Monday, May 20, 2019

Securing the Stream

The beauty of a salary is supposed to be its ability to take away the noise. In a breadwinning male, and homebuilding female world, the storybook suggested a Salary Man could get a good understanding of the ins and outs and life could settle into a rhythm. Enter creative destruction. It is hard to argue against many of the forward steps we have taken as a society, but the individual can get lost in a figure-your-role-out world. Capital can provide an independent Engine. A secure ‘salary-like’ stream that enables the foundation necessary to look at the road rather than your feet. So rather than being forced into rhythmic roles, we can create the melody around a solid beat.

Secure Stream of Water

Friday, May 17, 2019


It takes money to make money. The more generic rule is that growth compounds. You can start from scratch, but the most powerful investment tool is time. Genuine success has progressively less to do with the founder and more to do with institutionalising cooperation in an agreed, creative manner. The tricky bit comes with how to institutionalise unlearning. How to strip out the obstacles without burning the whole institution to the ground. How to introduce seasonality. An autumn of unlearning. A winter of reflection. A spring of change. A summer of delivery. None of this is about any single one of us. It is all about the patterns that spread. That gather momentum. That change the world.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Strength in Now

We often start with the destination in our planning. Dreaming of the type of future we want. Life has thrown me too many curveballs for that to be my approach. I am a bigger believer in strengthening the position I am in now. Strengthening my ability to (1) stay in the game for the long term, and (2) respond to the unexpected in a positive way.  Work on my endurance. Work on my resilience. That puts me in a better position to build a creative daily practice. Micro-ambitious plans that dream, but dream fuzzily. Dream in multiple directions. Dream without fixating. Constantly be learning, adapting, unlearning, building, and rebuilding. Bill Gates says, ‘most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.’ I believe that comes down to a little bit of creativity every day. Consistently compounding.

"Wanderer above a sea of fog"
Caspar David Friedrich

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Social Capital

Warren Buffett made 99% of his wealth since the age of 50. Our World in Data points out average incomes in England were unchanged at around £1,000 in todays terms for the 400 years to 1650. The second part is significantly shorter, to over £30,000 today. Wealth compounds. The personalities disappear. 10,000 plus years laid the groundwork – numbers, words, the internet, travel, laws, shared stories and other bits of the machine that lets us create. Social Capital outlives us all. The key is better coordination and cooperation, with tools for risk control. A world with more fire power, is also a world that needs restraint. When growth explodes, there is value in thinking about the shift to a custodial mindset.

Monday, May 13, 2019


In a lot of cases, the generic product people are selling is Confidence. The world is confusing, ambiguous, complex and random. When someone can paint a simple picture with an aura of certainty, that is attractive. We think in stories. One of our storytelling devices is numbers. Being able to simplify complexity down to a number allows us to compare, prioritise, and decide. It helps us manage the craziness. The challenge is to always remember that numbers aren’t answers. They are questions. The best we can do is build endurance and resilience to help stay in it for the long term, and handle the bumps and dips. No one knows, and only you know what it is you want to create. Only you know what the point is. The answer to that isn’t a number.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Lost in Abstraction

When children think milk comes from the shop rather than the farm, perhaps we have taken abstraction a little too far. The same is true of investments. However you wave your wand, there is a “look through”. Numbers are meaningless in and of themselves, unless they represent something. Fundamental Investing is the attempt to break through the noise and see what is actually happening. I like to think of it as getting my money a job. Listed Equity provides the opportunity to buy a slice of a real business. To become a part owner. I aim to get my money 20-25 jobs. In the same way as a person would do it. Find companies doing something well where you can buy in at an attractive price. Then give the money space and time to get the job done.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

High and Dry

There are two divergent paths that are powerful generic incentivises in problem-solving. The first is “make yourself redundant”, and the second is “make yourself irreplaceable”. The first requires a high degree of trust, or for you to be an owner. To have a stake in solving the problem, rather than just being paid to solve it. If you succeed, without creating a sustainable relationship, then you need to find a new challenge. The second gives you significantly more negotiating power, but feels rather dirty. It becomes a cunning eke-out-the-profit strategy where problems are part-solved, part-created. Not doing your best, because that is not in your interest. Creating your own Engine enables you not to be left high and dry when someone breaks the trust relationship for the first option. Instead of living hand-to-mouth, you are gradually able to get to the point where doing something well replaces playing games as the point.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Playing Games

Sometimes it feels like the only game we play is the "Challenge Card". Challenge is useful, and it is fun. But it is only one tool in the set. It also keeps a bunch of people quiet, because it is quite often unpleasant. Diving in requires developing a thick skin, and a level of detachment.

Rules can help. Kind of like playing touch rugby is much more fun when everyone sticks to the rules. At least then you know what game you are playing. Cricket and Baseball both have bats and balls, but different rules. People know in advance which one they are playing, and then get on with it. Often with a Ref for when emotions run high.

What I have found interesting with the latest iteration of the Public Outrage game are the teams.

I always find it odd when you get (for example) young, black, Christian, women who are openly homophobic. It feels like someone who is in so many difficult categories would have the ability to step back, and extend their empathy. There is something, from my story, that makes me unable to comprehend how someone can think the way they do.

In the "Should Caster be allowed to run" game, the teams are all over the place, but (in South African terms) we are clearly touching people all over their studios. Slap bang in the feels.

There is huge crash between racism, sexism, colonialism, patriotism, and all sorts of stories we tell about ourselves. Stories that matter to us. The cards fall in funny places. There are people I know, and am normally on the "same side as", who feel very differently about things that seem obvious to me. This comes as a big, confusing, pause-for-thought, surprise to me.

"Whenever we are surprised by something, even if we admit that we made a mistake, we say, ‘Oh I’ll never make that mistake again.’ But, in fact, what you should learn when you make a mistake because you did not anticipate something is that the world is difficult to anticipate. That’s the correct lesson to learn from surprises: that the world is surprising." -Daniel Kahneman