It’s about the process

January 24, 2013, 4:45 pm Peter Switzer Yahoo7

As you set out your plans for 2013, whether it be for your career, business or your investments, the critical question you have to ask yourself is — do I have the right process?

Lance Armstrong, in his mea culpa interview with Oprah Winfrey, continually referred to “it’s a process” and this is something out and out champions understand. Now I know Armstrong, it could be argued, was an out and out champion cheat, but it still showed that whatever he does he will always thrive to win, no matter what has to be done to make it happen.

The challenge
Right now he’s engaged in a process to win in trying to change the public’s attitude towards him. Now that will be a big challenge but I bet at some time, maybe after a confession book, or after discovering Jesus and after dedicating his life to helping other athletes not make the same mistakes he made, Armstrong will gain a lot of acceptance.

If he does achieve this, it will be put down to the process he put in place to change peoples’ opinions of him, and when that happens, if it does, he will win.

I think the difference between ordinary employees and super ones, between great entrepreneurs and poor performers and top athletes and park players is it’s all about the process.

Results prove process works

There’s an interesting story, which I have shared with Yahoo readers before but bears repeating as most of us come back from holidays and start thinking about the working and investing year ahead.

Anne Scheiber was a 101-year old New Yorker who lived in a beaten up studio apartment in Manhattan. The rent was $400 a month and she lived on social security and a small pension. She had worked for the Inland Revenue Service and had retired in 1943, and despite having a law degree was only paid $3150 a year.

She was regarded as a very thrifty person and even went to the public library to read the Wall Street Journal once a week.

Despite this humble life, Ms. Scheiber left the Yeshiva University some $22 million! So, how did this little old lady build such a fortune one day at a time using a damn good process?

When she retired she had $5,000 saved which she ploughed into a quality company Schering-Plough. She re-invested her profits back into the company and when she died, she had 128,000 shares of Schering-Plough valued at $7.5 million.

Her process was simple — buy quality companies, especially when the market fell and make them easier to buy. She re-invested her dividends and she stayed in for the long haul.

She was driven by her process and it was a good one — the results proved that — and she won big time.

Ask yourself this

So, as you set out your plans for 2013, whether it be for your career, business or your investments, the critical question you have to ask yourself is — do I have the right process?

This leads to the next logical question, which is — how do you get the right process?

You could benchmark yourself off the best in breed. That’s why I, as an employer of 35 and owner of a number of businesses, have read books such as Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity and Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.

These guys had the right processes to create standout businesses. Obviously Serena Williams has the right process and so does Roger Federer — their results prove it.

For building wealth, reading books on the likes of Warren Buffett, regarded as one of the best investors of all time, could be a start, or you could read personal investment books from a point of view of becoming your own financial adviser.

Others have used professional and trustworthy financial advisers to help construct the plan, which ultimately is the process that builds your wealth.

Kick goals

If you can write down your goals, which is the starting point for success, and then follow it up with how you are going to make it happen, then this is the critical process that I think is the difference between winning and losing.

In business, the process has to be about satisfying customers. For employees it’s about understanding the goals of the business and being the best contributor you can be to help kick these goals.

For wealth-building, last year I shared with our subscribers to my Switzer Super Report for self-managed super funds a process where I suggested a portfolio of quality Aussie company names that have a history of paying great dividends.

The goal was simple — let’s try and make 6-7% on dividends and if we get capital gain that will be a bonus. That portfolio across 2012 returned over 20%!

I had no control over what the market did, what Mario Draghi, the central bank boss in Europe, said or how fast China grew, but I could control the companies that my money and my clients’ money went into.

A proven process
If we did not get capital again last year, we would have got 7% in dividends, and if the market went down and these companies became very cheap, I would have recommended buying more, just like Anne Scheiber did.

When the process has been proven, you can withstand disappointing results because you know one day that things will change and your time-tested process will come through.

The trick is for you to discover the process.

Peter Switzer is the founder of the Switzer Super Report, a newsletter and website for self-managed super funds.

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