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expert's podium

This topic doesn't get as much press as it deserves. I have been blessed to have interacted with hundreds of very successful individuals over my last 25 years of advising others on asset allocation, risk management and investing.

There always seems to be a common thread amongst this uncommonly well-to-do subset. They all have a different story, a different path. However, what is a common trait in virtually all of them is that they are "intellectually curious." They love to learn. They look for insights, always a better way of doing things… an "edge."

Where do they find unique insights you may ask? Well, diverse sources of course… they read the chambers of various publications such as the one you are currently reviewing. They tend to also read other global publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and many online sources to gain a "global perspective".

The most engaging entrepreneurs also tend to be involved with peer-to-peer networks such as Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), World Presidents' Organization (WPO), The Executive Committee (TEC), Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), MacKay and Associates, Virtus, Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFE), and Presidents of Enterprising Organizations (PEO). These are where the entrepreneurs go to be intellectually challenged by fellow peers.

When it comes to very wealthy investors, exclusive peer-to-peer networks for high net worth types tend to go to places like TIGER 21, Institute for Private Investors (IPI), etc.

Another great source of entertainment, socializing, and intellectual stimulation comes from presentations from book clubs. The best one in Canada I am aware of is the "Bon Mot Book Club: For Patrons of Ideas", which is pioneered by Leah Costello, formerly of the Fraser Institute. She has recently expanded this influential speaker series from Vancouver into both Calgary and Toronto, and soon to be Montreal, from what I hear.

Leah's understated, but influential "book club" regularly sells out at $500 per person, with more than 200 attendees and has had some incredibly talented presenters since its inception two years ago.

I have been a regular "Bon Mot" attendee this past year, and it certainly has lived up to its top billing. Why? Simply because Leah attracts a diverse set of highly sought-after presenters, typically from around the world, and on some very thought-provoking topics.

This week, along with my business partner Youssef Zohny, I had the privilege of hearing John Micklethwart, editor of The Economist. His titled presentation was appropriately named "Paranoid Optimism: Europe, China, the U.S., and the Middle East" -- no such small topic. John has just released a revised book titled, "A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Promise of Globalization." The well-heeled crowd asked plenty of questions. This is a common theme of those who strive for success: the continuous pursuit to learn, to seek nuggets of insight that can help them navigate today's many business, investment, economic, and political challenges.

For anyone truly interested in "success," however one wishes to define it, the pursuit of knowledge appears to me to be one of the common threads. I encourage each of us to keep pushing ourselves to learn more "global thinking." There are so many fruits in doing so. So, facilitators of this, such as Leah, are to be commended for their influential efforts.

Thane Stenner is founder of Stenner Investment Partners within Richardson GMP Ltd., as well as portfolio manager and director, wealth management. Thane is also Managing Director for TIGER 21 Canada. He is the bestselling author of ´True Wealth: an expert guide for high-net-worth individuals (and their advisors)'. ( ( The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Richardson GMP Ltd. or its affiliates. Richardson GMP Limited, Member Canadian Investor Protection Fund.