Random Musings: Process

Cramer. In an insatiable search to consume as much information as efficiently as possible, I took a friend’s advice and recently began listening to Jim Cramer’s nightly Mad Money show via podcast. While he is a bit over the top in his rhetoric, he is very effective. Unlike his “Fast Money” CNBC colleagues, he is laser focused on the fundamental direction of companies he highlights. And while he has a growth/momentum bent, he is excellent at identifying medium-term fundamental factors that drive sector rotations. Plus, you really have to hand it to the guy – even the best investors and traders are right only 60% (pick a number) of the time, and he’s going out there every single night opining on a vast swath of the market. Unlike anonymous Twitter traders, he cannot rewrite analysis and trading history. 

But while laser-focused on the fundamentals, he is a hedge funder at heart, and thus a slave to momentum. As such, he is a wonderful gauge of broad market sentiment; and often times a contrarian indicator on out-of-favor stocks. 

So to rank the benefits of listening to Mad Money: 

  1. Relatively deep commentary and analysis on a wide swath of the market 
  2. CEO interviews 
  3. Medium-term fundamental trends 
  4. Live look at how a momentum/trader hedge funder sees the current market landscape 
  5. Contrarian indicator 
  6. Often quite humorous, if not taken too seriously 

Twitter. I recently discontinued regular use of Twitter, and most forms of social media. I am not even two months in, and I already know it was one of the greatest LIFE epiphanies I have had. 

While the combination of this blog and Twitter has been quite powerful for my small, little world – and something I had to fully experience in order to eventually arrive at said epiphany – I eventually arrived at the conclusion that social media is fundamentally toxic to deep thinking

Deep thinking requires reading and reflection with minimal distraction. So while Twitter is an enormously valuable tool for news curation, community analysis (for lack of a better term for bouncing ideas off others), and networking, the inherent nature of a constant stream of “short form” everything is hideously incompatible with deep thinking, and thus forming a high-conviction, self-constructed opinion. 

The ability to read/consume information and develop in-person relationships, all day long, in a distraction free manner creates a natural build up of thought, reflection and analysis that is all better expressed via longer-form writing such as this. Tweeting in 140 character thought, by definition, shortens the thought process. 

Obviously this conclusion is not for everyone. Many folks in the investment arena are far more adept than me at handling a far bigger information load…while regularly tweeting highly pertinent conclusions and theses. I have simply found that process does not work for me. 

Concentration. I started the 17 Mile strategy and project in June 2014. As I will expand on at a later date, my biggest failure – yet utterly necessary for long-term development – was to base 17 Mile on a highly aggressive startegy designed for a small portion of a total portfolio. 

Akin to the experience with Twitter, I had to experience the daily mental grind of running such an aggressive strategy in “public” in order to eventually arrive at the mental relief a more normal, less aggressive investment strategy brought. 

Time. The older I become and the more experience I gain, the more I “appreciate” not only how long it takes everything to work out, but also how much of a waste of time it is to try to unecessarily speed things up. 

Do I try to consume as much information and improve myself as rapidly as possible everyday, as if the world is about to end? Yes. But I can do that while simultaneously thinking slowly and deeply about the long-term…on everything. 

This applies to all areas of life, but particularly investing. 

With my original 17 Mile strategy I attempted to bring the future forward by aggressively managing for short- and medium-term performance. In other words, rather than thinking “fast and slow”, I was thinking “fast and fast” to the detriment of the long-term. 

A far less aggressive, concentrated strategy allows me to think slowly and deeply about the long-term, while thinking and acting fast in the short-term via rapid information consumption and personal improvement.

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