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The view to the top


Jurgis
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Did you ever think about being the best?  

100 members have voted

  1. 1. Did you ever think about being the best?

    • I am the best
    • No, never thought about it
    • Thought about it, but I don't care
    • Thought about it, gonna try to make it there
    • Thought about it, but won't make it there
    • I'd rather be the worst


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Starting thread from:

 

Overall, maybe I should start a new thread about living as (maybe) above average person but seeing that you'd never be the best in anything. Interesting feeling. 8) Though might be more applicable to all INTJs here.  ;)

 

difference between being in top 2% versus top .000001% ? i think being in the top 2% is not a bad place to be :)

 

I agree.  8) Maybe that's the end of the thread then. :) We'll see.

 

So personally I grew up with some indoctrination that I am the best. There was even some factual evidence for that - in a small pond. Then I went to a big pond and realized that I am far from the best.  :)

 

Since then I've done various things in various areas and periodically I get that thought "hey, what are you doing in this area, you're never gonna be the best in it". Which is right for a couple of reasons: first, I am not necessarily the most talented person in area X; second, I do too many things while this age rewards specialization to the hilt; third, I am a bit ;) lazy.

 

Anyway, this came back on the other thread where we were discussing the "he who dies with most toys wins" and chess/poker/bridge championships. I also watched "Jobs", "The Theory of Everything", and "The Imitation Game" in last couple of days, which also brought back this theme.

 

Anyway, Jim Rogers said - talking about expats - that it's better to be medium fish in big pond than top fish in small pond (I am paraphrasing). I actually agree - so I agree with rohitc99 too. But perhaps people have interesting insights from their own life.  8)

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With investing & poker the point is not to be the world #1. You just have to be better than the people you play with. If you play for the marbles, that is .. For lots of people that is very hard though, they rather play with the best of the best, make sick bluffs and epic laydowns (in poker) or make macro calls, try to pick ten-bagger growth stocks and speculate on the future of controversial large caps (in investing). The drive (to prove yourself) that makes you want to beat everybody in chess, soccer or videogames is not necessarily an advantage in investing.

 

Even on this forum people have a tendency to spend (in my not so humble opinion) far too much time and energy on controversial stocks & calls like BH, AMZN, VRX, ASPS, OCN, a Grexit or Japan macro-economics. These discussions are fun and I participate in them too but the average poster would probably be better off looking at all the obscure micro-cap threads with 5 replies. And this forum is actually a pretty nice place, on a site like SeekingAlpha people spend even more time proving how smart they are.

 

Disclaimer: I love chess. And videogames. I probably suck at investing.

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Good thoughts, writser!  8)

 

I'd still love to have the 10 year streak of 30-50% returns like Joel Greenblatt and/or Stan Druckenmiller haha. Or a knockout 10x (?) like Mike Burry big short.

 

But yeah, slow and steady is not bad in the end... if you're not Joel/Stan/Mike.

 

Edit: Aside (?) - I've never been good with microcap investing. I prefer "Buffettology". I think my only claims to the very limited fame are keeping at it for almost 20 years now and buying-buying-buying in 2008-2009. ;D

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Even on this forum people have a tendency to spend (in my not so humble opinion) far too much time and energy on controversial stocks & calls like BH, AMZN, VRX, ASPS, OCN, a Grexit or Japan macro-economics. These discussions are fun and I participate in them too but the average poster would probably be better off looking at all the obscure micro-cap threads with 5 replies. And this forum is actually a pretty nice place, on a site like SeekingAlpha people spend even more time proving how smart they are.

 

Disclaimer: I love chess. And videogames. I probably suck at investing.

 

writser

I agree with your point a 100%. i have been guilty of the same thing often. To give a brief background, i have invested in india for 15+ years focussing on small and midcaps and done fairly well. However in an effort to 'feel' smarter i decided to try my luck in options, oil stocks and other commodities and got my head handed to me. Instead of feeling smart, i ended feeling dumber.

 

I think munger said this in the poor charlie's almanac to the effect, that not everyone can be the no.1 player in tennis, but if you work hard enough and focus on your area of advantage you can come the top plumber or something to that effect, in bemidji.

 

I am now focussed on finding my own bemidji :)

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Munger also has another relevant quote here:

 

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent. There must be some wisdom in the folk saying: "It's the strong swimmers who drown."
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Certainly, the aggressive chip-on-your shoulder attitude in other competitions is probably counter-productive in investing. I often remind myself of the guy Buffett mentioned (the name escapes me) who was one of Grahams disciples who made a killing in the 60's using leverage but was later wiped out. Buffett said something to the effect, he was in the rush, but why, we were all certain to get very rich.

 

But I want to elaborate on the point I made in the other thread that helped to start this thread. I treat investing as a competition because there is an opponent in every trade. Each trade you do is a bet, and on the other side of the trade is someone taking the opposite bet.

 

So some traits from competition may be helpful.  For example, we all remember how painful 08 and 09 was. I was able to buy during that time because I was so pissed and exasperated that the market was going into the toilet. I was crying but also angry at the market sellers. So each purchase I made (which was difficult) I thought to myself I was punishing someone on the other side for panicking.

 

So I don't necessarily want to be the best, I just want to beat the guy on the other side of the trade!

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't really know what being the "best" means.  I want to be happy and to the extent that correlates with achieving above average returns it is meaningful.  But if you have everything you need, a lot of the things you want and some of what you desire than you should be ok.  Whether you are top 2%, top 5% or top .000001% its your attitude/appreciation that will make the biggest difference.

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I don't really know what being the "best" means.

 

This thread is not about being happy, financially secure, etc. :) It's about being on top. :)

(Not that I will try to enforce this - OT's are totally fine and encouraged :) )

 

Sure, we can argue whether Einstein or Hawking is on top, but we pretty much know they both are. Similarly Buffett in investing. Elon Musk in space business and electric car business. Jobs in leading integrated gadget design. We might know the best in more restricted fields that are familiar to us. E.g. the best low power GPU designer, the best researcher in TaiChi medical applications, the best vegetarian chef in NYC, etc.

 

Edit: so yes, it is about .000001% and our attitudes towards it: do we care/don't care, want to make it there, not, etc.

 

It would be great to know what the people who voted "I am the best" think they are best in. :) (Mr. Buffett, did you vote? ;) ).

I doubt they will speak up though. :) Maybe they were just taking it lightly and voted for fun. :)

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I was always the smartest kid back in school, but as I've grown I've had to accept that there are many much smarter people and more diligent than me in every field out there in the big world.

 

That's why I try to be a generalist. I'll never be the smartest, but luckily enough investing is a field in which you can do pretty well over a long time and end up at or near the top in the end. I don't think there is any one sector in which even Buffett is the most knowledgeable in the world. Maybe, maybe insurance, but then again there is Ajit Jain. Investing is like decathlon, not the 100 meters.

 

That said, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want to be recognized as very good. However, I think there is so much in investing that is about delaying gratification. Constantly comparing yourself to others in this field is mind poison.

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I saw a report the other day and some scientists were saying the ultimate fate of the universe is a "big crunch" in which  gravitational forces will slow the expansion of the universe, reverse it, and eventually pull all matter back into a single point.  I think that even if that doesn't happen humans are destined for extinction just like every other species.  Kind of puts it in perspective how important it is to be the best.

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I saw a report the other day and some scientists were saying the ultimate fate of the universe is a "big crunch" in which  gravitational forces will slow the expansion of the universe, reverse it, and eventually pull all matter back into a single point.  I think that even if that doesn't happen humans are destined for extinction just like every other species.  Kind of puts it in perspective how important it is to be the best.

 

Now that you put it this way, I am gonna pack my bags and go sip mai tais in Hawaii waiting for that big crunch. Screw working and investing!  8)

 

Edit: OMG really worthy 500th post!!! 8) ;D

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I saw a report the other day and some scientists were saying the ultimate fate of the universe is a "big crunch" in which  gravitational forces will slow the expansion of the universe, reverse it, and eventually pull all matter back into a single point.  I think that even if that doesn't happen humans are destined for extinction just like every other species.  Kind of puts it in perspective how important it is to be the best.

 

Now that you put it this way, I am gonna pack my bags and go sip mai tais in Hawaii waiting for that big crunch. Screw working and investing!  8)

 

Edit: OMG really worthy 500th post!!! 8) ;D

 

Jurgis,

 

With your recent topic questions, it appears you are transforming from investor to philosopher.  There is an appeal to packing up bags and moving to a completely different environment if it weren't for kids and responsibility.  Wouldn't consider it running away but exploring further.

 

Regarding the best, who's to say that anyone is the best?  Sure people could be grouped as being the best group but hard to single out someone.  To open a can of worms, it's certainly possible that Buffett isn't the best investor out there.  He's certainly great but there could be guys out there who would have been or are better than Buffett but we've never heard of him.  Personally, I would rather be Joel Greenblatt than Warren Buffett.  But maybe this is off a completely different topic.

 

And then is the hook of being the best more to receive the recognition from others?  Meaning if you were actually the best but no one knew, is that the same as being "recognized" as being the best if you really aren't the best?

 

Sorry if I'm completely off tangent here.

 

Best,

 

AtlCDore

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Munger also has another relevant quote here:

 

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent. There must be some wisdom in the folk saying: "It's the strong swimmers who drown."

 

In skydiving, it's usually the experienced skydivers you read about killing themselves.  Usually doing something stupid (aka: technically difficult).

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