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Books That Helped Me Think

Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale was a big force in my life. I read that book twice over one weekend after I found it on a Friday while in Grade 12. It set the tone for a lot of my future.

Over the years I have read a number of books that have helped me think. I have five or six rules of life that I taught our children when they were about 12 years old and I mention these any time I speak in public. I explain these six rules at the bottom of this article. A lot of these sayings I can trace back to books I read. Some things we read and learn can help us move in baby steps. Some can help us make quantum leaps.

One book I recall well was called Magic of Thinking Big. It really is just as easy to think big as to think small, but the results will be a lot different. Sure, we still have to start small and maybe learn in baby steps until we get some knowledge in our head. But at some point we might be ready to go to the next level, and it can be in any number of areas of life.

Maybe it’s how to help a child take over the farm. Maybe it’s how to make an extra $1,000 a month. Maybe it’s how to be a good president of a local organization. Maybe it’s how to have a million bucks. The size of the challenge isn’t as important as doing whatever it is that looks like an obstacle now. And if we’re going to try, we might as well try for bigger than smaller.

Another book is How A Man Thinketh, So Is He. This is a tiny book with a big message. If you study people or maybe yourself, you will soon see that some people blow up at the slightest thing or problem, while others just seem to walk through very difficult events with little fanfare or grief. The book suggests our mind is like a garden, and what we sow we will reap. So if a person keeps putting garbage into his or her head, don’t expect good stuff to come out.

I often think that a lot of crime can be traced back to kids watching too much crime on TV and/or playing those violent games on TV or they can buy on a CD or other software. How can hour after hour of that stuff not affect a person’s thinking? Likewise, if a person reads and watches and thinks peace, profit, helping others, sooner or later I would expect the brain to drive that person to good things.

Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale was a big force in my life. I read that book twice over one weekend after I found it on a Friday while in Grade 12. It set the tone for a lot of my future. Basically the message is look on the good side, look for a good side, lots of things are possible if we learn what to do, and the cup is half full, not half empty.

Two more recent books are Rich Dad/Poor Dad, and Conspiracy of the Rich: 8 New Rules of Money, both by Robert Kiyosaki. Both books have many great messages, but the one I like best goes something like this: Don’t say you can’t afford something. Instead think what you can do to help pay for what you want. Of course we might have to learn a new skill or stop spending money on other things to get that new “thing,” but that’s the whole point. If doing what we’re doing now isn’t getting you and your family or me and my family what we want and need, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate what we do, our skills and our activities.

I certainly wish I had learned this skill years ago. I know now that knowing how to sell covered calls on stocks can and has helped our family pay for many things and activities that we otherwise would have to finance some other less favour-able way. Or not do. And odds are that skill could help your family, too.


A lot of people shy away from computers, but I see them as one great tool, especially now that most of the country has the Internet and fast Internet is more and more common. I use about half a dozen free websites and I will list them and what I use them for.

This site has

almost all the financial information you and I would need to build wealth and cash flow. It carries brief discussions on almost every publicly traded company in North America, dividends, shares owned, which funds own big amounts of a stock and much more. It also has information on options for

most U. S. companies. And if you like being sidetracked by news, go there.

This is the

Montreal Exchange site, which lists Canadian stocks that have options, strike prices and what an option can pay us. lists the

price of gold, oil, silver and much more. It also attracts many essays by writers who offer opinions or facts about trends, industries, mines, gold, and much more.

This site

offers essays on gold and silver with very interesting discussions and sometimes contrarian ideas.


financial news, almost too much of it.


site for charts that we can tailor to suit ourselves. This site also has a lot educational financial information so you can read until your eyeballs get sore.

So lots of information on these sites, which you can read anytime of the day or night, from home or away from home. And it’s all free.


Understand the difference between telling stories and developing ideas. If you think about that for a minute, you might just be able to think of people who hear a word or topic and instantly kick into telling a

story about that word or topic. Other people you might think of hear a word or topic and almost instantly get into talking about how to develop this or that and where to get more information. In other words they talk ideas.

Storytellers are OK when I’m on a long trip and I’m not saying storytellers are bad. But I like discussing ideas, and over the years I know that Grainews editor John Clark and I spent many hours talking ideas on how to make Grainews better for farmers. Likewise with farming, brother Ernie and I have a hard time not talking ideas pretty well every time we meet or talk.

Next is understand the magic of compound interest. It can help you build wealth. This rule is talked about a lot so I won’t. I will say that we don’t need to be millionaires to be well off in this fine country of Canada, but it helps to know how to make money and more if we need more.

The next rule is just as important: understand the magic of compound knowledge. I find that the more I learn, the easier it is to learn more. I discovered this little known rule of life by watching John Clark and also the president of United Grain Growers, Mac Runciman. Both knew a lot about a lot of topics. To learn new things we need a critical mass or base of knowledge and we need to get going. Then it seems we can attract knowledge and learning gets easier and easier. This has helped me learn how to invest, how to fix cars, how to write and so on.

Another rule I cherish is as follows: Whenever we want to learn to do something well, we should learn the subject well enough so we can think instead of wonder. Take writing, or investing or public speaking. Or take how to repair an engine, or put in a crop under different weather conditions. To some, it might just be “go get the job done.” To another, all of these might be a big mystery and people wonder just how that mechanic repaired that engine, or how do covered calls work or how does one farmer seem to get a crop started much better than the next.

So people wonder. Then they fear. Then they hesitate and before we know it, 30 years have gone by. To do something really well, we need to learn a critical mass of knowledge then keep adding to that base of knowledge until we know enough so we can think. That takes the mystery out of the topic, it can help take away the fear, and it can help do a job or task under changing conditions. Because change likely is the only sure thing we will meet in life.

Andy is more or less retired but he does manage his own portfolio, and publishes a newsletter where he explains what he does with his portfolio and why shortly after he does it. If you want to read it free for a month, go to,click “go to form” and fill out five lines of information. Then submit.

About the author

Freelance Writer

Andy was a former Grainews editor and long-time Grainews columnist. He passed away in February 2017.

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