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Why learn investing the hard way?

Do you realise you are one of a very small, distinguished, lazy minority? Did that sound like a contradiction – or flattering – or both?

I mean it as both – and I’ll tell you why, with some helpful suggestions.

A few inquisitive readers (investing does that to you, doesn’t it?) have asked if I write these newsletters off the cuff. I don’t, but would you like to know where they come from?

Only one source – and anyone can tap it just as easily as I do.

It is so simple that you may find it hard to believe me when I tell you. Here it is…


Yes; the only reason I can give you these newsletters is the same reason you’re reading them. I study. And I steal. I’m not that talented or intuitively brilliant. I have a library of books and thousands of articles – good and bad – that I add to constantly.

Because you’re reading this, I know you study too – which is why I put you in that small, distinguished minority – the intelligently lazy.


Why I became lazy

Let me tell you how I came to join this lazy minority we both belong to.

When I started investing I was amazed to see that most people relied on flair, luck, what was going up, intuition, what they liked, hot tips – anything except a study of what worked and what didn’t.

What an unbelievable opportunity I said to myself. I’ve found a business where people are too stupid or idle to study. How can I fail? But what’s even more amazing is that today, decades later, nothing has changed. It’s probably even worse!

I must have asked thousands of people at conferences and seminars what investing books they’ve read and what outstanding investors they follow – and the overwhelming majority have read very little and do not follow anybody.

I’m just staggered.

It’s not because they’re lazy. Most of them are diligently working away, maybe even harder than I do. But all too often on things that are a complete waste of time.


Fads and fashions instead of knowledge

They spend far too much time on the urgent, rather than the important; on the latest fashionable investment fad as a substitute for fundamental knowledge. The truth is that you and I are the clever ones because we are lazy – which is the contradiction I mentioned.

Isn’t it sheer madness to spend backbreaking years learning as you go along – like these amateurs do? It is very hard work – and highly likely to be unprofitable.

To sum up, there is one stark, simple difference between the winners and losers in investing and you can pin it on just one thing. Knowing more. And applying that knowledge.

You can easily pick up what you need in a few weekends from people who’ve invested lifetimes and billions learning what you need to know. That is being smart, professional and intelligently lazy. And it’s why I recommend the reading list below. I’m sure you’ve read some of those books, but not all.


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Recommended Reading List


Internet Resources and Articles

Columbia Business School Walter Schloss Archives
A wonderful source of information on a lot of the successful value investors as well as worthwhile articles

Columbia Walter Schloss Public article archive, be sure to click on the heading “Class Recordings” to see video recordings of the outstanding investor guest lectures.


Tweedy, Browne Company LLC

Tweedy is probably the oldest fund management company that practises value investing. They have a lot of really good papers and speeches on their website.

Tweedy Brown Papers and Speeches
The paper “What Has Worked In Investing” is especially worth reading.


Davis Funds

Davis Funds is a successful third generation fund management company. A really good article called “The Wisdom of Great Investors” is a really worthwhile read.


Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist and the co-creator of behavioural economics. In 2002 he along with his late collaborator Amos Tversky won the Nobel Prize in Economics

This is a worthwhile summary of his experiences and research. A short course in Thinking about thinking


GMO (Free registration may be required)
GMO was founded in 1977 and is a privately held global institutional asset manager. One of the founders, Jeremy Grantham, writes an excellent quarterly letter. Look for it about three weeks after quarter end.


To your “lazy” investment success