Throughout the articles published in this column, I have discussed various topics related to investments and personal finances. A less explored topic focuses on investments that are not directly related to the accumulation of money but rather to the quality of our personal relationships (for example, dedicating time and effort to our families and friends). What influence do these other non-monetary aspects have on the personal wealth of each individual? How is success in our financial investments combined with the quality of our interpersonal relationships in order to transcend as people?

Faced with these questions, I decided to revisit the chapter referring to the person and human needs of the book “Government of people in the company” by Pablo Ferreiro and Manuel Alcázar, a text that I consider a good ‘benchmark’ for these topics.

In this chapter, the authors, based on the ideas of the Spanish professor Juan Antonio Pérez López, exhibit three types of human needs: material, cognitive and affective. Material needs belong to the sensible world, satisfied with things external to us. For example, the purchase of an apartment, clothing, food, etc. Your satisfaction gives us pleasure. For their part, cognitive needs focus on “increasing operational knowledge, with our knowledge, controlling reality and getting what we want.” Activities such as completing a master’s degree, obtaining an accreditation, knowing several languages, mastering a sport, among others, cover this need. Finally, emotional needs are linked to “the achievement of satisfactory relationships with other people, to the certainty that we are not indifferent to others, that they love us as people.” One of the ways to cover this need focuses on being useful to others in our daily tasks or on financially supporting nearby people in need, for example. In this context, money helps us to help others and alleviate needs.

In this regard, we must clearly seek an adequate level of decorum and savings to satisfy our material and cognitive needs. The big problem occurs when “having and accumulating” is considered the only necessity and this ends up making us ambitious at all costs and makes us forget even more important aspects such as our families.

In line with this, the book “How to make good things happen to you” by Marian Rojas Estapé, in its first chapter, highlights the study by Robert Waldinger called Harvard Study of Adult Development, begun in 1938, on an annual monitoring of life of two groups of men: a first group that at that time was part of the second-year student body at Harvard University and a second group of boys from the poorest neighborhoods of Boston. The objective was to evaluate their state of satisfaction throughout their lives in order to determine what made them happy. The main conclusion was that the factor that best predicts an individual’s happiness and health is directly related to the quality of their relationships. Fame and money did not stand out as determining elements of success in their lives. In this regard, Rojas highlights as key elements of the quality of human relationships: showing interest in people, making an effort to remember important information about others and going deeper into them, avoiding judging, taking advantage of common interests, showing kindness, speaking good of others (avoid “splitting”), not being afraid of feeling vulnerable in front of others and knowing how to ask for help, among other actions.

In this sense, a relevant question highlights the parameters with which we measure success in life. Along these lines, the document “How do you measure success in your life” by Luis Huete (IESE), recalls the thoughts of Víctor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. Frankl distinguished two axes in which people can move depending on the parameters that guide their lives: the horizontal plane (have) and the vertical plane (be). In the first, we can achieve success, consisting of accumulating money, power, status, etc. In the second, we advance on the path to fulfillment only when we have become aware of our vocation or personal plan in life. Graphically, success and failure are located at opposite ends of a horizontal axis; in those of the vertical, fullness and emptiness.

In this regard, Huete mentions that “success and plenitude in our life project are not opposite and exclusive realities, but rather different ones” and concludes that “true success in life is plenitude, which is in being—without excluding it to have—”. This can only be achieved in a context of relationship with others and our contribution to others.

Returning to the original question, clearly “investing time” in our close beings (such as our parents, children or spouses, friends, for example) gives us a very high “return” that allows us to cover the transcendental needs of our lives. This gives us greater solvency, not only economically but also emotionally, with a high probability of lasting over time. Cases such as those of Ray Williams (father of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, whose film “King Richard” is highly recommended) demonstrate this. Just like in the markets, it is easy to get lost in the noise and not have a clear signal. Happy new year 2024.

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