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Avram Fisher, Founder & Portfolio Manager of Long Cast Advisers, is a former equity analyst at CSFB and BMO covering industrials and business services. He has prior experience in private equity; as a corporate governance analyst; as a writer; reporter and private investigator; and as a lifeguard and busboy (I still clear plates when my kids don't). This blog is an open book of ideas about patient investing and about starting up a small-cap focused RIA. It is part decision-diary, part investment observations and part general musings. Nothing on this blog is a solicitation for business nor a recommendation to buy or sell securities. It is simply a way to organize and share thoughts with an expanding audience of independent, patient and talented small cap investors. www.longcastadvisers.com

Thursday, November 22, 2018

On thanksgiving

I've liked this poem "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann since I first saw it in college in Baltimore. I know it's a bit sentimental and cliched, and I realize it wasn't really discovered in a church but whatever, most origin stories are BS. It doesn't take anything away from the experience.

Another sentimental cliche is that this is the time of year when family gets together and fight. We seem to do that everyday in our household. But I've never had the seemingly most cliched Thanksgiving experience of arguing radical politics or having the "crazy uncle" thing. I adore my uncles, though sadly I lost one this year. Even then, I'm grateful that I knew him. He was an outlier in many ways. At his funeral my aunt, herself a published author, read something from his journal about a simple question frequently asked in his younger days "could we ... ? " evolving with time and experience to "should we ... ?"

It seems relevant to reflect on this question in an era of fast paced technological change (crspr, AI, self driving cars, drones and weaponry, etc.). Should we have left fire in the domain of nature? Of course not. I think we should ... as responsibly as possible ... understanding that there's a learning curve and we're likely to burn ourselves early on.

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I write here not about technology but with Thanksgiving and "gratitude" in mind. However, it would be disingenuous to honor those virtues without acknowledging the range of other emotions that seep into investing life when expectations aren't met: Anger, impatience and fear.

In thinking about both gratitude and anger, I acknowledge posts I've written here (as well as other "Dear Chairman" letters I haven't) that were written with too much of the latter and not enough of the former. In some cases I regret it and have apologized. In other cases, sharp words can help hold executives accountable to their shareholders when they hide their failures and lies behind silence.

But it would be ridiculous to not acknowledge the gratitude as well. I'm grateful for clients. I'm grateful for the returns. I'm grateful for the executives who manage our companies wisely and with integrity to enable those returns, and those who acknowledge their shortcomings and adapt when they are wrong, because course correction is always an option. I'm even grateful for the mistakes that I've learned from, as humbling as they can be.

Today should be a reminder that a little gratitude can help us all aim more accurately towards equanimity, to help make better decisions, to improve process, to better steward ours' and our clients' capital and to compound the value of investments for the long term. These attributes will enable business longevity and durability, two things I want, along with growing my client base and continuing to compound returns.

As the poem reminds us, "... many fears are born of fatigue." That and days when the indexes are down 500 points or large holdings decline 20%. At the very least we can be grateful to have a place to sleep, so we can wake refreshed and prepared for tomorrow, whatever it brings.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PAST HISTORY IS NO GUARANTEE OF PRIOR RETURNS. THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION FOR BUSINESS NOR A RECOMMENDATION TO BUY OR SELL SECURITIES. I HAVE NO ASSURANCES THAT INFORMATION IS CORRECT NOR DO I HAVE ANY OBLIGATION TO UPDATE READERS ON ANY CHANGES TO AN INVESTMENT THESIS IN THE COMPANIES MENTIONED HERE, WHICH I MAY OWN.

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