Expand your financial knowlege

Expand your financial knowlege

I watched The Big Short, the brilliant film based on Micheal Lewis’ even more brilliant book. The film does well to highlight the human impact of the last recession, although it doesnt focus on the people (everyday lay person, not the bankers) that it really impacted, it does point out that these numbers on computers are actually human beings.

I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the last financial crisis. It began as I entered university so I did not directly feel the effects but it really affected my perspective on money, work and security. I’ve done a lot of reading, watching and listening and I’m constantly fascinated by really smart people telling me that finance is too complex for them.

It’s crazy not to try to understand money, even if it’s only how to manage your own money. Our entire system is based around money. The work we do, what we value or don’t, what we do in our spare time, what schools we go to, where we live. We need to know how money works and it’s relationship to humans.

There’s denying there is a lot of complexity but the basic truths are constant. The markets are driven by people not machines, and people are easily influenced so recessions aren’t anomalies in the financial system, they happen every few years and the patterns are pretty similar.

Here are some of my favourite books, films and podcasts that dispel the myth that it’s too complex.

Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki- My Dad gave me this book in my early teens and it basically changed my view on money, work, entrepreneurship and education. It took me beyond what we are taught at school. The focus is mostly on real estate but the basics it teaches about understanding cashflow, debt, that your home is not an investment, that financial advisors get paid to sell you certain investments are incredibly insightful.

Motley Fool Podcasts– brilliant podcasts on investment news, I really enjoy their philosophies on investing as a long game.

Richest Man in Babylon– this book by George Samuel Clason gives financial advice through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. The principles are simple and true.

Debt Thomas Sankara– brilliant talk by Thomas Sankara on the flawed ideology of debt.

Inside Job– brilliant documentary take down of the last financial crises

Micheal Lewis books– Any of the Micheal Lewis books on finance. I’ve read or listened to pretty much all of them. They are brilliant at showing the human side which is often replaced by statistics (there were no humans involved in the making of this derivative). My

Thinking fast and slow- this book is a brilliant insight to how truly irrational we are and how we can be easily influenced.

Four Horsemen- A bit apocalyptic at times but some eye opening insights to be found in this documentary. It explores finance in the west, the death of empires and the global effects of our actions. It was the first time I learned that the Federal Reserve is a privately owned bank. “Exult in the crimes of others and in our nobility of opposing them.”

Eye opening documentary

The collapse of The American Dream explained in Animation- pretty self explanatory. Short cartoon that reveals a lot of the backdrop to our financial system that is often hidden.

Enron, The Smartest Guys In The Room, Directed by Alex Gibney-  Fascinating documentary the story of big financial catastrophes is often the same sadly.

The Corporation

The Psychology of Human Misjudgement- I love Charlie Munger. His interviews and talks are all hilariously brilliant. His research and findings on the social side of finance are fascinating.

Why we look down on low wage earners- School of Life video

Random thoughts on should i work for free?

Random thoughts on should i work for free?

I saw a funny twitter conversation on my blog feed between Andy Young and James Porteous yesterday. It made me think about the question should I work for free? Whether you’re a student, graduate, freelancer or start up it is a question we at some point ask ourselves, especially in the creative industry it seems. I have usually been opposed to the idea. Mostly because i think if the client’s getting charged for the time spent, the intern should also be paid. But with the multiple hats I’m currently wearing I’ve started to look at it from a different perspective.

alt= twitter andy young james porteous

For students it is difficult. I have always felt that the prevalence of unpaid internships in creative industries, can put off those who cant afford to work for free. It’s not so bad for a week or two but unpaid work for months at a time can put you in a tough situation especially when you need to things like pay your rent. I was lucky as a student that all my summer work with architecture offices were paid but I have friends who worked unpaid. They saw they saw the experience they were getting as invaluable.

Unpaid work comes in various forms for freelancers, from clients who ask you to do the work for free in order to develop your portfolio to self commissioned work which could lead on to new and exciting work. For me the toughest part about getting paid as a freelancer has been understanding what my hourly rate should be and explaining both to myself and the client why I can’t work for less. Cultural Enterprise Office here in Scotland have a great guide to this!

Businesses have both sides of the coin, young startups and even established companies can work unpaid on projects for example on competition entries, with the hope of getting the exposure. And they can also have employees working for them for free. Young startups directors often work unpaid for months or even years while the company is get so to pay an intern when you yourself aren’t being paid is tough. These are things we have been musing over at our social enterprise start-up. A portion of our work will always be for free as we started and continue as a charity, but we believe in paying potential staff and in living wage, which is difficult until we can have enough cashflow to support that.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 21.54.25

I really respect the mantra of design giants Pearlfisher, they absolutely refuse to work for free. Interestingly in his interview with Debbie Millman co-founder Jonathan Ford explains that they have found that saying ‘no’ can be an aphrodisiac to clients. Saying no seems to make them bend over backwards to work with them. I think it comes down to being confident in the value you are bringing. This is definitely something I aspire to.

If you are deciding whether or not to work for free here’s a brilliant guide from Jessica Hirsche to help 🙂


Let me know your thoughts on working for free! 🙂

How to get funding for your project

How to get funding for your project

We had a fantastic class on how to apply for funding for your project or idea, yesterday at the Artist Mentoring Programme (the course I’m on with Impact Arts). I just made a quick diagram just highlighting key lessons and tips. Also below is the LEAP Process diagram, which is a framework for evaluating community/ social impact work used by the Scottish Government.

alt=how to apply for funding

alt= Leap process diagram