I was born with too much energy and too much curiosity. Excess energy has led me to a lifelong pursuit of supreme fitness both as athlete and coach in track and field. Too much curiosity has led me on a lifelong pursuit of wisdom.
Attending one of the great universities in the world had a profound impact on me, and still does to this day. Opening the course syllabus as a freshman, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of how big the universe of human knowledge was and how little I knew about it. It took me about six months to throw aside all career plans (to be a doctor) and dive headlong for the next four years into everything I could possibly learn about anything this great institution had to offer. I studied everything from Shakespeare to epistemology. It wasn’t just a hunger for knowledge. It was a desire to learn what makes the world tick. What has been the driving force of human history, and what will drive it going forward? How do we achieve the greatest heights we are capable of as individuals and as a society of man? Since then, I have never looked back. Every day is a bite of the apple from the tree of wisdom.
Pursuit of wisdom requires going to the root of an issue. While over time this approach pays dividends, as a young child it meant not really feeling like I understood anything. My grandfather used to call me the question man. “If you squeeze cheese, do you get mustard?” was one of the beauties my family never let me forget. My son has advanced further in his questioning. When he was two, just as we were going to sleep, I heard his little voice in the darkness ask “Daddy, does a black hole suck in all the light?”
The word “radical” means “root.” Going to the root of an issue makes you a radical. How can this be? Isn’t it the most complicated equations that pave the path of novelty to change the world? Indeed not. Going to the root of an issue lays bare all that can be improved. Shakespeare pioneered modern English, and no one subsequent English speaker has come close to what he achieved. The Beatles ushered in the mass era for rock and roll and it’s hard to argue that anyone has surpassed their genius.
While the stock market is perhaps the most difficult of human inventions to understand, it is also of vital importance. It is the cumulative intelligence of millions of people motivated to see what the future holds before it happens and price it in today. The stock market guides, indeed motivates the free world to achieve prosperity against the forces of darkness. In this very real sense, the stock market is an indispensable source of wisdom for society.
Grasping the roots of the stock market is a monumental task. Trying to understand what makes this mechanism tick has eluded some of the smartest minds in the world. We do what it tells us to do without understanding why. The market has been a lifetime endeavor for me, so much so that it has helped shape who I am. It has played an important part in transforming me from a head-strong teenager to an open-minded adult. (Yes, I did start following the stock market as a teenager.) Absorbing opposing views is a requirement for an investor because one of those views might be the one that makes the stock price go up, or down. Every day is learning something new, discovering where you were right, and understanding where you were wrong.
And it is not just the stock market the drives us forward. It is the stock market, the economy, and government which combined determine our future as free citizens of this unique country called America. I concentrated in government at college and still take a keen interest in this field. I also spend an inordinate amount of time understanding economics. Markets integrated into the economy managed by government determine the outcome we call fate. Leave out one of these three pieces and you come up short in your explanations. “If you have no interest in government, government will soon take an interest in you.”
“There has never been an artist who on his death bed lamented not having been a banker.” Although I am in an industry akin to banking, I am not a banker. At heart, I am an intellectual and a humanist. But that does not mean I don’t concentrate on building portfolios that give the best appreciation over time for the risks taken.
It has been one of the great joys of my life to pursue such a challenge while at the same time doing it for clients whom I consider family. I have built my clientele from the ground up, from friends, colleagues, athletes, and friends of clients. I follow the stock market and thousands of companies daily but in the end, I am on a mission: To solve a great mystery, and to change profoundly for the better the lives of my clients who mean the world to me. I would want it no other way.