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Why I Don't Actively Invest On Public Markets

I do not actively trade any stocks or bonds on the public markets. I've also avoided cryptocurrencies, which trade on a public market.

I avoid public market trading for a couple of reasons:
1) It's been empirically shown that holding a diversified portfolio of investments for a long period of time is a better strategy than attempting to identify individual stocks that will outperform the market. This is because any additional gains you get by actively trading, on average, will be canceled out by the value of the effort put into achieving those gains. This leaves you, the average person, no better off than just passively holding diversified investments over a long period of time. Weathfront has a great explanation of why this is the case: in this blog post.

2) It's stressful. At any given time you could be doing better if you had more information on the companies you are trading. At any given time you could be doing better if you buy and sell at just the right time. At any given time... When actively trading this constantly was in my head, I became obsessive about research. This was emotional stressful. While probably not applying to everyone, it is not worth the stress to me.

3) Success attribution. It's really difficult (or maybe impossible) to identify the signal of why certain stock picks performed well and why others performed poorly. Which would be necessary to consistently pick well-performing stocks.

If you want to be investing more of your money but don't know where to start, I recommend checking out Wealthfront. They give you very good diversification without any fees on your first $10k, they encourage good long-term thinking, and they are not paying me to say any of this. Investing is important to wealth building, and active investing is one of the traps many first time investors will get caught in.

It would be disrespectful not to mention Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard investments, who pioneered bringing low cost diversified investment instruments to regular investors. Before Vanguard, if you wanted to match the performance of the S&P 500 you would need to buy every stock in the S&P 500. Vanguard created the first widely available index funds. By doing this Vanguard democratized access to index investing, by lowering the cost and complexity of making index investments. This gave regular people access to sophisticated investing techniques. What Wealthfront does is the modern continuation of these ideas, with added features such as Tax-Loss Harvesting and Automatic Rebalancing.

What is a Great Friend?

"A great friend is someone who helps you become the best version of yourself." I read this in Sheryl Sandberg's forward for the book Originals by Adam Grant. I love this quote.

It is a profound insight into what makes many relationships great. Beyond friendships, partners in business should share this quality. Instead of everyone working to outdo one another, everyone working to bring out the best in their peers is far more productive for the collective. This is also a useful lens while dating, as long as the effort is reciprocal.

Again what a wonderful notion of for friendship "A great friend is someone who helps you become the best version of yourself."

Update: Boulder Skyline Traverse #fail

Last year I wrote a blog post detailing a running route I wanted to run in Boulder.

I failed. More accurately, I didn't even try. Other priorities took over my time for the remainder of the warm days last year, and I didn't attempt the route that I set as my goal. Not completing the goal I set was disappointing. I had spent time training on the route, doing each section at least once during separate runs.

By the end of the summer, I was very confident I could complete the entire route in one go. There were two primary reasons I didn't go for it:
1) It would hurt. It's a long run, and by the end of it, I would effectively be injured just from wear and tear.
2) Once I realized I could do it, I lost interest in actually doing it. Has anyone else experienced this? Happens to me all the time. I often don't feel the need to prove something is possible, which I already know is possible.

I failed, moving on. It only feels right to try a different set of goals this year. So I've set two fitness goals: 1) Grand Traverse Ski Race and 2) Leadville 100 MTB

The Grand Traverse Ski race is a 34-mile ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. I've done the reverse route twice on a MTB during the summer racing series. It's exciting, and scary, to think about going back into the Maroon Bells wilderness in the heart of winter, on skis, in the middle of the night. The Leadville 100 MTB is a 100-mile mountain bike race which is potentially even more intimidating because of the distance combined with a very difficult course that tends to beat down first timers.

I am not confident that I can finish either of these races and that's what makes them fun :)

Hear Intentions Not Words

Language is a powerful tool for communication. The problem is, the system in our brain which turns our intentions into words is not perfect. The result of this is that we often don't say what we mean or we mean something that we don't say.

This is particularly apparent when talking about difficult subjects. Especially during difficult conversations, I have made a concerted effort to listen to intentions over words. David Cohen wrote a great blog post a few months ago titled Assume Good Intent. Assuming good intent is a powerful concept. Next time someone says something your gut perceives as critical ask yourself "what is their intention?" Their intention is often to be helpful. Some conversations are difficult by nature. Choose to work with people who have good intentions. Listen to their intentions not words, especially when they are critical.

Life Math: Compound Interest

I read this quote a long time ago and it has stayed with me "compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." The saying is commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, but after Googling it doesn't seem very likely Einstein ever said it. Regardless of where it came from; today, I linked it to a new meaning.

I've been thinking about how to define entrepreneurship, or more broadly how to describe the entrepreneurial mindset. One way that has resonated with me is efficiency in leveraging current resources. Or simply, making more out of what you have right now. Then repeating the process many times over. The result is compounding returns, which are quickly very rewarding. When evaluating how entrepreneurial someone is, one route is looking at what they have been able to accomplish so far through the lens of what resources they had at the time.

This will only get you so far, as some people are not able to continue compounding the returns. Some people are great at getting new companies or projects off the ground and then not the right people to take them from a small to medium scale. On the other side, some people are great at scaling companies or projects but their strong suit is not getting them started from scratch. Making sure the right people are involved at the right time is tricky. Ben Horowitz discusses this extensively in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

Determining the life cycle of a company you are most capable of contributing at is a really helpful lens when thinking about your career. I've recently determined that mine is in the earliest stage of a company where it is just a few people looking to get an idea off the ground. 

In other areas of life "what you made out of what you were given" is often something I am interested in learning about when I meet somebody. And a question I often ask myself is "how can I use the position I'm in now, to get more of the things I care about?" This sounds a little crazy, probably because your mind probably jumped to money. Don't think of it in the context of money and it feels a lot better. For example, "How can I use the things I have today to show my partner just how much I love them?" or "How can I leverage my volunteer time into affecting the most change for our cause?" 

Think about what limited things you have and how you use those resources today to drive the results you want. People who are good at this are often very successful.