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)
92nd Street Y: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in Conversation with Katie Couric (video) (LINK)
Related book: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry