Please find below my newsletter for February 2016, a list of what I’m reading, enjoying, learning and thinking. If you like the content below be sure to sign up for more using the sign up box on the right of this page.

What I’m Reading

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

This is one of the best books I have read in years. A must read for those starting in a career or perhaps thinking of changing direction or starting a business. Cal Newport has done the research on career satisfaction and discovers that working with your passion is not as important as being good at what you do and continuing striving to become better. This leads to “career capital”; building in your chosen niche leading to better jobs, pay and work satisfaction.

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein

A look at the history of probability and understanding risk that leads into how those techniques are used to today in investment risk management. I found it surprising that the concepts of quantifying risk and basic statistics are relatively new. As our learning progresses so do our methods of working with probability and risk. My conclusion is that we must remain rational and question every decision to ensure that is it truly rational not an automatic human reaction.

Markets

Two investment experts that I highly respect, Howard Marks and Robert Shiller, have a view different to the current doubt in the market caused by China slowdown worries:

Howard Marks thesis in his January 2016 memo What Does the Market Know? struck an accord me:

“I want to end by making one thing completely clear. I’m not saying the market is never right when prices go down (or up). I’m merely saying the market has no special insight and conveys no consistently helpful message. It’s not that it’s always wrong; it’s that there’s no reason to presume it’s right. It is the goal of some investors to sell on declines when the subsequent movements will be down, but “buy the dips” when the subsequent movements will be up. If you think you can tell which is which from watching the market movements themselves, then we – again – have a fundamental disagreement. Future price movements can only be predicted on the basis of the relationship between price and fundamentals. And, given the market’s short-term volatility and irrationality, this can only be done in the long-term sense. The market has nothing useful to contribute on this subject.”

Robert Shiller, the Yale University Professor, interviewed on Bloomberg, thinks the market is too focused on China and Oil.

Life

Many thanks to Peter at Breakfreeholdays for this life story about golf bars and jars:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Investments

Liberty Global CEO Friers says low Liberty Price is an opportunity.

Your Business

The Margin Manifesto: 11 Tenets for Reaching (or Doubling) Profitability in 3 Months by Tim Ferriss

My Recent Blog Posts

Trying to decide which is better for you investing in stocks or shares?

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Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: The above does not constitute investment advice. The author has invested in the companies mentioned at the time of writing.

Tim O'Shea
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Tim O'Shea

Fund Manager with 15 years' experience as a successful business owner-manager. Passionate about helping people benefit from the power of long-term investing.
Tim O'Shea
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