For openers, the book is not only about investing but also about living a good and balanced life. For that alone it deserved kudos, but there is much more.
A number of other reviewers question how Natalie's "simplistic" approach can be valid when the investor must compete in a market filled with the best and the brightest ( or at least the most well compensated). Thankfully the market has given us the answer in that the wizards of Wall Street are capable of group think, greed and folly that would not pass the smell test among common people.
The next time you hear someone in a press conference or congressional hearing saying "nobody saw this coming" know that it is simply not true. Andrew Lahde predicted the financial meltdown from the collapse of the housing market to the financial crash with amazing accuracy (an built a highly successful fund), Prof. Cauley at UCLA repeatedly showed why the housing market had to crash in presentations to the financial world for a number of years and as we saw from the hearings one analyst took only a few hours to understand that Madoff was a fraud but could not get the SEC to act despite years of trying and overwhelming evidence.
Ms Pace's approach to a simple rating of companies produces results. Were I editing her work I would place even greater emphasis on the evaluation of the company culture and ethics. Is there strong, visionary leadership or a series of slash and burn execs armed with options and parachutes. How would Sun Tzu evaluate the management team? What would John Wooden say?
I was stunned to receive a note from Harvard that they had managed to loose 1/3 of their endowment, before the recent market selloff. With hundreds of world renowned professors of finance, economics, law and government how could the university walk into this ambush.
Ground level intelligence often has more common sense than that which comes from the "professional advisers". A year or so a former student noted that it was apparent that the housing boon had to end when tenants who could not make their blue collar apartment rent payments were moving into new houses. Those in residential sales understood that loan applications were being fabricated to meet lender criteria. Natalie encourages her readers to "deploy their sensors and to absorb the information available in our daily encounters and apply it to investing.
I appreciated that the book provides a roadmap which encourages the reader to begin a disciplined program of balanced investing through both the financial investments and investing in continuing education and exploration.
Finally the book is a fun and enthusiastic read. It's not the Bible of investing but a valuable framework and hopefully one which will motivate the reader to look further.
In the interest of full disclosure I have known Natalie Pace and her firm for a number of years.