virgin islands scene

Wonder rather than doubt is the root of knowledge.
-- Abraham Joshua Heschel


Wednesday, December 27, 1995

Value is everywhere

When you learn how to look for it, you can find value almost anywhere, in just about any situation.

There is an investment technique called arbitrage, where traders take advantage of the difference in valuation of securities or currencies. Say, for example, the U.S. dollar is trading for 1.42 German Marks in London, and for 1.40 German Marks in Hong Kong. For an investment of US $100,000 the arbitrager could buy 142,000 German Marks in London, then sell them in Hong Kong for US $101,428 for an instant profit of almost $1,500 and virtually no risk. In reality, most arbitrage situations are much more complicated than this, but the basic strategy remains the same -- uncover hidden value and extract that value.

You don’t need to trade $100,000 in the world currency market to take advantage of this strategy. It can be applied in everyday life. There are situations all around you that contain potential value. All you have to do is learn to recognize this value, and then determine how to extract it and convert it into wealth. It is similar to crude oil beneath the ground. You know it’s down there somewhere -- the trick is to find it, get it out, and make something useful (like gasoline) out of it.

Where do you look for hidden value? You can begin with yourself. Think of all the skills and knowledge you possess. Sit down and make a list of all the things you do well. Now, look at your list and ask yourself this question: “Who could benefit from the skills and the knowledge that I possess?” Open your mind and consider the possibilities. Then figure out a way to sell your skills and your knowledge to those people. It could be in the form of a “how to” report. Perhaps you’ve figured out a unique way to water your lawn that saves $20 a month in water costs. People will pay you for that technique.

You can also find hidden value in other people and other businesses.

Even in the most dismal situations there is value. Think about a business that has just failed. They have no cash, no equity. In fact, they are deep in debt. What value could there possibly be in such a situation? Well, the owner of the business has just received a very expensive education. He realizes all too well what he did wrong. Don’t you think that knowledge would be valuable to others in the same line of business?

The trick is to look at every situation and try to find value in it. When you start doing this, unlimited possibilities open up, not only for material gain but for personal development as well. Take a look around you. What hidden values can you detect?

— Ralph Marston

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