John Marks Templeton was born in Tennessee, attended Yale University, went on to earn a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. He entered the world of finance in the mid Depression. What would have been daunting for most, he turned around to his benefit by investing in over a hundred companies on the NYSE which were listed for under a dollar a piece. After the war he rode the tide of success as America rebuilt. The multi millions eventually turned to billions but this never changed the man of simple tastes. Templeton attributed much of his success to his ability to maintain an elevated mood, avoid anxiety, and stay disciplined. One of the greatest philanthropists of all time, he also founded the Templeton Prize.
I received a note from him saying that he appreciated my work, when the Quest first aired on PBS. He eventually agreed to do me the honor of appearing in the Quest. We had a very spirited argument about religion vs science vs spirituality. I could never sway him on the subject of spirituality. When he left the suite he turned to my husband and said Lili is a missionary. We all had a good laugh.
He was a man of great principle and deep values and I was very touched by his early support for my work. When he died, I learned in speaking to his son, that they had almost no video on him at all. I told them I had hours and happily donated it to the Foundation. I loved everything he had to say.
We should believe in ourselves. Those people who always are optimistic produce more than those who are pessimistic. There’s a saying in one of my books, if you think you can, you can, and if you think you can’t, you can’t.
Nobody knows what is the purpose of life. But I have seen, because my 50 year career in helping people with their investments, that that’s not the answer. I have helped as many as a million people to become wealthier, but it didn’t make them happier.
It’s one of the fortunate things, is that life is full of problems. For example, when I was second year in college my father told me he couldn’t give me even one dollar to go back to college. That seemed a tragedy to me at the time but it turned out to be one of the great blessings of my life. Because I was determined to go to college, and so I obtained three different jobs, at the same time tried to earn money by scholarships.
Now in those old days, scholarships were not given because you needed the money, but because you had good grades. So because I needed the money, I wound up as the top scholar in my university. And at the same time was holding three jobs. Now that trained me to know that you can do more than one thing at once. If I hadn’t had that training, I would never have been able to accomplish much in life.
“Never put too much of your assets in any one thing, because it might be a mistake. Diversification is its basic principle.”
I developed this as a sort of a joke. 50 years ago I said that my success in helping people with their investments was based on trying to be nice to everybody. When people were desperately trying to sell, I accommodated and bought. When people were desperately trying to buy, I would accommodate them and sold. So I was able to get in at low prices and get out at high prices and make my clients wealthy.
But it was a matter of understanding human nature and being humble enough to realize that you only profit when you’re doing something different from what the majority is doing. If you do the same thing as a majority, you’ll have the same results as a majority. If you’re going to have better results than the majority, you have to do the opposite of what the crowd is doing.
If you can learn to focus your life not on trying to get, then benefits automatically come to you. You can’t keep love from coming to you if you try to give love. You can’t help keep prosperity from coming to you if you’re trying to give everybody else prosperity. So the secret is try to give, not get.