Penned Two-Weeks before the passing of the late great Jack Bogle.
To start with a little word association: WorldCom, Enron, Wonga what springs to mind?
They were all businesses which were quote, unquote revered. Enron was once named the 100 best companies to work for in America. In a word diversify.
As we saw in the previous article the media and commentators can get it wrong badly wrong but sometimes a little patience is needed to turn a ship around… Try telling Woz & Co they were wrong now…
So what went wrong at these businesses after all a business is just a collection of people, culture and products doesn’t matter if it is Books, Beanie Babies or Baristas.
Enough Beanie Babies for Everyone!
As young professionals we weave out own narrative and just like the PR machine have a tendency to be caught up in the miasma that we lose sight of what businesses has been since the Babylonian times. Moving a service or product from one place to another- creating value for customers and capturing some of that for ourselves either through wages or dividends.
So far everything is rosy in our corporate machine. But the 5th Law of Bill Rankin Economics holds…A business exists to create value for the shareholders. Period. It does not exist to enrich its employees. However shiny the corporate welcome video, however many lanyards and stress balls you can pilfer from the Offshore Europe.
On the flip side we are a long way from the Dickensian workhouses of yesteryear. So why do so many of us secretly hate our job and 90% are proud to pronounce TGIF. To borrow from Mr Rohn will these same people reach the end of their lives and say ‘thank god it is aall oover’..
Inspiration does not keep office hours
Trying to find a pen at 3am….
Work has become conflated with drudgery a necessarily evil on the way to the beach house in Florida or the retirement home…
The environment influences us massively and you really are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Take a look around and if you want to make a change know not just that you can you actually must. Much of our learned behaviour is just that learned over minutes, hours, days which have gone by…
Many schools and the teachers within them do incredible work at producing the best minds around but some are filling a bucket and not lighting a fire. At one of the finest universities on these shores a fellow undergraduate remarked to how I was coping with ‘all the coursework’. I explained that although there were a few late nights it was essentially just a step up from A-Level. I later learned they had attended the most expensive private school in the country. Whatever your background there is simply no alternative for getting in the gym and doing an hour of heavy weights.
It is no accident that work for those (not on zero hours contracts) runs 9-5 with an hour for ‘play’. Where do we remember learning being crammed into 1hr chunks sat down under fluorescent lights?
Back to Business
Business as in life can be a competition there are winners and losers and the poster child of the FTSE 100 can and do fall off to be replaced by leaner, more efficient operators. One man who deserves far more credit and who shuns the limelight is Jack Bogle. The founder of Vanguard has truly built a company that puts the working American and now the Brit at the top of the balance sheet. His index revolution was ridiculed, blasted and torn apart back in the day by the established order who even called the ‘passive’ funds un-American.
Ducklings and Stars
Undeterred Jack continues to build for 44 and counting quietly on an unshakeable Quest to create a firm where customers’ needs were put above the family trust or next quarter’s results. Many younger/uninitiated readers may be unaware but the organisation is structured as a co-op (at least across the pond) Action Point! if you are a YP reading this in January then sign up for the Vanguard SIPP which is coming to these shores later this year.
89 years not out. Captain Jack of the good ship Vanguard
It could be the best financial decision you make! ‘Sock away 20% off your salary in VTSAX and then don’t open your statement until you are 60 and but be sure to have a cardiologist on speed dial’…
Don’t look down
This isn’t intended to be investment advice so do your own research but the irony of 20% discount on Enough should not be lost on anyone.
So you will still meet many people who have the resistance ‘why are you publishing this on a holiday’, ‘why do you want to give the game away?’. The idea is not to preach or dictate terms but to simply shine a light on ideas which could make a massive difference to the quality of your life. After all where are all the customers Porches?
There are often said to be three types of people those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened. I prefer to keep things simple and say there are two types of people those with a fixed mind-set and those with a growth mind-set. Some people cannot or do not want to be reached and that is fine.
The feature is the bug
The antidote is to produce, produce, produce– put enough vintage Power Rangers out there and the market will either reward you or close your account. If you own a British passport then you literally have a golden ticket, many people do not and as a Russian friend told me growing up her Dad had to be paid in car parts due to hyperinflation- literally back to the age of barter. Cultivate gratitude for what you have as we all know it can be taken away.
Plant the seeds
2016 was a bloodbath in the Geoscience and wider upstream sector but it was nothing to take personally the world and the economy has seasons it has been that way for the last 6,000 years. Plant in the winter and reap in the autumn is something that farmers know all too well.
Relaaax and make your pursuits fun. By now I am in danger of charging by the hour to spout aphorisms but if you go about your business with a lightness then it shows to the people around you and they can become inspired.
Innovation comes at the fringes of our field and many voices are unburden by not having sunk 17k into an MBA programme or 4-5 years of finishing school.
Just a gangster I suppose
Travelling in Europe the women I meet won’t even look at you without a Masters or a PhD. Credentials matter in an increasingly competitive world but one thing the don’t teach you at HBS is the spark, the drive to get up on wet cold Saturday morning and hunt around in the dirt. You can’t train someone to do that.
Every Jimmy needs his Bunk https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanith-olivares-81680416/
The collective arms race of chasing the next prize, college degree is not the solution in fact it is burdening our young men and women with massive amounts of debt and we have some of the worst mental health outcomes in the western world. We are all getting fatter, lazier and unhappy.
Spending countless hours building kingdoms in Age of Empires you quickly learn to get to the next level that the right balance of resources- be they corn, gold or people toiling in the fields or riding into battle are essential.
Everyone starts from zero and the celebrities, CEO’s and hedge fund wizards of wall street all had to start with a blank slate and a blinking cursor….
Learning the difference between Net and Gross with fishing nets since 1989
David Rosenberg on Meb Faber said that 14/15 economic indicators are flashing red for a recession next year. Regardless of what happens in 2019 remember that resources can steady any ship in a storm and it always pays to have a plan B.
Everyone is different and there is little alternative for getting into a business and speaking to the Founder and the Staff.
P.S Jack give me a call when Vanguard start an affiliate program 😉
Any Quants know how many Beanie Babies = A McLaren?
In the end the immortal words were said by Lester Freeman.
‘We are building something here detective…All the Pieces Matter’