Friday File: From Weed to Shining Sea

Have you ever heard the quote, “nothing tastes as good as thin feels?” Such sayings have been attributed to waif model Kate Moss, plenty of her anorexic fans, and dozens of others in the perfection industry (including Stephen Covey), and I’ll confess that the sentiment has never resonated with me even a little bit (as you’d immediately guess if I ever included a photo of myself in these musings)… but there’s a certain “delayed gratification” logic to that kind of mentality. To do things that are hard, you have to convince yourself that the eventual reward, uncertain though it is, is worth the shorter-term suffering.

It’s all emotional, though, so during times of market turmoil like this I do sometimes find myself coming across good companies, with strong and growing businesses, but emotionally responding to myself, “hmmm, but none of those taste as good as cash feels.”

And while I always want to have some cash available for the next opportunity, that’s probably as much a wrong reaction as fasting to reach some fashion ideal, since finding emotional solace in cash is really a market timing instinct (and those are usually wrong). Not because the market won’t go down from here, it probably will at some point, and my fear is that there might be an ugly reckoning in the next year or two… but because that “fear” feeling that keeps my cash position relatively large is not going to change on a dime to a “greed” instinct when the market collapses next time… At least, not naturally. So as a 50-year old guy who will probably be working for decades more (buy your lifetime memberships now!), I shouldn’t be falling for the easy solace of cash, I should be doing the harder work of finding a productive use for that money.

Ugh, so maybe that is like Kate Moss eschewing cheeseburgers, after all.

So that’s why I continue to lean into buying good companies, mostly in small chunks, the “micro-dosing” I’ve been talking about (a term I borrowed from Vitaliy Katsenelsen, a really interesting value investor), and why I’m keeping those lists of “gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if I could buy at THAT price” stocks, written on good old fashioned paper, with a handwritten price next to the ticker, so that I can try to remind myself to be greedy when compelling opportunities arise. ...

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