What Fear The Walking Dead Can Teach About Life & Investing
In the current season of the show Fear the Walking Dead there is recurring plot point of cardboard boxes left on the highway at mile markers that say "take what you need, leave what you don't." This can be useful for investing narrowly speaking and life more broadly.
I've mentioned before that I follow a couple of people on Twitter for information about diet and exercise. One of them is tapped into a group of young dudes who appear to make their living selling stuff on the internet (like middlemen maybe, not sure) as well as selling seminars and consultations on how to do what they do. This group also overlaps with low carb/carnivore-ish diet and they all seem to lift weights.
One aspect of their tweeting (I see this because the one guy I actually follow 'likes' everything they tweet) includes tweet storms that attempt to be profound, motivational, in your face and at times derogatory toward people who have different views (vegans being a good example of this).
I refer to this group as the low/carb high fat cohort and I learn things about diet and exercise from them. The rest of it is useless to me. No one says ten truly profound things everyday but these guys try. I don't care if someone looks at low carb/high fat and draws a different conclusion. It's not that someone who is in their 50's can't learn anything from dudes in their 20's or 30's you absolutely can but a 50 year old who builds their entire process for living around a constant flow of tweets from these guys probably needs to re-examine a few things.
To this post's title take what you need which in this instance is nutrition and exercise information in the form of direct content from them or links they share, I leave all the other stuff, that which I don't need.
I have a friend from a neighboring fire department who I see at the gym all the time and who I see occasionally on calls/incidents who is built like Skeletor. I had a question related to dead lifting that he helped me with but I probably don't need to ask him how to look like Skeletor.
This is consistent with my often blogged idea of taking bits of process from various sources to create your own process.
In what I think is a very related note, Zerohedge posted Seth Klarman: These Are The 20 Forgotten Lessons From The 2008 Crisis. Definitely read the whole thing but not all of it is relevant, take what you need, leave what you don't.
Number 1 was things that have never happened before are bound to occur with some regularity. He says you always need to be prepared for the unexpected which really means being prepared in case something bad happens. The way to do this is to understand what the bear case is at all times so that if a negative factor confronting markets actually impacts prices you can understand what is happening. You're less likely to panic if you understand what is happening. There are of course unexpected events that take down markets which is where having a disciplined investment strategy comes into play.
Number 1 is probably widely useful to a lot of people,
Another very useful one is number 9, you must buy on the way down. Did you do any buying in late 2008 or early 2009? As we sit here today with the market at all time highs it is easy to say "well of course you buy after large declines" but anyone who was around ten years ago and didn't add to positions might remember how difficult that is to do. If you did some buying that is great but you probably think you should have bought more.
We will have the opportunity again at some point to buy on the way down. This could be as simple as sticking with your 401k contributions or rebalancing your portfolio or actually committing new money to markets. If you know now that this is a good idea, maybe you can remember that when the time comes but even if all you do is don't panic sell you'll probably come out pretty well. Again this is widely useful to a lot of people.
One lesson from Klarman that is not as useful is number 20 almost no one will accept responsibility for his or her role in precipitating a crisis. It is not that he is wrong, he is not but I would be hard pressed to know how someone being held accountable for what they did ten years ago would impact the value of your IRA either way. The reality that Klarman lays out doesn't directly impact my financial picture nor my clients. Being held accountable would simply be a matter of justice.
Take what you need, leave what you don't.