A major on-ramp to using different lenses to see the "third side" of the coin.

A vintage 1994 ad from Scope Books Ltd. that appeared in The Times of London.

It must have been sometime in 1989 or 1990. I saw an ad at least somewhat similar to what I have reproduced above. And it grabbed my eye.

At the time, I had no money. But I had always been intrigued by “what else” is out there.

Somehow—through a series of events I cannot recall—I wound up buying a book called PT written by a man who went by the name of W. G. Hill. I received “Confidential Registered Copy 1673.” “1673” was handwritten in a space reserved for it on the title page.

PT: Perpetual Traveler. Parked Temporarily. Passing Through. Perpetual Tourist. Possibility Thinker.

The book—and associated materials that Hill sent me over the years—introduced me to a whole different way of thinking and approaching the world.

Hill notes that the PT idea is by no means attractive to most people. But it was to me. At least conceptually, intellectually. And, over the years, as my financial resources have increased, it has become more and more attractive in a practical sense as well.

We’ll talk about other important lessons in future posts. But I want to focus here on the first, most basic concept that grabbed my attention:

Get outside your box. Try always to see the world from a larger perspective. There is more out there than you can imagine.

Now, I think I was groomed to look at things differently than most, probably from the time I was born.

My dad was a German immigrant who had been forced to flee Germany in 1939 and had lived through World War II in England. He came to the U.S. in 1950. He had a more European way of looking at things. And my mom, though a second- to third-generation American, had been raised in a very strong Finnish ethnic community near Boston.

Dad came from one religious background, and Mom came from another. Dad was a Democrat; Mom was Republican.

You had to listen to both sides.

Our family moved a lot—once every four or five years until I went off to college: from San Jose, California to Syracuse, New York, to Palo Alto/Stanford, California, then to Schenectady, New York. I was kind of “bi-coastal.”

And I was stuck in one place—Stanford—where I got to observe (and, if I wanted, to participate) in some of the massive social ferment of the day. Then, immediately after Stanford, we moved to a place that seemed like a relative oasis of calm. I suffered little pressure at all either to “question authority” (a common slogan of the day) or to question those who were doing the questioning. (I had found myself doing both back when the family lived at Stanford.)

Move forward 15 years. Now, in the mid-80s, Sarita and I are working in the midst of a community focused outside the United States. We were all employed, one way or another, with philanthropic, non-profit agencies (“NGOs”—non-government organizations). Most of our friends were either preparing to go to work—or were back in the United States after having worked—in some of the most unpleasant areas of the world. I knew of no one who worked with wealthy or connected people. They all worked with the poor and marginalized of whatever country in which they found themselves.

If you live and work directly with people like that for six or seven years, it will definitely change your perspective!

But now I bumped into Hill. And he urged me to move even further in my open-minded pursuit of “whatever” is out there.

And as I absorbed Hill’s perspective, and then discovered others who shared his views, I found myself, more and more, almost as a force of habit, looking not only for the “other” side, but—as Robert Kiyosaki would describe it—the third side of the coin. (There’s heads, tails, and the edge [which permits you to see not only itself, but heads and tails, too!]).

If you stick with me, you’ll find that this “philosophy” or approach permeates my thinking and my approach to life and to finance.

Question to Think About

  • When people present perspectives different from what you have come to believe, how do you instinctively respond?
    • Bristle with indignation, tune them out, and prepare refutations?
    • Seek to understand why they advocate for their position and what you might want to attend to in your own perspective?
    • ???