Become wiser

John LeFevre - Things I’ve Learned

Things I’ve Learned

What I wish I knew at 18…


College is mostly a scam

I’m glad I went to college, because I wanted to work on Wall Street. But today, I wouldn’t waste $300,000 on it, and I wouldn’t want to work in banking. Instead, I’d load up on college credits during high school, go to a school like the University of Texas to have fun, graduate in 3 years debt-free, and travel around the world for a year.

Link | next email: 2024-05-07


Spend time with your parents

You probably have less than 200 Saturdays left with your parents before they die. And then you become an orphan.

Link | next email: 2024-05-02


Don’t wait for the perfect pitch

Real life is not baseball. There’s no free trip to first base, and you’re not limited to three strikes. Just keep swinging, and your “luck” will improve.

Link | next email: 2024-04-22


Settle down geographically

This also means, “see the world while you’re young and unattached.” I’ve lived in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Houston - and I’m glad I did. But it’s important to settle down (around age 30) and establish a footprint of friends, family, property, and a business network - a life.

Link | next email: 2024-04-21



When I attended capital markets roadshow luncheons, I’d exchange business cards with C-suite executives, investment banking competitors, countless buy side portfolio managers, and research analysts. On my way out, I’d throw the stack of cards in the trash. Today, many of these people - smart and ambitious - have risen to influential positions in finance, business, tech, philanthropy, and politics all over the world. Build a meaningful Rolodex, a real one - not simply 5,000 LinkedIn connections.

Link | next email: 2024-05-10


Drinking isn't a fulfilling hobby

I loved drinking. It felt important professionally and was a personal hobby for years. But, alcohol is terrible for you, even in small quantities. It increases cortisol, which causes stress and anxiety, disrupts your sleep, destroys fitness progress and muscle recovery, increases estrogen and decreases testosterone, diminishes productivity, and causes long term cardiovascular damage. It also damages the prefrontal cortex, which impacts memory, impulse control, and cognitive ability.

Occasional drinking is fine, but what’s the point? It’s never been easier to abstain from alcohol, and it’s important to start young. You'll discover that you don't need it socially; it's more fun to be present.

Link | next email: 2024-04-26


Take a barbell approach to money and investing

Not enough nuance is given to financial advice. It’s important to enjoy the fruits of your labor. After all, money is only something you need if you don't die tomorrow. So don’t be afraid to spend that cash. Reward yourself with experience-oriented vacations or, occasionally, extravagant purchases to celebrate an achievement. As an example, watches can be great investments - money that would otherwise be spent on bar tabs. A $15,000 Patek Nautilus (2004 price) is now $100,000. However, be mindful that material things like cars or watches won’t bring you any substantive fulfillment.

Bet on yourself. Don’t struggle to save in your early 20s when it will be easy to save after a couple of promotions. Still, it’s important to establish financial discipline and a basic foundation for wealth as early as possible. Start saving (a trivial amount of money) as soon as you get your first paycheck - $100 a week at 7% will turn into $1,000,000 in 40 years. You’ll never miss it.

As your income rises, allocate your savings between a concentrated portfolio of long-term holdings, real estate, and a few 10-50x moonshots - startups, crypto, derivatives, whatever. Not only are they intellectually and financially fulfilling, it’s a great way to expand your professional circles, and open unknown doors of opportunity.

Link | next email: 2024-04-25


Have kids sooner

It’s not a debate. Life has zero meaning without children. Zero. It’s fine to make sure you’re ready in terms of resources and commitment, but don’t look for reasons to delay. You will not regret having children. And every year you put it off is one less year you get to enjoy your grandkids.

Link | next email: 2024-04-29


Never harp, worry, or wallow in fear

It doesn’t help.

Link | next email: 2024-05-04


Write daily

Therapy isn’t real (for most people), but reflection is important. Writing is a valuable tool for reflecting and for idea generation. My drunken journal of notes and memories in banking gave me a NYT bestseller. But more important, many of those memories would’ve been forgotten had I not written them down. I just wish I had done more of it.

Link | next email: 2024-05-14


Look outside your social circle

In New York City, the emphasis for many is: What do you do? Where did you go to college? What does your Dad do? It took me a decade to learn that sitting in the back of a truck drinking beer in rural Texas with people of all races and classes is more soulful, honest, interesting, and fulfilling than having brunch with Ivy League bros in Manhattan.

Link | next email: 2024-04-21


Read more

Reading allows you to borrow someone else’s brain, and have a conversation with the most consequential minds in history. It’s a learned skill that requires discipline: Make time for reading, preferably right before bed. Keep your phone in another room. Tap out on books you aren’t enjoying and move on. Supplement by carrying a book with you and stealing 5-10 minute intervals when you can, and add audiobooks while exercising to the mix for efficiency. Keep physical copies (trophies) and amass a meaningful library over time.

Link | next email: 2024-05-04


Watch the sun rise

It’s self-explanatory; take an early morning walk: Fresh air, vitamin D, exercise, more productive days, quiet reflection, and much better sleep.

Link | next email: 2024-05-04


Never stop learning

Feed and nurture an intellectual curiosity. We live in a world of free university courses, YouTube tutorials, podcasts, and even Instagram health and fitness guides. There’s an infinite amount of knowledge at your fingertips. And it never hurts to be knowledgeable and conversant on an eclectic range of topics; it makes you a better and more interesting person.

Link | next email: 2024-04-22


Focus on hobbies that will last a lifetime

You might not ever “retire,” but as soon as your money starts making more money than you make in a year, you should take control of your time and focus on wealth-building, passion projects, and leisure activities. You won’t regret having developed a passion for hobbies that last a lifetime. For me, it’s fly fishing, ranching, photography, golf, and backgammon.

Link | next email: 2024-05-04


Get better educated on health and fitness

In a world where 50% of men are obese, it’s never been easier to demonstrate high-value status physically. Adopt better habits at a younger age with greater priority on weight training and muscle-building. Diet is not rocket science: Keep a simple “calories in, calories out” approach; emphasize proteins while minimizing consumption of sugar, alcohol, seed oils, processed foods, sodium nitrates, factory-farmed proteins, and exposure to microplastics.

Link | next email: 2024-04-25


Don’t waste as much time watching pro sports

Spending an entire Sunday watching football, or letting the outcome of a game dictate your mood is a waste of time and energy. Instead, play a competitive sport for as long as you can.

The same goes with watching TV. Minimize the consumption of all mainstream media, limited to only basic awareness of what people in echo chambers are digesting to understand the zeitgeist. And instead of binge-watching Yellowstone, go ride a horse or get SCUBA certified.

Link | next email: 2024-05-03


Have a plan

You cannot rely on the government; no one is coming to save you. Be prepared for social, political, and economic turmoil, even if it is a low probability event. Diversify your income streams, invest in real estate, and buy a ranch and some guns.

Link | next email: 2024-04-26


Start a business

In investment banking, when I had a problem, every solution was a phone call away - the lawyer, IT guy, research analyst, support staff, sales team, etc. When I left the comfort and structure of Wall Street, I had an impeccable résumé, but was not equipped with real-world, entrepreneurial skills. It’s essential to learn how to play every position.

We don’t know how AI or unexpected disruption will reshape the world, but there is protection in having hard assets, cash flow, and consumer-facing businesses that run like a factory - rising with inflation and making money while you sleep.

Link | next email: 2024-05-17


Focus on the habits, not the goals

To paraphrase James Clear, achieving a goal is only a momentary change. You need to change the systems that lead to the desired results. Focus on the habits and “the score takes care of itself.”

Link | next email: 2024-04-30


Nurture a handful of close friendships

I’m not superstitious but if you smile at the world, the world smiles back. Cut negative people out of your life and sever unreciprocated relationships. It’s so obvious, but you can literally choose your friends.

Link | next email: 2024-05-17


Always maintain a positive outlook

My motto is “no bad days,” but this wasn’t always the case. Even if something “bad” - like losing a job or love interest - happens to you, you won’t really know if that event was actually good or bad for another 5 or 10 years. And the answer is within your control.

Link | next email: 2024-04-27


Don’t argue with idiots

We live in divisive times, and increasingly, behind a screen. Arguing with idiots is a colossal waste of time and energy, especially online. And when you do interact with people, try to be kind most of the time, even when a situation calls for anger or abrasiveness.

Link | next email: 2024-04-22


Ignore the boos. They usually come from the cheap seats

Most people aren’t thinking about you, but even if they are, who cares.

Link | next email: 2024-05-05


Say Thank you

Not Thanks, or Thx, or Cheers.

Thank you.

Link | next email: 2024-05-04


Be skeptical

A significant portion of everything you’ve been taught, from the textbooks to the news you read, and what you’ve been told to revere and aspire to, is a lie. The people respected by society - academics, doctors, business leaders, and government leaders - are not all-knowing or even all that smart, and certainly not impervious to criticism or without sin.

Link | next email: 2024-05-04


Accept your reality

Never stop trying to improve your reality. But along the way, accept it. This is the secret to happiness.

Link | next email: 2024-04-21


Go to bed tired

Link | next email: 2024-05-17

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