The Learning Discipline

What’s the key to successful investing?

Source: Get Refe

There isn’t one key. There are lots of them: understanding ourselves, diversification, setting good goals, managing risk—the list goes on and on. And there are many fruitful investment styles: value, growth, momentum, factors, index investing. Successful investors have to pay attention to lots of things all the time.

But when you study great investors like Mario Gabelli or Laura Sloate—the blind stock analyst whose blindness forces her to “see” everything differently—one thing stands out: they’re always learning. Whether it’s understanding how new drugs can trick our bodies into fighting cancer or a new quantitative technique for detecting financial fraud, great investors are intellectually curious. They’re interested in everything.

So whether it’s a new translation of Homer’s Odyssey or a recently discovered grove of giant redwoods in California, everything has value. After all, some of these coastal redwoods were seeds when Homer wrote his work. They have something to say about long-term strategies.

Henri Matisse said that the role of an artist is to see old things in new ways. For the investor it’s something similar—seeing old principles applied in new circumstances. And buying great companies at cheap prices.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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