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March 31, 2023

18: William Green on Richer, Wiser, Happier

18: William Green on Richer, Wiser, Happier
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The investing industry has been fortunate to have a variety of role models and mentors who have modeled success in all of its forms. Through his book, Richer, Wiser, Happier, William Green discusses some of the world's most successful investors and what qualities and insights enable them to achieve enduring success. In today’s episode, we touch on a few of those investors, along with highlighting the impacts that my uncle, Sir John Templeton, made in William’s life.

Investing the Templeton Way with Lauren Templeton is a podcast that explores the world’s most intriguing investment topics from the overseas markets to mastering our own minds. Gather investment wisdom and educate yourself as you listen to interviews with exclusive managers, executives, and entrepreneurs on a wide range of engaging topics.

Meet William Green

William Green is the author of Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, April 2021).

Over the last quarter century, he has interviewed many of the world’s best investors, exploring in-depth the qualities and insights enabling them to achieve enduring success. William has written for many leading publications in the US and Europe, including The New Yorker, Time, Fortune, Forbes, Barron’s, Fast Company, Money, Worth, Bloomberg Markets, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe Magazine,  The New York Observer, The (London) Spectator, The (London) Independent Magazine, and The Economist. He has reported in places as diverse as China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the US, Mexico, England, France, Monaco, Poland, Italy, and Russia. He has interviewed presidents and prime ministers, inventors, criminals, prize-winning authors, the CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies, and a large collection of billionaires.

While living in London, William edited the European, Middle Eastern, and African editions of Time. Before that, he lived in Hong Kong, where he edited the Asian edition of Time during a period in which it won many awards.

Additionally, he has collaborated on several books as a ghostwriter, co-author, or editor. One of them became a #1 New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller in 2017. He also worked closely with a renowned hedge fund manager, Guy Spier, helping him to write his much-praised 2014 memoir, The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment. William also wrote and edited The Great Minds of Investing, which features short profiles of 33 renowned investors, along with stunning portraits created by Michael O’Brien, one of America’s preeminent photographers.

Born and raised in London, William was educated at Eton College, studied English literature at Oxford University, and received a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in New York with his wife, Lauren, and their children, Henry and Madeleine.

Richer, Wiser, Happier

William Green became interested in elite investors in his mid-20’s, prompted by his research and journalism on these fascinating characters. He was enamored with the idea of making money with money. As he dove into learning more about these investors, he found intriguing characters who were extraordinary thinkers.

Sir John Templeton’s Impact on William Green

One such early experience that launched his fascination happened to be with my great uncle, Sir John Templeton. 

“One of the first great experiences that I had that really launched my fascination was going to see your great uncle in the Bahamas. He was such a riveting character and that was one of the times where I thought, this is more than about getting rich! Here's a guy who's obsessed with increasing the spiritual wealth of mankind, and he's totally independent minded and absolutely fearless about being judged. He has all of these sort of really strong opinions about things, like his idea that you should never really retire. He said useless people are doing nothing with their retirement. You weren't just learning about investing from him, you are actually getting this genius talking to you about every area of life, like how to think better, what to do with your money, how to control your mind, and your thoughts.” - William Green [5:07]

Sir John Templeton’s advice to William and many others in our industry not only made great impacts on their careers, but also their lives. One key teaching that he offered was to stay away from your own ignorance and your own emotion, especially in tumultuous markets. You do not want to make decisions on matters that you are ignorant about. 

William describes Sir John Templeton as a man with a fiercely powerful engine (mental capacity). He graduated top of his class at Yale during the Great Depression while having to support himself and pay his way through university, then he went on to receive a Rhodes scholarship. In his career, this engine gave him a powerful advantage in the investment industry, because he would pursue goals harder than his peers. This included traveling to new places to gain an informational edge.

While there are many foundational fundamentals that Sir John Templeton taught myself, William, and others, one thing that stuck with William was his advice, “You shouldn't be arrogant enough to believe that you can pick the one fund, the one fund manager, the one asset class, the one country, or the one stock.” - Sir John Templeton [12:06]

Every time William gets carried away with the idea that one stock looks attractive or cheap to invest in, he always returns to that advice and how he should not get carried away and therefore, diversify.

Admiration & Respect for Sir John Templeton

While William’s initial impression of Sir John Templeton was not necessarily favorable, he has reflected on Sir John in the decades since, and has gained greater appreciation for him. Sir John believed in having a useful and purposeful life. While his aggressive practice of usefulness and purpose does not appeal to the majority of people, it was true to him and fueled his accomplishments.

“In some ways, the real challenge is to know yourself well enough that you say, ‘What really constitutes a truly rich and successful and abundant life to me?’” - William Green [16:34] 

Taking Control After Tragedy 

As we reflected on Sir John Templeton’s focus and deliberate nature, we discussed the origin of his focused manner and how it had likely been impacted by tragic circumstances.

After saving up for their first family vacation, John took his wife and kids on a trip to Bermuda for Christmas, where his wife Judith tragically died in an accident. As we consider the impact of that tragedy, we can better see the psychology behind his intensifying focus on his work and helping others invest their savings.

As William wrote his chapter in the book about Sir John, he also reflected on this idea and considered the things he had gone through in his own life. He considered the control he needed to take on his own life and inner landscape. How could you survive the loss of your spouse and raise three young kids without taking control? He gained respect and admiration for the difficult task of taming one’s mind in order to take control. Sir John pointed us towards a deep secret of life:To have a successful life, it’s an inside job. Master your inner landscape.

In writing this chapter, William found himself fighting with Sir John and an earlier version of himself to work through his thoughts since he had found a new admiration and respect for him later in life.

Maximum Pessimism

Sir John was also known for using the phrase “maximum pessimism.” He had his funds print in their materials, “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.”  By simply recognizing that everything changes, you begin to acknowledge that euphoric times will not last, but neither will the depths of pessimism. This recognition through market crashes or even a pandemic, will allow you to see that you will be challenged by the emotions of the market, including your own, and you must conquer both in order to succeed over longer periods of time.

For many successful investors, you not only accept uncertainty, but you learn to take advantage of it. So look forward to it, anticipate it, and crave it, because that is your opportunity.

How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life

Throughout William’s book, Richer, Wiser, Happier, he discussed both the impact and what can be learned from many investors who lived richer, wiser, and happier lives. Some of the investors he discusses include Sir John Templeton, Charlie Munger, Jack Bogle, Ed Thorp, Will Danoff, Mohnish Pabrai, Bill Miller, Howard Marks, and Arnold Vandenberg. 

Make sure you find a copy ofWilliam’s bookand also be sure tocheck out his own podcast!

Connect with William Green

Richer, Wiser, Happier The Podcast

Richer, Wiser, Happier The Book


The information presented in this podcast or available on the website is not intended as and shall not be construed as financial advice. This podcast is produced for entertainment value. Investing is inherently risky. And I encourage you to seek financial advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.