Tag Archives: Influential Reads

Influential Reads – May 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“I’ve realized a new reason why pessimism sounds smart: optimism often requires believing in unknown, unspecified future breakthroughs—which seems fanciful and naive.’” – Farnam Street

Apologies for the delay here.  We drove from Florida to Utah with some stops in Carlsbad Caverns N.P., Guadalupe Mountains N.P., Santa Fe, NM and Mesa Verde N.P.  That took some time.

Speaking of time, economic / market developments are occurring quite a bit faster than I would have predicted 30 – 60 days ago.

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

  1. How Much Further Can We Fall? – “In 2017, the average company traded at 5.4x forward compared to 7.93x as of this morning. There’s precedent for another halving.”
  2. Sunk costs at work – “Quitting is underrated.”
  3. Was the 1966-1982 Stock Market Really That Bad? – “It’s interesting to note that the 1966-82 period of low stock returns, high inflation, and high wage growth is basically the exact opposite of the current environment of high stock returns, low inflation and stagnating wages.”
  4. If You Think Free Speech Is Defined By Your Ability To Be An Asshole Without Consequence, You Don’t Understand Free Speech (But You Remain An Asshole) – “And when you look closely at the actual debate, it always comes down to “I want to be a disrespectful asshole to people I don’t like, and I don’t want to face any consequences for it.””
  5. This Time Wasn’t Different – “For instance, over 40% of all stocks had no earnings over the last 12 months.”
  6. Sunday Reads …The Glut of Overpriced Companies in The Private Markets – ” but now we have a private market filled with hundreds of Unicorns from Softbank and its clones that will have to work through the system.”
  7. Brief Comments on the TerraUSD and Tether Stablecoin Breakdowns – “To be explicit about our dim view of crypto, it’s taken literally hundreds of years to make simple-minded banking not-too-dangerous for the financial health of its customers. There is no reason to think that crypto promoters are going to design a better and certainly not a safer mousetrap any time soon.”
  8. 13 Strategies That Will Make You A Better Reader – ““You must linger among a limited number of master-thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.””
  9. What Should Accompany Stocks: Cash or Bonds? – “Thus, while intermediate-term Treasuries should typically be used to offset the risk of a stock portfolio, there is some logic to holding a shorter portfolio today: say, a mix that consists half of five-year notes and half of Treasury bills.
  10. 15 of the Craziest Charts Right Now – “And it’s not just a handful of stocks that are getting killed.”

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.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. Email: Don’t Get Fired
  3. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow
  4. Excel Tips: Football Field Chart
  5. Operating Model Tips ()

Updated stats:

Read ArticlesBooks
January891
February1100
March1023
April1032
May1343
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total5389

Influential Reads – April 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Humility is the voice inside your head that says, ‘anyone can do it once, that’s luck. Can you do it consistently?’” – Farnam Street

Apologies for being a bit quiet.  In addition to a busy work period and decamping Utah and driving cross country to Florida, we seem to be in a period of time with particularly wide error bars.  So, wait and see looks like a pretty good approach to me.  I am extremely curious as to where the world is in six months.

On the reading front, I finally finished Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  And have been attempting to clear out the always present backlog of saved articles.  More on how that works here.

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

  1. No News Is Good News – ” Personally, I vote for going cold turkey and simply walking away from the whole idea of news and the illusion of staying informed.”
  2. Take that two and a half percent and run – ” I would buy the hell out of the two-year at 2.5% but not the ten-year at the equivalent yield. “
  3. Paradoxes of Life – “The most persuasive people don’t argue—they observe, listen, and ask questions.”
  4. Bonds to Buy After an ‘Epic Rout.’ – “The iShares 20+ Year Bond exchange-traded fund (ticker: TLT), which holds long-term Treasuries, is down 14% this year, against a 5% drop in the S&P 500  index. Municipal bond closed-end funds are off 15%.”
  5. The Importance of Slugging Percentage in Investing – “But what matters more is how much money those winners make compared to how much the losers lose.”
  6. A Q&A With Mary Meeker: How Tech-Trend Guru Sees the World Now – “What macro issues worry you? It’s a long list.”
  7. Is U.S. Booming or Busting? It Depends on the Data You Examine. – “Trucking activity has plunged 50% in the past 10 weeks on flat unit retail sales and already excessive inventories, according to a research note. “
  8. There Will Be No Soft Landing. Why a Recession Is Inevitable. – “The debate over where the economy is going should be recast. A soft landing at this point is wishful thinking. “
  9. What Does the Bond Market Rout Mean for the Stock Market? – “The speed and magnitude of the bond market correction is something investors simply haven’t had to deal especially at the same time stocks are in correction territory.”
  10. Back to the Future of Twitter – “First, Twitter’s current fully integrated model is a financial failure.”

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.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. Email: Don’t Get Fired
  3. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow
  4. Excel Tips: Football Field Chart
  5. Operating Model Tips

Updated stats:

Read ArticlesBooks
January891
February1100
March1023
April1032
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total4046

Influential Reads – February 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“One of the most practical life skills that no one talks about is turning discipline into consistency. Discipline will only take you so far. It’s hard to be consistently disciplined.” – Farnam Street

The impact of recent world events can be seen in my article count for February.  My hope is that something good eventually comes out of the situation in Ukraine – regardless of the near term results of the conflict. 

A united world is better than a divided world.  

Watching Putin’s 20+ year reign is the definition of slippery slope.  Hopefully that translates into other arenas.  

Watching an embattled Ukraine fight for their freedom is heart wrenching.  Hopefully people can connect the dots.  Like connect them to recent events in this country, when an armed group of insurgents stormed our Capitol building while full of our government leaders.  

Colbert is right.  

But I digress.  I am also reading books.  I am just not finishing reading books.  Enjoying a biography on John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – but it is long.  It does seem that history rhymes though.

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

  1. Wretched Excess…Flirting With Trouble – “Charlie also talks a lot about envy and how it drives people which was my favorite part.”
  2. Addition by Subtraction – “You size your positions based on how much risk you’re taking. I don’t buy more of the ones I can make the most money on. I buy more of the ones that I can’t lose money on.”
  3. Down Round – ” But private markets inevitably come in line, and just like the tail of a whip, the smaller market can deliver greater pain.”
  4. Is the Bond Bear Market Over? – “But with the market pricing in 7 rate hikes and inflation showing signs of topping it’s worth asking if the worst is behind us? “
  5. Forget About Inflation. Contrarians Expect a Recession and a Drop in Bond Yields – “Shilling expects the tightening on which the Federal Reserve is about to embark having the same impact that tighter policy has had in almost every other previous instance.”
  6. Putting Ideas into Words – “Putting ideas into words is a severe test.”
  7. If You Had $10k to Invest, Which Stock Would You Buy? – “The rapid halving of software multiples has disjointed the valuations between public and private companies, and between growth and value companies.”
  8. How To Negotiate Your Salary – ” You don’t owe it to your employer to get paid less than what you are worth.”
  9. The Professionalization of Startups – “Whatever you’re going to spend on sales, just put it into the product to make the product better. Anytime a customer needs to talk to a sales person, that’s a bug you have to go fix.”
  10. How I Approach the Toughest Decisions – “But Joe’s willingness to go against the grain and ask tough questions was invaluable”

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.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow
  3. Influential Reads – January 2022
  4. Excel Template: Football Field Chart
  5. Family Mission: Solamere Loop Trail

Updated stats:

Read ArticlesBooks
January891
February1100
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total1991

Influential Reads – January 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

January 2022

“You can’t replace reading with other sources of information like videos, because you need to read in order to write well, and you need to write in order to think well.” — Paul Graham

I am going to claim one book read in January, Range by David Epstein.  A more accurate portrayal would be that I read it in many months, but completed it in January.  I will post some notes at some point.

Goodreads is already telling me I am behind schedule:

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

  1. Let The Wild Rumpus Begin – “Today in the U.S. we are in the fourth superbubble of the last hundred years.”
  2. Tech questions for 2022 – “Most of the questions I’ve discussed so far are about the future of tech, but a central theme in the trends presentation I published last month was all the ways that industries much bigger than tech are being disrupted now by things that tech was excited about 10, 15 or 20 years ago. “
  3. Who Will Buy the Bonds? – “The point is, unless you believe hyperinflation is coming, there is no logical reason to question whether people will want to hold US government denominated liabilities. The more interesting question is, what is a sustainable rate of interest for the USD?”
  4. The control/responsibility matrix – “People who grab control and avoid responsibility are often easily identified because they spend a lot of time whining.” – Head of Sales:  “If marketing would only give me more SALs, I would sell more.”  SMS Inside Thought: “ Yeah, and if somebody would do my job for me, that would be cool too.”
  5. Harvard-trained economist shares his 21 money rules – “Choose jobs that everyone but you hates. All else being equal — skills, education and experience — people with unpleasant, nerve-racking, insecure, disturbing or financially risky jobs get paid more than people with the same skills working jobs with none of these drawbacks.”
  6. Effort toward quality – “Persistent quality problems are a systemic issue, and if you’re not working on your system, you’re not going to improve it.”
  7. The antidote to “just be positive” – “What I’m saying is that mental flexibility is much more valuable than unquestioned positivity.”
  8. The Fed Is Ignoring the Money Supply and Letting Inflation Rip – “Just like Arthur Burns, the current Fed leadership is ignoring the sharp increase in the money supply during the past two years and instead is blaming external factors. As a result, inflation is again soaring. History is repeating itself.”
  9. A Quick Guide to Planning Your Year – “Every year, I take a few days and give myself some reflective space.”
  10. Stock Market History, Illuminated – “And since 2009 it has been incredible. One down year, 12 up years. The lone down year was low single digits, while the 12 up years were high-teens. Makes me wonder if anyone under 30 – through no fault of their own – thinks that this is the way markets always work.”

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.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. Influential Reads – December 2020
  3. Operating Model Tips
  4. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow
  5. Book Report: High Output Management– Great Read! Highly recommended.

Updated stats:

Read ArticlesBooks
January891
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Total891

Influential Reads – November 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Writing is often the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about.” – Farnam Street

My reading and writing was lacking this month.  But that is just where I was.

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

  1. The Man Who Called Bullshit on Uber – ” Companies that move people and things make money by closely controlling their workers and physical assets.”
  2. Are the New ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Services Good? – “If you’re not sure who’s funding the bottom line, Lowry told me, it’s probably you, in one way or another.”
  3. How Mormons Became American – “Mormons didn’t become avatars of a Norman Rockwellian ideal by accident. We taught ourselves to play the part over a centuries-long audition for full acceptance into American life. That we finally succeeded just as the country was on the brink of an identity crisis is one of the core ironies of modern Mormonism.”
  4. The Winds of Change – “In other words, in this extreme example, a U.S. president can be elected with just 47.0 million votes (22.0% of the total) versus 166.9 million for his or her opponent.”
  5. The CEO of you – “Big company CEOs get paid ridiculous amounts of money, but the good ones also do something that most of us avoid.  They make decisions.”
  6. Inflated – “And this ability to raise prices faster than inflation is really impressive given the industry is one of the most heavily subsidised in the U.S.”
  7. The Great Salt Lake Is Desolate. It’s Also Divine. – ” More disturbing is the destination of some of that water: my house. “
  8. Reset – “But some of it will flood the bank and brokerage accounts of the sort of people who are collecting jpegs of crudely drawn rocks and apes and other useless bullshit. I know, I don’t get it, blah blah blah. “
  9. Shortages are Unmeasured Inflation – “In the meantime, just remember that with inflation over 5% presently and shortly headed above 6%…the inflation rate is understated, and we know that because there are lots of shortages.”
  10. Johnny and Angel Collinson: Skiing comeback – “If somebody wants to explore their potential, whether it’s in sport or otherwise, that means they are going to walk into uncharted territory,” says Dr Gervais

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.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. Influential Reads – October 2021
  3. I Didn’t Approve That
  4. Rules of The Game
  5. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow

Updated stats through November:

Read ArticlesBooks
January654
February491
March643
April532
May970
June542
July1061
August1032
September1192
October911
November800
December
Total88118

Influential Reads – September 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“A man got to have a code.”  – Omar Little

Seriously?  Look at the chart on the right.  Talk about recency bias.  

Folks are in for a rude surprise at some point in the future if they thought September was a rough stretch.  That’s not a prediction of a near term melt down.  It is simply an observation about investor behavior and memory.

Finally finished Principles by Ray Dalio.  More to come here, but in short, I tried to read this book about 24 months ago and was just not in the right headspace apparently.  This time around, I really enjoyed it.  But it took some time and effort, in a good way.

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

  1. Boxes, trucks and bikes – “However, there’s also another way to split this, that I think is becoming increasingly important – instead of looking at the product category and the buying journey, look at the logistics model. “
  2. Business History with Gary Hoover – “The whole history of business and the economy is a story of one technological disruption after the other.”
  3. When Over-Ordering is More Than Hoarding – “So that customer who is ordering a lot more right now than they historically have is not doing it to “hoard.” They’re probably doing it just to manage inventory properly.”  See this as well.
  4. Put These Charts on Your Wall – “The market doesn’t have to do anything, least of all what you think it should do.”
  5. How To Escape Your Financial Cocoon – “Transient events constitute our experiences. Viewing them as permanent compounds our problems.”
  6. Worry About Yourself – “Somewhere along the way I think people forgot that we’re only in the market to make money…If others want to blow themselves up trading recklessly, let them.”
  7. 5 Ways to Build Resilience and Conquer Adversity – “Resilience is the ability to create positive adaptations to negative events.  It’s the ability to take things like anger and sadness and make them useful and productive.”
  8. The fraught future of recycling – “Despite the heavy machinery and increased automation involved, the process is still extremely dependent on humans.”
  9. Distribution and Demand – “Whereas AT&T competes for customers in a zero sum game, content is best leveraged by reaching as many customers across as many distributors as possible”
  10. The Intel Opportunity – “Massive demand, limited suppliers, huge barriers to entry. It’s a good time to be a manufacturing company. It is, potentially, a good time to be Intel.”
  11. A Tunguska sized airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam – “We present evidence that in ~ 1650 BCE (~ 3600 years ago), a cosmic airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a Middle-Bronze-Age city in the southern Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea.”  SMS here: Talk about wrong place, wrong time…

One more than normal because I could not decide.  My blog, my rules…

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.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow
  3. Family Adventure: Grand Teton #3
  4. Operating Model Tips
  5. Excel Template: Football Field Chart

Updated stats through September:

Read ArticlesBooks
January654
February491
March643
April532
May970
June542
July1061
August1032
September1192
October
November
December
Total71017

Influential Reads – August 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“No one values inflation protection because inflation has declined for 42 years.”  – Barrons

There are a lot of things going on right now that seem normal, because they have been going on for so long, no one remembers otherwise.  I’m not saying the market is going to crash imminently.  I am saying that it seems like most people cannot remember the last time that happened, that didn’t turn into a BTFD moment three days later.  And if the market does correct for more than three days, you will see fewer articles advising investors to be 100% in stocks.  Somebody smart once said, “But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.” (https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/11/25/the-10-dumbest-banker-quotes-of-all-time.aspx)  Oh wait, no one thinks that was a smart thing to say anymore.  At some point in the future, the risk will be an important part of risk adjusted returns again.

I added two more books to the list this month, but GoodReads is informing me that I am four books behind schedule of reaching my goal of 30 for the year.  However, GoodReads has never seen me binge read Carl Hiaasen.

Lots of articles again this month.  Maybe not a good thing.  The news is not so positive these days, so probably should spend a bit less time there.

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

  1. Get Ready for a Shift Away From U.S. Stocks – “We’ve already had 12% dollar depreciation since last April. And investors are way too exposed to the U.S. Our valuations versus every other asset class on Earth, with the exception of North Asia, are incredibly extreme, and the dollar’s overvalued.”
  2. How To Be Successful – “In a world where almost no one takes a truly long-term view, the market richly rewards those who do.”
  3. Advice to Grads: Be Warriors, Not Wokesters – “Be a highly skilled, devastatingly strong warrior who exerts their power by example and leaves their weapon in its sheath. Forgiveness is strength. Demonstrate it, every day. Be a warrior, not a wokester.”
  4. Give Your Brain Some Breathing Room – “I suggest the following compromise: check in on the news for 45 minutes, once a day, preferably in the morning.”
  5. The Most Important Number in Personal Finance – “The reason I prefer the LWR to something like income or net worth is that it controls for both the stock and the flows in your personal finances.  Your net worth is a stock (i.e. a snapshot of your accumulated wealth) while your income is a flow (i.e. a measure of how your wealth is changing through time).  They are both great, but limited.  ” Stephen here: This was an informative exercise.
  6. Howard Marks on economic growth in a ‘low return world’ – “We’re in an asset bubble. It’s everything. It’s not particular to high-yield bonds, or to bonds, or stocks. It’s real estate, it’s private equity, it’s everything. “
  7. Is valuing SaaS stocks a special form of the Petersburg Paradox? – “But the point is for individual stocks, there can be handful of stocks that can be valued at multiples so high that defies any logic, and still be able to beat the benchmark. The Petersburg Paradox is perhaps indeed the perfect description for such companies.”  Stephen here: But my guess is that most of the companies are not the companies that defy the logic.  Amazon twenty years ago. Yes. Every SaaS business out there today. No.
  8. Companies and Families Are Loading Up on Debt. It Could Be a Dangerous Trend – “What’s also surprising is that the BNPL model goes against perceptions that consumers are flush with savings, fostered by uninterrupted income for those who continued working during the pandemic and government stimulus payments to those not so fortunate, combined with the spending constraints during lockdowns.” Stephen here: There. Is. So. Much. Money. Every. Where.
  9. An Oral History of Adam Sandler, Pickup Basketball Legend – “Literally, it looked like he had them clothes since the 1990s, like literally the 1990s. “
  10. Wildfires prompt air quality alerts across the West – “If people have whole-home air-conditioning, installing high-efficiency filters and running the system can filter smoke that’s gotten inside.”

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.

Top clicks across the site:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow
  3. Family Mission: Solamere Loop Trail
  4. Excel Template: Football Field Chart
  5. Operating Model Tips

Updated stats through August:

ArticlesBooks
January654
February491
March643
April532
May970
June542
July1061
August1022
September
October
November
December
Total59015