The Digest #84

Published on June 10, 2021

“If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”

— Warren Buffett


The Limits of an Inner Scorecard, June 10, 2021. “The lesson to take away from the inner scorecard concept is to be fiercely independent when it comes to exercising your professional judgement in areas where you are well within your circle of competence. At a personal level, the inner scorecard is of critical importance when it comes to what type of career to pursue and the types of people to associate with. But, ultimately, no life can be well-lived without eventually subjecting yourself to an outer scorecard. The good news is that an inner scorecard that is consistent with win-win outcomes is highly likely to lead to a favorable outer scorecard in the long run.” (The Rational Walk)

The Rise of SPACs: IPO Disruptors or Blank Check Distortions? by Aswath Damodaran, June 9, 2021. Professor Damodaran provides context regarding the boom in special purpose acquisition companies. “The attention that SPACs have drawn over the last few months may make it seem like they are a new phenomenon, but they have been around for a long time, though not in the numbers or the scale that we have seen in this iteration. In fact, “blank check” companies had a brief boom in the late 1980s,  before regulation restricted their use, largely in response to their abuse, especially in the context of “pump and dump” schemes related to penny stocks.” (Musings on Markets)

Getting the Goalpost to Stop Moving by Morgan Housel, June 7, 2021. The 1950s are often thought of as a golden age. A nice house in the suburbs. The family with three children, a dog, and two cars that could be comfortably supported on one income. Rock solid family values, patriotism, and a sense of common purpose. But from an objective standpoint, the median family today is far better off, at least financially. So why does it seem like people are not any happier? It is because the goalposts have not remained constant. They keep moving over time. (Collaborative Fund)

The Availability Bias: How to Overcome a Common Cognitive DistortionJune 7, 2021. “The availability heuristic explains why winning an award makes you more likely to win another award. It explains why we sometimes avoid one thing out of fear and end up doing something else that’s objectively riskier. It explains why governments spend enormous amounts of money mitigating risks we’ve already faced. It explains why the five people closest to you have a big impact on your worldview. It explains why mountains of data indicating something is harmful don’t necessarily convince everyone to avoid it. It explains why it can seem as if everything is going well when the stock market is up. And it explains why bad publicity can still be beneficial in the long run.” (Farnam Street)

A Project of One’s Own by Paul Graham, June 2021. “If I had to choose between my kids getting good grades and working on ambitious projects of their own, I’d pick the projects. And not because I’m an indulgent parent, but because I’ve been on the other end and I know which has more predictive value. When I was picking startups for Y Combinator, I didn’t care about applicants’ grades. But if they’d worked on projects of their own, I wanted to hear all about those.” (

America Has a Drinking Problem by Kate Julian, July/August 2021. “Since the turn of the millennium, alcohol consumption has risen steadily, in a reversal of its long decline throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Before the pandemic, some aspects of this shift seemed sort of fun, as long as you didn’t think about them too hard. In the 20th century, you might have been able to buy wine at the supermarket, but you couldn’t drink it in the supermarket. Now some grocery stores have wine bars, beer on tap, signs inviting you to “shop ’n’ sip,” and carts with cup holders.” (The Atlantic)


The Psychology of Money with Morgan Housel, May 29, 2021. “What’s interesting about Buffett is everyone knows he’s a very good investor and he’s very wealthy. That’s what everyone knows about Warren Buffett and if you dig into some of the numbers, that’s all true but it’s a little bit more nuanced. Really what it is, is Buffett is a good investor, yes but the secret is that he’s been a good investor for 80 years. The time that he’s been investing for, the fact that he’s 90 years old today and he’s been investing full time since he was 10, is really what makes all the difference in the world. So, I point out in the book that 99% of Warren Buffett’s net worth comes after his 50th birthday, was accumulated after his 50th birthday and 97% comes after his 65th birthday when he qualified for social security and could have retired.” (We Study Billionaires)

Conversation With Adam Mead, May 31, 2021. “Adam Mead is a practicing capital allocator, the CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Mead Capital Management, an investment management business he founded in 2014. He recently published a book, The Complete Financial History of Berkshire Hathaway: A Chronological Analysis of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s Conglomerate Masterpiece, which provides a comprehensive and detailed history of Berkshire Hathaway to date. Mr. Mead talks to Guy Spier about the extensive research for his book and shares some valuable lessons that he learned through the process.” (The Education of a Value Investor)

Conversation with Arnold Van Den Berg, May 31, 2021. “Arnold Van Den Berg is one of the most unique investors alive today.  He is Jewish and was born in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1939.  As a toddler, he and his family were forced to hide in a small closet when the Nazis searched his street.  His mother was concerned that Arnold and his brother, then 5 years old, would not be able to keep quiet during the searches. Consequently, she arranged for Arnold and his brother to be smuggled out of Amsterdam…” (The Business Brew)

Robert Hagstrom on Warren Buffett’s Money Mind, Successful Investing & Finding Quality Companies, June 3, 2021. “There have been so many books written about Warren Buffett that it can be hard to keep track of them. But before all of that could happen, someone had to be the first. This week we are joined by Robert Hagstrom, whose book The Warren Buffett Way was the first book that took a detailed look at Buffett’s investment strategy. And subsequent to that, he has also published The Warren Buffett Portfolio and Warren Buffett: Inside the Ultimate Money Mind, which looked at how Buffett constructs portfolios and the mental aspects of his investment process.” (Excess Returns)

JetBlue Airways: David Neeleman, May 31, 2021. This is an interesting discussion from 2019 with the founder of JetBlue. “In the mid-90s, David Neeleman wanted to launch a new airline. He had already co-created a regional airline out of Salt Lake City that was acquired by Southwest. And despite his admiration of Southwest’s business model, Neeleman felt there was a market for a different kind of budget airline.” (How I Built This)

Invisalign: Patents, Patients, Profits, June 2, 2021. If your only experience with orthodontics was enduring old fashioned metal braces as a kid decades ago, you will likely be surprised and amazed by the development of the clear aligner industry both in terms of the improved aesthetics and appearance provided by these products and the kind of margins they deliver to the manufacturer. In this interesting podcast, Nick Greenfield breaks down the Invisalign business model and looks at the dental market more generally. (Business Breakdowns)

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial 

The Eisenhower Memorial opened to the public last year. At first glance, it is not the kind of iconic memorial that honors George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson. Instead, it is more along the lines of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial with multiple focal points located on a few acres near the main sights on the national mall. The 77th anniversary of D Day seemed to be an appropriate time to visit.

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The Digest #84
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