This Week I Learned #3

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

FYI - I went on a family vacation in the middle of the week so the learnings incorporate the period of the 2 weeks I wasn't on vacation. Or some real good learnings I had whilst on vacation that I wanted to add. 


  • Wise: From Simon Sinek's "Start with Why." I learned about how the decision making component of our brain is actually the reptile limbic brain. Which is also the part of our brain that deals with emotion. It has brought on more clarity on how most decision making is irrational, for we make them with our limbic brain, but we rationalize it through the neocortex by making reasons that make the decision sound logical. It plays into how people will choose to use data/support to rational the choices they would've made anyways


  • Wise: Visited the living quarters of Emperor Frank Joseph and Empress Sisi of the Hapsburg royalty in Vienna. Franz Joseph used to start every day at 3:30am. For someone who was arguably one of the most powerful people at that time to have constantly woken up at such an hour reaffirms my belief that to achieve anything noteworthy reinforcing discipline in your life is extremely important. Also learned that Empress Sisi was assassinated after visiting a friend incognito just meters away from the boat that was supposed to take her home. Such is life it seems. You never know so reminder to not get complacent


  • Healthy: How to make a diet work? Be consistent. Control your calories (i.e. eat less calories to lose weight). Be smart with your macros (i.e. fibrous carbs are better than sugary) and accept it will take time for the effects to last. Consistency is build by habit. Habit takes time. Largest reason for failed diets is inability to stay consistent and give up. Netflix documentary special called "Explained".


  • Wise: "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain. It seems so timely that I would learn about this quote in an interview Adam Robinson did on Tim Ferriss' podcast. Timely because I just finished the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek and also because it's been the question I've been wrestling with for the last 6 months. It's a tough question for anyone to answer but it seems to be the most important question to answer for me. I think life would be cut into 2 parts at this point. The first part being the search for your Why through various explorations and experiences. The second part being to live out your why and executing on it until death comes for you.


  • Wise: Another perspective story. Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York, was a business major in university. He dropped out, then re-entered as a history major because he wanted to actually study what interested him. He made himself read 100 pages a day for 7-8 years to accumulate knowledge. He felt he was behind his peers because he didn't actually "learn" anything in his first time round in university. 60% of his books were autobiographies and one of his most recommended is Ben Franklin's. As a big fan of Charlie Munger and Ben Franklin, both amazing polymaths this got me super excited and did help re-prioritize finishing the Ben Franklin autobiography I started. Brandon went onto become a bond trader as a history major and I think it just proves to show how choosing paths that genuinely interest you and are the depiction of your authentic self will lead you to follow a life that will defy the status quo's pre-conceived beliefs. 


  • Wealthy: Finally got around to reading Howard Mark's newest memo. For those who don't know, he is the founder of Oaktree Capital management and his memos are of the few I believe provide valuable insight. This one spoke in length about passive investing, machine learning/AI, and quant investing. A key learning was George Soros' Theory of Reflexivity, which says the behaviour of the market participants will impact the market. Hence the market will continue to change dynamically and the facts from the past are not reflective of the future. Key theory to consider in a world where people will grab anything from the past to forecast. Also, another quote: "There is nothing reliable to be learned about making money. If there were, study would be intense and everyone with a positive IQ would be rich." - John Kenneth Galbraith.
  • Also, this is my 2-cents inspired by Mark's memo: Passive investing is an oxymoron. Every ETF strategy, even the selection of what people call the S&P 500 have rules set by humans. Every robo-advisor or smart-beta ETF still has a person behind it depicting the rules. Ergo, it's still people vs. people. Just means it's less people vs. people now with growing popularity of index/passive/etf investing. Passive investing was built on a reliance for active investors to be the price setters in the market. So I can't fathom a world where active won't exist for it that happens, passive investing will lose all meaning. This is because passive investors are trying to be average, not win nor lose. But if active guys who do the winning and losing are gone, the passives will now win or lose and then it will just look stupid at that point. 

Daniel LeeTWIL