Swinging For The Fences In Markets and Life

I’ve now spent 10 years in the stock market. And I’ve spent seven working directly with the people who make it what it is at StockTwits.

There have been ups.

There have been downs.

But that is true with anything. You will never find a perfect “thing” that has no ups or downs. What you’ll do instead, if it really matters to you, is fight your way out of the downs and strive to remain in the ups. There will always be down moments. While they can brutal, it’s also where you discover what really matters.

In most major sports, whether it’s football or baseball, only a small percentage of the game is a moment of action. Most of the time, it’s a steady slog, timeout or commercial until… WHAM! Something big happens. A must-watch moment. Then, the cycle repeats. In life, it can be the same. You go through the routine and then… WHAM! Something happens. It’s almost as if 1% of moments determine 99% of the rest.

Warren Buffett famously said he, “tap dances to work.” He is a sage investor and he also happens to be a sage at one-liners. I assure you that when he wrote down several billion dollars in his Kraft-Heinz investment, there was no tap dance. WHAM. Yet despite that setback, we both know there will be another act. And he will win again. Because this is what he cares about.

Working in the stock market all these years, I have seen quite a bit. Plenty of WHAMs – even to my own portfolio. I admire the rise of the stock market anti-hero. The one who overcomes setback after setback when by traditional norms they were not supposed to. The ones who do what traditional systems tell you not to do. The ones who did not get a world class education or pass an examination. The ones who have a day job completely different from markets. Instead, they’ve found their own way, and it works for them.

I have seen the portfolios of my friends on StockTwits. In the words of Owen Wilson, “wow” is what I would tell you. I remember the first few times I met a few in person. There was no flashy suit or Mercedes Benz. It was the opposite.

Their humility is probably why they’ve grown such impressive portfolios. The right amount of humility can cure any setback. Because maybe it means you were preparing yourself the entire time. I’ve learned to admire an adage that goes something along the lines of, “hiding wealth is a sign of wealth.” 

In my time in the market I’ve noticed how a select few can dominate the conversation. Generally, it is for their cause. The hedge fund gurus go on TV after they’ve put a position on. The great thinkers tell you why their industry is right because, well, that’s the industry they work in. But the anti-hero rarely has anyone ever speaking for them.

In the early days, I was told we had to go punk rock on the world of finance. The “Wall” would have to be torn down. I think about that today, and believe it more than ever. I hear about the trading desks at big banks where everyone sits silently, insanely self-consciousness, glued to their Bloomberg terminal, trapped in a vortex of worry.

The do-it-yourself investor is coming for that old line of work. If the launch of e*Trade and other trading services in the 90s was a glimpse, today we are on the cusp of a revolution. Low-cost ETFs, mobile apps, social networks to test ideas, and the list goes on. Your Uncle’s wife’s brother’s kid, Bobby, is building a position in Bitcoin as we speak and there’s no manager, adviser, or bank sitting between him and his actions.

There’s an obsession with the rotation of active funds vs. passive funds. You know who you are. But what’s missing is the growing education and interest of the DIY investor. Last I checked, TD Ameritrade had record net new client assets, near record trades per day, and revenue. Should I say any more?

In the words of Marc Andreessen, this is a community of nights and weekend people. They’re getting no credit. They also don’t care. Their returns are all they need to know.

Today, I’m taking their side, and I’m swinging for the fences with them. Because it’s what we care about. Foremost, I believe StockTwits is on the cusp of something massive. Secondly, as someone who manages my own portfolio, I have taken a few big bets related to my core beliefs. Some have won, some have lost. But they’re always something I believe in.

My most recent bet is Twitter, and I think it’s insanely misunderstood and incorrectly valued. More on that soon. The point is it’s where the anti-heroes spend their time and everyone has an equal voice. Including the ones who do it themselves. And those who were told they shouldn’t ever get involved, but did.

Thanks for reading. Remember to follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. Also, you have to sign-up for my email newsletter.

If you missed it, I wrote about this concept earlier and called it, Don’t do dumb things in seven seconds.

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