A Few Things: Ed Thorp Biography, Marko Papic on Markets, Jocko W, Louis Gave, Michael Mauboussin, Scott Galloway, What I (re)Learnt This Year, You Are A Billionaire, Planning The Year Ahead.....
December 31, 2022
Happy New Year!
Sometimes we have to step away from things to see them better. In the last few days I stepped away and went to Egypt with the family.
Quotes I’m Thinking About:
"Busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we say we are too busy, it is just shorthand for the thing being "not important enough" or "not a priority." Busy is not a badge. You don’t find the time to make things, you make the time to do things."
- Debbie Millman on busyness
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and and leave a trail.”
“If you don’t look back at yourself and think, ‘Wow, how stupid I was a year ago,’ then you must not have learned much in the last year.”
- Ray Dalio Principles
“The unthinkable can always happen, and you have to run your affairs accordingly.”
- Peter Bernstein
“People change and forget to tell each other.”
- Lillian Hellman
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:
My favourite 6 were:
25. History remembers those who got to market first. Getting your creation out into the world is more important than getting it perfect.
32. Make accomplishing things as easy as possible. Find the easiest way to start exercising. Find the easiest way to start writing. People make things harder than they have to be and get frustrated when they can’t succeed. Try not to.
33. Cultivate a reputation for being dependable. Good reputations are valuable because they’re rare (easily destroyed and hard to rebuild). You don’t have to brew the most amazing coffee if your customers know the coffee will always be hot.
46. Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility.
83. Compliment people more. Many people have trouble thinking of themselves as smart, or pretty, or kind, unless told by someone else. You can help them out.
89. Don't punish people for admitting they were wrong, you make it harder for them to improve.
Which ones did you like?
2. Many friends recommended Ed Thorp’s autobiography: A Man For All Markets. I haven’t read the book yet, but loved David Senra’s discussion on his Founders podcast.
Thank you Hank for flagging the book.
One of my goals for this year is to read more fiction, and listen to the podcast about a non-fiction book before committing to it.
Given the time a non-fiction book requires and the fact that the author can often summarise the key ideas in the podcast, it feels like a better ROI.
3. Marko Papic had a long chat with Mike Green about all things geopolitics and markets, here is the recording:
and a series of tweets summarising the main ideas:
4. If you are a Jocko Willink fan like me (my girls have read his kids books), then you will enjoy his long chat with Prof Andrew Huberman on: How to Become Resilient, Forge Your Identity & Lead Others.
5. Meb Faber spoke to Louis-Vincent Gave about Investment Themes for 2023. He shares his outlook for how it may affect global supply chains, commodity markets, and financial markets.
He covers the case for the emerging markets, why he isn’t bullish on the US, and why it may be time to rethink your portfolio construction as we head into a new year.
6. Michael Mauboussin was on the Invest Like the Best podcast discussing: Sharpening Investor and Executive Toolkits. They go deep into his recent work on market share, returns on capital, and capital allocation - all of which are coming under increasing scrutiny for different reasons.
Great discussion on how to use market share to find break out companies, ways to create moats around the business, how the best companies use R&D and intangibles to capture greater profits.
7. The always perceptive (but only sometime right on markets) Scott Galloway shared his 2023 Predictions.
Here’s one that stuck with me: Peak Idolatry of Innovators
Nearly 7 billion of the 8 billion people on Earth identify with a religion. As a species, we can’t choose if we worship, but can choose who we worship. As search engines and iPhones replace mythical and spiritual beings as our sources of truth, our worship shifts to the gods responsible — the wealthiest person in tech has a 1 in 3 chance of being Time’s Person of the Year. Our new gods: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry and Sergey, Elon Musk, Elizabeth Holmes, Sam Bankman-Fried …
Our gross, nonsensical adoration of tech innovators may have peaked. It’s been a tough couple of months for the Church of Technology: Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to 11 years, and her colleague to 13 years; Nikola founder Trevor Milton was convicted of fraud; Celsius Network went bankrupt and faces federal investigations; and SBF’s Oops I Did it Again apology tour was cut short due to an outbreak of law.
I hope a fresh round of bankruptcies, margin calls, and orange jumpsuits dethrones our modern-day gods and sobers up the media, the public, and elected leaders who worship them. I’m optimistic these abusers will not just be reassigned to different parishes, but their close-up will illuminate the importance of regulation, trust, and independent boards. We may even realize the people responsible for prosecuting fraudulent actors, maintaining backstops on savings accounts, and writing laws are the people who are really on y(our) side.
I also believe we’ll see a return to 20th century admiration for government agencies and people who have re-created the sun and are transporting us to the beginning of time. They have achieved these things without stealing from others, accusing ex-employees of sex crimes, or spreading homophobic conspiracy theories.
B. What I (Re-)Learnt This Year
Another year comes to a close and I try to reflect back on what I’ve learnt, firstly I have to look back and smile at just how stupid I was last year.
Secondly, it is always the hard times where the learning and growth happened and every life has some of it.
Summarising the lessons of the last few year in to Three Points:
1) Hedonic Adaptation is Real: nothing is as big a deal as you think it is at the time. Angry or sad emotions from life traumas fade, but so will the positive surprises from one-time life upgrades. What’s left is just you.
Remember: This Too Shall Pass. Be happy with who and what you have today. The present is all there is.
2) Habits Are The Only Things That Matter: most of your day & life is comprised of repeating the same set of behaviours over and over. The way you get up, your thoughts. Your job. The way you interact with other people. The way you eat and exercise.
Unless you give all of this a lot of mindful attention and work to adjust it, it stays the same, which means your life barely changes, which means your level of happiness barely changes.
This is something I am trying to work on, because as I get older I find myself become a creature of habits - some good, some bad.
3) To Change Your Life, Change Your Habits: The easiest and best way to have a happier and more satisfying life is to figure out what ingredients go into a happier life, a more successful career or just perfect day, and start adding those things while subtracting the things that create the inverse.
For me the perfect day includes: positive social interactions where I learn something new, helping people, outdoor physical activity, making or doing something new (however small), problem solving and time with my family.
C. You Are A Billionaire
The end of another year is a good time to remind ourselves of just how rich we all our.
You are a billionaire already, some of us many times over.
We are all time Billionaires and time is the only thing you can’t buy more of.
A million seconds is about 11 days. A billion seconds is 31 years.
If you had the opportunity to switch places with Warren Buffett, would you do it? You could be one of the richest people in the world. But you would also have to be 90 years old, and no longer be a time billionaire.
Would Warren switch places with you? 100%.
I think a lot about the idea of time.
I think about this Buffett and Gates conversation often:
The invisible clocks are ticking, let’s hope we use your riches wisely.
D. The Year Ahead
How was your 2022?
I try to use December and January for thinking about the year that has gone by and planning the next.
I’ve found reflecting and planning to be a useful exercise, not because things go according to plan, but because thinking about what you really want and how you are going to get there is a useful exercise....
or as President & General Eisenhower said:
1) Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
2) Plans are worthless, but planning is essential.
Three are probably two career planning texts that are powerful and worth reading multiple times (I have) and they help guide me.
The 3 lessons that really resonated with me:
Network intensely. Luck plays a big role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible. Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them. Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications. Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.
When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend. Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life. Most people wait for others to prove their value. Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start. Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.
Read all the time. Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively. Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author. If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.
Secondly, Sam Altman’s: How To Be Successful:
Here are 3 parts that resonated with me:
Compound Yourself....You don't want to be in a career where people who have been doing it for two years can be as effective as people who have been doing it for twenty—your rate of learning should always be high. As your career progresses, each unit of work you do should generate more and more results. There are many ways to get this leverage, such as capital, technology, brand, network effects, and managing people....Trust the exponential, be patient, and be pleasantly surprised.
Focus......Almost everyone I’ve ever met would be well-served by spending more time thinking about what to focus on. It is much more important to work on the right thing than it is to work many hours. Most people waste most of their time on stuff that doesn’t matter.
Be hard to compete with....The best way to become difficult to compete with is to build up leverage. For example, you can do it with personal relationships, by building a strong personal brand, or by getting good at the intersection of multiple different fields. There are many other strategies, but you have to figure out some way to do it.
What are your goals for 2023?
When you decide to visit Egypt (or any country), and this is my third time here, I can’t recommend highly enough using the amazing people at The Travel Corporation. They take care of everything and the service is perfect. There is no other way I’d want to travel the world. Brett and his family have been doing it for generations.
Thank you Brett and TTC team.
Good bye from the Nile.