Wednesday, May 31, 2017


“The ancients tell us what is best; but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.” -Benjamin Franklin [H/T CIO]

The Knowledge Project podcast: Rory Sutherland on The Psychology of Advertising, Complex Evolved Systems, Reading, Decision Making (LINK)
Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland) is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, which is one of the largest advertising companies in the world.  This interview was recorded live in London, England.  Rory started the behavioral insights team and spends his days applying behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology to solve problems that conventionally advertising agencies haven't been able to solve.  In this wide-ranging interview we talk about: how advertising agencies are solving airport security problems, what Silicon Valley misses; how to mess with self-driving cars, reading habits, decision making, the intersection of advertising and psychology, and so much more.  Enjoy this amazing conversation.
Proximate vs Root Causes: Why You Should Keep Digging to Find the Answer (LINK)

London Value Investor Conference Notes 2017: Parames, Roden, Channon & More (LINK)

Invest Like the Best podcast: The Human Blitzkrieg, with Dave Chilton (LINK)

Debt pile-up in US car market sparks subprime fear (LINK)
Strains have been evident for at least a year at the bottom end of the auto-loan market, in the world of subprime. But in prime debt, too, delinquencies are beginning to pick up, forcing big banks such as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase to pull back. 
Carmakers are now boosting discounts and cutting production to address rising inventories on dealer lots. Falling used car values, in turn, are pushing up defaults, as people find themselves stuck in loans they cannot afford but can’t trade out of because they still owe more than the vehicle is worth. 
“Here we are again,” says Janet Tavakoli, president of Tavakoli Structured Finance, a Chicago-based consulting firm. Car loans are a smaller market than mortgages, she notes, which total about $9tn. But they could still do a lot of damage if consumers keep missing payments. 
The share of auto debt more than 90 days overdue rose to 2.3 per cent in the first quarter, the highest in six years, according to the New York Federal Reserve. “It’s a new mini-Big Short,” she says, alluding to traders who made billions by betting on a housing collapse a decade ago. 
...Some of the most rapid growth has occurred at specialist subprime lenders such as Exeter Finance of Irving, Texas, owned by Blackstone, and Skopos Financial, also of Irving, which is owned by Lee Equity Partners, a New York private equity firm. Lenders like these have pumped out billions of dollars of loans, which have been bundled together, then sliced into securities by the likes of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

According to Morgan Stanley, the share of auto securities tied to “deep subprime” loans — those given to borrowers with scores below 550 on the commonly-used FICO creditworthiness scale — rose from 5.1 per cent of total subprime deals in 2010 to 32.5 per cent last year.
Ways to Dismiss Technology and Predict Change - by Benedict Evans (LINK)

Mark Zuckerberg's Commencement Address at Harvard (video) (LINK)

Token Summit I - Final Fireside Chat with Fred Wilson and William Mougayar (video) (LINK)

Faceless Publishers - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Choosing your spot - by Seth Godin (LINK)

Odysseus and the Epicureans (LINK)
Related book: From Villain to Hero: Odysseus in Ancient Thought
The Spider Web That Gets Stronger When It Touches Insects - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Being useful...

"The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The duty of a man is to be useful to his fellow-men; if possible, to be useful to many of them; failing this, to be useful to a few; failing this, to be useful to his neighbours, and, failing them, to himself: for when he helps others, he advances the general interests of mankind. Just as he who makes himself a worse man does harm not only to himself but to all those to whom he might have done good if he had made himself a better one, so he who deserves well of himself does good to others by the very fact that he is preparing what will be of service to them." -Seneca ("On Leisure")

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Intellect and Kindness

"Intellect can be enlightened only in a kind person. A person can be kind only when he has an enlightened intellect. One helps the other." -Chinese wisdom
And from The Daily Stoic:
"Kindness is invincible, but only when it’s sincere, with no hypocrisy or faking. For what can even the most malicious person do if you keep showing kindness and, if given the chance, you gently point out where they went wrong—right as they are trying to harm you?" -Marcus Aurelius

Monday, May 29, 2017


The Merchandising of Virtue – by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (LINK)

One Powerful Success Secret from Ben Franklin that Changed My Life - by Vishal Khandelwal (LINK)

Economist David Ricardo — One of the Most Successful Quants in History - by Jason Zweig (LINK)

A Dozen Lessons on Building a Business from Sarah Tavel - by Tren Griffin (LINK)

Homeowners Again Using Their Houses as Cash Registers [H/T @jasonzweigwsj] (LINK)

Thoughts on Tokens - by Balaji S. Srinivasan and Naval Ravikant (LINK)
Tokens are early today, but will transform technology tomorrow.
A review of Geoffrey West's book Scale (LINK)

How I Built This podcast -- TOMS: Blake Mycoskie (LINK)

Brian Greene on the Masters in Business podcast (LINK)

We knew Jupiter was weird. Now we're finding out HOW weird. - by Phil Plait (LINK)

Rules for Modern Living From the Ancient Stoics - by Massimo Pigliucci (LINK)
Related book: How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life

A few quotes on giving and getting back...

"Give it away to get it back. There is a wonderful, almost mystical, law of nature that says three of the things we want most—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained when we give them to others. " -John Wooden (Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court)

"The secret to living is giving." -Tony Robbins (video)

"Love is a funny thing. Whenever I give it, it comes back to me." -Jason Mraz (lyrics from the song "Love Someone")

Friday, May 26, 2017


"Traditionally the investor has been the man with patience and the courage of his convictions who would buy when the harried or disheartened speculator was selling." -Benjamin Graham & David Dodd, Security Analysis

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others - by Ian Cassel (LINK) [“To be a disciplined investor you have to be willing to stand by and watch other people make money on things that you passed on” – Howard Marks]

Perpetual Beta - by Chris Pavese (LINK)

How to Be Your Own Quant - by Jason Zweig [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Hussman Weekly Market Comment: Being Wrong in an Interesting Way (LINK)

Exponent podcast: Episode 116 — Blockchain Beauty Contest (LINK)

Why Flamingos Are More Stable on One Leg Than Two - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Why Did the Biggest Whales Get So Big? … and perhaps more importantly: when? - by Ed Yong (LINK)

How Zika Conquered the Americas - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Neil deGrasse Tyson talks with Charlie Rose about his latest book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (LINK)


On a separate note.... I've been doing a lot of walking (slowly) over the last few days, and these are probably my favorite pair of shoes I've owned, for those that may be interested (and who like the thin, barefoot-style sole): Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Howard Marks Investor Series with Bruce Karsh

Link to video

[H/T ValueWalk]

Epictetus quote

The quote below, via The Daily Stoic, reminded me of the story Warren Buffett often tells about how Ben Graham used the process of mimicking the traits of those he admired, and avoiding the traits of those he disliked, to improve himself as a young man.

“Then what makes a beautiful human being? Isn’t it the presence of human excellence? Young friend, if you wish to be beautiful, then work diligently at human excellence. And what is that? Observe those whom you praise without prejudice. The just or the unjust? The just. The even-tempered or the undisciplined? The even-tempered. The self-controlled or the uncontrolled? The self-controlled. In making yourself that kind of person, you will become beautiful—but to the extent you ignore these qualities, you’ll be ugly, even if you use every trick in the book to appear beautiful.” —Epictetus

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


5 Good Summer Reads - By Bill Gates (LINK)

Cloud Computing owner Seth Klarman and trainer Chad Brown describe their horse's Preakness Stakes victory (video) (LINK)

After attending race growing up, Baltimore-raised owner Seth Klarman soaking in Preakness victory [H/T Linc] (LINK)
Though it isn't certain whether Klarman will run Cloud Computing in the Belmont Stakes, it seems doubtful considering that the 3-year-old's first three races all came exactly month apart. The last leg of the Triple Crown will be in three weeks. Nor is Klarman second-guessing himself for not running his horse earlier this month at Churchill Downs. 
"No regrets," he said. "I think possibly some of the reasons we won today was because we were patient and didn't throw an inexperienced horse against a 20-horse field in the Derby on a very difficult track. I think that's actually why we're here today. I also learned in life that you don't look back with a lot of would've, could've, should've. We made a great call, and we're ecstatic and we'll worry about the future, not the past."
How I Built This podcast -- Compaq Computers: Rod Canion (LINK)
In 1981, engineer Rod Canion left Texas Instruments and co-founded Compaq, which created the first IBM-compatible personal computer. This opened the door to an entire industry of PCs that could run the same software. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how frustrated renter Melanie Colón created an easier way to communicate with noisy neighbors, called Apt App.
Latticework of Mental Models: Decision Fatigue (LINK)

Marc Andreessen on the Masters in Business podcast (LINK)

Invest Like the Best podcast: The Art of Asset Allocation, with David Salem (LINK)

Charley Ellis on the Capital Allocators Podcast (LINK)

How Anker is beating Apple and Samsung at their own accessory game (LINK)

Tulips, Myths, and Cryptocurrencies - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

a16z Podcast: The Blockchain, in Congress (LINK)

a16z Podcast: What Technology Wants, Needs, Does (LINK)

John Grisham’s 15-Hour Workweek (LINK)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Becoming a great investor and a multidisciplinary thinker...

“It’s kind of fun to sit there and outthink people who are way smarter than you are because you’ve trained yourself to be more objective and more multidisciplinary. Furthermore, there is a lot of money in it, as I can testify from my own personal experience.” -Charlie Munger

The above quote is one I think about often. And as I do, I am reminded of a goal of becoming both a great investor as well as a multidisciplinary thinker. If one is in the investment business, there are a few things that I think are key in order to achieve this: 
  • A long-term time horizon when looking at and investing in businesses (~5-10 years, with the potential to hold for longer if business advantages and reinvestment opportunities remain intact), so that one doesn't need to find new ideas on a constant basis. This allows one to take advantage of internal business (and tax-advantaged) compounding, and also allows one the time to read more widely.
  • Good filters (to avoid wasting time on things that one should not have pursued in the first place).
  • No sunk costs (via the example of Daniel Kahneman). 
  • A long-term, patient capital base (or permanent capital if possible).
  • A fairly open and clear calendar (to allow one time to think).

Monday, May 22, 2017


From The Daily Stoic:
“When children stick their hand down a narrow goody jar they can’t get their full fist out and start crying. Drop a few treats and you will get it out! Curb your desire—don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.” —Epictetus 
...“Don’t set your heart on so many things,” says Epictetus. Prioritize. Train your mind to ask: Do I need this thing? What will happen if I do not get it? Can I make do without it? 
The answers to these questions will help you relax, help you cut out all the needless things that make you busy—too busy to be balanced or happy.

Friday, May 19, 2017


I will be without internet for most of the next couple of weeks. I have a couple of posts and a few quotes scheduled, but there will likely be few—and possibly zero—compilations of links during that time.

Stephen Penman: Value vs. Growth Investing and the Value Trap (video) (LINK)
Related books: 1) Accounting for Value; 2) Financial Statement Analysis and Security Valuation
Nassim Taleb on Bloomberg (video) (LINK)

The Brooklyn Investor blog on high management fees (LINK)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s I/O 2017 keynote (video) (LINK)

Exponent podcast: Episode 115 — Business Matters (LINK)
Ben and James discuss Google I/O, the importance of business relative to technology, and why Uber is in trouble.
Congress, the Doctors Will See You Now - by Ed Yong (LINK)
Incensed by attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, several Democratic physicians are planning to run for office.
This week, I finished the audiobook of Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage. It was incredible, and now I'm looking forward to watching the documentary that was made about the voyage: Shackleton's Voyage Of Endurance (Nova - PBS Documentary)

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The Advantage Of Being A Little Underemployed - by Morgan Housel (LINK)
Related previous post: Deep Work sessions, and tips
John Malone on trust (LINK)

Brazil stocks plunge 10% on emerging political scandal (LINK)

Union Square's Wilson on VC Market, Twitter, Snap & Uber (video) (LINK)

Boring Google - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

a16z Podcast: For Your Ears Only (LINK)
When it comes to spycraft — or rather, “tradecraft,” as they say in the biz — what do the movies get right, and what do they get wrong? In this episode of the a16z Podcast (recorded while on the road in D.C. for our annual Tech Policy Summit), Michael Morell — former Deputy Director and twice-Acting Director of the CIA — talks all things tradecraft and tech with a16z partners Matt Spence and Hanne Tidnam.
Poli'ahu: Time-lapse of telescopes and stars dancing under Hawaiian skies (LINK)


As I've mentioned before on this blog:
When it comes to the macro, I like to take the approach of being a risk-identifier--as opposed to being a forecaster--and so listening to people who are intelligent and spend way more time on certain macro things than I do helps me get a sense for whether or not I might be missing something big while I spend most of my time thinking about individual companies.
And in the above light, I recently read Steve Keen's latest book, Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis? It was great overview of the importance of private debt in the economy, where many countries currently stand in regards to private debt levels, and what risks that might entail. While many of the major debt risks have been well described elsewhere in regards to places like China and Hong Kong, he mentions several others and gives a great overview of Minsky's 'Financial Instability Hypothesis' on pages 14-21. Timing of when debt burdens becoming too unsustainable is hard or impossible to predict (which is a reason why, most of the time, value investors ignore the macro), but Keen does give some plausible reasons for why the Australian and Canadian economies in which many, including Keen, have been warning about for years seem likely to finally hit a big rough patch at some point within the next 3 years or so. Keen also has some good charts on country-by-country debt levels on his website, HERE

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


While in Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting this year, I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Jon Boyar from Boyar Research, as well as reading an interview Jon and his father Mark did with Kate Welling last year. To help showcase their work as well as provide some value to readers of this blog, Jon and the team have agreed to provide a link to some of the reports that they believe are still timely, including the recent Conduent Inc. spinoff from Xerox. To access the reports, you'll just need to provide your name, company, and email address at the following link: Boyar Research Complimentary Report: CNDT, HBI, ABT


What Henry Ford understood about wages - by Seth Godin (LINK)

Amazon is hiring people to break into the multibillion-dollar pharmacy market (LINK)

Household Debt Makes a Comeback in the U.S. (LINK)

The Amazing Dinosaur Found (Accidentally) by Miners in Canada [H/T Linc] (LINK)

My Family’s Slave - by Alex Tizon [H/T @edyong209] (LINK)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


A good 14-part Twitter thread from Bill Gates, with advice to college graduates (LINK)
Related book: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
Michael Mauboussin on the Invest Like the Best podcast (LINK)

From Jobs to Flying Cars: An Interview with Marc Andreessen (audio) (LINK)

Morgan Creek Capital Management's Q1 Letter (LINK)

Amazon’s 49,000% Gain: The Most ‘Super’ of ‘Superstocks’ Since 1926 - by Jason Zweig (LINK)

20 Years On, Amazon and Jeff Bezos Prove Naysayers Wrong - by Andrew Ross Sorkin (LINK)
Twenty years ago this week, went public. 
Skeptics of Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, have spent the better part of the past two decades second-guessing and vilifying him: He has been described as “a monopolist,” “literary enemy No. 1,” “a notorious international tax dodger,” impossible, a ruthless boss and — more than once — “Lex Luthor.” His company used to routinely be described as Amazon.con. 
But you know what? 
Here we are, 20 years later, and Mr. Bezos has an authentic, legitimate claim on having changed the way we live.
The Innovator’s Dilemma Hits Higher Ed [H/T Matt] (LINK)
Last month’s announcement that Indiana’s Purdue University would acquire the for-profit Kaplan University shocked the world of higher education. The Purdue faculty are up in arms. The merger faces a series of regulatory obstacles. And it’s unclear whether the “New U,” as the entity is temporarily named, can be operationally viable or financially successful. 
But Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels, is willing to give it a shot. 
The venture is unexpected, unconventional and smart. The nature of the partnership—in which Kaplan will transfer its assets to Purdue, a public university—is unprecedented. It’s also a rare instance of attempted self-disruption.
The Manual of Ideas' interview with Alex Rubalcava of Stage Venture Partners (LINK)

How to Invent the Future with Alan Kay (videos) (Part 1, Part 2)

Grant's Interest Rate Observer has put some free material online HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Everyone's Got a Bill Belichick Story [H/T @PeterAttiaMD] (LINK)

TED Talk - Lucy Kalanithi: What makes life worth living in the face of death (LINK)
Related book: When Breath Becomes Air
A Remote Paradise Island Is Now a Plastic Junkyard (LINK)

Monday, May 15, 2017


For Audible members, Audible's latest 2 for 1 sale has some good titles. (LINK) [If you're not a member yet, and haven't yet done a free trial, you can get a free trial and 2 free audiobook credits by signing up HERE. And given the 2 for 1 sale, you could get 4 free books instead of 2 with the free trial. I got through about half of Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage on a car trip over the weekend, and it's both great so far and included in the Audible sale.]

The transcript from Warren Buffett's appearance on CNBC late week [H/T Peter and Eli] (LINK)

How I Built This podcast -- Whole Foods Market: John Mackey (LINK)

Taking the bull case for Valeant seriously - by John Hempton (LINK)

Amit Wadhwaney's letter at Moerus Funds from a few months ago [H/T @chriswmayer] (LINK)

Grant's Podcast: Vol’ is the only asset class -- The ABCs, and the XYZs, of volatility with Christopher Cole of Artemis Capital Management (LINK)

Why Amazon is eating the world (LINK)

Retail Ripe For And Resistant To Disruption (LINK)

Aldi raises stakes in US price war with Wal-Mart [H/T Matt] (LINK)

WannaCry About Business Models  - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Book of the day (updated for 2017): The One Hour China Book

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Bruce Greenwald: Channeling Graham and Dodd (LINK)
A good active investing process consists of a value orientation, specialization, and, to be in the upper half of the return distribution, reliability. Buffett isn’t telling you the full story, because he doesn’t want to create competition for himself. He is saying yes, by all means do passive investing, but [he isn’t saying that] to people who understand and apply these principles in a disciplined way. Is he going to do passive investing himself? Of course not. And remember, even with this trend, 70% of people are doing active investing. And passive is not so passive. These guys jigger the models all the time. The nightmare scenario for value investors isn’t passive investing; it’s everybody takes a value approach. 
What do you tell your students? 
I tell them—which they don’t like at all—that they have to specialize. If you go to a firm, and they have you doing autos for one month and consumer nondurables for another month, and then they start you looking at financials, you aren’t going to master any of it. You are going to make stupid investment decisions, and they are going to fire you. You want to spend two to three years developing a specialty. When you get good at that, you can start to develop a second specialty. Once you appreciate what specialized knowledge of an industry looks like, then you have to be disciplined about looking in that area and at the disasters there. So if you have three specialties, two in industries hitting on all cylinders and the third is underperforming, where will you spend all your time? The underperforming one, so you can assess the probability of recovery.
The Dot-Com Boom and Bust - by Tren Griffin (LINK)

Assembling a Dream Team: How Gender Diversity Can Strengthen Your Team - by Michael Mauboussin, et al. (LINK)

Aldi case study (2005) (LINK)

The Panera Bread Story – Told by Founder Ron Shaich (LINK)

a16z Podcast: Quantum Computing, Now and Next (LINK)

92nd Street Y: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in Conversation with Katie Couric (video) (LINK)
Related book: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
92nd Street Y: A mind-expanding tour of the cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Robert Krulwich (video) (LINK)
Related book: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Friday, May 12, 2017


Art De Vany talks with Tim Ferriss (podcast) (LINK)
Related book (my favorite on health/diet):  The New Evolution Diet
Aswath Damodaran: "The Value of Stories in Business" | Talks at Google (LINK)
Related book: Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business
Grant's Podcast: The costs of tranquility -- A talk with Dean Curnutt, founder and CEO of Macro Risk Advisors (LINK)

Ray Dalio's latest thoughts [H/T Market Folly] (LINK)

Exponent podcast: Episode 114 — The Job of Local News (LINK)

The Confusion Over the New Ebola Outbreak - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Thursday, May 11, 2017


"The greatest portion of peace of mind is doing nothing wrong. Those who lack self-control live disoriented and disturbed lives." -Seneca (via The Daily Stoic)

Berkshire Meeting Notes – Daily Improvement, Business Evolution, and Investment Strategy - by John Huber (LINK)

Identifying Managers with Talent and Integrity - by Robert Vinall (LINK)

Latticework of Mental Models: Zeigarnik Effect (LINK)

James Michener’s Nomadic Pursuit of Depth - by Cal Newport (LINK)

a16z Podcast: Boards, from Both Sides of the Table (LINK)

Edge #492: The Threat - A Conversation With Ross Anderson (LINK)

The Myth That Humans Have Poor Smell Is Nonscents - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T Jim Grant]: Risk - by John Adams

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


A great 15-minute video interview with Charlie Munger the day after the annual meeting (LINK)

CNBC Excerpts: Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett on CNBC's "Squawk Box" (LINK) [If you haven't watched them yet, the list of video clips are in Monday's links.]

Spring 2017 issue of Graham & Doddsville (LINK)

Expectations - by Ian Cassel (LINK)

JAMIE DIMON: There is a 'national catastrophe' and 'we should be ringing the alarm bells' [H/T @pcordway] (LINK)

Selling our Telecom position - by John Hempton (LINK)

The dark side of platform monopoly (LINK)

The Making of a Friendly Microbe - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Now That We Can Read Genomes, Can We Write Them? - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T @morganhousel]: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Released today: How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life – by Massimo Pigliucci

The Zurich Project podcast: James Ferguson on GEM's Approach to Selecting Managers (LINK)

Will Thorndike on the Invest Like the Best podcast (LINK)
Related book: The Outsiders
Sohn Conference New York Notes 2017: Ackman, Einhorn, Meister & More (LINK)

The Local News Business Model - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

What To Do When You Fail in China (Pt 2): Ford vs. Fiat - by Jeffrey Towson (LINK)

How Beauty Evolves - by Ed Yong (LINK)
Related book (also released today): The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us - by Richard O. Prum
Every Episode of David Attenborough’s Life Series, Ranked - by Ed Yong (LINK)

TED Talk - Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves (LINK)
Related book: Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Monday, May 8, 2017


"I think that a life properly lived is just learn, learn, learn all the time. And I think Berkshire's gained enormously from these investment decisions by learning, through a long, long period. Every time you appoint a new person that's never had big capital allocation experience, it's like rolling the dice. We're way better off having done it for so long. But the decisions blend; and the one feature that comes through is the continuous learning. If we had not kept learning, you wouldn't even be here. You'd be alive probably, but not here." -Charlie Munger (47:48-48:35 of the YouTube video from the annual meeting)

"I think we have one other advantage: A lot of other people are trying to be brilliant and we're just trying to stay rational. It's a big advantage." -Charlie Munger (1:17:29)

I'm back after a fun weekend in Omaha. For those that missed the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, the replay is available HERE. And it also appears to be on YouTube HERE. The Wall Street Journal also had some good coverage HERE


Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and Bill Gates also appeared on CNBC this morning. Here are links to those videos (Someone also seems to have put the CNBC show on YouTube HERE): 

Buffett: Airline passengers are very price conscious

Buffett: Wells Fargo obviously incentivized the wrong thing

Buffett: High load factor and airlines

Buffett: If you pay big prices for something, you're counting on earnings

Buffett: 5 highest value companies don't take capital

Buffett: Jeff Bezos was brillant

Buffett: Stocks a bargain if you think rates stay low

Charlie Munger: We should have single-payer medicine

Charlie Munger: There's a lot to be said for health care for all

Buffett: Health-care bill huge tax cut for the rich

Fixing America's health-care system

Buffett: I'm very suspicious of dynamic scoring

Bill Gates: State Department helps us 'perform miracles'

Bill Gates: You need health care, education and opportunity to escape poverty trap

Charlie Munger: Lot of idiotic deals in venture capital

Charlie Munger: Every failure stings

Buffett: I don't make investment decisions based on who's president

Buffett: 'Unlimited' resources of our friendship


Other links...

Warren Buffett Isn’t Retiring but Some of His Lieutenants Are (LINK)

Look Back and Learn: A History of Mutual Funds - by Jason Zweig (LINK)

Quantitative Investing: A Crisis Waiting to Happen - by Jason Zweig (LINK)
Related book: The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction - by Richard Bookstaber
A Dozen Lessons on Finance and Business from Ambrose Bierce - by Tren Griffin (LINK)

The Brooklyn Investor blog discusses Fairfax India Holdings (LINK)

Horizon Kinetics: 1st Quarter Commentary [H/T ValueWalk] (LINK)

What to Do When You Fail in China (Pt 1): Danone vs. Carlsberg Beer - by Jeffrey Towson (LINK)

Bill Gurley On Transforming Health Care - The Ezra Klein Show (podcast) (LINK)

How I Built This podcast - Lonely Planet: Maureen & Tony Wheeler (LINK)

Exponent podcast: Episode 113 — WeChat, China, and Apple (LINK)

Bruce Greenwald and Joseph Stiglitz discuss globalization at Columbia Business School's 2017 Reunion Weekend (video) [H/T ValueWalk] (LINK)

Tyler Cowen on EconTalk (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: The Complacent Class
Steve Keen on the Macro Voices podcast (LINK)
Related book (recently released): Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?
The Mozart in the Machine - by Yuval Noah Harari [H/T The Browser] (LINK)

The Meaning Of Life In A World Without Work Society - by Yuval Noah Harari (LINK)
Related book: Homo Deus
How a Frog Became the First Mainstream Pregnancy Test - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T Chris]: Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II


On a separate note, I'm also looking to try and find a PDF of all of the past issues of Outstanding Investor Digest. There are a few issues and/or sections of issues floating around for free online, but given the quality of the information, it would be great to have them all. And given the difficulty of communicating with OID, even if one is willing to pay to have them, I thought I'd check in and see if anyone out there has already compiled them and might be willing to share. If yes, my email address is: Thanks!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Deep Work sessions, and tips

From Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World:
There's no one correct deep work ritual—the right fit depends on both the person and the type of project pursued. But there are some general questions that any effective ritual must address:
  • Where you’ll work and for how long. Your ritual needs to specify a location for your deep work efforts. This location can be as simple as your normal office with the door shut and desk cleaned off (a colleague of mine likes to put a hotel-style “do not disturb” sign on his office door when he's tackling something difficult). If it’s possible to identify a location used only for depth—for instance, a conference room or quiet library—the positive effect can be even greater. (If you work in an open office plan, this need to find a deep work retreat becomes particularly important.) Regardless of where you work, be sure to also give yourself a specific time frame to keep the session a discrete challenge and not an open-ended slog.
  • How you’ll work once you start to work. Your ritual needs rules and processes to keep your efforts structured. For example, you might institute a ban on any Internet use, or maintain a metric such as words produced per twenty-minute interval to keep your concentration honed. Without this structure, you'll have to mentally litigate again and again what you should and should not be doing during these sessions and keep trying to assess whether you're working sufficiently hard. These are unnecessary drains on your willpower reserves. 
  • How you’ll support your work. Your ritual needs to ensure your brain gets the support it needs to keep operating at a high level of depth. For example, the ritual might specify that you start with a cup of good coffee, or make sure you have access to enough food of the right type to maintain energy, or integrate light exercise such as walking to help keep the mind clear. (As Nietzsche said: “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.”) This support might also include environmental factors, such as organizing the raw materials of your work to minimize energy-dissipating friction (as we saw with Caro's example). To maximize your success, you need to support your efforts to go deep. At the same time, this support needs to be systematized so that you don't waste mental energy figuring out what you need in the moment.


I'm always experimenting with my process, and after reading the passage above, I put in place a simple and specific routine to help get my day started out right (days when I'm at home, not traveling). I wake up early, grab a cup of coffee, put my phone on 'Do Not Disturb', and then spend the next 60-90 minutes of the day reading one specific thing without any distractions. This is usually a book that I've put out the day before to get ready for the morning, and it is something that I feel I need or want to learn that stretches my understanding, usually because it is something new to me.

I used to start the day with my practice of Memortation, but I've since moved this to a little later in the day. Josh Waitzkin also recommends ending one's workday (not the day, but the workday) on something of quality that you'll also start the following day on, so I'm also trying to read some of that morning book (or whatever else it is) at the end of the workday as well, so that my subconscious brain can think about it until my conscious brain returns to it in the morning.

Charlie Munger has also mentioned the importance of giving himself an hour per day to read when he was younger, before getting into his day job as a lawyer. And in The Snowball, Warren Buffett described something similar in regards to Munger:
Charlie, as a very young lawyer, was probably getting $20 an hour. He thought to himself, ‘Who’s my most valuable client?’ And he decided it was himself. So he decided to sell himself an hour each day. He did it early in the morning, working on these construction projects and real estate deals. Everybody should do this, be the client, and then work for other people, too, and sell yourself an hour a day.
And it's also important to give oneself time to think about the things one learns, and not be so busy that one doesn't have time to turn knowledge into creative and useful ideas. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett discussed the importance of having time to think earlier this year, and I think the quote below from The Undoing Project also provides good advice about the importance of having time to think:
"The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours." -Amos Tversky

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


For those watching the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting online this Saturday, here's the link (starting at 10am ET):

Why I Lost My Bet With Warren Buffett - By Ted Seides (LINK)
Related podcast (previously linked to): Invest Like the Best podcast: The Bet with Buffett – Hedge Funds vs. The S&P 500, w/ Ted Seides
Brookfield's Bruce Flatt: Billionaire Toll Collector Of The 21st Century (LINK)

Kyle Bass Sees China's Wealth Management Products as Key Risk (video) (LINK)

What Nassim Taleb Can Teach Us (LINK)

The New Moats [H/T Market Folly] (LINK)

Puerto Rico Files for Historic $70 Billion Debt Restructuring (LINK)

A nice presentation on energy [H/T @AlexRubalcava] (LINK)

Where oil rigs go to die [H/T The Browser] (LINK)

Apple's China Problem - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Study reveals first recording of cuttlefish fighting over a mate in the wild [H/T @edyong209] (LINK)

Holocaust Survivor Viktor Frankl Explains Why If We Have True Meaning in Our Lives, We Can Make It Through the Darkest of Times (LINK)
Related books: 1) Man's Search for Meaning; 2) The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy
Book to be released next week: How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life - by Massimo Pigliucci

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Why United (and all of Big Air) is resistant to disruption despite an offering that sucks - by Sangeet Paul Choudary (LINK)
I’ve had several discussions with logistics and transportation execs over the last month and have repeatedly seen how much the industry depends on network effects to drive supply side economies of scale. The very factors that make platforms work are already at work in these industries.  
In my latest article, I use the lens of networks and platforms to look at how the airline industry favours a winner-takes-most dynamic by building supply side economies of scale. There are important lessons here for those building platforms to exploit demand side economies of scale, as well as for pipeline companies that operate global supply chains and are digitizing them. 
There are important lessons here for understanding asset-heavy businesses. We often tend to dismiss asset-heavy businesses saying asset-light ones will disrupt them. That is lazy thinking. If anything, Amazon is so successful not just because it’s a data company but also because it is asset-intensive on the supply side to the point of leasing access to those assets out as a service, first through AWS, then through Fulfilment by Amazon, and now with logistics. As pipelines move towards platforms, we will see more of the Amazon model than the Facebook or Google or Uber model. Pipelines won’t reject assets. They will, instead, complement their asset intensity with data network effects and utilize these assets better. 
Think Different and Better - by Ian Cassel (LINK)

Invest Like the Best podcast: The Bet with Buffett – Hedge Funds vs. The S&P 500, w/ Ted Seides (LINK)

The Absolute Return Letter, May 2017: Investment Rules (LINK)

Mutual Fund Observer, May 2017 (LINK)

Seneca on Grief and the Key to Resilience in the Face of Loss: An Extraordinary Letter to His Mother (LINK)

Robert Sapolsky Explains Human Behavior (LINK)
Related book (released today): Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst - by Robert M. Sapolsky [Book review HERE.]
Declassified nuclear weapon test footage is scientifically fascinating and existentially terrifying (LINK)

Monday, May 1, 2017

GMO's Q1 2017 Quarterly Letter

Link to:  GMO's Q1 2017 Quarterly Letter
In "Up At Night," Ben Inker takes a deep dive into the most common question he gets from clients: "What keeps you up at night?" He identifies two types of risks one should analyze, eternal risks and today’s relevant risks, and discusses how understanding one’s vulnerability to those risks is crucial in deciding whether and how to address the risks by hedging or shifting assets. Jeremy Grantham, in "This Time Seems Very, Very Different," examines how likely it is that high stock market prices and corporate profit margins will continue to be sustained. He describes why, although value investors for decades have been using the old axiom that the four most dangerous words are "this time is different," he would like to add for 2017 that "conversely, it can be very dangerous indeed to assume that things are never different."


Some Thoughts on Visual Thinking - by Sanjay Bakshi (LINK)

Mental Model: Occam’s Razor (LINK)

Big-Name Food Brands Lose Battle of the Grocery Aisle (LINK)
America’s packaged-food giants are losing the battle for retailers’ shelf space, complicating their efforts to break out of a yearslong slump. 
Instead of promoting canned soup, cereal and cookies from companies like Kraft Heinz Co., Kellogg Co. and Mondelez International Inc., grocery stores are choosing to give better play to fresh food, prepared hot meals, and items from local upstarts more in favor with increasingly health-conscious consumers. 
“We’ve got to maximize return on our shelf space,” said Don Fitzgerald, vice president of merchandising at Mariano’s, a Chicago grocery chain bought by Kroger Co. in 2015. Shoppers, he said, are drawn to steamy pasta at the store’s deli counter, rather than a box of dried macaroni with powdered cheese sitting on the shelf for weeks.
Student who worked in Chinese iPhone factory explains why manufacturing jobs aren't coming back to the U.S. (video) (LINK)

a16z Podcast: The Rise of the Digital ‘Pill’ (LINK)

How I Built This podcast -- Lady Gaga & Atom Factory: Troy Carter (LINK)
As a kid, Troy Carter dreamed of being a rapper, but soon discovered he was a better manager than a musician. He took Lady Gaga from obscurity to stardom – helping shape both her music and her brand. Then he turned his gift for spotting talent to spotting investment opportunities with his company Atom Factory.
Elon Musk at the TED Conference: The future we're building — and boring (video) (LINK)
Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, the latest from Tesla and SpaceX and his motivation for building a future on Mars in conversation with TED's Head Curator, Chris Anderson.