The noob investor’s temptation.

Congrats! You’ve worked hard and/or smart for the last decade and you’ve cobbled together a little nest egg to call your own. Your first!

It’s a beautiful thing for a young man to have, not at all unlike his first child and almost certainly harder won.i And very much like his first child, he yearns to see his little nest egg grow, multiply, prosper, and take over the world. But unlike his first child, he has no genetic blueprint for being a successful investor as he (hopefully) had for parenting. So what to do ?

Chomping at the bit as he is – eager to bridge the chasm of financial success and material wealth between the boomers (ie. his parents) and himself – all he actually knows is the chosen profession he’s spent the last decade pursuing ; and even that only as much as someone with his experience possibly could, which is to say more than most laymen and not much more besides. But ideas, new ideas, fun ideas, how they flow forth from every pore! Tech, real estate… the two combined!! Surely there must be a way for him to become a developer, property manager, financial advisor, and broker all at once. And on the side. Certainly in the next 5-10 years. With the help of some friends, of course. No one becomes successful tout seul

Well, Little Jimmy, I know you’re excited – and furthermore excitable – vis-a-vis your prospects to retire by 45, but this is where paternal, parade-raining Pete comes along and sets you straight : stick with your career and grow your WoT. And fucking focus on that.

Yes, you’ll want to stay ahead of the tech curve in your careerii – be it legal services, sales, construction, or otherwise – but the idea that, say, a 30yo dentistiii should own a car wash and an interest in a retail strip mall and be financing app development is both preposterous and assuredly ruinous. The most successful professionals aren’t the ones who diversify the fastest, they’re the ones who invest in their own industries, wherein they have the deepest knowledge and therefore the sharpest market edge on Joe Q. Randomface. And that’s what success looks like in its most embryonic form : an edge. Yes, there were once oodles of money to be made in real estate in Buttfuck MI or in iOS apps, but unless you’re playing with at least tens of millions in Vancouver, London, or New York today or making yet another Candy Crush variant, you’re asking to get hit upside the head. Sure, buy the building you work in, be your own tenant, but don’t try to make money while you sleep. It’s a sucker’s bet.

No, passive saving isn’t an option, but investing in your connections and your career is. If you stick with that for the next 30 years and happen to be successful at it (though not all of you will be), you may just find that you’ve the energy and resources for a second career thereafter. This is your best case scenario. Maybe you think that timeline too hopeful – that you’ll be replaced with robots or culled in a pogrom long before then – but I’m either naively optimistic or just optimistic enough to know that your WoT is your best insurance policy regardless of time and place.

Failing that, there’s always showing up on the doorstep of the most successful man in town, cap in hand, admitting ashamedly that you know nothing about anything, despite having had a career in so-and-so, and that you’ll do whatever he says for as long as he’ll keep you. It’s a time-tested strategy, this. And if denied, there’s always the second most successful man, and so on down…

That’s investing.

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  1. No mother ever agreed with this line. Fact. Not because it’s untrue but because it’s unkind and unfeeling towards their angelic newborns. Mothers, it’s not that your little boy isn’t special, it’s that he’s not special to anyone but you.
  2. Recall :

    Computers are dumb, all they do is give you answers ~Picasso

    Computers can’t see gaps, be it in streams of knowledge or in streams of traffic. They can’t tell reflections in puddles from reflections in oncoming headlights because they don’t know how to ask even the most basic questions. Should there be a car coming at me? If so, what would it look like? How would it behave? How COULD it behave? Extrapolation beyond the linear infinity is impossible for machines, even if complex computation is its specialty. Non-linear extrapolation is that extra tentative educated step beyond. A step an infant takes every day when he walks off a curb and lands on his face, only to repeat the same mistake 500 more times before landing the move. A computer only iterates through the process steps you define for it, it can never develop its own gait, its own rhythm, its own strut. It will never limp after falling, recalling with every painful step its errors.

    Computers can ask you for a destination, and they might even give you routing options, but they won’t just happen to swing by your old neighbourhood on the way home, or coincidentally by your friend’s place just in time for the big game. The colour and the texture that define our subconscious guidance systems are lost in an autonomous alt-future. But that’s not why it’s such a challenging technical problem. It’s such a challenging technical problem for two far more important reasons: the aforementioned questions gap and what might be called the dragonfly problem. Are you starting to see it ?

  3. It’s no doubt my peculiar circumstances that drive this particular example – there are no fewer than seven such oral health professionals in my L1. Weird huh ? I’m like honey for these loveable anoraks.

2 thoughts on “The noob investor’s temptation.

  1. […] ~$100 each but offer a depth of information unavailable anywhere else. Solid bedtime reading for anoraks, these. And who knows, I may still end up with one someday. A GT3 isn’t inconceivable. […]

  2. […] one of my more recent – and really rather painful – failures in the world of “investing.” For your enlightenment and entertainment, of […]

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