.  Doing great things for others became contagious….and the inspired members wanted to keep doing those great deeds , week in and week out.

So I want to be inspired by you.  And I want you to inspire others.

Tell me a story of how you helped someone financially. 

Write it anonymously if you wish.  And don’t be shy.  By sharing your tale, you’ll encourage others far more than you realize.

So please share. Thank you!


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Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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8 Responses

  1. Jim Yih says:

    Great idea. I love the quote "The key to a great life is shifting your focus from accumulation to contribution." This sense of sharing, helping, and teaching is very important!


    • Hey Jim,

      I love that quote:

      “The key to a great life is shifting your focus from accumulation to contribution"

      I'll bet you have done some contributing youself. I'd love to hear a story where you have. Talking about it, like Benjamin Franklin used to (with his Junto Society) is a great way to inspire.

      If you can share a story, I'd love to hear it!

      Thanks Jim!

      • Jim Yih says:

        Thanks Andrew!

        Here's my story . . . When I sold my business in 2007, I decided to take a portion of the sale and start a charitable giving fund I call the Yih Charitable Giving Fund through the Edmonton Community Foundation. The really cool thing about it is I have involved my kids as they get a chance to determine which charity gets the annual donation. They are still a little young but I really feel like this will be a legacy that will continue for many generations beyond my wife and I.

        My latest book called IDEAS FOR SUCCESS, WEALTH & HAPPINESS is a book of my favorite quotes and inspirations and all proceeds of that book go to my charitable giving fund. I hope you don't mind but people that want to buy it can go to amazon (http://www.amazon.ca/Ideas-Success-Wealth-Happiness-Jim/dp/1461010608/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315278979&sr=8-1).

  2. Great idea Andrew!

    Here goes….

    After reading many of Derek Foster's books, I was finally able to meet him over the last year.

    While talking to him about stocks, stocks and more stocks (like your conversation above) over a beer here in Ottawa, I asked him what his advice would be to any would-be dividend-investor.

    He said without hestitation:

    "Learn to become an owner. "Forget about owning the products of companies, own the companies themselves. You'll make far more money."

    Based on his success, I thought this was advice worth listening to 🙂

  3. Hey Mark,

    It's cool how Derek inspired you through his books–and then inspired you again, in person.

    You've inspired loads of people yourself, through your blog. But tell me about a story that's personal: about someone you helped.

    I'd love to be inspired by it—and others would too, I'm sure!

  4. Robert M says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Do you know this fellow? What is it about teachers? I've met more than a few financially savvy teachers. Is there are special gene you folks carry.

    Good for both of you. I enjoy reading both!


  5. Hey Jim!

    Thanks for giving us a link to your book. I absolutely love what you're doing. And you're absolutely giving your kids one of life's greatest gifts: you're teaching them financial responsibility and compassion for others. And equally important, based on the experiences you've given them, I doubt they'll grow up materialistic.

    Thanks again for sharing this Jim! Your story (and your book) will motivate many!!

  6. Hey Robert,

    Thanks for pasting such a fascinating link!

    I didn't know about that guy.

    But I can tell you, unfortunately, that many teachers are terrible money managers.

    Having said that, you might be on to something. When I was reading Thomas Stanley's book, The Millionaire Next Door, he talks about something he refers to as "Economic Outpatient Care"

    In a nutshell, he found, through his studies, that adult children who are given "helpful" financial handouts (help with buying a car, down payment for a home etc) usually end up with far less money, during their peak earning years, compared to those who didn't receive financial assistance from their parents.

    He broke the study down by vocation, and he found that only one group of professionals actually came out ahead (as an aggregate) when they were given money.


    I don't know why, and neither does Thomas Stanley.

    What do you think? Can you think of a reason for it?

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