The best-selling book, “Blink” is a worthwhile
read because it offers an important idea on how to think, learn
and process information. The author, Malcolm Gladwell, unveils
an innovative thought procedure he calls, Thin Slicing. This
information can help you invest and do business faster and
more accurately. Thin slicing is the ability to make fast decisions
based on small amounts of the most important information on
Blink points out that in the Information Era too much information
can be bad. Our greatest intelligence can be overwhelmed by
data. We make mistakes when we ignore our first thoughts and
hunches. Excessive thinking reduces success.
The book begins by showing how the Getty Museum was offered
a Kourous statue of unbelievable quality for nearly $10 million.
The museum was suspicious and hired experts who ran every extensive
test imaginable for 14 months before finally deciding that
this statue was real. They bought the Kourous but upon revealing
it to an art expert, the first thought that popped into her
mind was the word “fresh”. Upon this and several
other art experts’ first
impressions the statue was reexamined and found it to be a
Thin Slicing is the process of relying on our accurate first
impressions similar to the one these art experts had.
This is not instinct and is not intuition. This is a focus
on finding the priority data about any one situation
that really counts and then forming conclusions from that data.
Thin slicing ignores huge amounts of information that may seem
important but often may be just noise and static that doesn’t
Blink shows that this ability to spot patterns and behavior
based on very narrow slices of experience is often unconscious.
We can come to highly accurate conclusions in very brief amounts
of time, but can then mess up the right answer if we try to
think through why we made the decision.
However the books shows that through observation we can learn
that patterns our unconscious sees and use the knowledge to
greatly improve the accuracy (and speed) of our decision making
For example, the book shows how an insurance company that
offers medical malpractice has learned to ignore exhaustive,
expensive examinations of doctor training, credentials and
history of medical errors. Instead the firm’s staff just
listens to very brief snippets of conversation between a doctor
and his or her patients. The company has learned that a doctor’s
skill and the number of errors he might make has little to
do with litigation. How a doctor treats his patients is what
determines whether there are lawsuits or not.
This insurance company has “thin sliced” its information
processing. The company focuses on personality and social skills
rather than on medicine and has identified a few common traits
that make the difference between doctors who get sued and those
who do not. The safe doctors for example spend three and a
half minutes more per session with their patients (18.5 minutes
versus 15 for doctors who were sued). They let their patients
know what they are doing and why, engage in active listening
and put more humor and laughter into their
exams. The quality of data given by the sued and not sued doctors
is the same. The difference is simply in how the data is delivered!
In another instance a marriage psychologist is able to predict
with 90% accuracy whether a couple will remain married over
the next 15 years after reviewing a 15 minute video of the
couple talking. If he reviews an hour- long conversation his
accuracy rises to 95%. He does not need to look at their history,
hear their problems, analyze, or even talk with the couple.
He has created a coding system for their emotions and reactions
in the conversation (disgust, contempt, anger, defensiveness,
stonewalling, etc.) and he assigns a code to every second of
Findings have shown that almost anyone can be trained to be
highly accurate in predicting whether a marriage will succeed
or not after observing just three minutes of conversation.
What does this have to do with investing? Blink is important
because when it comes to investing there is always way to much
date of which most is useless.
There are so many variables that can affect the value of a
piece of land, bond or share, that the best we can do is collect
lots of data about the past and then plunge ahead with hope
and a prayer that the future will be the same. (And of course,
it never is!)
A very few investors consistently do better than most.
Yet when these best investors try to describe how or why they
are better, they cannot accurately do so.
Blink quotes the son of George Soros for example who said: “My
father will sit down and give you theories to explain why he
does this or that but I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking
at least half of that is bull. I mean you know the reason he
changes his position on the market or whatever is because his
back starts killing him.”
We know more than we know we know. All we have to do is learn
how to identify this knowledge and then systematically tap
into it. Learning this process saves huge amounts of time,
drastically enhances accuracy and brings us great power.
A common denominator of good investors is that they focus
on fewer concepts and less data rather than more.
For example Warren Buffet, one of the world's great investors,
says his core investing points are:
1. Do what you like.
2. Money isn't everything.
3. Work only with people you like.
4. Buy businesses, not stocks.
5. Invest only in what you understand.
6. Don't over diversify.
7. Keep looking for new opportunities.
8. Buy businesses you plan to keep for life.
9. Look for businesses that are available at a good price.
I recall watching an interview between Buffet and John Templeton.
They argued over whether to invest internationally or not.
Buffet said there is plenty of opportunity right here in the
U.S. John said there is even more opportunity if you choose
the world. I pondered this for many years and finally realized
both were right. Each had their own unique system of filtering
the bad from the good each system worked.
Top investment analyst Michael Keppler has used Thin Slicing
to be one of the best equity analysts in the world.
Keppler rates equity markets based on value. His experience
in this field allows him to decide whether a market is a buy,
sell or neutral candidate based on just a very few factors,
mainly p/e ratios, price to cash flow and dividend yields relative
to that market’s
history. There is a bit more to Keppler’s system, but
not a lot.
Michael has spoken at a number of our courses and it is fascinating
to see him field questions, because he has such absolute focus
on value. If there are questions about politics, he’ll
say something like, the market reflects the politics in its
value. If asked about the strength of the underlying currency,
he’ll say something
like the market reflects the currency position in its value.
If asked about support and resistance levels or current moving
say something like, the market reflects all these things in
Value is his focus and this allows him to make accurate decisions
in the shortest time from a minimal amount of fact. He is able
to filter out the news, the weather, the politics, the currency,
the economies, the wars, the terrorism and all the noise that
can confuse, waste time and mislead.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Since 1993 Keppler’s
Major Market High Value Strategy has risen 211.8% compared
to a 137.1% rise in the bellweather Morgan Stanley Capital
Index. In addition his standard deviation (4.5%) is also lower
than the MSCI (4.8). You can see more about Keppler
and his strategies.
When looking at your investment decision system, instead of
figuring out how to process more information, perhaps it makes
sense to look at ways to calculate with less!
Where do you start weeding data out? Look first for things,
knowledge and experience that you know and believe in. This
is the keeper information. Use the “as above so below” theory
to apply your core beliefs to a broad range of circumstances.
Take Buffet’s “work
only with people you like” suggestion as an example.
If you know you can’t work with people you don’t
respect, you can weed out many potential investments right
away. If this is a maxim, in one short stroke you can eliminate
many deals without worrying about their profit potential, their
honesty, their economic and social good, their market position,
their moving averages, their cash flow and so forth.
Cut out data that you know little of. You won’t have
much confidence in this aspect of your decision anyway so why
waste time considering it? Ignore details that are short term
and that can change at a moments notice.
When it comes to thinking it appears that less really is more.
Yet just keeping information out of the system is not the only
factor that increases our ability to make fast, accurate decisions.
If Blink is to be believed, a lot of our most accurate thoughts
takes place in ways we cannot even know, at our deeper levels
I experienced this recently when Merri conducted her first
Andean Cooking - Food is Medicine. This was a great course
and delegates loved the week and food we shared. My role included
doing lots of dishes and this is good. Mindless work allows
plenty of thought which leads to lots of deep alpha thinking.
The deeper we think, the closer we get to truth!
So while I was up to my elbows in bubbles and soap suds I
was thinking that there is no greater way to success, wealth
and better health than by knowing more truth. Thin Slicing,
a way to make fast accurate decisions.
According to Gladwell’s book a lot of our effective
thinking works at our deepest quantum level, beneath our awareness
Let's look a minute at our deeper quantum mechanical aspects
to understand this better. What are we? What is our brain,
our mind and our thoughts?
The traditional Newtonian answer is that we are solid matter
run by electrical energy and chemistry. Our brain is specialized
electrical chemical matter that can store, recall and process
information and our thoughts are this process.
This explanation partially works if we stick to the lighter
side of Newtonian physics. However if we look deeper, we see
that at some stage, all the chemistry and electricity cannot
explain the process well.
We have to go deeper into quantum mechanics.
Our knowledge of quantum physics has been with us for a century
but is still largely ignored because this science suggests
that at a deeper level of existence the tiny bits of stuff,
that are us, start shifting and acting in unpredictable non-scientific
ways. Part of the time our deeper aspects act like matter and
part of the time acts like energy.
So what is this stuff-energy? The startling reply according
to quantum science is that we are simply our intention, or
attention or observation.
Consciousness appears to be the root of all being and we are
as affected by these tiny movements of awareness as we are
by the huge particles that swirl above us in space (the sun
starts and planets).
This is where the scientists of processing information and
those who are called mystics seem to come together. Prayer,
meditation, astrology, yagyas, shamanism, chanting, whirling,
mysticism and quantum science are all ways of affecting intention
by combining the conscious and unconscious.
"Blink" for example tells the story of Vic Branden,
a tennis coach who always knows when a professional player
was about to double fault his serve, even before the player
hit the ball. This is highly unusual since so few professionals
ever double-fault. This ability slowly came as a surprise so
he started keeping a record at a professional tournament in
Southern California. He correctly predicted sixteen out of
seventeen double faults on players who almost never double-fault.
Something in the way the players hold themselves, or the way
they toss the ball or the
fluidity of their motion triggers something in his unconscious
and he just knows. The frustration is that this man does not
know how he knows. Gladwell suggests in this book that snap
judgements rely on the thinnest of information known at the
His explanation is that our subconscious is the creator and
leader of our conscious thought and that we cannot escape the
programming we have acquired at our deeper levels of being.
Gladwell also shows how some people and companies have learned
to identify at the conscious level what is unconsciously known.
For example one insurance company has learned how to spot whether
Doctors are likely to be sued for malpractice or not.
Most of the ancient wisdoms have recognized the power of the
unconscious, but instead of trying to bring the unconscious
into the conscious realm, they develop thought tactics in the
Most ancient philosophies have conjured ways to place conscious
intentions into the unconscious, deeper level of being.
For example Hindu beliefs have a concept of deep thought called
Yagyas which have been practiced for thousands of years.
They are used in many ways in the modern world. For example
Dr. Joe Vitale, President of Hypnotic Marketing, Inc., an Internet
marketing firm in Texas is one of the top marketers in the
He has written so many books on how to succeed and sell I
can’t list them all here. He is the author of the international
Greatest Money-Making Secret in History!”, the best-selling
e-book “Hypnotic Writing”, and the best-selling
Nightingale-Conant audioprogram, “The Power of Outrageous
along with numerous other works.
He has written books for the American Marketing Association
and the American Management Association, including The AMA
Complete Guide to Small Business Advertising and his clients
include small presses to large publishing houses, such as Doubleday
Books in New York. He has also helped large companies, from
The American Red Cross to Hermann Children's Hospital in Houston.
He has shared two heart-warming stories, one o f a life saved
and the second perhaps of an entire new business paradigm born
that show how yagyas work.
Five years ago Merri and I donated money to fund the start
up of a special vedic organization run by Dr. D.S. Dixit that
provides these yagyas.
I would like to share how this small token (without our awareness)
affected Dr. Joe Vitale.
Joe is a fiery and inspiring speaker. He has spoken before
hundreds of business groups, including the Sales and Marketing
Executives, and the first Houston Publishers and Authors Association
conference. You read earlier about his publishing and consulting
The point is Joe is very much a man of the modern, Western
business world. He is well into the ideals of Western wealth,
money and success in materialism.
Yet Joe was going through a transformation and was writing
new books about the spiritual aspects of wealth. H e needed
hel p in marketing these new books. Since we do not know Joe,
use his exact words from his best selling book (it just outsold
the latest Harry Potter at Amazon.com) about how he used the
yagya service we originally helped fund.
"Karmic Surgery” by Dr. Joe Vitale
“Dr. Marcus Gitterle is an emergency room physician
and anti-aging specialist. We met after he read one of my books,
love it and emailed me, saying he lived in the same small town
I do. We had lunch and became quick friends.
“One day, he told me about a way to do ‘karmic
surgery’. This was new to me and made me aware of a new
tool that was almost magical.
It could help you release any troubling problem, or heal any
condition, or achieve any intention, and do it without your
doing anything. In fact, others did it for you.
“Marc explained it like this: ‘Just as you have
a problem and go into the surgery, the problem is taken out
while you are asleep. When you awaken, the problem is no longer
there. You might be told to rest more, to drink more fluids,
but in essence you are now free of the problem. All you did
was agree to let others remove it for you.’
“What Marc is talking about are yagyas, or yagnas. These
are known in the East and little known in the West. They are
not surgery, but instead a way to have spiritual masters perform
rituals on your behalf, with the intent to achieving your intention.
“I know this may sound strange. But yagyas have a long
history. A yagya is a religious or spiritual ceremony performed
by a Hindu priest in order to alleviate karmic difficulties.
Basically, a yagya is the chanting of specific Vedic mantras
(sounds) by professionally trained and dedicated Vedic Pandits.
This is generally the most preferred method to dissolve a crisis
situation or a dangerous, life-threatening one. But you can
also use yagyas to get clear so you can have, do, or be whatever
“Rather than continue trying to explain what a yagya
is, let me instead give you a testimonial on how one influenced
my best friend.
“Saved from Death
“My best friend of two decades was on her death bed
a year ago. After being in a near-fatal car accident, having
both knees replaced, her back broken, suffering from depression,
then becoming suicidal and anorexic due to medication she never
should have accepted, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital,
where she lay unconscious and dying.
“We had already tried everything. She had gone to healers,
doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists. I hired home health
care for her. She prayed, meditated, listened to tapes. I asked
500 friends of mine to pray for her and send her healing energy.
Nothing was breaking her free. I feared I would lose my best
friend of 25 years.
“In desperation, I arranged for a month-long yagya to
be done for her. Within two days she woke up in the hospital,
sat up, and stood up. The day before, she could not move or
even turn over in bed! Now she was ready to go home. The hospital
was stunned. The doctors couldn’t
explain it. They kept her for further testing and observations.
“She just got better and better. A week later, this
same woman who was near dead, was released from the hospital.
She is now walking, talking, smiling, driving, and very glad
to be alive. I saw her yesterday. I thought I might never see
her again. This is a genuine miracle. And that’s the
power of a yagya.”
“Dr. Gitterle does yagyas for himself wife, and son.
I have done them several times for myself. Let me give you
“As you know by now, this book you are holding is based
on a popular little work I released a few years ago called,
Spiritual Marketing. I knew the book contained a powerful five-step
process for manifesting your heart's desires, and I knew it
from all the people who emailed me every day, telling me their
“What frustrated me was the fact that the book was basically
available only online. I knew that it needed to reach a wider
audience. So I set the intention to find a strong publisher,
with distribution abilities, and the power to get my book out
there into the world.
“To help make that intention happen more quickly, I
arranged for a yagya. I went to www.jyotish-yagya.com and asked
for a yagya to be done on my behalf. I didn’t know how
this would work, or if it would. But I trusted. I took action.
“Within a few weeks, I received an email from the senior
editor at Wiley –who is now the publisher of this very
“Now stop and think about this. My original book, titled
Spiritual Marketing, had been a number one best-seller at Amazon
twice. Its success had been written about in the New York Times.
The e-book version of the book had been down-loaded an estimated
one million times. The e-book had been translated into seven
Thousands of people wrote me about it. The best agent in the
country shipped the book to major publishers for two years.
“Yet – nothing!
“Nothing ever happened to bring the book to a global
audience until I arranged for a yagya to be performed to help
my intention, and to clear me of any inner blocks preventing
my goal from manifesting.
“This is karmic surgery. A yagya is a way to clear you
of any current blocks – whether those blocks are from
this lifetime or another – so you can go on to attract
whatever you want. Talk about effortless healing!"
and I have used yagyas for many years. We use several vedic
astrolgers and I wrote about this long ago.
wrote how yagyas helped our daughter Ele
wrote how yagyas helped me with the IRS
Who would have guessed that we would also in some small way
participate in helping someone like Joe and perhaps the entire
These are the wild, weird and wonderful ways that allowing
our thought process to work at deep levels can enhance our
Prayer is another form of deeper thought that can create altered
states of being that reach deeper levels of truth.
William Harris, Ph.D., headed a study at St. Luke's hospital
to prove this point. The study was published in the October
25, 1999 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Harris and team examined the health outcomes of nearly 1,000
newly admitted heart patients at St. Luke's. The patients,
who all had serious cardiac conditions, were randomly assigned
to two groups. Half received daily prayer for four weeks from
There has been research that looks at how people who are sick
are affected by their own spiritual beliefs and practices.
Such studies have indicated that people who are religious heal
better and deal with illness more effectively than those who
are not religious.
However Dr. Harris looked much deeper at prayer to see if
strangers praying for sick people without the patient’s
knowledge could help the patient.
His study of cardiac patients took place at St. Luke's Hospital
in Kansas City, Missouri suggested that intercessory prayer
may make such a difference that Dr. Harris wrote. "Prayer
may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care."
Harris’s study examined nearly 1,000 heart patients
with serious cardiac conditions. They were randomly assigned
to either a group that either received a prayer every day for
four weeks from five volunteers (who believed in God and in
the healing power of prayer) or to a group that received no
prayer in conjunction with the study.
The participants were not told they were in the study and
the group praying who never came to the hospital were given
only the first names of their patients. They prayed "for
a speedy recovery with no complications."
The group receiving prayers fared 11 percent better than the
group that didn't, a number considered statistically significant.
You can read more about this at archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/alternative
We process information in many surprising ways and the next
message in this series shows how our bodies can often tell
us more than our mind if we know how to listen.
The next report will continue to look at deeper thought. May
every thin slice of your life be satisfyingly rich!
Learn about investing in top value shares, currencies, gold
and silver. Join Merri and me at our September 15-16-17, 2006
International Business and Investing Made EZ course in North
Carolina. Review where to invest and do business now and learn
which markets and currencies may be strong in the year ahead.