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Category Archive: Self Improvement
Subcategories: No categories
I enjoyed this article about a Hassidic Jew whose love of very old Jewish Recordings garners him a bit of fame.
On a rather stressful day, I really enjoyed reading this article on the benefits of walking a dog. Here is a snippet on how walking a dog helped people in an assisted living home:
To the surprise of the researchers, the dog walkers showed a big improvement in fitness, while the human walkers began making excuses to skip the workout. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just a 4 percent increase among the human walkers.
“What happened was nothing short of remarkable,” said Rebecca A. Johnson, a nursing professor and director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “The improvement in walking speed means their confidence in their walking ability had increased and their balance had increased. To have a 28 percent improvement in walking speed is mind boggling.”
“IN TRUTH, men have affairs not for physical reasons but for emotional ones. They cheat not out of a sense of confidence but out of a state of brokenness. Not out of a sense of how desirable they are but out of a sense of what failures they are. And this is especially true of men like Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton who live in a hyper-competitive environments where they realize that they are only special to the extent that they keep on winning. Men like these are particularly broken, living as they do just one failure away from obscurity. They know that their value as human beings rests entirely in other people’s hands. And they live in permanent and painful insecurity. They constantly question their self-worth and they turn to women both to feel desirable and to comfort them from their pain.
Yes, I know. Men like Tiger Woods appear to the public as cool-as-a-cucumber. But beneath the calm veneer is a man who has been trained to believe that his value as a human being rests entirely on a never-ending game of human one-upmanship. Those who have made their names in sports and politics live with unimaginable insecurity. And rather than deal with these insecurities in a healthy way by having deep emotional conversations with their wives about their fears, it is easier to simply paper them over by turning to strangers who make them feel special.”
Read the rest here: Shmuley Boteach on Tiger Woods
Th New York Times Magazine has a wonderful article on chef Jamie Oliver and his mission to have people cook their own food and be healthier. I highly recommend you read the article and came away incredibly impressed with Jamie Oliver, what a great guy. If we as a country really want to tackle health care costs, we need to tackle the diet and eating habits of our country. Here is a snippet:
Oliver became famous at 23 for his television series “The Naked Chef,” which was broadcast from 1999 to 2001, first in Britain, then here, on the Food Network. The title referred not to his lack of clothing but to his belief in stripping pretense and mystery from the kitchen — the idea that anyone can cook and everyone should. He was loose and playful, measuring olive oil not in spoonfuls but in “glugs,” making a mess and having a ball. In the years since, that laddish charmer has morphed, somewhat unexpectedly, into a crusading community organizer. “Jamie’s School Dinners,” his award-winning four-part series, exposed the shameful state of school lunches in Britain and made for riveting television — he and the school cooks working feverishly to prepare dishes like tagine of lamb that the students either refused to try or dumped in the trash after one bite. When he eventually succeeded in getting them to abandon their processed poultry and fries and eat his food, the teachers reported a decrease in manic behavior and an increase in concentration. The school nurses noted a reduction in the number of asthma attacks. Those findings, along with “Feed Me Better,” his online campaign and petition drive, were the impetus for the British government to invest more than a billion dollars to overhaul school lunches.
Here is the article link: Jamie Oliver profile in New York Times
I signed up for Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s 60 Day Journey to the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) email list. I get an email every day to prepare me spiritually and mentally for this Jewish New Year and the Yom Kippur. The emails have been amazing, but none better than today’s email. Here it is:
Wednesday, September 9
THE SECRET OF A BROKEN HEART
We all make mistakes and break things in our life, but life also breaks us. We’ve all been broken in one way or another. We have all experienced broken promises or broken relationships; we have experienced the loss of a job or the loss of a loved one.
Different people react in a different manner to the hurt that inevitably accompanies breakage. Some people are devastated. Others grow because of it.
Some people have strength, some don’t. And there is a reason why. A tree that doesn’t fall over in a storm is a tree that was strong before the storm. The storm just revealed the strength of the trees. But a tree with no roots may be able to stand up in normal weather, but it breaks when a storm strikes.
And yet, the miracle of creation is that, paradoxically, the more broken you are now the more whole you have the chance to become.
The Rebbes teach that there is nothing as complete as a broken heart. When your heart is broken, you are in a place that is real.
Why is a broken wall the holiest place for Jews? Why do Jews stand and pray at a broken wall when there are such beautiful edifices around? Because, Jews know that this isn’t a perfect world. As long as the world is not perfect, Jews cannot stand in a beautiful edifice. Jews can only stand and cry at a broken wall.
The illusion of perfect edifices in an imperfect world makes us feel good. But it is an illusion nevertheless—good for Hollywood and Broadway, but it’s not reality.
The reality is that the world is a broken place—it’s a broken place full of broken people whose job is to mend what is broken.
If you want to sign up for this email list, go here: 60 Day Journey with Rabbi Jacobson
Enjoy this wonderful blog post from the New York Times by Maira Kalman about Thomas Jefferson. Really wonderful.
I highly recommend this inspiring LA Times article about Khadijah Williams. Here is a snippet:
“Around here, Khadijah is known as “Harvard girl,” the “smart girl” and the girl with the contagious smile who landed at Jefferson High School only 18 months ago.
What students don’t know is that she is also a homeless girl.”
Here is the link to the article:
The following is an excellent Memorial Day blog post on a true American Hero from The Hackensack Blog:
Please go read this article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell. It is about how underdogs can win. It is simply fantastic and has many lessons that anyone, especially investors can use.
I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile, but I think now is a good time to write this.
I have been very wrong the past year. I’ve been wrong on specific stocks and the direction of the market. I’ve lost my investors and others lots of money despite my hard work and research. After 10 years of never having a down year, I was crushed last year. I apologize if you listened to my advice or stock research and lost money. However, you should always do your own research and never rely upon someone’s advice without doing your own due diligence.
So with that being said, what have I learned and gleaned from the past 12 months?
1) Financial meltdowns crush microcap valuations no matter what the fundamentals are.
Two holdings of mine are of public record as I own more than 5% of each through my firm. Those two positions have both continued to grow are both profitable, where they were losing money in the past and have bright futures with a lot less risk than when I found them 2-3 years ago. Yet, both have lost more than half their values. Why?
Liquidity evaporated and many colleagues and fund managers had to go out of business, were fired or lost their clients and assets they managed. There is significantly less money floating in the microcap and small cap space than there was 12-18 months ago. So, when the selling came and crushed these stocks, there has been little rebound or buyers to cushion the fall. These stocks have started to form a bottom, but a substantial recovery has yet to happen. It is starting to happen, but it may take time. Liquidity is a risk and a valuation discount should be applied to any microcap position. I plan to incorporate this into my analysis in the future.
2) I did not assess the risks to some of my positions well enough
On at least one position, I did not appreciate how the psychology of the economic collapse would affect this traditionally non-correlated part of the economy. Further, this position did not have as robust a distribution network as competitors and was directly exposed to a fall-off in orders.
In the future, I plan to do a lot better job of focusing and highlighting the risks in any position I buy or recommend.
3) I did not fully appreciate the severity of the crisis in October
I had a naive approach and thought that this would be a bad recession, but it wouldn’t be a depression. I did not pay attention to how bad things were and how severe the situation was. More importantly, I tried to call the market bottom instead of managing risk and focusing on individual positions. Anytime I have done this in the past I have lost money. The fall of 2008 was no different.
4) Relative valuation does not help when everything is plummeting
A few positions were “value” because of relative valuation. The problem with this approach is that if the comparisons to your investment start collapsing, there goes your “value.” Relative valuation should be used but only in concert with other valuation metrics proved throughout time, such as low price to book, low price to earnings, etc.
5) Research Recommendations Need Less Enthusiasm and More Negatives
I get very excited about many things. Great food, friends, music, stocks, etc. I need to make sure that people understand that my enthusiasm for things is not hype or pump and dump activity, but just my regular way of expressing things. In the future, I plan to add a lot more caveats for downside, negativity and pitfalls in future recommendations in any report.
Those are just some of what I’ve learned in the past year and I have a few more that I’m ruminating on. I’m really thankful for my wonderful clients who continue to support me despite last year’s debacle. I’m glad that I know each of them and that they know me and how I think. And I’m really glad about my long term performance, which despite last year’s performance is still excellent.
I will make mistakes in the future and I will learn from this and I hope to become a better investor in the future.