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Michael Gardon

  • Writer's pictureMichael Gardon

The MEMO Approach - How to Make Better Investments in Yourself. - The Break Issue 29

Updated: Mar 19

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Today's Issue

In today’s issue, you'll learn:

  • What separates success from stagnation

  • The difference between spending and investing

  • The tool I use to 'trick' my critical self into investing in growth

  • How to write your own self investment MEMO

Let’s dive in.

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How to Make More Investment In Yourself

I made a big investment in an expensive coaching program this year.

I was scared, but did it anyway.

The old me never would have done this.

The old me would have said:

  • “I’m not worth it”

  • “I don’t know the next step”

  • “I can’t be an expert”

  • “I don’t have the money”

  • “I can’t SPEND that kind of money”

But I figured out how to trick my mind, and I want to share my process with you today.

Last week I talked about belief , and how lack of belief in myself was my main limiter as I look back on my life.

Because most people lack belief, most people struggle to make adequate investments in themselves. I was one of these people.

However, I knew that people who give in to that self limiting mentality end up:

  • Playing the wrong games

  • Progressing slower

  • Getting discouraged

  • Not realizing their potential

Don’t be one of these people.

And if you are one of those people, you can choose to be someone different starting today.

Those sayings in your head are just mental blockers preventing you from making the right investments in yourself to become who you want to be.

The Investment MEMO Approach

In my experience getting over the mental blockers, I found there are 5 steps. I call this 5 step process “The Memo” because I would write a memo to myself in which I had to “make the case” for whatever investment I was thinking about. You can get the exact template I use at the end of this newsletter.

Who the hell writes memos anymore, right?

Well, memos are used often in top level investment circles like venture capital firms and hedge funds to “make the case” for a specific investment. So, I figured, why not make the case to myself!

5 Steps I Used To Write My Investment Memos

1. Internalize the difference between investing and spending

There’s a BIG difference between spending money and investing it, but it’s not easy to spot. I wrote about it in how to invest in yourself on .

It’s helpful to evaluate a spend vs an investment on two criteria:

  • Return on Investment (ROI) (low vs high)

  • durability of benefit (short vs long)

I like to look at a basic 2x2 matrix - the preferred tool for every management consultant in existence ;)

A great investment has high ROI and long durability.


How much will you likely gain from this investment? How much more money, how much happier, how much more time can you get back?

We can measure return and value on many different scales, but it is very important to understand and try to quantify our expected benefit.

Most purchases that promise an immediate benefit that end up being very small when compared to long term investments. These are immediate gratification items. Think buying a slice of pizza because you’re stressed, buying clothes that will go out of style next year or going out to eat because you’re bored.

That spending is fixing a feeling you have right now. Not building something for the future.

Durability of benefit

Durability is a finance term that refers to how long something is likely to persist. Is the benefit likely to wear off quickly, or persist for a long time? So when you are faced with a spending decision, you can reflect on how long your benefit (happiness, growth, earnings, etc) will last.

Notice what we’re not talking about here —> certainty.

We don’t know how things will turn out. We might not get the benefit we think we will get. But as a rule, large expected return + long lasting benefit = things we should pursue and invest in over the long term.

2. Realize you are worth it —> you are.

You can’t make investments if you don’t think you’re worth it. That’s why constructing your belief flywheel is so important.

I was on a coaching call, and the person said: “I’ll spend money on my kids futures - getting them lessons, etc, but I’m very frugal spending on me. I either think I can figure it out on my own or it just doesn’t matter.”

That makes me feel sad. But I’ve been there too.

What I learned is you are always worth it. Doesn’t matter how old you are, or what you want to accomplish.

Plus, even Warren Buffett says the ROI you get on yourself far exceeds any other type of investment return. So if you want to be logical about it, don’t take it from me, listen to Warren.

How I realized I was worth it:

I’ve learned that my energy level directly impacts my work and my happiness at home. I need to take care of myself first, before I can be of service to others in the best way possible to 10X their lives and my own. To feel well, I need to get control over my health and my self image. I’m fairly high functioning without that, but imagine what I can do when I consistently feel 100%!

3. Connect to the value of the direct results

Forget the dollar amount of what you’re considering for a second. Close your eyes and tap into the direct result of where you will be if the investment you are considering pays off. Write it down.

If you’re contemplating skilling up, can you estimate how much extra money you could make from that skill?

Could you:

  • get a raise

  • get more clients

  • be more efficient

Is that direct benefit 1x, 3x, 10x, 100x the fee??

How I connected to the direct results:

I’m almost embarrassed at how much this coaching program cost. My gut reaction was “no”. But then I thought about value.

  • I started by looking at what I earned last year.

  • I estimated what % capacity I operated on last year given my difficult year and low energy levels that persisted.

  • I asked, “what capacity level would I need to get to for this program to be worth it?”

    • I calculated at just a 15% increase in my capacity could yield over $50,000

  • Then I asked, “is that result seem easy, neutral or difficult?” This is a way of gauging odds of success.

    • I estimated it would be easy to get 15% - everything else is icing on the cake. Lots of upside if I outperform. Positive skew as they say.

  • Other direct results include overall health and ability to keep up with my kids - hard to put a price on that.

  • Plus, building lifelong habits around eating which has always been problematic for me.

4. ID the second order results and stack them

This coaching program for me already could be worth it given step 3, but the cost still feels like a lot, and those direct results aren’t guaranteed, right? What if I don’t come close to making that much more?

So, its helpful to keep increasing our odds even more by adding other value to the equation.

Here’s where we start thinking about second order consequences.

All the best thinkers use second order thinking - they consider what are the the “results of the results?”

How I applied second order results thinking:

  • I looked at my other business objectives:

    • get great podcast guests

    • grow my audience

    • grow my network of great creators and entrepreneurs

  • I got the coach to come on my podcast

  • He is now part of my network and we are helping each other network in the areas we need to

  • We are helping each other grow our audiences in mutually beneficial ways

Stacking all this additional value on top, I now feel very confident that I will get several multiples of value over the monetary cost I will outlay.

This investment is a green light!

5. “Pay” for it

Ok, so the investment makes sense on paper, but your analytical, overthinking brain is still in control and the cost is still hard to swallow.

So get creative on how to pay for it!

Some ideas:

  • stop spending in one category and add that money to a fund

    • add $5 to your fund every time you don’t go to Starbucks when you normally would

  • sell stuff on Facebook marketplace (my wife is a pro)

  • sell a stock or other “investment” and reallocate to the you fund (yes, I know - no financial advisor would tell you to do this)

  • consult on the side

  • use savings

Here’s how I paid for my coaching program:

  • I want to stop going out to lunch so I eat better. Each day I don’t go to lunch, I put $15 in my fund. I track via my habit tracker in Notion.

    • I may very well pay for half the program this way (if I keep it up)

  • I sold a stock that was mentally killing me!

    • “reallocated” that money to the program and cleared my mind of a bad mistake!

  • Reinvesting proceeds from early coaching clients in to the program

I paid for an expensive coaching program - without dipping into my savings, or taking anything from my regular cash flow.

If you want something bad enough, you can get creative with how to pay for it!

There’s my 5 step memo process! I write it all out on a sheet of paper - you can get the template here !

See you next week!


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What’s happening on the pod?

In this episode we track Alex’s career. We discuss how he found his superpower, and how he leveraged that power to make leaps into completely different industries. We also dissect how he transitioned his business to fit into his life instead of sucking the life out of him. Finally, we discuss what skills he is trying to teach his 4 kids for the future. Heads up! These are important for anyone to have now and into the future.

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