Why I Hope Steve Jobs Is Wrong
by Alexander Green

I have a confession to make.

A small part of my stock portfolio is invested in companies that I love so much - and patronize so regularly - that I will probably never sell them.

One of those companies is Apple. My shares are up more than 30-fold, even after the recent sell-off. Of course, I've had them a long time. (I bought them back before there was an iMac, an iPod, an iPhone or an iTunes store.)

I credit a lot of my success to CEO Steve Jobs. A visionary business leader, he consistently turns out well-designed, great-looking products that are not only fun to own, but look like they belong in the Museum of Modern Art.

Over the years, I've learned to listen when Steve Job speaks. Still, I hope he's wrong this time...

When asked at a recent press conference whether Apple intends to market a product to compete with Amazon's Kindle - a new electronic reader - he dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand.

"It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore... The whole product is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore."

What a depressing notion, if true. Don't people realize that reading is their connection to all the best thinkers and wisest souls that ever lived? Is it possible to know this and still not read? Can people really prefer to spend their lives wallowing in unthought?

Apparently so.

According to A.C. Nielson, the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. That's 28 hours a week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year. In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.

Pretty sad, in my opinion.

According to Nielsen Media, 48% of males between the ages of 18 and 34 are regular video gamers. And they play an average two hours and 43 minutes a day.


Of course, this aversion to serious reading is hardly new. More than 150 years ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Most people have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated in trade; but of reading as a noble, intellectual exercise they know little or nothing."

This is a shame, really. It is through books, chiefly, that we engage with superior minds. People who read regularly think better, speak better and express themselves more clearly. They understand more and tend to be more interesting.

They are also more likely to be promoted. No single factor correlates more closely with business success than a broad vocabulary. As it turns out, how you dress for work is far less important than how you dress your thoughts.

Wise men have always known this. More than two thousand years ago, Socrates said, "Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writing so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for."

I think he's right. Of course, I've always been a book man. Always will be. Or as my mother-in-law once put it, "Were you a nerd as a kid, too?"

I prefer the term bookworm, actually. (Don't ask me what the difference is.) However, I've always thought the hours I spent reading were a good investment. After all, I don't have time to learn everything the hard way.

As the Benedictine monk Richard de Bury wrote 700 years ago, "A library of wisdom, is more precious than all wealth, and all things desirable cannot be compared to it."

Except, perhaps, for that new Apple MacBook Air. I still want one of those.

Carpe Diem,


Author's Bio: 

Alexander Green has recently launched Spiritual Wealth (www.spiritualwealth.com).

What is “Spiritual Wealth,” exactly?
According to Alex:
"Anything that can be measured in dollars and cents, I call material wealth. Everything else – the love of our families, the health we enjoy, the time we spend doing things we enjoy or working on things that really matter – I call spiritual wealth."

Alex is also the Chairman of Investment U, where his actionable investment ideas are published three times a week. He’s the Investment Director of The Oxford Club, as well, where he’s beaten the S&P 500 nearly 5-to-1 over the last five years.