Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Influential Reads – April 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Four books this month.  No reason to read the news; nobody knows anything.  

Updated stats through April:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total34911

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. On Bridge Loans and Bankruptcy – “Using the bankruptcy code in this way would allow the United States to help firms (albeit, likely slightly larger ones than mom-and-pops) in a predictable, known, guaranteed way while also protecting tax payers from taking significant downside risk positions in an ad-hoc and convoluted matter via bridge loans (if they are feasible at all, which I doubt)”
  2. Why We Focus on Trivial Things: The Bikeshed Effect – “The Law of Triviality states that the amount of time spent discussing an issue in an organization is inversely correlated to its actual importance in the scheme of things.”
  3. Capitalists or Cronyists? – “CNBC/Trump want to protect current equity holders at the expense of future generations with rescue packages that explode the deficit.”
  4. The First Modern Pandemic – “It is important to realize that this is not just the result of government policies restricting activities. When people hear that an infectious disease is spreading widely, they change their behavior. There was never a choice to have the strong economy of 2019 in 2020.”
  5. You Should Do More $10,000 per Hour Work – “There’s one thing you’ll never see in a casino. A clock.”
  6. How to Be a Better Listener – “Pretend you’re doing improv, and that you can only react in the moment to what the other person is saying, rather than planning out the next three steps in the conversation.”
  7. What Would You Have Done in 2009? – “Have enough liquid reserves available but avoid an addiction to cash.”  SMS here: Would you say the same thing if you have gone through the Great Depression?  
  8. Victory is Inevitable (Part 2) – “Now is also a good time to be working, engaged in an activity that helps the economy and helps other people. Being busy at a time like this can be a blessing for your mental health. And its good to have money coming in to drip-feed into assets whilst they’re on sale…this won’t last forever.”
  9. Becoming An Investing Buddha – “Rather, it’s the ability to handle good and bad times with equanimity, combined with courage and decisiveness, that really matters in the long run.”
  10. Thoreau on Hard Work – “The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. There will be a wide margin for relaxation to his day”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Influential Reads – March 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two books this month.  And lots of articles. Apparently there was some stuff to read about going on.

Updated stats through March:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total34911

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. To be free, stop caring what others think – “Tranquility comes when you stop caring what they say think, or do. Only what you do.”
  2. Bird in the Hand – “If you are able, increase your 401(k) savings to front load contributions for the year.”
  3. Why Leaders Need Meditation Now More Than Ever – “On the contrary, starting the day with a few minutes of meditation can help you center and calm fear-based thoughts.”
  4. Muni Bonds Have Started to Rally. Why You Should Get on Board — and Where to Find Bargains – “Muni yields are currently almost double those on Treasuries, a rare occurrence.”
  5. What’s in Congress’s $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package – “Democrats: Won language that would bar any business owned by President Donald Trump or his family from getting loans from Treasury. Businesses owned by members of Congress, heads of executive departments and Vice President Mike Pence also would be blocked.” Stephen here, good for them, but wondering if golf courses are considered essential businesses?
  6. The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming – “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.”
  7. The Virus Infecting MLPs – “But the delevering of MLP CEFs has exacerbated the drop for everyone.”
  8. Calm also has a coefficient – “Being up-to-date on the news is a trap and a scam. Five minutes a day is all you need.”
  9. Flowing Uphill: Tips for Efficient Skinning – “The irony of efficient skinning is that you are practicing something as basic as walking uphill, but touring is a sport of subtleties and you get better with every step you take … just in very small increments.”
  10. Coming Back to Powerful Habits – “In fact, coming back to a habit might be the most powerful habit of all.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

That’s A Bunch Of…

Reading Time: < 1 minute

As an Associate in an investment bank more than a decade ago, I had to clear all trades with our compliance department.  If we started to do business with a firm, regardless of whether I knew anything about it, I could get locked into or out of a position indefinitely.  And trust me, about the only thing I was influencing was Excel.

Senators can’t rely on ‘my adviser did it’ excuse to dodge insider-trading questions

So, yeah.  This is total bullshit.

I would pay to see Martha Stewart go batshit crazy on these people. 

Proving the Negative

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Oh, just sitting around trying to prove the negative.

  • That I do not have the novel corona virus.
  • That none of my family has the novel corona virus.
  • That the economy is not falling off a cliff.
  • That the world is not ending.

Proving the negative is very difficult. Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

Lots of Fear

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We flew from Columbus to Salt Lake City on Saturday.

I think Mrs. SFTE and I did a decent job of evaluating the risks and potential scenarios and making a rational decision to go on Spring Break.  We’re prepared to be stranded here in Utah. We didn’t count on all the ski resorts closing. Still waiting on the news that they’re closing all the country clubs and golf courses too.

Ironically, I think we’re safer here for the moment.  We’re much more socially isolated than if we were home.  Picture snotty nosed neighbor kids knocking on my back door and asking my daughter to play.  Good luck stopping that one. And I am not going into work – probably the second riskiest action aside from my daughter going to school (I think the latter won’t be a problem for the rest of the school year). 

Side note:  Figure out which insurance companies provide private school tuition insurance and short the #$%@ out of them.  You know I’m reviewing that contract when I get home.

The fear is palpable.  That’s a cliche. But a true one.  Don’t cough on the plane. You’ll be treated like someone wearing a turban on a flight back in the early 2000s.

Lots of suspicion behind everyone’s eyes.  That’s all you could see on us. We wore surgical masks.  We know the experts said you didn’t need to. We figured they just said that because there weren’t any masks to be had (or hoard). 

Instead, please hoard toilet paper and water.  Rookie preppers. Now the rest of the country knows what it is like to prepare for a hurricane.

I do not mean to marginalize anything here.  These are historic times. Another cliche. I commend the public officials taking bold actions.  I don’t even mind that you cut my ski season short (I was going to get 30 days in this season). 

However, it does demonstrate the downside of deploying a policy of saying whatever you feel like will get the response that you want.  It’s called an erosion of trust. Nobody believes a word you say. Or maybe more precisely everyone knows that every word that comes out of your mouth is based on your own personal agenda of getting what you want at that moment.  But might not be grounded in any truth or facts. Thank you, Mr. President.

Unfortunately, we need truth and facts right now.  Or else the fear is going to escalate.

Influential Reads – February 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Read another book – look at me: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.  I owe you a book report.

Updated stats through February:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total34911

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus – “The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus.”
  2. This Is What You Should Read Every Day – “The other “book” I pick up each day is a journal.”
  3. Is PE Having Its WeWork Moment…??? – “Without capital for a new fund, you need to have an actual third-party monetization event—either a sale to a strategic or an IPO.”
  4. What If The Key To Performance Psychology Is Spirituality? – “When progress is measured in terms of learning and development, there is no longer the same ego-attachment to short-term financial returns. The goal becomes learning and improving.”
  5. Amid All the Good Economic News This Week, Beware This ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ – “Helicopter money will work for Joe Sixpack much more effectively than it will for Mike Moneybags—and so it will be much more widely popular,” Edwards contends.
  6. Don’t Just Memorize Your Next Presentation — Know It Cold – “Knowing it exceptionally well paradoxically frees you to be more natural and responsive in the moment.”
  7. The 3 Simple Steps to Stopping Negative Self-Talk – “But stopping negative self-talk can be hard. It’s a pattern of thought that’s likely very well established in your brain and follows a track of well-worn ruts”
  8. AirPods, Azure & Auschwitz – “Facebook’s eager willingness to continue the spread of lies, coupled with a business model built on algorithms that amplify rage, threatens our society. Technology has given a 35-year-old the singular ability to monetize propaganda by antivaxers, climate change sceptics, and Holocaust deniers. To lack the will to reign in Facebook, is apathy that enables tyranny, much less the spread of polio in Pakistan.”
  9. The Case for Generalists – “It takes time — and often forgoing a head start — to develop personal and professional range, but it is worth it.”
  10. Digital Minimalism for Parents – “Any successful attempt to instill in your kids a healthier relationship with technology has to start with modeling this relationship in your own life.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Influential Reads – January 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Books!  I read books.  Mostly fiction, but hey, that counts too.

Updated stats through January:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total34911

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. As Stephen Colbert opens up about his anxiety, panic attack sufferers tell us how they cope at work – “‘You’re looking at it.’ Just tight circles around the couch.”
  2. It’s Time to Take Another Look at Energy Stocks, a Top Advisor Says – “One thing that’s not going away is the demand for energy, whether it’s drawn from the ground, the sun, or the wind, she says.”
  3. Why You Should Hire an Executive Coach (and What to Look For) – “Behind every great athlete there is an even greater coach.”
  4. To Fight Climate Change, One City May Ban Heating Homes With Natural Gas – “Last year, Berkeley, Calif., became the first city in the country to ban natural gas in newly constructed low-rise residential buildings.”
  5. Why the most important hedge is against unexpected inflation – “But the reasons for quiescent inflation in the face of low unemployment and the secular decline in interest rates are not fully understood.”
  6. Discipline is Hard – “Since the bottom of the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis, anything an investor did to diversify risk away from S&P 500 Index detracted from performance.”
  7. The Most Disruptive Trend of the Decade – “The US consumer, having had more disposable income, has been freed up to spend more on data services, wifi, smartphones, vacationing, second homes, luxury pickups and SUVs, upscale fast food, yoga clothes, video games, celebrity cosmetics and $500 pairs of Yeezy’s and limited edition Air Jordans.”
  8. How to Stop Thinking About Work at 3am – “Instead of looking at this as a learning experience, albeit a painful one, for future board meetings, she played it back in her mind over and over again, beating herself up, and lost sleep over it for weeks.” Stephen here – only weeks, you went easy on yourself!
  9. On Monks and Email – “Except unlike our deep working medieval forebears, the modern knowledge work organization seems to care little about cultivating and supporting this fundamental activity.”
  10. Double Loop Learning: Download New Skills and Information into Your Brain – “Meaningful learning doesn’t happen without focused effort.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Influential Reads – December 2019

Reading Time: 2 minutes

December was busy.  Budgeting, year end projects, and skiing twelve days in a row is all hard work!

Updated stats through December:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total34911

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. The real scam of ‘influencer’ – “Part of the scam is that the pyramid scheme of attention will somehow pay off for a lot of people.” Stephen here: this is my vote for the part of the economy to get the biggest wake-up call during the next downturn (i.e., mortgage brokers in 2007 – no more $30 filet at Cheesecake Factory for you!)
  2. An End to War! – “They are memes of An End to War!, good-sounding narrative constructs structured to pretend that stand-off weapons, cruise missile strikes, targeted assassinations and UAVs are not part of what needs to end, but things we will define as not being acts of war at all.”
  3. Social Media’s Shift Toward Misery – “The largest effect we found in our entire meta-analysis was the negative correlation between well-being and SNS content consumption.”.
  4. Time arbitrage and the art of reading a book – “Books represent the culmination of decades of education on the part of the author and years of writing. Yet we have access to them oftentimes for free. The only investment we need make is the time to read them. This asymmetry is one we should all be taking advantage of.”
  5. Hyakujos Fox – “Accumulating wealth and power are just games we play.”
  6. Sunday Firesides: Simplicity Is Not Laziness – “By all means, ruthlessly cut out those commitments that don’t contribute to your desires, but ensure that which fills the gap does.”
  7. The attention crisis is real – “And each of us gets the same amount of attention to spend each day. It’s a competitive advantage to figure out how to focus it to get something done.”
  8. The Lies We Tell – “We tell ourselves stories that are convincing, cheap, and often wrong.”
  9. The Electoral College’s Real Problem: It’s Biased Toward the Big Battlegrounds – “A winner-take-all system within states can produce results counter to the majority for no high-minded reason.”
  10. The Art of Decision-Making – “He points out that Benjamin Franklin used a more advanced pro-and-con technique: in what Franklin called “Prudential Algebra,” a numerical weight is assigned to each listed item, and counterbalancing items are then eliminated.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.