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…But It’s Just 10 Cents

Ask yourself…


Are you investing your resources wisely?

Here’s a little story about Warren Buffet, currently ranked the 3rd richest man in the world.

Buffet was walking along with the Editor of the New York Times when he stopped to make a call at a pay phone. Drawing a 50c piece out of a pocket, he asked whether his companion had any change. His companion looked puzzled since the minimum call charge was 40c – after all, the change would only be 10 cents, surely it was hardly worth worrying about? But Buffet persisted, “Have you any idea of the compound interest on 10 cents over 25 years?”

Buffet’s argument was that even something as small as 10 cents, when invested over time, would accrue and grow exponentially. And since Buffet’s fortune is estimated at US $45 billion, it seems to me, he might be a man worth listening to. That he has also pledged 99% of his fortune to charity only adds to the sense that he invests wisely and spends wisely too.


So, what can we learn from this? The question is, in your life or business, are you wisely investing your resources? Or are you squandering them with a careless shrug, “Hey it’s only 10 cents, or 10 minutes, or 10 miles”?

Here are a couple of examples of the compounding effect to get you thinking – in these examples the precious resource is time.

Where did the time go?

I recently advertised a role on a job website and was excited when the first applicant applied, so I stopped what I was working on and checked out his CV.

It only cost me 10 minutes. (Oh, and some lost productivity incurred by stopping in what I had been doing.)

Then another CV arrived so I “invested” another 10 minutes… but on seeing this candidate had uploaded a portfolio, I returned to the first to see whether he had, too… then I found myself exploring some of the other features of the jobsite…

This continued until I had 18 applicants. Even if I only spent 10 minutes on each one, that’s an investment of 3 hours and a lot of work interrupted. (And of course I didn’t just invest 10 minutes on each one… how easily side-tracked we are! Those job sites have salary comparisons, too, you know!) And what could I have done with 3 hours that had become neglected instead? What is the last thing on your to-do list that somehow never gets done? Maybe it’s leisure time for yourself.

A return on investment

Conversely, I bought a pilates DVD and was intrigued that the sessions were just 15 minutes. However, thinking I knew better and with the fervour that accompanies all new exercise programmes, I insisted on doing an hour. And that was my sum total – just one hour… before realising I couldn’t consistently fit it into my schedule. I stuck the DVD back on the shelf. So in short, I invested nothing, and gained nothing

(well actually the DVD cost me 20 bucks). Finally, I saw sense and blew the dust off the DVD once more. This time I started doing 15 minutes every weekday as recommended, which could easily be fitted into my work schedule. Truly, I hardly noticed that small pocket of time. With the compounding effect working in your favour, that 15 minutes adds up to 60 hours over the course of a working year – that’s 60 hours younger, fitter, and stronger I have become. And because exercising becomes easier and easier, the benefit from each session becomes greater, not to mention the knock-on benefits of reduced stress, greater clarity, and so on.

That, my friends, is the power of compounding.

Here’s a practical tip to take away…

The resource that people are most short of yet somehow value the least is their time. My advice would be to really examine the seemingly inconsequential pockets of time that get squandered in your life every day. Even if you only find 15 minutes you didn’t have before, that would help, right?

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