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Dealing with Failure in Life and Investing: Lessons from the Chaos Monkey

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the Titanic of cloud hosting. It provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to both individuals, companies, and governments, on a paid subscription basis. The platform is designed as a backup to the backups’ backups that prevents hosted websites – including some of the largest in the world – and applications from failing.

Yet, like the Titanic, AWS crashed in April 2011, taking with it popular websites like Reddit, Quora, FourSquare, HootSuite, and New York Times, among many others, for four days.

It faced another major outage in February 2017, which again brought a large number of key websites down on their knees.

There was, however, one site that kept chugging along well during both these instances, despite also having AWS as its host at both the occasions.

This was Netflix, the world’s leading streaming video website and one that owns a dominant share of downstream Internet traffic – almost 35%; double of YouTube – in North America during peak evening hours.

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What You Need to Succeed in Investing (Hint: It’s Not Genius Brain)

“Hey Vishal, have you read about how Albert Einstein lost so much money in the stock market?” asked my friend Ravi as we met for dinner over the weekend.

“Yes Ravi,” I said. “In fact, he lost most of his winnings from the 1921 Nobel Prize in the stock market crash of 1929.”

“Wow!” Ravi exclaimed. “And we are talking about one of the genius minds to have ever walked this planet.

“Right Ravi. And I’m sure you’ve also heard about Mr. Newton, who was wiped out while chasing the stock market bubble in 18th century England.”

“Yes Vishal, you only told me about Mr. Newton’s misdoings when we met a few months back.”

“Sometimes I fail to understand,” Ravi continued, “how men with such high levels of intelligence fail at such petty things as the stock market, even when you hear of investment stories about individuals who’ve made fortunes because of exceptional insights or sheer genius!”

“Because, my dear friend, the best rewards in investing don’t generally go to investors with the smartest brains but to those with the strongest stomachs.”

“Stomach? Are you serious?”

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Announcing – Classroom Course in Value Investing

I’m happy to announce my first ever comprehensive classroom course in Value Investing titled – Value Investing Blueprint.

I will be conducting this course in association with Pune-based FLAME University, under the aegis of its FLAME Investment Lab, which is an initiative that strives to deliver the concepts and decipher the art of value investing to interested students.

This course will be held at FLAME’s campus in Pune and will be spread over seven Sundays in a twelve-week window. It will include lessons on:

  • Practical, time-tested ideas in value investing
  • Identifying competitive moats and analyzing specific sectors to help you build your circle of competence.
  • Psychology of investing and building a latticework of mental models to make better investment decisions.
  • Analyzing financial statements.
  • Estimating intrinsic values.
  • Creating a portfolio of high-quality businesses.

This course is designed for people who want to get initiated into the principles and practices of Value Investing. It is not about technicals or quantitative models. There will be no stock recommendations.

Also, note that there will be an optional test at the end of the program. A certificate will be awarded to all participants who clear the test.

Click here to read more if you are interested in joining this course. The last date to apply is 16th July 2017. And there are just 25 seats available for non-FLAME students.

Safal Niveshak is 6 Years Old!

Birthdays aren’t a big deal when you grow up. And if you are like me, with a fading memory, you sometimes forget that you are growing up fast.

Like it happened yesterday. It took a reminder from someone to, well, remind me that it was Safal Niveshak’s birthday. 😉

So, this initiative that I started in 2011 with just one reader – yours truly – has completed six years. The tribe is now 32,422 members strong, with one-third of these coming in the last twelve months.

A lot has happened in these quick six years, but as with my six-year-old son, Safal Niveshak is just getting started.

Most of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for “raising” this initiative to this point — it truly could not have happened without you, dear tribe member.

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for your interest and support, for keeping me honest, for helping this entire movement of creating smarter and independent stock market investors become greater and spread wider.

You are magnificent, and I am supremely grateful for your time and attention.

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10-Point Action Plan for a Young Earner

Noted Irish playwright and philosopher George Bernard Shaw opined, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

What he possibly meant was that many young people have everything going for them physically; they’re in the best health they will ever be in, and their minds are sharp and clear.

However, they lack patience, understanding, and wisdom which results in so much wasted efforts.

The energy that can be directed towards building a solid thought process and action plan for the future is spent on short-lived pleasures.

Shaw’s words are especially applicable to those young adults who are starting a career and wondering if they should start saving and investing for their future or spend the next few years living life kingsize.

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Value Investor Interview: Brent Beshore

Note: This interview was originally published in the March 2017 issue of our premium newsletter – Value Investing Almanack (VIA). To read more such interviews and other deep thoughts on value investing, business analysis and behavioral finance, click here to subscribe to VIA.



Brent Beshore - Value Investing AlmanackBrent Beshore is the Founder and CEO of adventur.es, a family of North American companies that invests in family-owned companies with unfair advantages. For the past nine years, Brent’s firm has started, funded, bought, and operated organizations across a wide range of industries.

The companies adventur.es owns have recruited doctors for the U.S. military, provided online public relations to some of the world’s largest organizations, manufactured cutting-edge home solutions, created software products for small businesses, curated the latest in women’s fashion to sell on the internet, and even helped make a couple of blockbuster movies.

Brent founded adventur.es in 2007 with the goal of creating an organization that allowed him to do what he loved, in places he enjoys, with people he admires. Since then, adventur.es has made over 50 investments, and was ranked #28 on the 2011 Inc. 500. Brent reads a lot, writes occasionally, dabbles in wine-making, and was nominated for a VH1 Do Something Award for helping his hometown of Joplin, Mo. recover from the devastating tornado.

As you would have understood from Brent’s profile, he isn’t a typical public markets investor like the ones I usually profile in this series, but an owner of private businesses. The thoughts Brent has shared in this interview, however, are equally valuable for a public market investor, as you would realize as you read forward.

So, over to Brent!

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Small Circles: The Theory of Mastery in the Art of Learning and Investing

One of the best books on the art of learning I’ve read is, well, The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin.

Josh is a champion in two distinct sports – chess and martial arts. He is an eight-time US national chess champion, thirteen-time Tai Chi Chuan push hands national champion, and two-time Tai Chi Chuan push hands world champion.

In his book, Josh recounts his experiences and shares his insights and approaches on how you can learn and excel in your own life’s passion, using examples from his personal life. Through stories of martial arts wars and tense chess face-offs, Josh reveals the inner workings of his everyday methods, cultivating the most powerful techniques in any field, and mastering the psychology of peak performance.

One of my favourite chapters from Josh’s book is titled – Making Smaller Circles – which stresses on the fact that it’s rarely a mysterious technique that drives us to the top, but rather a profound mastery of what may well be a basic skillset.

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Investing and the Five Laws of Holes

Centuries ago, a Chinese King was sitting in his cabinet meeting discussing the poor economy of his country. One economist said, “Sir, we can’t do anything about it. It’s the Law of Supply and Demand.”

The King said, “I’m the King. I will repeal that Law!” The Cabinet kept quiet, but one brave soul said, “Sir, you cannot repeal the Law of Supply and Demand. It’s like the Law of Gravity.”

And the King said, “I’m the King. I will also repeal the Law of Gravity!”

Obviously, this story is purely fictional. But the message that comes out is clear – You cannot repeal some laws that govern this universe.

Like the Law of Gravity, and maybe…

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