WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE
Eight months ago, the book my dad and I wrote together, Invested, was launched into the world and with it, my story of how I began investing went public. My best friends all read my book and all said to me, in various ways, “wow, great book, I’m super inspired.”
Then I asked them, “Have you done any investing practice yet,” I asked?
These are my closest friends. They see my Investing Practice on a daily basis. But even THEY have not started their own Practices.
They all WANT to. They all know they SHOULD. They see how happy it makes me now. But they’re busy and tired and don’t know how to add something new into their lives when they’re already struggling with emails, people, job, life, and you know, SLEEP. Sleep is nice.
I totally get it. That was me, not too long ago. It took total exhaustion and desperation for me to start to talk about learn investing (more about that story later).
But, actually, even exhaustion and desperation wasn’t enough for me to start. It took inflation and a Mission. My husband, Nuno, always says change comes when there’s a PUSH and a PULL.
My PUSH into investing: when I found out about inflation. I mean, I knew about inflation but I didn’t KNOW about inflation, I didn’t know that it made my savings buying disappear without me doing anything wrong at all. Inflation means that the buying power of my money goes down; so, fifty years ago my grandmother could buy a pack of gum for 10 cents, but now that same pack of gum costs me $1.50. Same money, but I need more of it to buy the same thing. That’s inflation, which averages 3% per year. Which means: if I save my money and don’t make 3% per year on it, I’m effectively LOSING money. Without screwing up! By being what I thought was a good saver! These facts still blow me away. After I found out that terrifying news, preparing for the future didn’t seem like such a waste of time.
My PULL from investing: I started to realize that my money is deeply powerful, but I was abdicating that power. My consumer money has power when I purchase items and support those companies; in the exact same way, my investing money has even more power to support companies on a larger scale. I can take my money from companies that hurt the environment, torture animals, that treat employees badly; and I can put that money into companies that support individual makers, create world-changing technology, and are just plain fun. My money is a vote for a MISSION, and I had been abdicating my vote. I wanted to take my power back, by taking my vote back, taking my money back.
When I wrapped my mind around inflation and mission, all my “shoulds” went away. I needed to make investing my practice, because I wanted freedom to be my lifestyle. (I mean, freedom was a pretty good pull too.)
In my father, I had the ultimate teacher for the “what” of investing. Many readers are learning from Rule One, my dad’s company, and this newsletter will be a fantastic complement to what you learn there.
He’s the investing master. I’m the investing practitioner.
My dad taught me, step-by-step, and he is (duh obviously) an incredible investing teacher. His ability to break down the skills of the best investors in the world for beginners is quite rare, and if you want to learn the specific steps to being a great value investor, you should apply for his monthly Transformational Investing Workshop where he will teach you what to do personally, just as he taught me, completely for free.
You can also listen to our InvestED Podcast or read our book, Invested, for how I learned investing, step-by-step.
It’ll come as no surprise to you that I don’t find it all that interesting to listen to people talk about prices or numbers (instead, I’ll talk plenty in this newsletter about how I handle my numbers-phobia). What I do find insanely interesting is how we – the uninterested ones – transform ourselves from being indifferent or afraid of investing into people who love investing practice. I have discovered that investing and money are such an incredibly great part of my life. Like, for real. I miss my Practice when I don’t do it.
What I had to work out for myself, though, was the “how” of all these investing shenanigans.
How does an Investing Practice look like in my real life? How to handle it when I get busy, or stressed, or tired? How to really get into investigating into a company in an interesting way? How to time my Practice? How to develop my Circle of Competence? How to stay accountable to myself? How do I even get started?
How on earth did developing a real Practice happen for me? What does my Investing Practice actually look like? In this newsletter, you’ll hear about how I structure my investing.
You’ll hear about how I work it into my daily life.
You’ll get the legal aspects of my research – I’m a startup lawyer and a lot of my experience applies to how I evaluate these companies. There are Events based on antitrust law, for example, and I can’t wait to explore them.
You’ll hear about the bad weeks where I can’t get my head in the game and what I do about it. You’ll hear about how I look for those annoying numbers and the mistakes I make as I go.
And you’ll hear the lighter side of this Investing Practice because above all, it has to be fun, or none of us will do it. How do you find the way that Investing Practice is interesting and entertaining for you? Once you find it, you will keep doing THAT even when life is hard.
That’s what we’re going to do here, and I am excited you are along for this journey.
Welcome to The Invested Practice.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger
HOW did I begin to enjoy it? Two steps. Reading and Timing.
READING: IT STARTS WITH JUST 20 MINUTES
When I started learning to invest, I consciously had to force to myself to read market news. I didn’t know a lot of the vocabulary, I wasn’t interested in the topics, and I just plain didn’t like it. It was bloody boring. I sat down to read a few stories on the weekends because I needed to get used to what was being written. Gradually, over the course of a few months of reading, I developed perspective.
Perspective is everything. It tells me when something is unusual, it tells me when I don’t know anything about a topic, and it tells me when do know something about it because I have an opinion. Reading the business/market/tech news for a few months developed that kind of perspective for me. It wasn’t expertise, not by a long shot, but it got me over the hump of feeling dumb and – crazily – I started to understand it, and that made me enjoy it.
My standard fall-back no-matter-what Investing Practice is now to simply read the news – the business news, the tech news, the gossip news. I read whatever is interesting to me, and see where it takes me. Sometimes, nowhere. Sometimes, down some strangely temporarily interesting short path that ends abruptly. Sometimes, something shows up that requires a LOT more time than I have at that moment. That’s when it’s hard to stop.
Reading is integral to this practice, but you may have fallen off reading novels or old-fashioned newspapers. This is a lovely chance to get going again with something different. I wouldn’t have thought of “reading” as reading my beloved celebrity gossip, following a football team, or scrolling through a Facebook feed, but it IS reading…isn’t it? When do you read sports news, blogs about cooking, lifestyle websites, magazines, or….fabulous email newsletters about Investing Practice? When do you read anything at all?
Notice it. Take a few days or a week and notice it. I know this feels like you’re not doing anything, but in fact, you’re doing EVERYTHING. Integrating reading about investing into your life is the foundation of a sustainable Investing Practice. It will become clear to you the timing of when you tend to read.
TIMING: TAKE A BREAK
I typically do it in the morning.
For those first few months, I had been using my laptop to read investing news, and would sit down very intently to “do my investing work”, whenever I could find time in my day. It was often resentfully at night, when I was extremely tired already. On the weekends, I’d force myself to sit down in the afternoon rather than doing something I actually wanted to be doing. It sucked.
Yuck. There was no way I was going to keep up with that kind of rhythm. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t integrated into my life, and it wasn’t something was going to stick to when I traveled or got too busy.
It’s pretty strange how our brains separate experiences in categories. Investing, for me, felt like the category of work and a big effortful project, so I treated it as such. I carved out time and sat down consciously with my work tool, my computer, to DO INVESTING WORK.
At some point after a while into this festival of pain, I woke up early one morning, made myself a coffee, climbed back into bed, and picked up my phone like I always did to read light news and gossip while I had my coffee and slowly woke up.
It was a lovely part of my mornings.
Sometimes I had to do work for my actual lawyer job straight away, which replaced the news-reading, but sometimes I got to lounge a bit and enjoy. On one of those days, I guess DOING INVESTING WORK had infiltrated into my brain enough that I clicked on some market news. Then I clicked on some more. Then I read about some tech companies, which also related to my legal work for startups. Then switched to celebrity gossip. Then I put my phone down and got ready to go to my law firm for the day.
And voila – I had done my Investing Practice for the day. I was DONE! It hadn’t felt like work, it hadn’t taken effort, and it hadn’t even taken any more time than I was already spending on morning wake-up news. I wasn’t READING INVESTING NEWS LIKE I’M SUPPOSED TO, I was reading the news because it waking up slowly that way brought me joy.
When I noticed that shift, it changed everything about Investing Practice.
Now, an Investing Practice could be a good part of my life. I instantly erased that reminder in my head to DO INVESTING WORK, which felt fantastic. Freeing. Lovely. I replaced it with the little, tiny, niggling reminder that when I’m reading my gossip and light news, add a little tech news in there. Add a little Wall Street Journal, even if it’s just the lifestyle section. Add a search for a company I noticed the day before.
It worked. It worked so well, I read investing news now for fun. Sometimes, I read it because it’s much more gossipy than real celebrity gossip or Formula 1 news! Life is weird, what can I tell you.
Timing investing practices in those sleepy mornings worked for me. Still, not every day gave me the chance to sit for twenty minutes and wake up with my news. On the days when I couldn’t read in the morning due to my job, I tried to take a break at lunch and sit by myself to eat and read for twenty minutes – a respite in my day of coworkers and emails. There were paper newspapers available in my office and I’d grab one and wander through it for something different than ever-more screentime. Simple.
My husband, on the other hand, bounds out of bed in the morning ready to start his day immediately. He is an alien from the planet of morning people and I do not understand him, but the fact is that sitting in bed to read in the morning would feel like jail to him. Instead, he likes to read at night, before bed, when he’s tired and winding down. I can’t do that – I tried it, and I got too energized and excited about what I was reading, and started thinking about it all so much that I couldn’t sleep. Not optimal. So: we’re different on this. We’re ALL different on this. What we need to do is experiment to find what works for us, in real life, in our real days.
I still focus on reading the investing news in the morning, though I don’t always succeed – which is why I’ve been thinking about better morning routine for myself in the last week or so, and mostly, about how I have an unconscious one. Reading the investing news in the morning has become completely automatic, which is great, and also means I might be able to optimize it even more. Unconscious is never optimal. Unconscious usually leads to…incompetence. Or failure.
Two hours post-wakeup, I find myself oftentimes feeling dissatisfied with myself. Which is ridiculous. Two hours into my day and I’m already a disappointment? And no, reading the news doesn’t count anymore, because it’s automatic now. Annoying how that happens. I want a conscious morning routine that sets me up for success. More on that in the future.
Next issue, I’ll go into the second step to learning to enjoy reading about investing: Wandering.
LET’S GET PRACTICAL
Take some time so think about the following questions:
1. When do you already read?
2. What time of day do you typically need a break from thinking?
3. How do you like to consume news?
Take this next step:
Try finding time in your day when you can spend just 20 minutes reading news.
Ownership Disclosure: Danielle Town owns shares in Berkshire Hathaway (BRK).