How Shakeable Are You? The Problem with Tony Robbin’s Book “Unshakeable”

To Be “Unshakeable”

The definition of Shakeable according to The Free Dictionary, which has over 9 billion visitors to its website is:

To cause to lose stability or strength, as of conviction: a crisis that has shaken my deepest beliefs…to disturb or agitate emotionally, upset, to tremble: he was shaken by the loss in his accounts.

Basically, this is stuff you don’t want happening to your money, investments or portfolios. And so, it’s with great sadness that the author of the New York Times best-selling book “Unshakeable” has gotten it so wrong in so many places. I can see that he wants to help. But instead of helping people it’s going to hurt people. Warning, I’m pretty mad and I don’t hold back. So, this is your warning. Don’t get me wrong, Tony is a genius when it comes to earning money and generating it. But when it comes to the investment world he got it wrong.

So What’s the Problem?

By now you know I’m a firm believer that people don’t rise to their level of expectations, but fall to the level of their training. In this case I’m worried people are going to read this book and believe that they got training. That they’re ready. But what if Tony is selling the wrong idea.

You see here’s the problem with his book.

Tony shames people who get out of the market. He says that if you missed out on the 10 best days of stock market returns over the last 80 years you lose out of 2/3 of your returns. Ok. That’s a pretty thrilling idea. But what Tony doesn’t talk about is what happens to that same money on the 10 worst days of stock market returns over the last 80 years.

10 Best vs. 10 worst stock market

Tony, if you were really unbiased you would talk about both sides of the story. You can’t expect to keep your money in the market as a buy and hold without facing both amazing up-trends AND devastating falls. In other words Tony is shaming people to stay in the market by saying that if you pull your money out you are going to miss out on big returns. But he never says anything about missing out on HUGE losses. If there is one key idea that I’ve learned in my 20+ years of being in the investment world it’s that growing your money is about avoiding devastating losses.

A Better Way

But there is a better perspective. And that is, if you really want to be balanced you say “if you’re gonna miss the best 10 days of the stock market it’s going to really hurt your returns. And at the same time if you miss the 10 worst days it’s going to really help your returns. But even more important is if you missed BOTH the 10 best and 10 worst days you’re actually going to do about 4% BETTER than a straight buy and hold.”

My point isn’t to miss the 10 best and 10 worst days. My point is that when people are giving you information you need to CHALLENGE it. Because if you don’t, you’re going to hurt yourself. Tony is a credible, motivational, thought leader. But his frame is wrong. And he has anchored millions of his readers to his “you can’t miss the 10 best days,” framework. His buy and hold strategy. His idea that you have to stay in the market.

And you know what? You’ve heard this before! Every Big Box Advisory tells you the same thing. Stay in the market and to protect yourself all you have to do is diversify and re-balance your portfolio.

The Charts Don’t Lie

Look at this price chart of the SP500. You can clearly see that missing the worst days will actually protecting your money more than missing the best days will do for growing it. And this is just a chart of the past 5 years.

200 Day Moving Average

If you look at the 200 day moving average (the blue line) you can see that BAD things often happen below it. If you look at data from the 1960s to now, 22 of the worst 25 days have all happened below the 200 day moving average. When we expand it we can see that 83 of the worst 100 days have happened below this average.

Financial Heresy 

Do you get it?

There are patterns. If you turn your pattern recognition part of your brain on and you start asking the right questions you can change your future. It’s not about just buying and holding, diversifying and re-balancing your portfolio – what Tony and the conventional advisors tell people to do. You need to be aware of the frame that people are using with you. When you go see The Big Box Advisor they are going to frame that the investment world is dangerous, unpredictable, totally random and therefore are going to suggest that they hold your money in a well diversified portfolio across 10 asset classes and re-balance it once a year. But why? Is it really random? How do you know?

The investment world doesn’t have to be so complicated. Do you really want to make your money unshakeable? Instead ask the right questions. There is a better way. Become a financial heretic. A heretic is a person that goes against what is generally accepted. It’s through heresy that progress has been made. Think of where we would be without such heretic thought leaders of the past like Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein. These are the scientists that questioned convention and ultimately took our understanding of science to the next level.

If you want to protect your financial future, think like a financial heretic. Question convention and let the data speak for itself.

How Shakeable Are You?

 

In Your Corner,

RCPeck-Dig Signature.JPG     
RC Peck, CFP

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