Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Art of the Good Life #15 : The Secret of Persistence

Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and speed.

This chapter is about persistence.

The secret to success is about taking steps to sustain your smaller successes and have them compound over time. This is why Warren Buffett is always used as some paragon of compound interest in many personal development books even though we ignored his earlier tactic of buying up cheap companies and forcing management to unlock value by board control. There is some quantitative backing to Warren's slow and steady form of wealth accumulation, the Sharpe ratio of Berkshire Hathaway was known to be between 0.7-0.8 when hedge fund strategists are using strategists that go north of 1.

The other example which I enjoy is the concept of a long-seller. Books like 50 Shades of Grey are bestsellers, but they may not persist over time. Lord of the Rings, however, and Jin Yong's works will be sold in bookstores so long as there are still bookstores left in this world.

How to come up with something that persists?

The general guideline is to pace your work and not work too hard to the point whereby you burn out. Personally, I think you should aim for small successes and then scale them into bigger ones without tiring yourselves.

This is why looking for dividend yields work in investing. No doubt high-yield strategies tend to under-perform quantitative strategies involving FCF/Price and EV/EBITDA, but seeing dividends trickle into your bank account is relaxing and therapeutic, and very often you become motivated to save more for the future. Eventually you may be able to sustain this form of investment whereas someone with a more formidable formula would have sold out in the next market recovery. 

Nicholas Taleb elegantly expresses the power of persistence by his concept of the Lindy effect. If a literary work is popular for one century, the rule of thumb is that it should be popular for another hundred years.


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