Warren Buffett. Decidely not smorgasbord nomenclature!

Been quiet lately. Went through a month or so of crunch that’s killed my desire to do much of anything lately besides playing World of Warcraft.

Her’s a quick plug to my buddy Rich Carlson of Digital Eel. He’s an indie game developer with his own company and several critically acclaimed titles under his belt, and quite a funky and interesting guy on top of that. He’s living the dream of the true indie game developer and enjoys his life to the fullest, and I couldn’t be happier to see someone that has actually made it exactly where they want to be in life. Check out his blog and his games!

I’ve been gradually breaking out of the stupor by reading Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist. It’s the biography of Warren Buffett, king of investors and last I checked the second or third-richest man in the USA behind Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft. It’s fascinating. It shows how he started from nothing and did his best to squeeze all the irrationality out of the stock market to make it work for him. It’s an amazing read, really inspiring, all the more so because I started reading it when I was first getting interested in investing. Nice to come into it having a role model.

The most interesting part of his character to me is how ordinary he is, despite his wealth. Perhaps the book used qutie a lot of creative license but for all intents and purposes he seemed like a normal guy without any expensive tastes. Making money was just a game to him, at which he excelled. I loved in particular how he’d zig when everyone else zagged, in ways no one understood until later. He’d stop investing when the market was at its best, dodged a couple stock market crashes, then stepped in and made an absolute killing when they were at their worst and everyone else was too scared to invest. Hearing how cool, logical and calculated he was in comparison to most everyone else is amazing, and inspiring.

I’ve moved onto Jack: Straight from the Gut which is the autobiography of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and his climb to the top and what he did while he was there. I’m still getting into it. It’s interesting, not as good as Buffett, but still inspiring. I suppose I’m developing a fetish for biographies of successful businessmen. Well, if I’m going to have heroes, why not them? ๐Ÿ™‚

Aside from World of Warcraft, which I enjoy, I’ve been playing the demo of Capitalism 2. It’s an extremely complex business simulator that’s also used by some business schools to train their students. Harvard, Yale and Duke are examples.

The game has a single player campaign mode, in which you can set out to achieve business goals they set for you. In the demo (which is all I’ve played so far, the full version is due to arrive any day now) there’s Entrepreneur mode and Capitalist mode.

In Enterepreneur mode, you have to build up a supermarket business that generates a certain amount of revenue and profit in the allotted time. Basic, but good for learning the interface.

In Capitalist mode, you’re a technology startup that’s made a major innovation in palm computing. You raised $50m through an IPO, you have one R&D lab and 40 years to dominate the computer industry and generate $400m in revenue per year.

It’s pretty challenging, given how fast you have to act not to go bankrupt. You have to set up more research and development studios to develop new technology you can utilize or license to competitors, build factories to start manufacturing the products you’re researching, build mines and oil wells to get the raw materials the factories need to mass-produce the product, then build retailers to sell the product.

There are many ways to approach the game, such as becoming a pure R&D powerhouse that sells technology to others, or skip retailing and sell to your competitors, or buy up your competitors and other businesses to generate cash to fund your own retailing operation. It’s extremely open-ended, very realistic (as far as I can tell) and ridiculously fun if you’re into that sort of thing.

I enjoy games like Tropico for its financial economy management systems, and this is just an ORGY of goodness along the same lines. The best part is that the game is a couple years old and only costs $9.90 from GoGamer.com. I keep checking the mail every day, because I WANT it!

In other news, I’ve somewhat given up on taking notes in books. Since I’ve done it I’ve increased my reading comprehension and retention dramatically just by getting used to what to look for and pay attention to. At this point it’s only been slowing me down, so I’m more selective about what to note. When I do note it, I just write down the key takeaways of the book into my pocket notebook, where I write down all my thoughts.

It’s an interesting occurrence because I never anticipated having my memory improve and making notes unnecessary. I always had very little faith in my ability to retain knowledge without writing it down and took for granted that I could actually improve it.

See, I considered taking notes a cop-out, just a very cheap hack to patch up the retention problem. Why? Because it was easier than trying to actually get brutal and fix it. Imagine my surprise and unexpected pleasure at finding I could have it both ways. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m all about self-improvement, and doing it unintentionally is totally new to me. I’d like to figure out a way to go to bed and, when I wake up, I’ve mastered a foreign language. I’ll see about that.

And that is all for now.

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