What was the most promiscuous person you have ever met like?

I know two guys who are total legends in the “promiscuity” field.

They are both attorneys in Milan, one in his 30s and the other recently turned 50. They are both certainly not workaholics and career is not their first priority in life (something else is, see below).

Both are fantastically skilled in street-pick-up.

You may have already heard before that there are many people who have this skill, but when you actually see with your eyes one of them “at work” it is pretty mindblowing (especially for an adult man) how they can just start talking with any girl they choose and after a drink and 30 minutes of chatting and laugh, they can head back to her place for sex. With all due respect, they are basically the Roger Federerof the Promiscuity Championship.

From what I could see with my own eyes, even if they don’t know each other, they are both very similar:

A.Look: the first thing to clarify is the following: both are completely average-looking guys. Not particularly handsome, not particularly kind, no fancy car, not particularly funny, smart or romantic, no fancy clothes or watch, they don’t go to gym, nothing, zero of this stuff. Completely average guys.

B. Practice: they practice the Art every day. They train everywhere and every time: at breakfast at the bar, during the lunch-break, during the aperitivo at the evening, even after dinner. They never rest and are always on Alert-Mode. They never know when the next chance will be, so they need to always be ready. For them, taking the next girl to bed is a matter of continuously perfecting the Artand maintaing the momentum: there are no rest-days in their calendar.

C. Experience: they both told me that they started very earlyin life, at 14–15. When their peers were focused on playing football or basket, they wanted to take as many girls as possible to bed: now that they are well into their 30–50, even if they have very taxing jobs and responsibilities, this is a habit deeply ingrained in their life routine. There are weeks were they are able to take 7 different women to bed (1 for every day, Monday to Sunday). Once they see a girl that ticks all the boxes (more on this later), they have almost like a Pavlovian Reflex and start the “Ritual” below.

D.“The Eye”: preliminarily, it must be said that they both developed a set of skills that normal people do not really care much of, which grouped all together I called “the Eye”. TheirEye is simply on another level of analytical firepower: in a blink, they notice impossibly tiny details, body language, eye contact, smile and face expression and if all the boxes are mentally ticked, they approach the girl without a second thought. After years of experience they already know when ‘that’ specific girl will be seduced in a very short time.

E. First Contact: once the Eye has found a target, they approach the girl: they keep their hands in their front pockets, make a step and say “how are you?” or “where are you from?(one of their preferred targets in Italy are “the foreigner Tourist girls”), keeping their chin up and not losing eye-contact.

F.The Ritual: once they start talking, they have a set of questions and sentences (completely vanilla and generic) to keep the conversation going, no matter what. There is no pause, the girl is always “special”, “fantastic”,they often say “oh, I know what you mean”, etc. The conversation goes on until out of the blue he asks her to have a drink somewhere. If the girl does not decline, the ritual goes on for some more time and eventually once the girl is completely in their ‘reality distortion field’ the two first kiss right there and shortly after that first kiss they agree to have sex at her place.

F. Zero social media:quite curiously, both have no social media precence, they do not have Whatsapp, have no Instagram. They both do not use Tinder or any dating appsof sort. Their promiscuity is completely “analogic”, like the social media revolution never happened. They perfected the Art and pick up any girl wherever they are: it can be at the supermarket, at the gas station, at a party, in a book fair, art exhibition, wherever. As far as I am aware they seduce hundreds of women every year. I asked them why they don’t use any apps or social media and the answer has always been: “too time consuming” and “not worth the effort”.

G. No attachment: I asked them repeatedly and they both confirmed that they never get attached to the girl of the moment, no matter how amazing she is. Whenever they seduce a new girl, for them is just another day at the office. There is no emotional attachment whatsoever, which really surprised me. After they go to her place and do what they need to do, they go back home or to the office and go on with their life. No exchange of phone numbers, no “I want to see you one more time”, nothing.

H.They never went into trouble:just to be totally clear, all women were consensual adults that simply were fascinated by them and accepted the idea of having an ‘adventure’.

I. What’s the point? (Since many asked in the comments, I added this) I asked them the same and they both say that: 1) they just love sex very much (they cannot stand the idea of being monogamous) and 2) they love to test themselves and see if they are able to take one more girl to bed. It’s more or less something like an addiction.

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What are the top bad habits to stop immediately or I’ll regret big time later in life?

My advice is to stop the following bad habits:

  1. Stop keeping cash in your bank account: save money and, after you have set up a good emergency fund in cash, invest everything else in one or more low-commission, index-tracking, ETF funds, as soon as possible. The Vanguard 500 ETFis a good starting point. This must be a priority. Because compound interest takes time (like a decade or more) to produce its amazing results, the younger you start, the better. (Since many asked in the comments, I also recommend to Google: compound interest+ dollar cost averaging in order to understand the benefits of this double-pronged strategy).
  2. Stop smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcohol: these things do not add anything to your life, and only subtract cash from your bank account (that you should rather invest in ETFs).
  3. Stop watching TV: same as alcohol, TV does not add anything to your life. By not watching TV, you can spend more time reading interesting non-fiction books to educate yourself about the most different topics. Knowledge has a powerful compound effect: as you progress putting different knowledge eggs into your basket, your analytical firepower will gradually increase and the benefit that you will derive will be exponential. TV does not add anything to your knowledge basket. Sell it, and invest the money (either by buying ETFs or by buying many interesting books) instead.
  4. Stop eating outside: learn to cook your own meals. Cooking at home will naturally push you to learn new recipes from different countries: many of these new recipes that I learnt turned out to be new “classics” at home. Delicious!
  5. Stop Facebook: it’s even worse than TV. You lose your precious time while Zuckerberg & Thiel make millions out of your eyeballs glued to some cat videos, fake news & holiday pics. It makes no sense. The first step should be to delete the Facebook app from your iPhone (do not close the account, just delete the app): in this way you will not receive a million of useless notifications every day and you will very easily reduce the wasted time by 90%.
  6. Stop sitting on the couch playing PS4: it’s probably as bad as Facebook. Every time you want to play a game, go for a run outside instead.
  7. Stop surrounding yourself with all these fake friends you don’t care about: they don’t care about you either and they will dump you at the first time you will be in need. It is better for you to be prepared not to count on them (or on anyone, actually). Text/call/see your parents/grandparents more, instead.
  8. Ditch your accountant: learn how to do your own taxes, instead. This will save you a lot of money and will give you insight on the mechanics of the tax system (which is unexpectedly very useful in many fields of life & business). Once you have learnt to do your own taxes you can hire your accountant again and you will then be able to give him guidance, check for potential mistakes, take informed decisions so to minimize your tax burden.
  9. Stop shopping to impress or please other people. It doesn’t work. They will still hate you even if you have a new car or some ridiculous Gucci shoes. The rare, true friends will like you and be at your side regardless of what you own. Once you will start doing this you will learn that you are not what you own. We do not need99% of the stuff for sale out there anyway. Acquiring this mindset will free you from a thousand mental layers that cloud many of our life choices. It feels amazing.
  10. Stop accepting wrong things in the status quo: you can change things for the better. It just needs a brain and hard work.
  11. Stop being a cheapskate: show the fewpeople that matter to you how much you care about them. Bring flowers to your girl/wife/mum/grandma. Make a nice wedding gift to your best friend. Offer discreetly to pay a dinner out if your friend cannot afford. Be a gentleman for all people you interact with. Write a thank you card to a colleague who was helpful in a difficult situation (I still remember the “thank you” card that one of my first bosses left to me — a young and inexperienced trainee at the time — 19 years ago just saying: “You are a star!”) . Be grateful, very grateful, for these good people that touch your life kindly. Do not be afraid to spend money for those who are important for you and deserve your attention, kindness and generosity. The sky will not fall if you spend money and give them your attention and, most importantly, they deserve it. I have seen countless of truly good persons being hurt, friendships broken-up in horrible ways, just because of people being outright stingy. Also, remember to give a part of your profits to a charity that is important for you: the good these people do to this world is invaluable.
  12. Stop not taking (calculated) risks: career-wise,with time we all get lazy and tend to accept the current status quo: our job, our boss, our colleagues, our commuting, etc. This translates into fantastic opportunities being lost because we are too scared to abandon what we consider our current safe harbour (which most of the times is not much more than a steady salary). If you hate your job, if every Monday morning feels sour, if at work you are not respected for who you are, if your boss does not appreciate your efforts, if you are not paid enough, if your last salary increase was ridiculous: these are all signs that should push you to reconsider your career choices and check if anything better is available on the market. Nothing out there? Not all hope is lost: keep in mind that there has never been a better time in the history of civilization to be your own boss and start your own business.
  13. Stop taking new debt. Ditch your credit cards. Pay all the new stuff you want to buy upfront. No exceptions. If you cannot afford something upfront, simply do not buy it (most likely you will not need it anyway). Same for the “mortgage” (from the French “death pledge”): rent / share a cheap place and invest your savings in stocks instead. If you already took debt, repay it as soon as possible: sell stuff & work double shifts if necessary.
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What are the cleverest scams you have come across?

This scam was quite elaborate but guaranteed success many times over and it involved a delivery of a (non-existent) large order of steel from Asia to Europe.

A man with perfect and in-depth knowledge of the steel market calls an Italian, French or German company manufacturing products which require huge quantities of steel: usually big construction companies, large pipes manufacturers, etc. This is an industry with fierce competition and razor thin margins where companies are fighting every day to catch some lucrative business.

The gentleman claims to be the representative for Italy / France / Germany of a Swedish company called XYZ Ltd which works in the metal business (there is fake website arranged with fake phone numbers, fake registered office, etc.).

The gentleman knows in depth what he is talking about, he shows connections with other big and international companies in the steel market, has worked with this and that guy, he has been in the business more than 30 years, etc. etc.

The gentleman offers to negotiate a large scale delivery of steel for a large (but not “impossibly large”) discount from a big and well known steel company either in South Korea or China as long as the purchaser was willing to pay 100% of the (discounted) purchase price upfront.

We are talking about an order of a few million USD of steel.

All communication was done by fax or by e-mail attaching other faxes, letters, documents, quality certificates, etc.

The whole communication from the Korean or Chinese companies was totally forged with fake email addresses and fake phone numbers.

In order to prevent any scam, at the moment of purchase the parties exchanged the money paid with a First Demand Bank Guarantee issued by a well reputed European Bank: by holding the original of the Bank Guarantee the buyer was 100% safe that if the metal was not delivered they could go to the Bank and ask for the money back without any exception whatsoever (this is standard practice for large scale contracts among big players). Please note that this required the scammers to have a bank account with the bank and deposit there at least an amount of money equal to the value of the Guarantee the Bank was going to issue (i.e. these guys were professionals with millions of USD at their disposal).

At the moment of exchanging the guarantee the parties met at the Bank’s premises and, with an excuse, the scammers were able – almost like magicians – to take possession of the original of the Bank Guarantee (which was supposed to be in the hands of the buyer the whole the time) and while people were amiably chatting about the steel market, they changed it with an almost identical color copy (they kept the original and gave the buyer’s representatives the color copy) under the eyes of the Bank’s and the buyer’s representatives. Keep in mind that this was done at the Bank’s premises, so this required amazing manual skills, speed of execution and cold blood.

Delivery of the steel was supposed to happen in 60/90 days from the exchange of the price with the Bank Guarantee.

24h after the exchange, the scammers went back to the Bank handing back the original of the guarantee and claiming that performance had already occurred so there was no need for the guarantee anymore.

Once received the original of the Bank Guarantee, the Bank immediately cancelled it (and the underlying obligation protecting the buyer vanished) thus releasing the money deposited by the scammers in the bank account.

The buyer remained in contact with the (fake) representative of the Korean and Chinese companies for a few weeks: after a month or so they stop answering the emails and phone calls.

Immediately the buyer realized that maybe there was something fishy.

After some further investigation and realising that even the Swedish intermediary company has now disappeared, they decide to rush to the Bank and request the payment of the Bank Guarantee.

The Bank confirms that the Bank Guarantee has been already cancelled 24h after being issued by returning the original document of the Guarantee that was now in their hands.

The parties compared the two versions of the Guarantee and realise that the one in the hands of the buyer was just a well made color copy of the original in the hands of the Bank.

In the meantime the scammers had all the time to transfer the purchase price to various bank accounts in Switzerland and then Cyprus and then elsewhere leaving no trace.

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Is skiing a rich person’s sport?

Last December I met in Zermatt (by many regarded as one of the best ski resorts on the planet) a 19 years old boy from Tel Aviv.

He was very well educated and friendly and we started chatting on the lift: after a bit he explained that he was admittedly money-less as he was studying Mathematics at University and was getting ready to serve in the Military in the coming year.

He added that he loved skiing and normally he was able to ski only in Bulgaria as that country had the cheapest ski resorts reachable from Israel.

I looked at him a bit surprised, given that we were chatting in one of the most expensive ski resorts in Switzerland.

He then explained that this December he planned in advance and with a friend he was able to book a Ryanair ticket from Tel Aviv to Bergamo (close to Milan) for 10 Euro only.

Once in Bergamo, he booked a seat on a very cheap bus to Aosta for just a couple of Euros. In Aosta (north west of Italy), he booked a cheap hostel there and on a daily basis moved to Cervinia by bus where he was able to ski for less than 50 Euro a day.

In low season (before Christmas) you can make the most of your ski days as the slopes in Europe are basically empty.

From Cervinia (Italy) you can ski and cross the border with Switzerland (crossing the Matterhorn Glacier, right in front of the majestic Matterhorn) and reach even Zermatt, if you want to do so.

This is just an example that even if skiing requires dedicated equipment, travelling, ski-passes, etc., if you are passionate for this sport, with a bit of planning you can do it also on a budget.

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Back when Italy was not unified, was there an Italian national identity?

Far from it.

The Reign of Italy was born only in 1861.

Before that, for centuries, the Italian peninsula was divided as follows:

A. In the north: a constellation of Duchies (Milan, Mantua, Ferrara, etc.), Reigns (the Savoy), Republics (the Serenissima), Municipalities (hundreds) with completely autonomous jurisdictions, languages, traditions, and oftentimes fighting against each other extremely bloody wars lasting for decades at a time.

B. In the center: the Vatican.

C. In the South: the Kingdom of the two Sicilies.

Once the Savoy unified the Italian peninsula under their helm, one of the Founding Fathers, Massimo D’Azeglio, has been quoted saying: “Now that we made Italy, we need to make the Italians”.

To build a true Italian national identity proved particularly difficult: Venetians had the Serenissima Republic since the Huns invaded the Peninsula one thousand years earlier. In the South there were non-sporadic invasions by the Spanish, Normans and even Arabs, influencing culture, language and also food and it was still vivid even the old Greek culture heritage.

In order to find an example of a truly unified Italian cultural identity, we need in fact to go back to the Roman Empire.

Mussolini swiftly picked up on this idea at the beginning of the XX century with the whole Fascism cultural package and, unfortunately, we all know by now that it was not the most smart or fortunate attempt to re-establish a national identity.

After the disastrous WWII, Italy slowly tried to rebuild its national identity and in my opinion this is still an ongoing exercise which is far from having reached completion.

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What are the must-dos in Capri, Italy?

I love Capri and these are the unmissable things to do once there:

  1. Visit the Villa Jovis and Tiberius’s Jump (free)
  2. Go to Lido delle Sirene (free option available)
  3. Stay at La Fontelina next to the Faraglioni (entrance fee)
  4. Take a boat and visit the Blue Grotto
  5. Take a boat tour around the island
  6. Visit Anacapri (free) and Lido del Faro (free option available)
  7. Dancing at Anema e Core (entrance fee)
  8. Have a drink at the legendary Piazzetta
  9. Visit the Giardini Augusto (small entrance fee)
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Why has Italy fallen so low?

TL;DR

A.The political class has been used to gain consensus through huge, erratic and irrational public spending and by giving out privileges to certain classes of citizens at the expense of the whole nation.
B.As a consequence, in the last 30 years the national debt ballooned (currently well above 120% of GDP and still growing) but still the older generations (at all levels and social classes) have a strong sentiment of entitlement and do not want to give up their absurd privileges: the Italians mentality remains strongly bureaucratic and prone to corruption, tax avoidance, shortcuts & privileges. At the same time, Italians only advocate for competition, free markets and innovation as long as their privileges are not touched.
C.The younger generations are the least protected/most damaged and are thus flying out of the Country in droves (0.5m people last year alone) looking for jobs abroad, and causing a huge brain drain at home.


The long answer

1. The Early Years: from the Economic Miracle to the Terrorism

Italy has fallen so low for a series of reasons dating back to the 60s, 70s and 80s.
After WWII Italy was a country in ruin.
Unexpectedly it was able to achieve a great comeback in the 50s and 60s (the so called “miracolo economico“).
In the late 60s the “civil rights” revolution started and in the 70s the decade of red/black terrorism opened, basically dead-locking the Country for a decade (politicians, judges & journalists were kidnapped, shot and often killed, bombs exploded killing hundreds of civilians in order to cause a permanent status of terror, Sicilian-Neapolitan-Calabrian Mafia-style organisations started to infiltrate the political apparatus at all levels).

2. The “Pax Italica“: buying peace through public spending

The political class was unable to deal with the changing times and totally lacked a modern vision to guide its people forward (especially in the south, where economy was/is impressively lagging behind) in any way other than “buying” consensus like:

a.widespread generous pension-welfare concessions especially for public sector employees (for many years, they could go to pension with just14 years of work, so called “baby pensioners”);

b.thousands of jobs were created in the public sector every year out of thin air for no purpose other than just to “manufacture” consensus across the country, particularly close to the Municipal/Parliamentary elections (e.g. (i)18 thousands “cleaners” were hired by the School System in just 1 year, allegedly “by mistake” – (ii)to date, the Municipality of Naples still has approximately 20k employees, many of them are not even required to show up for work and go working at a second “undeclared” job elsewhere);

c.gigantic expenses for improbable and never-ending infrastructures – e.g. the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway: to date, still unfinished after more than 40 years of uninterrupted works.

d. tax evasion of entrepreneurs, professionals, small business owners was tolerated (and oftentimes promoted) for decades.

e. corruption among the public officers was/is widespread, blandly punished and socially accepted as a way to obtain public procurement contracts, shortcuts from bureaucracy and achieve privileges at the expense of the rest of us (60bn € of cost for the community in 2013 alone).

f.thousands of companies (so called: “enti inutili” – “useless entities”) were created by the State/Region/Municipalities with no employees whatsoever, but with a board of directors appointed for the sole purpose of giving a well-paid office job to friends & families of politicians.

It was commonly accepted by the political class that in order for the economy to keep going they had to get into more debt and everybody would be happy.

3. Who pays? In the 80s the national debt started increasing 20% yoy

The situation started to become critical from the beginning of the 80s when the national debt kept increasing 20% yoy. The country was obviously poised for a disaster and the whole political system dominated by the Democrazia Cristiana, the Socialists and the Communist Party (with the exception of a few lonely politicians regarded as “crazy” at the time) turned the blind eye and kept foraging this kind of expenses to obtain the consensus of a large slice of the population (especially in the South of Italy where unemployment, mafia, organized crime, lack of entrepreneurs & infrastructures made the situation particularly difficult for the vast majority of honest people living there).

In the 80s Italy was a perpetual lavish party: politicians at all levels (from secretaries to MP and Ministries) were all having the best time of their life. Italy was now the 7th world power: a complete house of cards made only of public debt.

Basically all Italians were supporting this system where everybody was stealing something at the expense of someone else (or the future generations).

Corruption of public officers was rampant and unashamed: even low level politicians or Municipal councillors were unashamed of their exorbitant Hollywood-style life.

4. The wiping out of the old political class: Berlusconi enters the scene

The situation collapsed in 1992 when Italy was on the brink of bankruptcy and the Government was forced to devalue the Italian lira by 15% in one night just to pay the salaries in the public sector.

At that (dramatic) stage the political class instead of waking up, tell the truth to the taxpayers and do something, decided to bury its “collective” head under the sand, until a widespread investigation by the Magistrates of Milan exposed a rotten system of corruption at all levels (North/Center/South) in the political systems (with a huge scandal and disenchantment which lasts until today).

Then Berlusconi all of a sudden came to power in 1994 luring the middle class by promising a (well overdue) libertarian reform of our aging Country: lower taxes, more jobs, leaner bureaucracy, reduction of the State’s footprint on the market, more freedom in the economy, etc.

Obviously, no reform whatsoever was passed in more than 20 years of Berlusconi reign, but quite the opposite: all classes who had gained any privileges in the past 50 years (the most glaring examples being pharmacists, magistrates, notaries, lawyers, taxi drivers, doctors, untouchable public sector employees, journalists, Alitalia pilots, etc. – the list could be endless) lobbied very hard (and successfully) to strengthen their privileges against any possible reform of the Country: the Parliament confirmed again and again its complete inability to do what was the “right thing to do” regardless of the loud crying of each lobby unwilling to give up its privileges.

For almost 20 years the left/right political debate was focused exclusively on Berlusconi (and his unashamed attempts to pass countless “personal laws” to solve his own problems and to favour his companies and his acolytes) instead than reforming the Country.

To exacerbate the problem, the Vatican (still with a strong voting influence on the older generations) unashamedly sided with Berlusconi in exchange for the introduction of a body of medieval-style legislation allowing them to extend their influence on the population, increase their already massive fortunes and deny any liberal civil rights to the common people (e.g. prohibiting IVF, limiting abortion in public hospital because of “conscience” of doctors, limiting the availability of the latest anti-conceptional pills in pharmacies, thousands of “catholic religion” teachers (i.e. priests) hired by the public school system, real-estate tax exemption on the Vatican-owned properties used for commercial purposes (20% of real estate in Italy is owned by the Vatican), prohibition of same-sex marriages, lengthy and expensive procedures to obtain a divorce, etc.).

Now Berlusconi is almost 80 years old, he is not Prime Minister anymore and the Country has been in continuous recession for almost 10 years in a row.

Still, nothing has changed insofar as the political class (Left/Center/Right) still lacks both the vision and the guts to tell its people (the voters) that a large slice of the population has been living way above their means for decades and it is time to completely overhaul the core rules and mentality deeply rooted within our Country and waive the now unsustainable bureaucratic attitude & byzantine privileges which have been dragging us all so low.

Our current politicians prefer to blame the immigrants, the ISIS, Mrs. Merkel, the globalization or China for all the problems that Italy is facing.

5. Mr. Monti delusion

Most probably, if we look back at the past 5-10 years, Italy had the biggest chance to get some reforms being passed when Mr Monti was appointed as Prime Minister during the 2011 Euro Crisis and the Parliament was ready to pass anything in order to save face, as long as he took the blame in front of the people: very importantly, Mr Monti came to that seat after a strong academic career spent advocating for decades the liberalization of the economy both in Italy and in Europe, the reduction of privileges, etc. — also, he enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the over-taxed, over-working middle class (an ultra rare commodity in Italy).

Mr Monti was (or, better, appeared to be) the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

Nevertheless… rarely a man failed so much the hopes of his countrymen as Mr Monti did. He and his Ministries (some of them even more appalling than him, like Mrs Fornero) proved themselves completely detached from reality (typical academics living in a cloud, not knowing that devil is in the details), unaware of what the real issues were, and unable to achieve anything whatsoever except raising the taxes (he did not liberalize anything, failed to attack either the bureaucracy or the privileges of the many lobbies mentioned above, made a huge mess with an amateurish reform of the labour market, screwed the pension system, etc.).

6. What remains: an aging Country in ruins

We are now in 2015 and the youth unemployment is above 43%.
Almost half a million of (young, extremely well educated, specialized) Italians leave the Country every year to look for a job abroad.
Italy’s debt is above 136% of its GDP and still increasing.
The judiciary system is rotten to the core (according to OCSE, Italy ranks between Congo and Rwanda for the efficiency of its judicial system).

Most importantly, as many commentators in Italy and abroad have said, we are now witnessing a deepening breach of the social contract between younger and older generations: the younger Italians have no rights, no jobs, high taxes and no welfare. Older Italians have good pensions, free services, untouchable jobs, plenty of rights & welfare and feel entitled not to give up anything in favor of the younger generations.

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I think I am smarter than everyone around me, why? Am I smart or am I an idiot? Is it because I underestimate people?

Oh, welcome to the club!

I don’t know who you are but given the details added to the question, I would recommend you to check this quick Wikipedia entry:

Dunning–Kruger effect – Wikipedia

In short:

“The Dunning–Kruger effectis a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.”

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What is the single best financial move you have ever made in your life?

My single best financial move was when in 2008 (just before the Financial Crisis) I decided to invest every month a certain amount of my salary in a moderately risky ETF like Vanguard’s VOO or VIG: I did this no matter what and never touched this investment for a decade.

I also increased the monthly investment as soon as my career progressed so not to fall into the increased lifestyle trap like I observed my peers were doing.

This is admittedly a “boring” strategy than anybody can follow and does not require you to learn exotic options or get any insider information.

After I started a decade ago, also my mum, my little sister, my girlfriend, my old uncle and a few of my friends (all of them completely alien to any financial knowledge or investment experience) also took this (long-term) approach with excellent returns.

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What tiny daily habit could be life changing?

My advice is to integrate the following habits in your daily routine :

  1. Sleep 8 hours a day, consistently.
  2. Save money: after you have set up a good emergency fund in cash, invest everything else in one or more low-commission, index-tracking, ETF funds, as soon as possible. The Vanguard 500 ETF is a good starting point. This must be a priority. Because compound interest takes time to produce its amazing results, the younger you start, the better. (I also recommend to Google: compound interest + dollar cost averaging).
  3. Stop eating outside: learn to cook your own meals and eat at home most of the times. Cooking at home will naturally push you to learn new recipes from different countries: many of these new recipes that I learnt turned out to be new “classics” at home. Delicious!
  4. Reduce Social Media: remove the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest apps from your iPhone so that you can only access them via your desktop computer (you will automatically reduce your wasted time by at least 90%).
  5. Stop shopping to impress or please other people. It doesn’t work.
  6. Stop being a cheapskate: show the few people that matter to you how much you care about them. Bring flowers to your girl/wife/ mum/ grandma. Make a nice wedding gift to your best friend. Offer discreetly to pay a dinner out if your friend cannot afford. Be a gentleman for all people you interact with. Write a thank you card to a colleague who was helpful in a difficult situation. Be grateful, very grateful, for these good people that touch your life kindly. Do not be afraid to spend money for those who are important for you and deserve your attention, kindness and generosity.
  7. Learn how to take (calculated) risks: with time we all get lazy and tend to accept the current status quo: our job, our boss, our colleagues, our commuting, etc. This translates into fantastic opportunities being lost because we are too scared to abandon what we consider our current safe harbour (which most of the times is not much more than a habit). Learn to try new things. Acquire the mindset to re-evalute your past decisions. Try new way to do the same old thing. You will be surprised by the discoveries you will make.
  8. Stop taking new debt. Ditch your credit cards. Pay all the new stuff you want to buy upfront. No exceptions. If you cannot afford something upfront, simply do not buy it (most likely you will not need it anyway).
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What are some habits that improved your life significantly?

These are the top habits that substantially increased the quality of my life:

  1. Sleeping 8 hours a day, consistently.
  2. Saving money: I started saving money and, after I set up a good emergency fund in cash, I started investing everything else in a basket of low-commission, index-tracking, ETF funds. The Vanguard 500 ETF is a good starting point. Having money invested and working for me not only had a positive impact on my finances but also on my sleep (see point 1).
  3. Surrounding myself with people with positive attitude: I ditched fake friends, high maintenance girlfriends, and all other people that actively undermined and ridiculed my efforts. I noticed that a positive attitude from the people around me is essential for my quality of life.
  4. Stopped shoppingto impress other people (or please them): I noticed this doesn’t work. People are not impressed by your new car or fancy shoes. These fancy things will most probably only trigger envy or other undesirable attitudes towards you. Better avoid the problem altogether and save money instead.
  5. Stopped watching TV: I sold my TV in 2001 and never bought it ever since. Watching TV now seems ridiculous given the low quality of the programs, amount of advertising and divisive content promoted 24/7 on most channels.
  6. Getting an above-average health insurance: accidents happen all the time (more on this on point 11 below) and it is better to be prepared. Having a good health-insurance (ie. not the cheapest you could find) also helps sleeping better at night even if you are perfectly healthy (see point 1 above).
  7. Learning to cook my own meals. Cooking at home is cheaper and, over time, it will also naturally push you to learn new recipes from different countries (a minimum of curiosity and will to learn is necessary): many of these new recipes that I learnt turned out to be new “classics” at home.
  8. Learned to do my own taxes. I noticed my accountant was very liberal with the amount of taxes I had to pay (with my money, not his) so I learnt how to do my own taxes. This allowed me to find costly mistakes in my accountant’s work and find a better one at a later stage.
  9. Reducing social media. Removed the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest apps from my iPhone: now I can only access them via my desktop computer or iPad (and automatically reduced my time wasted on Social Media by at least 90%). I notice that the best part is not to have useless, constant notifications on my iPhone (ie. there is a reason why Facebook actually tries to force you to install the App and not use the Safari version of the website). Now I check Facebook/Twitter once a day and I find this more than enough to keep up with the developments in my social circles (ie. mostly cat pictures, memes, pictures of kids, etc.).
  10. Started reading as many books as possible. I try to read 1 new book a week. I rarely make it, but given that I set up such a high target, in 2017 alone I managed to read 20+ non-fiction books on the most diverse topics, which is already a great improvement from the past.
  11. Started weight-lifting at the gym. I previously was an active runner. In 2016 I got a serious injury to my knee (torn my left ACL in a ski accident) and had to undergo reconstructive surgery and subsequent 9 month rehabilitation program. This forced me for the first time to train to increase my muscles in other to avoid post-surgery muscle atrophy, and power imbalance between the two legs which would have prevented me to ski again. I hated every single weightlifting session but the improvement in my muscular power, good posture, fat reduction is on another level compared to what I achieved with my moderate running routine.
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