Monday, November 30, 2009

Fun Facts about John Templeton

From John Templeton's wikipedia page:

Templeton became a billionaire by pioneering the use of globally diversified mutual funds. His Templeton Growth, Ltd. (investment fund), established in 1954, was among the first who invested in Japan in the middle of the 1960s.[8] He is noted for buying 100 shares of each company for less than $1 ($15 in current dollar terms) a share in 1939 and making many times the money back in a 4 year period. In 2006 he was listed in a 7-way tie for 129th place on the Sunday Times Rich List. He rejected technical analysis for stock trading, preferring instead to use fundamental analysis. Money magazine in 1999 called him "arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century”. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1968, thus avoiding U.S. income taxes. He had dual naturalized Bahamian and British citizenship and lived in the Bahamas.

A regular St. Benedict, John T was.

Templeton attributed much of his success to his ability to maintain an elevated mood, avoid anxiety and stay disciplined.

No pessimism for Mr. T!

Uninterested in consumerism, he drove his own car[.]

Hey! Just like me! I'm completely uninterested in "consumerism", whatever meaning the word possesses currently in the coffee klatcheries. Plus—as unbelievable as it might sound to you—I drive my own automobile! (Yeah, I know... but it turned out that the car-jacking was just a phase and I didn't even need the therapy sessions.)

As a member of the Presbyterian Church, Templeton was dedicated to his faith. However, Templeton remained open to the benefits and values of other faiths. Commenting on his commitment to what he called spiritual progress, “But why shouldn't I try to learn more? Why shouldn't I go to Hindu services? Why shouldn't I go to Muslim services? If you are not egotistical, you will welcome the opportunity to learn more." Similarly, one of the major goals of the Templeton Foundation is to proliferate the monetary support of spiritual discoveries. The Templeton Foundation encourages research into "big questions" by awarding philanthropic aide to institutions and people who pursue the answers to such questions through "explorations into the laws of nature and the universe, to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity."

Did this guy invent Beliefnet? Read this excerpt from a Slate piece entitled "God's Venture Capitalist", then you tell me:

The octogenarian Templeton has always been a devout Christian. (His own faith marries the strict Presbyterianism of his childhood with a sunny Norman Vincent Peale-y optimism.) But his genius as a philanthropist is secular: He brings capitalist hucksterism to religious charity. Templeton has transformed philanthropy into marketing, his own name into a brand. His earliest venture set the tone. In 1972, he inaugurated the annual Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion to remedy the Nobel Foundation's omission of religion. His brilliant stroke was to brag that his prize would be worth more than the Nobel, thus ensuring lavish press coverage. The first award went to Mother Teresa (six years before her Nobel Peace Prize. He has raised the prize's profile by awarding it to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Billy Graham, and Watergate-burglar-turned-minister Charles Colson. (The Templeton Prize helped its founder win a knighthood in 1987. In the '60s, Templeton had moved to the Bahamas--a tax haven--abandoned his U.S. citizenship, and become a British subject.)

So much for rootedness. But sounds like a good chap for a billionaire. And I'm sure he liked granola, even though he didn't wear a beard.

Obviously his philanthropic spirit still reaches out from the grave to help those in dire need. And we can all follow his example by driving our own cars and studying Hinduism, even if we don't possess the moral superiority, the chutzpah or the financial independence necessary to renounce our U.S. citizenship.