Leadership, Self-Revelation, Why?

Beta and Super Friends

I started investing in the US stock market my second year of business school. I thought it was just part what you do in business school; drink coffee, read Financial Times and invest in stocks. I thought I’d try to apply what I learned in class to pay back some of those student loans a little quicker. Bad idea but that isn’t the point.

In order to improve your chances of a decent return when you invest in securities like stocks, there are certain technical analysis ratios that you’re supposed to use evaluate and predict returns. Beta is one of those magical ratios.

Beta ratio gauges the volatility of a security by comparing it to the performance of a related benchmark over a period of time. To keep it simple, investors use beta to see how downside capture they can expect from an investment.

From Investopedia

The baseline number for alpha is zero (investment performed exactly to market expectations), but the baseline number for beta is one. A beta of one is an indication that the security’s price moves exactly as the market moves. If the beta is less than one, the security experiences less severe price swings than the market. Conversely, a beta above one means that the security’s price has been more volatile than the market as a whole.

While a positive alpha is always more desirable than a negative one, evaluating beta is not so black and white. Many investors – being risk-averse – prefer to have a lower beta; however, some investors are willing to target a higher beta, hoping to capture higher returns and cash in on the higher volatility.

Most of these ratios are historically leaning. They use information from past to predict future results. It’s difficult and next to impossible to find a magical ratio that can give you vision into future performance.

Well this is true most of the time. The best investors will tell you to take a long term approach in building value. However, The upside in the public market will never match the multiples on an investment when the company is private. It’s way more risky, but at the end of the day, you get in on the ground floor and are compensated come IPO. (most of the time)

I’ve found investing in relationships to be very similar to investing in companies. There’s a ton of information out on how to do them, products and services around improving both processes, and risk with both investments. And the secret to success in both is pretty similar as well.

Creating a group of friends, associates, or colleagues that are super successful doesn’t happen overnight. Actually, its pretty close to impossible to create this type of super network without putting in a lot of work early on. Yes, the secret to it all is meeting people before they are successful and supporting them on their pathway to success. It starts with some self reflection.What value to you bring to the table? What is your unique advantage?  Understanding your strengths will help evaluate what your value add is to other people’s quest to success.

Second, you’ll need a good understanding of what potential for success looks like early on in the journey. Have you met someone that has more hustle than anyone you’ve ever met? Do you know someone that seems to have the Midas touch? People give hints of greatness and are just waiting for people to believe and support them.

Lastly, give. Once you’ve identified who and how you can support, give. Think about how you can build them up through relationships and the opportunities you have access to.

To be concise; Get in early, build value, reap the rewards.

#MentalNote, Current Events, Education, History, Self-Revelation, Why?

Sapiens and the Oscars

I have very few newsletters that I hold in such high esteem as Farnam Street. If you enjoy thinking about things in new ways and awesome book recommendations, I suggest you sign up here. It’s so good, I’m giving a free shout out. The newsletter will change your life, but I digress.

One of the most recent book recommendations from the Farnam Street is called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.   I haven’t gotten a chance to read the book yet but I was totally enthralled with the descriptions in the newsletters. It’s definitely on my to read list.

One of the most important takeaways from the book is captured in this short quote below:

What was the Sapiens’ secret of success? How did we manage to settle so rapidly in so many distant and ecologically different habitats? How did we push all other human species into oblivion? Why couldn’t even the strong, brainy, cold-proof Neanderthals survive our onslaught? The debate continues to rage. The most likely answer is the very thing that makes the debate possible: Homo sapiens conquered the world thanks above all to its unique language.

Most people would agree that language was a huge game changer but not for the reason you’d think:

As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched, or smelled. Legends, myths, gods, and religions appeared for the first time with the Cognitive Revolution. Many animals and human species could previously say ‘Careful! A lion! Thanks to the Cognitive Revolution, Homo sapiens acquired the ability to say. ‘The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.’ This ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language…You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven. 

To Harari, the most important function of language is we can describe things we cannot see or understand. “It is our collective fiction that defines us” By doing this, human beings are better suited to work in large groups effectively and flexibly than other animals. Real world applications of this is state, religious, fraternal, or basic assumptions we take as truth.

The collective myth and our ability to believe or not, is what differentiates us from other animals. To be clear, not all of these myths are lies but some of them are. We believe them because the opposite is too difficult to handle. For example, sapiens are horrible at evaluating talent or a subjective “best”. We’ve seen it in finance, education, entertainment, and other industries. We rely on human evaluations and get burnt. We consistently overvalue and undervalue, which leads to faulty and less than ideal outcomes. If we look at this from Harari’s perspective, we’ve bought into the myth that we can make objective evaluations.

Earlier last week, the Academy released their nominees for the Oscars. There were complaints about the lack of diversity in the nominees. I agree, there should be more representation, especially from a 2015 that saw quality movies from minority leads. However, its a symptom of a larger myth; A group of industry leaders can make an objective evaluation on what are some of the best performances the year prior. I say this as a huge Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan fan. (None of them have won Oscars)

I’ve started to take human informed decisions with a grain of salt. I can’t afford to buy into the idea that a group of us can make the best decision. Now, believing that is difficult to handle because it has implications larger than the Academy Awards. I’ll just let your mind wander…

#MentalNote, Random, Self-Revelation, Why?

2016 New Years Revelations

A couple of things to note:

  1. These are very random
  2. They are a mix of inference, prophecy, facts, and hunches.
  3. We’re just trying to have fun out here. I welcome other less serious revelations.

 

Kanye West will own 2016

After the birth of his second child, Kanye is grounded and ready to give the world some fire. He was supposed to have a CD in 2015 but that didn’t work out…. Too busy making clothes I guess. He’s going to get back to the music with a vengeance in 2016 and I’m here for it.  I see a game changing album along with great features from Kanye in 2016. He will also establish the ground game for his 2020 presidential campaign.

The Irrational shall inherit the Earth (Just the US)

I watch politics like my brother watches NBA Basketball. I’m not watching to see who wins but the process by which they beat their opponent. The Presidential elections have been more entertaining than season 3 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. (I personally think that was the best season but I digress) I thought I had a handle on this election but current events created a new set of variables that have the potential to change the outcome of the primary and general election. The electorate have a dangerous level of fear that I haven’t seen since the early cold war. As a result, you can count on citizens to make irrational decisions on who would be best to deal with their fears. Pre San Bernadino, I thought this would be an easy Democratic victory, but now, Republicans are in their element and I see a Republican pathway to the white house.

3D printing will go Mainstream

Based on Product lifecycle (if you believe in that stuff) 3D printing will move from Early Adopters to the early majority. I see a lot of potential especially as the technology goes down in cost.

If you’re African and interested in Business, learn Mandarin next year

On a serious note…. Zimbabwe adopts the Yuan as legal tender and China commits 600 billion to development around Africa? No matter what the west says, China is in Africa to stay. I got to the Enugu Airport in Nigeria, only to see a new terminal being built by Chinese contractors. China may have been around but next year will be something to watch with so much capital, people and other recourses flowing into Africa.

Reemergence of Boy Bands

I just have a gut feeling on this one, Boy Bands are coming back.

I’ll be adding more as I think of them but that’s all for now…. What are some of your new years revelations/ prophecies?

Self-Revelation, Technology

Growning up

Less is more

The older I get, the more I realize that life is extremely complicated. We decide  how complicated we want our lives to be. For me, I’ve decided to simplify over the years.

Following the very similar design philosophy I use to build products, I’ve decided to simplify all parts of my life.  Everything is going down to the “minimal viable product” necessary to work.

The best example I can use here is my phone. We’ve all been duped into thinking we need an app for everything. Based on a Nielsen study from 2012, the average US phone has 41 apps downloaded . That’s a lot of apps! I had over 60 apps downloaded on my phone. I’ve got it down to 15 and looking for more to cut.

When you simplify, you focus on what’s truly important. I hope to replicate my app deletion frenzy in other areas of my life….like my shoes. (Yes, I have a shoe problem)

Self-Revelation

What are your Trophies?

“E’rybody want they trophy.
What is that supposed to tell me that you did somethin?
I don’t need no God damn trophy or award or, recognition.
I do this shit cause I love to do this shit!
All these kids nowadays, all these – all these young people.
They gotta have some type of shiny material posession
or some shit that shows that they did somethin!
They gotta have a trophy, they gotta have an award.
They gotta have a nice lookin girl, and a
a nice car and some rims and a gold chain!
We don’t need to know that you done some shit – just do it!
God damn trophies.”

I heard this in the intro to Apollo Brown & OC  mix tape I recently downloaded. I have to say I agree with his premise. You should be intrinsically motivated to achieve your goals and dreams. However, when you think about trophies and the process of receiving them, it is rarely just for the person receiving it. Trophies to people who don’t have them stand as something to aspire to with the hope that with enough hard work and dedication, you too can have one. Ultimately, a trophy (in the metaphorical and literal sense) is something to aspire to, but your intrinsic motivation (love, drive, etc.) is what will help you through the difficult times. What are some of your trophies?

 

Idea!!!, Self-Revelation
Blog it out
Blog=ideas+soapbox+ accountability

After a summer long hiatus, I’m back! I started business school in DC and now I’m on the grad school grind. I’m really going to do it this time! I’m really going to keep up with this blog or die trying. Keep me accountable people.

Self-Revelation, Uncategorized

Desiderata

Image

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

© Max Ehrmann 1927