Episode #34: “Things I Find Beautiful, Useful or Downright Magical”
Guest: Episode #34 is a compilation episode featuring all our previous guests.
Date Recorded: 12/20/16
Topics: It’s a special holiday episode of The Meb Faber Show. We thought it would be fun to combine all the “beautiful, useful or downright magical” contributions from Meb and our various guests into one episode. If you’re one of our listeners who has written in to report how much you enjoy this segment, this one is for you.
A quick word – as we move from 2016 to 2017, we want to give a huge “thank you” to all our wonderful guests for having given us their time and wisdom. And, of course, a very special “thank you” to all our listeners. We appreciate your time in tuning in to us, your thoughtful questions and comments, and your overwhelming support.
In order to spend time with our families, we won’t be publishing a new episode next week on Wednesday 12/28. We’ll see you in the New Year!
Episode Sponsor: Global Financial Data
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Comments or suggestions? Email us [email protected]
Links from the Episode:
Dashlane – Meb
Gransfors American Felling Ax – Patrick
Unclaimed.org – Meb
FakeMailGenerator – Jeff
TheWirecutter – Meb
CamelCamelCamel – Wes
Eton Shirts – Jared
OOVOO – Jeff
Momofuku Ssam sauce – Meb
Uncrate – Jeff
Philosophy: Return to the things we enjoyed as children – Pete
Fiverr – Meb
Sam – Birding by Ear
Meb – Boiled Peanuts Kit
Eric – The power of inverting your thinking. “Invert, Always Invert” – RP Seawright.com
Meb – Japanese TOTO Washlet
Rob – Next year’s eclipse
Meb – Board games for kids
Jonathan – Allow for ample time in between deciding on a course of action and actually acting on it
Meb – Photos printed on wood
Michael – Dropbox App
Michael – Fox News App when traveling
Michael – MagicJack App
Michael – Fish Sauce
Michael – Ito En Tea
Michael – Walking the Streets of Saigon
Meb – Outstanding in the Field
Gregg – Mentor
Meb – Touch your index finger to thumb, left hand makes a “b” and right a “d”….for where bread and water is on the table (HT Ferriss).
Jeremy – No Wait App
Porter – Save $50,000 in cash before you invest (I love this)
Meb – Life is not a dress rehearsal
Meb – San Juan Hut System
Brett – SemesterAtSea
Brew – HotelTonite
Meb – PowderHounds
Transcript of Episode 34:
Welcome Message: Welcome to the Meb Faber show where the focus is on helping you grow and preserve your wealth. Join us as we discuss the craft of investing and uncover new and profitable ideas all to help you grow wealthier and wiser. Better investing starts here.
Disclaimer: Meb Faber is the Co-founder and Chief Investment Officer at Cambria Investment Management. Due to industry regulations, he will not discuss any of Cambria’s funds on this podcast. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of Cambria Investment Management or its affiliates. For more information, visit cambriainvestments.com.
Sponsor: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Global Financial Data. We’ve been using data series from GFD for almost 10 years, ever since I wrote my first white paper. The data has been super useful in other areas like creating CAPE ratio calculations, and for over 20 years, Global Financial Data has been aggregating and transcribing data from original sources which no other data provider has done before. Please have a look at the website at globalfinancialdata.com, for more info and to setup a trial account. If you mention that I sent you, they’re offering a 20% discount on all new business subscriptions. Again, that’s globalfinancialdata.com.
Meb: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad, to all the podcast listeners. I’m here in snowy Colorado in my office based here also known as my betterment, my mom’s house. It’s beautiful outside. Hopefully gonna get some skiing in this week. But the podcast today is gonna be a little different. So first I want to, as we kinda wind down on into year-end take a look back, you know, it’s only been six months since the podcast started but we’ve done about 30 episodes. We recently got named one of the top five investing podcasts by the journal, and we’ve had almost 400,000 downloads with listeners in countries all over the world. So a huge thanks to everyone who has been listening in. It’s been probably more fun for me than anyone else. We got a lot of really wonderful guests and ideas coming up in the new year. But again, please send us feedback. So as you’ve listened for the first six months, shoot us a line at [email protected] Also, if you have any questions for the Q&A, and it would mean a lot in this holiday season to leave a review on iTunes no matter how short or one star to five stars. It doesn’t matter to me, just we would love to see the feedback.
A quick housekeeping, you know, as we go into to the year-end, a couple other ideas, one is we’re getting ready to publish a 2.0 version of our trinity paper. You can find it on the Cambria Investment’s website as well as if you’re on our email list from either mebfaber.com or Cambria. You’ll get the updated paper link, and we incorporate some ideas and questions that we frequently had over the past few months on the paper. So we updated that with some new ideas that I think will be really interesting for readers, and then second, as we look into your investments at year-end, take a quick look at Cambria Investments. We recently launched our Cambria Digital Adviser, have had hundreds of investors sign up and it’s been a pretty cool experience for someone who’s moved all of his assets, investable assets, public investable assets into an automated solution as well as our clients. Now, I can honestly say that I can’t fathom anyone doing it another way or going back.
So let move onto the podcast portion. What we’re gonna today, we’re not gonna have guests, we’re not gonna do a Q&A. We’re gonna do something a little different where we look back to every episode. If you remember, going back all the way to the first episode, and this was born out of a blog post we did last summer. We ask a simple question of all the guests, something called Things I Find Beautiful, Useful or Somewhat Magical. Maybe it’s Downright Magical. I can’t remember the original post. And we’ve had so many wonderful beautiful responses from people, everything from apps to recipes to philosophies and everything in between. So we’re gonna splice this up as kind of a best hits from kind of like a Sports Center top plays a year, we’re gonna have all of the episodes and things we find beautiful, useful, and magical. So enjoy. Happy New Year, and see you all in 2017.
Meb: Our first episode shows just me talking and it’s an introduction to the things we find beautiful, useful, and magical with the idea and app that started it all.
Meb: And lastly, I’m gonna finish up every episode with a little segment. There was a really popular blog post we did a few months ago, and it was sparked by a conversation I was having with a couple in New York. We were having a dinner in a little Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. And as usual, when I travel, we start veering off the conversation into beautiful places you’ve been, wonderful new apps that you’ve used, or things that you find just really wonderful. And we were having a conversation, and I mentioned a few, and they said, “Man, I wish someone had told me about that a year ago.” I said, “You never heard about this? This is such a…It’s made a huge impact in my life.” And I said, “You know what, maybe a lot of other people would like to hear about some of these things as well.” So we did a blog post called, “Things I Find Beautiful, Useful, or Downright Magical.” You can look up the whole list on there. But I figure on each episode, we’ll tackle just one thing that I find that fits into one of those categories that people may find of interest as well, and I’ll start with the first one that sparked the conversation in general, and that was using a password manager called Dashlane. And there’s a number of these out there, I think LastPass is another one. But it’s a very simple piece of software that sits on your computer, sits on your phone, and every time you get to a website, it stores your password, auto-completes all of them, auto-completes your name, address, you can save credit card information, airline information, everything possible on the planet. It probably saves me 20 minutes a day inputting all these things. Also on your phone, so if you’re going to a hotel or car rental and you wanna show your points number, all in one place. It’s a really wonderful resource called Dashlane.
Meb: Our next episode has our first guest, Patrick O’Shaughnessy, with probably one of the most unique suggestions for the podcast as well as one of my favorite resources for investors and individuals to save a lot of money that they probably don’t know the government has.
Patrick: So I think you should buy a Gränsfors American Felling ax, which will cost you about 200 bucks or so.
Meb: I don’t even know what that is. You mean like a chopping wood ax?
Patrick: So it’s an axe, there a lot of all kinds of axes. There’s one for you know, maul axes for splitting wood, like splitting firewood. A felling ax is for taking down a tree yourself without a chainsaw. So I moved out of New York City. I lived there for eight years. About almost two years ago now, because my wife and I had kids, we wanted some more space.
Meb: You walk around with an ax in New York City, you’re gonna get arrested.
Patrick: Yes. I have never chopped anything and had never done any hatchet work, and now I’ve got kind of this collection of axes and hatchets and things because I live in the woods. And so I take trees down myself, and it is, I think, it’s the thing I look forward to the most, this incredibly meditative.
Meb: I feel like some people who are listening to this and find this a little concerning.
Patrick: That’s all right.
Meb: You’re gonna redeem from this…
Patrick: Don’t knock it, till you try it. It’s an incredibly therapeutic thing to do. Actually, so here’s a third book I can throw in there. There’s a book called “Norwegian Wood” which is about basically chopping, splitting, seasoning, stacking, and burning wood, because it’s one of the main fuel sources in Scandinavia. And there’s this incredible like history and kind of like ecology component to all this that’s, I think, worth people’s time. So if you live in a wooded area, you’re getting a good felling ax and going at a tree, if you had a hard day, pretty good way to burn some stress.
Meb: All right. I’ll buy one of those, leave it at my house in Colorado. It won’t do me any good here in L.A. All right, well, mine is one that probably listeners have heard me talk about before. It’s a website called unclaimed.org. And what this is, is many people don’t know, but most state treasuries have billions leftover in investor assets that people have either…It’s either dividend checks that they moved or utility bills, or they have stock they forgot about. So for you or your family members, you can go onto unclaimed.org, type in your name, and you click on which state and you should also check states you used to live in, and type in your name and those your family members and you can find assets. We’ve found, to date, over 200 grand worth of assets for our blog readers, for investors, a guy in the office found, a new employee found $16,000 of his uncle’s. My partner found $50,000 which I think is the highest. There was one that was either $50,000 or $80,000.
Also, if you’re a financial advisor, there’s probably no other better client retention method. It’s a little creepy, but whatever. If you search your clients, find that they have assets, they’ll be your client forever, because A, you found them money; B, it’s money that the government has, so you’re taking it back from the government; and three, you’re thinking about them. So unclaimed.org, wonderful resource, check it out. If you find more than $100, shoot me an email, send me a bottle of tequila. I’ll be happy. You’ll be happy.
Meb: Episode three, just Jeff and I. As usual, Jeff comes up from an eyeball suggestion and mine is a website that recently got acquired for 30 million bucks. What do you find useful, beautiful, or downright magical, and we’ve had some interesting responses so far. I’ve had my original was Dashlane and then Patrick came on and suggested an ax, of all things. Jeff, you have something for us?
Jeff: Something I have to do a lot and you know, my job here is a lot of researching and download various reports and looking into all sorts of different date information. And a lot of it requires email addresses. They wanna capture data on you, but I’m not always wanting to give out my email address. So a site I’ve used several times is fakemailgenerator.com, which actually will spit you out a fake email address which you can put into whatever site you’re at and any mail that goes to that email address will immediately go to you at that site. So you never have to break out any email address or anything. You’ll get whatever they’re sending hassle free.
Meb: That sounds incredibly shady. All right, well, to those hiding out and chelae [SP] from the U.S government, there you go. Mine is a site called “Wirecutter,” and this is a site that you can go to…older folks may remember CNET, there’re people who probably still use that, I’ve no idea. But, let’s say I go online, I wanna buy the best fan, or you know what? I don’t wanna go spend 20 hours of research researching a TV which by the way there’s great TIAA-CREF study that talked about people spend more time researching TV than focusing on their retirement investing in assets. I don’t wanna spend time on this. I just want someone to tell me, “Look, what’s the consensus best reviewed? What’s the best deal? Where can I buy it? Just tell me what to do.” And Wirecutter does this for…they started out with electronics. They do a composite reading of all the reviews from different sites. But then they go and test them all themselves, and then the way they make money is of course through affiliate links. So they’re unbiased because they’ll get paid no matter what, which one they recommend. But, you know, you click through, they’ll get an Amazon affiliate link or whatnot. But it has saved me vast amount of hours through buying a lot of just, I mean even things like a surge protector or the best kitchen knives or whatever it may be, anyway…
Jeff: It covers that many things?
Meb: Because they have a home version too, so the original was just for electronics but they’ve expanded into all sorts of different stuff. Now, the bad news is you’ll probably go on there and end up spending a bunch of money, but it also is a big time saver as well. So that’s a great one.
Meb: Episode four, we got Wes Gray of Alpha Architect, with a website suggestion, and I toss in one my favorite recipes as well as a website that lets you bid on silent auctions and it all goes to charity.
Wes: It’s a…I bought it for my wife. She actually told me about it, but there’s this really cool website. It has a weird name. It’s camelcamelcamel.com, and what it is it’s like Bing Travel or they tell you when the flights, like the best prices, like when to buy and when not to buy. And a lot of people don’t know but like Amazon changes their prices all day long and for a bunch of different reasons, and camelcamelcamel just allows you to basically identify kind of when you can bottom tick your purchase of whatever you wanna buy on Amazon. It’s super cool. I recommend everyone check it out just to get ahead of the Amazon algos.
Meb: I feel like knowing you as a potential prankster. This would be like a really funny joke if that actually wasn’t what is was, but it’s some like giant pop up, where someone was gonna be screaming on their computer and is just gonna embarrass everyone when they open it. I hope so. I’ve never heard of this.
Wes: No. It’s totally legit, but that said, if you go to alpha-architect.com, don’t go there because it’s a spammer guy, and we can’t do anything about it, but yeah, people do crazy things, but this one is legit.
Meb: That’s really funny because when I did the ideafirm.com, someone else has Idea Farm, and if you go to that site, it’s altogether different site than a finance research portal. I’m not gonna tell anyone to go there but it is unique. All right, my thing I find beautiful, useful, magical, I’m gonna two real quick. One, Nancy Silverton’s pizza recipe. This is the best pizza recipe I’ve cooked. A gazillion pizza doughs from whole foods and Trader Joe’s and everybody else, and they always end up kind of just meh. This pizza recipe from a famous LA chef, baker, it’s one of the best pizzas on the planet. The other one I’ll give you is a website called Charity Buzz, and this lets you go online and bid on various sort of events. Things like lunch with a famous actor or sports figure, or tickets to Hamilton, or a villa rental in Joshua Tree. And I kind of regret telling people this because it’s not a very efficient market yet, and so a lot of these experiences or services will go for pretty low cost, and the good news is that it all goes to charity. So a really cool website for some unique ideas.
Meb: Episode five, we have Jared Dillian, with a suggestion for one of his favorite shirts and then we’ve got two of my favorite apps. One a travel and one a car related app.
Actually, I’m going to give two real quick. Two apps that I love that I’ve used in the past year that just work and are seamless. And this says a little bit more about my lifestyle, so if you need to plan ahead for eight months, it’s probably not going to work for you.
Hotel Tonight is a wonderful app. I think a lot of people know about it now, but it allows you…It originally was just if you wanted to book a hotel for tonight. And it gives you a selection of…So if you travel to New York, for example, it gives you a selection of the best hotels in New York, often for half off. I’ve seen them from two-thirds off the price. Now, it’s even more user-friendly, because it lets you book, I think, for up for a full week, a week ahead of time, and it’s really a seamless app. And then a close tangent to that in this sort of app economy is what we call…I sold my last car using an app called Beepi. If you have a car that’s been…Within the last 10 years, for example, the floor is CarMax. You can take it to CarMax because you know that’s the floor price you could sell this car. And you could probably get a higher price at something like Craigslist, eBay. Huge pain in the ass, though. You have people coming to your house, they want to test drive it, they want to take it to a mechanic. Beepi will come out to your house, inspect the car, take it for a quick test drive, email you, I don’t know if it’s the next day, two days later, an offer and that offer was probably 20% higher than CarMax. You can accept it or not, and they list it on their website for a month. If someone buys it, they show up to your house, give you a check, take the car, drive away. Or if no one buys it in a month, they buy it. So anyway, check out both of those. We’ll put up all these notes in the show notes. Do you have something for us, any ideas?
Jared: I have a secret weapon when it comes to shirts. I am just religious, I just swear by these shirts. So they’re called ETON, E-T-O-N. It was actually named after the British boarding school. And this is a Swedish company. Ever heard of Swedish shirt-makers, these shirts, they are expensive. With tailoring, it’s going to be about $300 a shirt.
Meb: So these are dress shirts?
Jared: Yeah, dress shirts. Yep. You can roll it up in a ball and put an anvil on it, and then a week later, pick it up, put it on, and your body heat will just make all the wrinkles go away within about 10 minutes. They’re indestructible, they don’t stain. Every shirt I’ve had that I’ve owned for years just never falls apart. They look amazing. I always get compliments on them. The $300 that you’ll spend is totally, totally worth it. Definitely, get your money’s worth. Swear by these shirts.
Meb: That’s perfect for me because I spend a lot of time wrinkling and spilling crap all over all my clothes. You know what I was going to use for you if you didn’t have anything was you mentioned in one of your speed rounds. And so, listeners, Jared does a speed round at some of his issues where it’s kind of a stream of consciousness, thoughts on whatever. And you mentioned, you said, “I’m not much into viral internet crap, but if you have three minutes, listen to Grace Vanderwaal’s audition on America’s Got Talent.” I’d heard about this and seen it go by. I hadn’t listened to it. I listened to it last night, and you’re pretty right on, spot on. That was awesome-pipes out of a 13-year-old girl. And I think she’s from New York.
Jared: Yeah. She’s from upstate New York. I mean, really, the amazing thing about her is that like you’ve seen 12 or 13-year-olds that can sing. That’s not new. What’s different about, there’s two things that are different about her. One is she’s a musical prodigy. She’s been writing music since she was three years old, and these songs that she writes, I mean, they’re just incredible. The other thing is when she sings, it’s like hearing the emotions of somebody who’s like 40 years older. The maturity…It’s hard to explain. When she gets to the quiet parts of the song, the whole place was just silent. I mean, it’s just amazing. I said in a later piece that I think I really thought that she is a once-in-a-30-year type of talent. Like Michael Jackson, people like that. She’s that good.
Meb: However, I’m going to read the line before this. So this is gonna be the big caveat for…You’ve also gone on record saying, “‘I Want It That Way’ is the best pop song ever created, ever better than Michael, better than Madonna, better than everyone.” So take what has just been said with a grain of salt, listeners, if you don’t think that’s the best pop song ever.
Meb: Episode six, just me, a favorite browser extension. Today’s is pretty basic. It is a extension you can download for your browser. So when you’re on the internet, if you’re like me, and you have like 40 tabs open at all times, every time you click open a new tab, if you download what’s called the, I think it’s the Momentum extension, it’ll pop up some of the most beautiful photos you’ve ever seen. So I’m a big nature lover. Spend a lot of time outdoors, so it’ll be vistas from New Zealand, or China, or North Carolina, Canada, all over. It tells you where it is, and has a motivational quote at the bottom, but in the middle, it says, “What are you trying to accomplish today?” And you can type that in each day. It says, “Welcome, Meb. What are you trying to accomplish?” You could type in, “Hey, I’m trying to finish this white paper,” “I want to read this book.” So every time you tap open that new tab, and think you’re going to Twitter or Facebook or some other distraction, you get this beautiful reminder of, “Hey, maybe you want to get back on task a little bit.” Anyway, it’s a wonderful, beautiful, simple addition to your day that makes a big difference.
Meb: Episode seven, Meb and Jeff Q&A. We have a website suggestion from Jeff and one of my favorite cooking sauces.
Jeff: Well, I wasn’t really prepared very well this time, so I asked someone here in our office, and she swears by a site called ooVoo. That’s O-O-V-O-O.com. And apparently what this is, is its video conferencing. Think of like FaceTime. It’s video conferencing that you can do at the same time with up to 12 friends, and it’s free.
Meb: Also sounds kind of shady.
Jeff: Sounds like my nightmare.
Meb: Well, it’d be good for families’ right across the country. You could bring in you know, it’s interesting because every time we’ve had half a dozen guests on this point, the episodes, I haven’t heard of a single thing anyone has suggested, not a single one of them. I mean, certainly not Patrick’s ax. All right, so mine…What’s the website again?
Jeff: ooVoo, O-O-V-O-O.com.
Meb: Mine is completely different. It is a Korean chili sauce created by David Chang, who’s the chef at Momofuku. And you can buy this off their website, and it is kind of this funky, thick ketchup, but it’s like a dark magenta color. I put it on absolutely everything.
Jeff: Sounds questionable.
Meb: It’s really good. But I like sauces. I’m a huge Lizano fan from Costa Rica, Texas Pete from hometown North Carolina, that’s a good one, anyway…
Jeff: When are you gonna give us some more of your personal recipes?
Meb: Yeah. Well, that wasn’t one of my personal recipes. The Nancy Silverton, that’s hers. I don’t have any. I outsource mine, believe me. I have no interest in coming up with any of my own.
Meb: Episode eight, Jeff’s got the man’s man’s website as well as one of my absolutely favorite gifts and most beautiful sculptures sitting in my house.
So we end every episode with things I find beautiful, useful, downright magical. I’m getting to the point where we are going to stop asking Jeff because he seemed to be getting weirder and weirder. He was talking about, let’s see, was it fake e-mail, websites, and a group video chat.
Jeff: It’s amazing stuff.
Meb: What do you got for us this time?
Jeff: Uncrate.com. It’s a cool website that’s kind of oriented towards guys. It’s got gear and cars and tech and cool stuff. It basically profiles a lot of really cool fun stuff.
Meb: I’m familiar with that one. They often have classic cars and you know my love of…My first car was a 1983 brown Toyota Land Cruiser wagon, and I have always had a fascination with old Land Cruisers. So they put a bunch of Cruisers on there and it’s actually really sad because did you know by the way that Japan came out with a 50th-anniversary edition Land Cruiser. So with all new components but with a classic body style only for sale in Japan and I don’t think you can import. Readers, correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t think you can import a car not for sale in the U.S. because it hasn’t passed the safety standards. I’ve never been as sad as the day that I learned that they are putting out a new one but you couldn’t import it. So if I’m wrong, readers contact me. All right, I’m familiar with that site so you are off the hook.
So mine is something a little different and mine is a piece of art that I bought maybe a year or two ago that I can stare at all day. It’s like most of the beautiful thing I have ever seen, and I’m going to murder this guy’s name. It’s Japanese so Takeo, T-A-K-E-O, I-N-O-U-E, Inoue, any guesses? Takeo Inoue. He has this sculpture. We’ll put a picture on the show notes, that is a dandelion lion encased in a plastic acrylic. So it just looks like this dandelion hovering in midair. It’s the most beautiful thing I think I have ever seen. It’s for sale in a couple of Japanese website. It’s not cheap. It’s like 200 bucks and there is a bunch of variations of it. Anyway, check it out if you have a wife, husband, girlfriend, coworker, adviser-client that you particularly like, it would probably be really cool gift. I think it’s on the website somewhere in Tokyo, but anyway, we’ll add it to the show notes. That was a different one to mix it up.
Meb: Episode nine, Pete Mladina brings to us a really interesting philosophy and Meb has a website suggestion on how to outsource all sorts of crazy ideas.
Pete: You asked me to think about this a little bit. And I’m going to hit something I’ve been thinking about more recently. I think it’s an insight, but maybe not. For folks like us, Meb, sometimes I think we work more than we should. And I find myself, maybe it’s the curiosity in me, I find myself up at 11:00 at night writing some paper that I don’t need to write for my career. And I wonder why I’m doing it, and I realize I shouldn’t be doing it, actually. And I’m trying to find that balance between sort of these things that I do find interesting, but the rest of my life that has absolutely nothing to do with this. And I’ve recently realized, I’ve tried a number of things, whether it’s…I play tennis. I love to go fishing. This is first I’ve realized you’re a fisherman. We’ve got to connect on that later.
I’ve realized really lately that although I have tried a number of things since I’ve been 20, for example, I find myself reverting back to and enjoying the things I enjoyed when I was in 6th, 7th, and 8th, and 9th grade. I think there’s a formative time then, around middle school, where I find myself just loving those things. And fishing is an example of that or playing tennis, or whatever may be the case. And as a part of that, the things I’ve learned later, I’ve been less good at and less persistent with. And as part of that, I have two young girls now, and they’re coming of that age now. I just want to make sure they have enough experiences between 6th grade and 9th grade so that when they are adults, they’ll have these hobbies and these interests that they’ll love to go back to because of the things they enjoyed when they were that age.
Meb: You’re heading to Europe soon, right?
Pete: I am, yeah. We’re going on vacation actually to Croatia, where I have some of my family’s background and its beautiful Dalmatian Coast. I just had some couple of weeks there.
Meb: I just had some friends that were sailing that coast, and I was jealously looking at all their photos. It looks pretty awesome.
Pete: Yeah, there’s 1,000 plus islands, great history. It’s like Greece, but a little further north, and huge Roman and Croatian history there. It’s a fabulous, beautiful place. I don’t wanna market it too much because it’s already starting to get too crowded.
Meb: Yeah. I’m trying to remember back, all things that I loved doing in 6th, 7th grade. So obviously, playing sports, but it would have been laser tag back then. There’s a good investor we’ll have on this podcast later who talks about, he says, “As the younger generation starts to age and hit middle-age and older and starts having the assets, if you think about investing, but in the collectible space, or trading space of art and collectibles, it’s, ‘What did that generation covet when they were younger?'” And so this generation it may be classic muscle cars of the ’60s, and all the things that people were interested in. And I’m trying to think about…I’ll think about it later, but things that I would be interested in investing in that I really coveted. Maybe it was a Ken Griffey, Jr. baseball card. I don’t know. Upper Deck, ’89.
Pete: All I know is I wish I did more things when I was in seventh, eighth, and ninth grade that I could do as an adult because you’re right when you hit sports. I played a lot of basketball and a lot of soccer. I just can’t do that anymore. But I can play tennis, right? I can go fishing.
Meb: The one that I just got back, so after I was on this crazy road trip, Canada, Colorado to give a speech, and then to Oregon where I have a bunch of guy friends that are…I was by far the worst golfer. So Bandon Dunes we went and played, and I had bought some clubs, and rushed to get a handicap but what a beautiful location. The biggest challenge I have with golf is it’s such a massive time chunk.
Meb: It’s a straight up 4 to 6 hours. That’s pretty tough. If I could just go out, and no one else out there, and go play, and put in a podcast…
Pete: It’s a great example. Whether it’s golf or sailing, another thing I used to do a lot of, they both take a lot of time. And so the trick is finding these things that don’t take as much time but you still enjoy and love. And again, if you get kids, I’m trying to think about those things so they learn how to do them.
Meb: Yeah, just drag them along. Just drag them along. All right, well mine is totally different and is a website called Fiverr. Have you heard of this?
Male: It’s F-I-V-E-R-R. It’s a website where you can go on and basically pay anyone five bucks to do anything and that’s a stretch. But say you need a logo, or you want someone to call your friend and sing him happy birthday in Al Pacino’s voice. Or there’s a couple I did where, for Valentine’s Day one time, I had a bunch of drawings done. First of all, it’s 5 bucks, so none of these are gonna be Leonardo-type drawings. But some of them actually became very good, and some of them were really funny. And an interesting story, and we’ll play this in the following podcast because I don’t have it on me, but if anyone’s ever heard Tosh.0, the comedian on Comedy Central, he has a disclosure, in the beginning, he reads where it’s like, “Don’t try this at home. These are things that will kill you if you do this at home.” But he had someone dub it where it was Barack Obama’s voice from all of his speeches. And so it’s very clear that he’s not reading it, that’s its cut up, but it’s pretty funny. And so we put it on Fiverr to try to get people…We have disclosure we read at the beginning about Cambria, and, “This isn’t investment advice,” yadda yadda. And so we had to try to get a job for both Hillary and Trump ahead of this election time, just to see. And they’re so hilariously bad. I wish I had them to play for you. I’ll play them in the next podcast. We’re certainly not gonna include them because they’re so horrifically bad, but it’s pretty funny. But anyway, this website’s wonderful. Even to the point where I was like, “This is such a good idea. But why don’t they start one where it’s $20 instead of $5.” I was trying to buy the domain 20spot, but it turns out it’s a café in San Francisco. They wouldn’t sell it to me. I don’t know if they’re still around. I’ll have to look it up.
Meb: Episode 11, Sam Stovall of S&P comes up with an interesting audio style book and Meb one of my favorites. Recipe is the wrong word. Kids maybe one of my favorites things to eat but you can get it in the mail from Amazon.
Sam: I remember somebody asking me a little while ago, “Sam, how do you relax? You work on Wall Street. It’s a high-paced industry. You spend a whole day staring at a computer screen crunching numbers, etc. How do you get away from it all?” Well, I sort of look around to see whether I really wanna admit this. But I’m a bird nerd. I’m not a bird watcher because I can’t see the darn things. You know, they always hide behind the leaves. I guess they don’t wanna get eaten by birds of prey. So what I did many years ago was I purchased a CD series by the Peterson Field Guide company called “Birding by Ear.”
You’ll be surprised as to the number of birds that you already know. You’ll be listening to this CD, and you’ll say, “Wait a minute. I know that bird. I’ve heard that. I just didn’t know what it’s called. I know this one. I don’t know what it’s called.” But I’m not one of the people who dresses up in the birding outfits or takes a notepad with me. But I do like to go for long walks in the woods. Some people have always told me to take a hike. But this way, it enhances that hike, because I can, in a sense, be in tune with nature and identify the calls that I’m hearing. I don’t need to have a smartphone looking for an imaginary Pokemon. I’m actually in the real world listening to real life around me.
Meb: I think that is the real world for a lot of people. That’s an interesting one. We’ve had very eclectic answers so far. And certainly, there hasn’t been a repeat. Mine, I’m gonna give…I was just back in the south. I grew up partially in North Carolina. And we grew up going to a lot of these redneck beaches. And I can say that because I’m Southern. I’m part redneck. But we were just in Florida this year. And one of my favorite things about the South, I get really homesick when I go back. I don’t get homesick when I’m living in L.A. But when I go back to the south, I get homesick for the people and the food and everything. And there are some particular boxes I have to check off every time I go to the beach. You know, you gotta get a bunch of steamed shrimp and some oysters, sweet tea. Although I can’t handle the sweet tea anymore because it’s too sweet, so I gotta go halvesies on it. But there is something that I feel like the vast majority of Americans has never heard of, and that’s call boiled peanuts. And if you’re in the South, it’s called, they say boiled peanuts. You’ll find these guys on the side of the road, usually shirtless, cooking out of a big tub. You get these peanuts that are heated and essentially boiled. And they’re a little softer and salter or Cajun. You can find them in gas stations. It’s the best thing on the planet.
And then I came back a few years ago, and I said, “All right, I got a new business idea. I’m gonna start becoming a boiled peanut distributor online because you can’t find these anywhere. And it turns out there’s actually a couple of brands. And there was one brand where they would send it to you in a pouch, but it would come in liquid or a can, which is pretty gross. But I just found on Amazon last week that you could buy these. And the whole key is, by the way, I learned the hard way, you have to buy raw peanuts. And so the first time, I had a buddy having a cookout here in L.A. He’s a Southern guy. And I tried to make some boiled peanuts on the stove. And I put a bunch of peanuts in there. And after about an hour, they were still disgusting and hard. And a friend came up from Savannah, Georgia, actually Tybee Island, and he said,” Meb, what are you making? And I said, “Boiled peanuts.” He said,” Oh, I’m so excited” And I said,” But the problem, they’re not working. Do you have any suggestions?” He’s like, “Well, you bought green peanuts?” “What?” Right? And I said,” I’ve never heard of what that is.” And he said, “Well, they’re raw. You have to buy raw peanuts.”
So now, you can buy them online on Amazon and get a boiled peanut kit, which is kind of embarrassing. But it’s basically $8, you know, idiot fee for buying green peanuts, $8 to give you a Cajun seasoning and if we tried some. It actually ends up pretty great. So that’s it, Sam, you ever had boiled peanuts?
Sam: No, but I’ve seen them. I’ve heard about them. And being a fan of Deputy Dog at an early age, it’s a cold day in the south before I’ll say I don’t like boiled peanuts.
Meb: Good. Well, put it on your to-do list. You haven’t lived if you haven’t had boiled peanuts.
Meb: Episode 14, Eric Crittenden has an interesting philosophy and my input is one electronic and one of my favorite evolutionary biology books.
Eric: Well, my answer is probably gonna be different than answers you’ve gotten from other people. I’ve had to undergo a big change in my life recently as I went from. You know how I used to be. I was a researcher doing a lot of programming, spending a lot of quality time with myself and my small research team back in the Blackstar days. And now, we have a firm that has over 60 employees. So trying to scale our way of thinking, our critical thinking skills, is interesting. So I would say that the most beautiful thing that I’ve seen recently is when you can get smart people to work together as a team and build their own decision-making process, like scaling what we have at Longboard across other people, the return on investment is so high and the compounding is so great. And when you can help people to get past their own biases and learn how to be good critical thinkers and teach other people, it’s very powerful when they work together as a team and can solve problems.
So I’ve committed time and effort into training people. And it’s actually pretty easy. I just explain to them why I have confidence in our own products. It really is that simple. I show them how I made decisions, how we inverted logic. I give them examples like, you know, you probably heard this example about the World War II bombers and survivorship bias where, you know, the allied forces were studying bombers that were turned from campaigns over Germany. And they lost a lot of bombers in the early stages of World War II. And they were trying to figure out ways to reinforce these aircraft such that, they would have higher survival rates.
So they hired all of these statisticians to evaluate the data. And an interesting thing happened. They noticed very clear patterns in where these bombers would take fire and sustain damage. And they were very clear and obvious. And their first instinct was to reinforce those sections of the plane that took the most damage. But there was one statistician in particular, and I don’t remember his name, but I’ll send you the article if you haven’t seen it. And he said, “No, you’re thinking about this the wrong way. You need to invert everything that you think and work backwards.”
It’s the information you don’t have that’s valuable. It’s what you don’t know that has the hidden value. The bombers that didn’t come back must have been getting hit in the other areas. So you need to invert the pattern, take the negative of it, and reinforce those sections of the planes. You’re setting the survivors, and there’s valuable information there, but you’re misinterpreting. Does that make sense?
Meb: I love that. That’s a great piece of philosophy. It’s kind of like you coming full circle. You’re now gonna be back, be a professor at Arizona or ASU and start teaching mechanical systems design.
Eric: Oh, I’m a professor at Longboard. And teaching people these things and we use other examples here, like the Monty Hall problem with the three doors and people not switching doors, to demonstrate cognitive biases. And the tendency that we all have, our mammal brains suffer from the same delusions. But getting people to learn on their own rather than preaching to them, walking him through examples and showing them the results and letting them feel it and experience it, and then to learn on their own and then go out and teach other people and then having that cascade throughout the organization to the human resources department, the recruiting department, the trading operations department, and then you see them actually learn those lessons and then use those valuable insights in a totally different context, well, that’s a beautiful thing to me.
Meb: It’s funny because I started out as a biotech student as well. And eventually, similar to you, kind of slowly, the path moved away towards investing and systems as well. And one of my biggest interests has always been psychology, evolutionary biology. And so, we’ll probably have to have you on again in six months, and we’ll do a pure psych episode. But you know, it’s one of my beautiful useful things and I was gonna say Dyson fans, and I don’t mean Dyson fans like the one you see at the airport, which I actually think are kind of gross. But the ones, they have these fans you can get for a home and then the most beautiful fans. They’re expensive, 200, 300 bucks. But they also have ones now that will blow hot air, cold air. And for someone who doesn’t have any AC at my house, they’re a lifesaver. But I’m not gonna say that.
I’m gonna give you a book rec now because of your mention of evolutionary kind of psychology ideas or just psych in general. It was written by British Professor Olivia Judson called “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation.” And it has nothing to do, really, with sex, but it has everything to do with animals and species around the world and how they’ve evolved against each other. And it’s such a wonderful book. There’s so many books that cause you to take a step back and think about the world in a different way. And your inversion comment, I think, is so useful to go look at all your ideas and process and say, “All right, let’s flip this and kind of understand what’s going on.” And this book in a similar way has you thinking about a lot of things in a different way.
Meb: Episode 17, we have the Canadian ReSolve Crew, Butler, Philbrick, Gordillo. It has a whole bunch of suggestions and one of my favorite things and it almost feels better to back to but some import from Japan that I wish I had in my house.
Michael: All right, so I tried to think about things that have really changed or enhanced my life. And one of the things that I can’t live without anymore are my Bose noise reduction earphones. So these are the ones that sit inside the ear, and they are the only version of a noise reduction headphone. If you travel on any kind of subway to and from work, you’re probably not gonna throw big headphones over your ears. And these ones work fantastically well, even when you don’t want the noise reduction, the clarity and the detail that you can hear in your music is a huge enhancement. So that has been life-changing for me.
Meb: Are these traditional wire or are they Bluetooth yet? Are you still wired into your…
Michael: They’re wired in. They’re not Bluetooth, and maybe we should send a letter to Bose to get them to do a wireless version.
Adam: You know they’re on it already. You know they’ve been working on it for five years, right? They just need to get it exactly right.
Rodrigo: Mike likes them so much. He likes them so much that he buys a new set every two weeks that loses it.
Michael: Yes, and before any listener goes out and buys them, there’s different versions for Android and Apple.
Meb: Good to know.
Michael: [inaudible 00:43:41] in the right one which I have made. And they’re like 350 bucks, so, yes, I have multiple pairs.
Meb: Good to know. Anything else from you guys?
Rodrigo: Yeah, I have a cheaper option. I’m a father of two girls, four-year-old and a two-year-old, and a lot of what we do requires us to read, right? So I try to find time in my day to manage the team and also go back home, take care of the kids, take care the wife, and read the material that I need to read is nearly impossible. So I’ve taken to audible and podcasts like yours, which I love, but there’s an app called Natural Reader where you can…It has a built-in browser. So whenever you’re browsing, if you’re reading an article or a blog online, you can just let it read it to you while I’m driving or if I’m cooking for the family, I have it on my earphones, it reads it out to you. White Papers, you put a PDF in there, it reads it all out to you. So I’m an audible learner, and I think anybody that has an inclination to that should pick it up. So Natural Reader is an app on the iPhone.
Meb: What do you listen to that on?
Rodrigo: What do I listen to that on, what do you mean?
Meb: Your Bose quiet comfort?
Rodrigo: No, I can’t afford it. I lose my stuff every two days.
Meb: And can you select like Canadian accent on that?
Rodrigo: You can actually.
Meb: Latin, Peruvian accent.
Rodrigo: You can select different voices, male, female, different accents, yeah, yeah.
Michael: A little Texas y’all in there too.
Rodrigo: That’s right.
Meb: Anymore, is that a third or are you finished on that side?
Adam: Yeah. Mine was a nerdy one and I’m not even gonna spend any time on. But I think Open-Source programming has been the single greatest life changer for me over the last three, four years. Just learning R and Python and all the different packages and functions and stuff that other people produce to do all kinds of really cool shit is absolutely mind-blowing. We make use of it in every single dimension of our business, not just from the perspective of development and strategy deployment, but for reporting, for dynamic updating of reports like this expected future returns report that we’re gonna develop every quarter now. We’ve just got a script written in R that’s gonna aggregate data from all the different sources and automatically generate it with no human intervention and it just gets posted. It’s just amazing.
Meb: That is literally my worst nightmare. I had sat through about one semester of C++ in college and it was the most physically painful course I’ve ever taken. So kudos to you, but programming for me is so incredibly difficult. I admire those that can do it. All right, well, mine is a little bit different. I went skiing in Japan this year which very few know has some of the best powder in the world, Canadians may take that personally, but they get a ton of snow. And returning from Japan almost feels barbaric. And then they have the most amazing toilets in the world. So we’re talking heated seats. They have like 19 different functions that anyone that has been over there can remember, but there’s a particular brand I believe called TOTO, and you can get a little off Amazon and not an adjustment, you can get a little kit to put on your toilet. You need an electrical outlet, but it is a life-changing situation. Once you’ve sat on a heated toilet seat, you’ll never go back.
Meb: Episode 18 with Research Affiliate’s, Rob Arnott, has a 2017 must not miss natural event. And mine, which is actually timely, an interesting idea for some holiday gifts for kids.
Rob: I could say that something utterly magical is our website and its tools for asset allocation. But that would be self-serving, so let me not say that. One of my weird hobbies is to chase solar eclipses. It takes me to all kinds of odd places around the world. And a total solar eclipse is magical. It is an amazing spectacle. I’ve seen people burst into tears of joy at seeing a total eclipse. Well, next August, I think it’s the 21st of August, there’s a total eclipse coming across the U.S. for the first time in over 30 years. Cool. Where is it coming? It’s going from Central Oregon to Central South Carolina, draw a line there between the two and be on that line on August 21. And I would urge the folks listening to this podcast to make plans and be somewhere on the centerline of the eclipse and take in some magic. It is just breathtaking.
Meb: It sounds like a good idea for the Research Affiliates 2017 annual meeting. You can hold it at 2:00 in the morning at one of these locations. I love it. That’s a great idea. For the listeners, a little-known fact, Rob was an aspiring astrophysicist. He says the reason he pivoted into finance was there wasn’t as much competition from the high-end math world as there was in astrophysics. I actually started out as an aerospace engineer because I came from a family of aerospace guys, and until I took about one semester of college where I realized that aerospace engineering wasn’t becoming an astronaut, but rather taking classes like statics and dynamics which made me nauseous. So transferred quickly into biotech and moved on from there.
Anyway, all right, my useful magical idea is…this is an article that was posted by the blog FiveThirtyEight, which for our listeners, many are familiar. It’s a quant blog, Nate Silver, who writes a lot about politics which interests me very little as well as sports which interest me a lot more. But one of the staff writers wrote an article that was pretty interesting because it took into account a couple of things. One, its quant screening and B, it takes into account kind of the status quo, what’s assumed. And the title of the article, this is a couple of years old, was Stop Playing Monopoly with Your Kids (And Play These Games Instead). And so they went to a board game website called Board Geeks where people review board games and what they found out was and they did this for each age bracket. They rated all the games and found out that a lot of the highest rated and most reviewed games were games most people have never heard of like Hive Pocket, Dixit. But a lot of traditional games like Candyland and Monopoly were very lowly rated.
And so I don’t have any kids, I’ve got seven nieces and nephews, bought a handful of these and took them to Denver last time I was in town and they loved the games. So check that we’ll put it in the show notes. It’s a great idea for games. Now, what Rob would probably say, or any quant listening, is there is a little bit of selection bias there in that no four-year-olds or six-year-olds are logging into Board Game Geek and rating these games, but it’s probably the adults and parents. So a slight survivorship bias, but so far the games have been money.
Meb: Episode 19, Jonathan Clements. I kinda feel bad because we surprise and drop the question on him, but he came up with a really strong answer. Also got another great holiday suggestion from me.
Jonathan: Wow, I wish you’d sort of teed this one up beforehand so I had a chance to think about it.
Meb: Tell you what. I’m going to go first. If you think about something, I’ll give you a minute or two to think about. It could be anything. It could be an app, a website, a gift, a philosophy, a thing.
Mine today is, and we’ve had some really weird suggestions on the blog, including an ax, or on the podcast including an ax. But one of them is, it’s a cool website, it’s pretty basic. It’s not mind-altering or anything, but it’s called WoodSnap. And it allows you to take any photograph that you may have or digital picture, and they’ll print it out on a piece of wood. And that may not sound too cool, but I ordered one, and it ends up being one of the most beautiful ways because it gives the picture a certain element of warmth or depth that is lost, I think, in just a digital print or a traditional print. So we’ll add that to the show notes on the link.
If anything you’ve thought about? If not, we can just cruise along to the ending.
Jonathan: I will mention one thing that I’ve actually become more focused on in recent years, and that is having a period of time between reaching a conclusion and acting upon it.
I wish I was better at this than I am, and often I find that a situation flares up, I’m immediately angry, and if I’d waited an hour, everything would have played out completely differently. But it’s also is hugely important to spending and to investment decisions, and part of the reason is, we aren’t very good at figuring out what’s going to make us happy. So if there is a time period in there, we can ponder whether we’re about to do the right thing. But also, when it comes to spending, one of the things that we know is that one of the best parts of spending is the anticipation. So if you’re gonna plan a vacation, plan a year ahead of time because that year, as you think about the vacation, is gonna be the best part of the vacation. Actually going on the trip? So-so. Afterwards? Maybe. But the year in which you think about the vacation and all the things you might do, that’s the best part. And in your head, you can go on hundreds of different vacations. You can think, “Okay, maybe we’ll go to Hawaii. No, we’re going to go Europe. Hey, how about Asia?”
Having a period of time between when you make a decision and when you act on it is hugely valuable.
Meb: That’s awesome. You know, on top of that, when you’re talking about the vacation idea, the research shows too that if you pay ahead of time, if you’re going to pay for that vacation, try to pay for the flight, the hotel, and everything ahead of time because it takes away the emotional pain of paying for it at the time. So yes, you build up that wonderful anticipation of the vacation. I am notoriously last minute. I mean, I am flying to Canada, today’s Wednesday, on Friday, and I still don’t have a ticket yet. And so I’m very aware of this concept and trying to implement it in my life. It’s a bit more challenging for me.
But going back to…I mean, I cannot think of a single time where time would not have helped a situation, where being like so sending a text message, sending an email, responding to a high emotion conversation. I cannot think of a single time where waiting a day would have hurt, and this goes back to one of the reasons we took comments off my blog in like 2008 just because I was like, “People behave so poorly online anonymously. They say everything very quickly. It’s easy to type something in. I don’t want to deal with that headache.” But that to me is such profoundly good advice. I’m the world’s worst at implementing it but trying to be more aware of it.
Meb: Episode 21, Michael Covel took the one suggestion and ran with it with about seven. And mine is a really cool idea that is a traveling restaurant experience, wonderful, kind of expensive, but a really cool idea.
Michael: Little things that I love on my phone, Dropbox app, Fox News app. I don’t love the Fox News app necessarily because of the content. But what’s great when you’re traveling, it’s so difficult sometimes to get a live stream on a news channel, and if you have the Fox News app and you piggyback off any cable system in the States, and you got a Wi-Fi a connection, you can get Fox News live for free. So that’s great, just to always be connected. Slack app great stuff, Magic Jack app, you could have a stateside phone number that anybody can call anywhere you are, great stuff.
Meb: That’s Magic Jack?
Michael: Magic Jack app, yeah.
Meb: I don’t know that one.
Michael: And so basically you get, like for me, I’ve got a 703 Virginia phone number. If you call me on it right now, it would ring in Southeast Asia, doesn’t cost you anything. It cost me $12 a year.
Meb: Wow, that’s pretty awesome. The connectivity…I was watching the Broncos game when I was traveling in Japan this year at the Super Bowl, and I said being a lifelong Broncos fan I said, “I cannot absolutely miss this.” And I learned that the wonders of VPNs and same sort of thing, routing, because they wouldn’t stream it and CBS wouldn’t stream it in Asia. And so you just, hey, pick up a service, you pay 10 bucks for that says you’re in San Francisco and it was the absolutely most crystal clear broadcast and kept me from having to listen to it in Japanese. And it was a wonder. It’s new to me. I had never heard of such a thing, anymore…
Michael: Let me give a couple more practical ones, and then a few you love ones.
Michael: Practical one, I’ve seen you mention this but I don’t think you mentioned one side of the coin. You’ve talked about the global entry card which for…is just a must. However, for Asia and I’ve had it work in Tokyo, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Beijing, Singapore, KL, The APEC card, the ASEAN card is fabulous. I mean, I’ve landed at Beijing. Five hundred people in line for customs and I’ve got my APEC card and I say, “Where’s the APEC line?” And basically, there’s like two people in line. And so using the APEC card in Asia is basically like being a diplomat. It’s fabulous.
Meb: We used to joke in the office, I said, “My first interview question, if you come in is do you have TSA pre-check.” Because if you don’t and you travel and all, you’re an absolute moron because you go into these cattle cars of hundreds of people. And I just had an absolute near meltdown when I was coming back from Canada. And I go to the GOES line, or whatever it’s called, the Global Entry, and the guy says, “Global entry only.” And I said, “Yeah I got a membership whatever.” He says, “Do you have your card?” And I’ve actually never been carded before. Usually, you just walk right up to the kiosk and go. And he says, “No you have to have your card.” And I didn’t pack it. And the trauma of having to wait in the normal line, I mean, it only took, whatever, this one wasn’t terrible, 15 minutes, but I was so sad and depressed. Anything that will make the travel experience better, to me, it’s worth its weight in gold.
All right, any more or was that the last one? Okay, keep going I’m not gonna stop you.
Michael: Are familiar with the APEC card, though?
Meb: No. I have…There’s some of the global entry, it ends up translating to a few other networks, but I don’t know if it translates to APEC or something else.
Michael: For your audience APEC it’s for the ASEAN entry and it is just…if you travel anywhere in Asia and you don’t have the APEC card, it’s like what you’re talking about the pre-check.
Okay, on the love stuff for me, this hAs happened in the last four years, give me fish sauce. Just give me fish sauce. I mean, I don’t care. I’m now addicted to fish sauce. Give me pork and fish sauce. Two others that I…
Meb: I thought you’re saying the name of it was, “Give me fish sauce.”
Michael: No, no.
Meb: It was just fish sauce in general?
Michael: I don’t care. There are so many varieties, I can’t give one variety. But, as an American now in Asia, I’ve become addicted to fish sauce for sure.
Meb: You just put IT on everything?
Michael: Not everything, but it’s just I don’t know, it’s kind of… And I’m not a guy that would ever use salt in the States so I guess this is kind of an unfortunate development later IN my life. This is like the Asian version of salt, right?
Meb: I used an Asian…David Chang, the chef for Momofuku, sells a Korean chili paste, it’s kind of like Korean ketchup, on his website called “Sam sauce.” And I’m probably murdering the name. Similar sort of thing, when I have it, it goes on every single thing I have till I run out and forget about it. But that was one of mine from a prior episode. All right, keep going.
Michael: Two more loves that I think I have to have each day. Number two would be Itoen tea. So I have shipped in, wherever I am in the world, I will have shipped in Itoen tea from Japan, just bottled tea. I know this sounds lazy but I’m just addicted to their cold unsweetened Japanese green tea, itoen.com. Fabulous teas, I drink stuff that basically tastes like bass beer, but its tea.
Meb: I’ve never heard of that.
Michael: Yeah great stuff, great stuff. My number one love and this is really tough because I just got engaged.
Meb: Oh, congratulations.
Michael: My number one love, my number one love will always be walking the streets of Saigon. And I don’t think this is ever going to change. Because when you walk the streets of Saigon, it’s like no other city in the world. And what it gives you, you know, in a place where it’s always over 90, is it always gives you motorbikes everywhere, right? So the city and I don’t know how many millions of motorbikes, six million or whatever. But if you think about walking in New York City and you see cars drive by, you don’t get to see who’s in the car. You don’t get to see the model in the car, right? You might see your face if you’re lucky. But in Saigon, you walk the streets and all you see are miniskirts in heels on motorbikes. That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. And that, even though I’m engaged, I mean, I’m sure my fiancée will listen to this podcast, she would know why, even if I’m not doing anything, I still want to see. I still want to see. And it’s the only place in the world like that.
Meb: That’s beautiful. I love that one. Yeah, you’ve won the award won for most, prolific amount of ideas for this for this segment. And that last one is great. It’s on my list. I’ve never been to Saigon so it’s gotta be on the to-do. Great list. We’ll add all those to the show notes, you’ve just increased the workload for my co-host Jeff about two hours having to write all these down, which is great.
All right, mine is and I just remembered this one today. It’s a website but it’s more of event it’s called “Outstanding in the Field”. And basically, what it is is this traveling dinner, where they come to your cities or say Los Angeles and it’s a group that partners with local farmers and local chefs. So they’ll grab a bunch of local chefs from the top restaurants, a bunch of local farmers, and then they’ll host it in a beautiful location, traditionally, on a farm. Then they’ll get a bunch of winemakers that are hopefully local. Some areas of the country obviously that’s not possible, but use local food, have this beautiful dinner with dozens. In this case, there was probably a hundred people on this local farm in LA, which by the way I had never even heard of that there was an actual…I think it was called Wattles Farm, and the tickets are expensive. I think a dinner is over 100 bucks, it might be even 200 bucks. But I ended up finding mine on Craigslist, of course, because I’m a cheap bastard, but total mama’s boy.
So I take my mom and they let you walk around the farm and give you free wine and appetizers. Then you sit down to a family-style dinner in a beautiful location. It’s a memory or experience that certainly, you know, you’re not going to do every month, but I know they have them and then you go up on the website Outstanding in the Field, check it out. But the one in San Francisco, they do like on the beach in a hidden Cove.
So anyway, really cool, nature style thing, put it on the to-do list. I don’t think they travel to Asia, so you’ll have to wait till…
Michael: I sound so, I don’t know, so perverted that my idea is looking at thousands of women in miniskirts and heels driving by their motorbikes and you give this nice story about tasting wine with your mom. I sound like a complete deviant.
Meb: Well my mom, famously at this dinner, she was so classic growing up, and in particular when I was younger. And we went to go sit down and of course there was a mother and daughter next to us, and so she immediately grabs my elbow, sits me next to the cute girl, so that I could talk to her instead. So great, great, great mom trying to set me up, but both great ideas, I love both of them.
Meb: Episode 23, has two ideas from Gregg Fisher that is perfect around this time of year and mine is a very simple rule of thumb, unintended.
Gregg: Also you know, one of the things that we’ve done at Gerstein Fisher and I’ve done personally now over the years and we’re pretty active in a few small not-for-profits that do this kind of thing, is mentoring. The idea of finding people that you can mentor in life in some way, in whatever way you can do that, I think the rewards for doing that are so fantastic. I think of so many people that have come in and out of our world over the years and, of course, I think of the people that mentored me, and I’m thankful.
I would just say that, you know, if you have any opportunity in your life to give in that way and help others in their careers that are, you know, their successes, both personal and business, I think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do in any way that you can and that’s a very rewarding thing.
Meb: You know, there’s two thoughts that immediately sprung in my mind. One, I was just back for a high school reunion in North Carolina and I have so much nostalgia and memories about, in particular, coaches. And it may have been in athletics, but also your favorite teacher, too, and how impactful those people were in my life in particular, in thinking about, like you said, paying it forward in some fashion.
Which, by the way, one of the most shocking things to me, you know, having talking about investing in these podcasts is also that personal finance is not part of any high school curriculum, at least it wasn’t part of mine. I don’t even think it’s a part of most college curriculums. Is that something you ever thought about where, most investors, we come, you know, have such a baseline, tough understanding of investing. Is that something you’ve ever thought about or looked into?
Gregg: Yeah, there are actually one or two not-for-profits I’m aware of that are trying to bring finance and business into the classroom, but it’s not pervasive. It’s definitely still not something that’s popular, and certainly, when we were kids it didn’t happen at all. So I think, like, more energy around that would be great.
Meb: Well, shoot me those names after the podcast. I’ll add them to the show notes and certainly look into them, because it’s something that we spend a lot of time thinking about and just even having the basics down, I think, would take people so far to get a head start on a lot of things we talked about today, even the basics that I think would be interesting.
All right, mine today is going to be super short and weird. And we’ve named a lot of beautiful, useful things in the past, everything from apps to websites to philosophies to things. This is one I actually heard somewhere else, and most people that know me, I get a lot of conferences. I tend to be very aloof and forgetful. And so, despite the fact my mom raised me in a southern household with lots of etiquette and properness, things like even remembering where the bread and what glass you’re supposed to be drinking at a table full of 20 people, and there’s a way that, if you put your finger and thumbs together, your left hand will make a B, and your right hand will make a D for bread and drink, and that will help you remember what drink you’re supposed to be drinking out of instead of drinking everyone’s drink to your right and left. So I think I got that from the Tim Ferriss pod. It was another pod guy, maybe Tim, so thanks, Tim. But that’s one that I use to this day.
Gregg: You know, you and I have a lot in common. We’ll have to talk offline, but you reminded me of a story when I first got started in business. I remember, I never did my MBA, I did other things CFA, another financial education. But I think that when you go to a certain type of school and do your MBA, you probably learn, you know, presentation skills or what fork to use over dinner, and I never picked up on those things. It took me about 15 years to figure it all out.
Meb: Well, I mean, having to do enough finance presentations, I don’t think any of my finance buddies, for the most part, have got the presentation class down. That’s for another day.
Meb: Episode 26, Jeremy Schwartz has an app suggestion as do I. I actually contribute three suggestions that might make life a little easier and a little boozier.
Jeremy: You know, I thought you might ask this question, and a lot of your followers or your questions have gone towards the apps on the phones. And so I started looking through my apps and saying, “All right, so which one of these things might other people not have used before?” One of them is interesting. We both do a lot of travel. I think one of them is something, actually, my wife had this idea of an app and then we started looking around, and actually they had developed it already. Of course, you always think you have the greatest ideas, and then you look and people have it.
But, you go to these restaurants and a lot of them have long wait times and you say, “They really should just have an app that you can book ahead of time, and so you don’t have to get there, and get in line for these long waits.” And in my area, there’s a lot of these restaurants are already using this app, and I’m hoping more and more restaurants join it so that you can put yourself in line, don’t have to wait in those long waits. But the app is called Nowait, and you can get in line, and then they keep track of your place in line. You can show up after you had an hour wait normally and some of these things. So I think that Nowait app is actually an interesting one that we’ve been using a lot.
Meb: There’re two other in that vein that I use. One is called, I think, Reserve and if you’re not in one of the major cities in the U.S., it’s probably not gonna be that useful, but it’s kinda like a Uber of restaurant apps where it gets you a reservation, and you actually just have a credit card on file. You don’t pay. They bring you the bill at the end, and that’s that. Then there’s another kind of hilarious one that I’ve seen, and you see this in the bullish cycles where in your seven, eight bull market, and so you started to see a little silliness where I remember this in the late ’90s, all these apps that or at that point it was websites, but you could sign up and get $30 for doing nothing other than signing up, etc.
There’s one called Hooch which just got funded for a million and a half that for $9 a month it allows you to go to any number of bars in your city and get one free drink a day, and so you basically break even if you just have one drink, and if you’re an alcoholic this is an app for you. But it’s funny to me how in the world possibly that that could make money. But not only that, they have a guest feature where you don’t even have to sign up, but you just get one free drink a month anyway. And so I’ve been using it the last few months. If we find any restaurants or bars to go do in L.A that we’d be going to anyway been using the Hooch app which is kind of funny.
All right, so the one that I have, again, it’s also an app and for those who like going to concerts, who like going to sporting events, this is particularly interesting right now in L.A. You’ve got the Dodgers, Cubs game tonight in LCS. It’s called SeatGeek and it aggregates all the other sporting event tickets. So instead of having to go StubHub and then Craig’s List and all these other places, this one aggregates all the values, so you can very quickly find in either a section or sorted by best deal, and it’s been incredibly helpful on being able to find a ticket for a good event or venue. Anyway SeatGeek, check it out.
Meb: Episode 27, with Porter Stansberry has a great personal finance suggestion that I love. And mine is a little different but also pretty interesting as well.
Porter: Just talking about drawdowns and losses. If you think about the fact that Warren Buffett, who’s the greatest buy and hold investor ever, the greatest fundamental investor ever, and one of the greatest businessmen ever. He has seen his Berkshire Hathaway holdings decline by 50% twice in the last 15 years. If it can happen to him, trust me, it will certainly happen to you.
I think that if there’s anything you can walk away with in this podcast is, learn more about measuring risk, learn more about hedging, and find a way to get your portfolio so that it has less risk than the market as a whole and can return, you know, around what the market is giving you. If you can do that, you’re gonna sleep a lot better at night and you’re gonna stick with your investments for longer, which is the real key to success.
Meb: There’s a Munger quote along those lines where he says something like, “If you’re not comfortable watching your quoted shares portfolio,” meaning stocks, “go down by 50%, you have no business buying stocks at all.” You know, a lot of people they kinda think of that as a theoretical, but they never really say, “It’s not gonna happen to me,” of course until it does, then it’s a little more problematic.
Porter: I’ve also always told people that they should save at least $50,000 in cash before they ever buy an investment. And you wouldn’t believe the hoots and the howls, and the elitists, and the “You don’t care about the little guy” comments that I get. But the truth of the matter is until you have the discipline to do that, you do not have the discipline to be successful as an investor, and you do not know enough about business.
So trust me, do all the paper trading that you want, but save $50,000 before you buy a stock. I promise it’s gonna save you a lot of money in tuition, and by the way, why work hard at something? If you make 10% off $50,000, that’s 5,000 bucks. That’s worth doing. If you’re making 10% on $5,000, it’s not worth all the trouble.
Meb: Well, it’s funny you mention that because there’s been this huge development of a lot of these apps targeted to Millennials. They’re raising tens of millions of venture capital dollars, and I’ve been a very vocal kind of critic on some of these, and there’s these three very famous ones. And I say, “Look, you know, this is kind of on you, Millennials. You just can’t do math,” because the average account size at three of these is like $100 or $200. And these apps, you know, they’re beautiful, wonderful user interface, they look really cool, they’ll take your deposits and savings and invest, but the average account size is around 100, 200 bucks, and they charge you a dollar a month. And so for $100 account, that’s 12% fee per year.
Porter: Meb, we’re in the wrong business. Let’s get into that business.
Meb: It’s a phenomenal business. I actually contacted three of them. Well, first of all, I said, “Why wouldn’t I just start a free version of this and invest in our own funds and not charge any fees?” You know, the subscription model. But I’m also kind of…I was a little jaded. I was like, “Well the morons that are signing up, it’s kind of on you. If you’re gonna pay 10% fees to invest your money, then you kinda deserve it, I’m sorry.” You know, it’s…Oh man. But the math doesn’t even work out until they get up above a certain amount.
And again, going back to what you said, I firmly agree with you on the cash balance. And two, I also agree when you’re talking about risks and hedging, one of our favorite quotes, and I don’t know who this is attributed to, but is, “The best way to get rid of a risk is to not take it in the first place.” You know, people that put all their money in stocks or whatever it may be, you know, yes, you can hedge it through a certain means, but two, also think about you don’t need to take that much risk in the first place. And the vast majority of what we see with financial advisers and registered investment advisers, is they put…and a lot of the robo-advisors now, they put people in portfolios that are far too aggressive for them to handle, which is tough to live through those sort of drawdowns.
The one comment I’ll make on the beautiful, useful, magical comes from my mom, who’s my number one podcast listener. And she used to have a quote, still says it, it’s basically, “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal,” meaning, the time you spend every day doing what we’re doing… And look, we talk a lot about investing on this podcast, it’s the main focus, and spend every day of my life in this world and I love it of course, but also this is your only one shot you got at this life time.
Porter, I know you do a great job of work-life balance as well. So that’s one of the things we talk about that I think people do a very poor job of, is they spend a lot of time optimizing how to make money and then invest it, and then very little time optimizing how best to spend it and enjoy it. Porter, any final thoughts, anything good you’re reading lately? What are you up to the rest of the year? Are you…
Porter: Yeah, I understand better now what you mean by your little beautiful, magical, thinking thing. And I will tell you that I think the real big secret to my success was that…It’s gonna sound hokey, okay, but I think there’s a lot of stuff out there, especially on social media, about “choosing yourself”. You know, James Altucher wrote that book about how you can develop your career. But I think there’s a lot of narcissism and a lot of self-centeredness on social media these days. And a lot of stuff I see is all about, “Take care of yourself first,” and that sort of stuff.
And I have always had the exact opposite mantra. I’ve always chosen others. And, you know, you’ve been to my conferences, so you know I’m just…This is not BS. I built this business because I really thought that people weren’t paying enough attention to Steve Sjuggerud. Well, that was a great way to launch our company. And we’ve been successful because I knew Steve was brilliant and I got the public to pay attention to him. So it wasn’t about me. And I recruited David Eifrig for the same reasons. I knew he was a brilliant guy and I wanted the public to see him. And I’ve been a good partner, and I’ve been a good spouse, and I’ve been a good friend because you put other people first.
And you just do that one foot at a time, day after day. And then all the sudden, you know what happens? You look back 20 years later and you’ve got all these people that really care about you and are willing to help you succeed too. That’s my thing. You talked about getting a job, whatever. It’s so easy. You deliver value for an entrepreneur and you volunteer to provide that value upfront, keep doing that and you’ll have a job before you know it. So choose others. That’s my magical thinking.
Meb: And not only that but the behavioral research backs you up. You know, a lot of people, the research shows that the money you spend on other people…Of course, we always talk about spending money on experiences rather than things, but also spending money on other people and doing things for other people gives you vastly more pleasure and happiness over and joy over time than actually spending money on yourself and particularly things. We’ll talk more about that on a future podcast, but I think that’s a great point.
Meb: Episode 28, Larry Swedroe has a great investment back tester website that I’ve been using for years, and I must have forgot mine because I don’t have one.
Larry: There are two things I’d recommend. If you’re not familiar with and you’re into analyzing mutual funds and investments, there’s a website called portfoliovisualizer.com. They have a regression tool that allows you to look at what loadings or exposure a fund has to each of these factors, and it’ll also tell you whether the fund has been generating true alpha or not once you account for the exposure to these factors. So that’s number one. And so those who are interested in real finance, I’d recommend following John Cochran’s blog, that’s the only blog besides Professor Damodaran’s that I follow, besides my own, of course.
Meb: Yeah. We’re gonna add links to both of those in the show notes. Portfolio Visualizer is a great way, also it has the ability to backtest various allocations which is a lot of fun for investors to do particularly because we believe exact allocation doesn’t matter a whole heck of a lot over time.
Meb: Episode 29, Tom McClellan, two great investing classic books.
Tom: If you wanna be a chartist, the first thing you should do is get a book called “Technical Analysis of Stock Trends” by Edwards and Magee, which is considered to really be the bible of basic bar charting. But there’s another book that if you wanna be a really good chartist that people should look at, and they probably never heard of, it’s by a guy named Edward Tufte, T-U-F-T-E, and it’s called the “Visual Display of Quantitative Information,” and he talks about how you make an elegant chart and how you can display information in a useful way.
But the one big pearl of wisdom out of that book is what he likes to call the data-to-ink ratio that you have in your chart. And that’s basically referring to if you’ve got your chart quoted up with lines, and information, and doodads, and text boxes, and other stuff that’s not the data, then you’re contaminating the chart and stealing the message. So you want to strip away everything that you can that’s not essential, that’s not data, and think about optimizing your data-to-ink ratio. And when you can do that and get rid of the junk and see what the data actually is showing without covering up with a bunch of lines and things, then you can get better insights. So that’s the one pearl of wisdom that I would leave with your listeners.
Meb: I have that book on my shelf, and I’ll also post it to the show notes, and it’s one of my all-time pet peeves. You do such a good job of it, where if you look at charts, you should be able to have the initial take away almost immediately, it should be somewhat obvious. And I go to so many of these conferences, and these guys all throw up these charts, and you can’t understand what’s going on, and the font’s a size five, and then it’s just so bad. So I think that’s actually a great suggestion. Well, look, Tom…
Tom: John Bollinger had a note about that. John Bollinger, the famous analyst who created Bollinger Bands, he said, “No matter where you travel in the universe, you will never be far from a Fibonacci expansion level or a gain line.”
Meb: Episode 31, Mark Yusko has a book recommendation that I’ve actually never heard of, and mine is one of my top travel adventure trips I’ve ever been on.
Mark: I’ll kind of wrap it into three little things all around the same thing. So one is, one of the most useful things, I think, is getting outdoors. My thing is fly fishing. I also like skiing. But there’s something about being on a river, almost in a meditative state, and that’s the second thing that goes to this, which is meditation. I’m still not very good at it, but it is an amazing practice. Mindfulness is an amazing practice.
And all this wraps up to the one thing that really changed my life and the way I think about investing was a book called “The Tao-Jones Averages,” and DOW was spelled T-A-O. You can only get it now used on Amazon. It’s out of print. It was written by this guy, Bennett Goodspeed. And he basically wrote about the merging of Chinese philosophy and investing and how you need to use your whole brain in order to be a great investor.
Most people think investing is all about the past and looking at data and being analytical, and it’s not. It’s about the future, which can’t be quantified, right? It’s that merging of past and future and being a whole-brained investor. And so all of that, which is, get outside, spend time alone, solitude. You can’t think if you’re bathed in everyone else’s views. You need to be away, you need to be in that, I love your word, magical, in that magical state of being alone with your own thoughts so you can actually know what you really think. That’s why I love to write, because if I can’t read what I wrote, how do I know what I think?
Meb: That’s a good segway into mine because the one I have today, and I don’t think I’ve used this one. I apologize if I have. If I have, it bears repeating. It was an actual bike trip I did within the last five years but it’s called the San Juan Hut System. And I’m an okay mountain biker. I’m not great. But you basically go from the town of Telluride, which is in southwest Colorado, to the town of Moab, and it takes, I think, five nights or something.
But the cool part is every night you stay in a hut that’s stocked with food and beer and everything else. I think beds and sleeping bags, but meaning like cots and bunk beds. But it has everything else. All you have to do is bike in between the places each day, and it was one of the most magical, wonderful experiences. Now, granted by the end of the last day, I was kind of having a huge meltdown because I had crashed probably 40 times on this trip.
Mark: I love it.
Meb: And I’d had enough. But check it out. We’ll post a link on the show notes. Anyway, a really awesome, awesome experience.
Meb: Episode 32 is the PeerStreet crew with a couple of suggestions both travel related, all three are travel related, actually. Mine involves skiing, one of theirs involves the boat, and the other involves places to stay.
Brew: Yeah, I got a couple off the top of my head that are, like, useful. I mean, my favorite app of all time by far is Hotel Tonight. I don’t know if anybody uses Hotel Tonight if you’ve used it, but like I’m a huge promoter. Sam Shank, the founder, is a friend of ours. But I mean, last-minute hotel bookings, they curate hotels for you. I mean, when I travel, I don’t even book hotels in advance. When I land in the airport in New York or San Fran, I pull up the app and I see what’s available and I book hotels. And it’s like just…I don’t know if you use it, but to me, it’s really like it’s…
Meb: It is arguably…It’s definitely my top five. I love it.
Brett: We’ve never been skunked.
Brew: Yeah. What’s your useful, beautiful thing?
Brett: My beautiful, useful thing this is Brett. And I don’t know if this counts, but for me, one of my… And Brew will probably say the same thing. Both of us had this really interesting life experience, this beautiful, beautiful, wonderful thing called “Semester At Sea” in our lives. And it’s not an app, it’s not a shiny thing that you can just go grab. It’s an experience you can have and you can only have it one time in your life and that’s when you’re a college student. And you could only go on it once, although Brew somehow snuck in and did it twice.
But the reality is that for me, it has been, like, probably one of the most impactful things that changed the trajectory of my life and the way I perceive the world and my place in it. And Brew and I both went on Semester At Sea. We went on different semesters, but basically what it is, you are on a large ship. It’s a floating campus, you’re on it with 400 or 500 other students, and you literally travel around the world. You take your course while you’re at sea and you visit all these countries. On, you know, my trip, we went to 14 different countries.
Meb: It sounds like a wonderful, long, giant Spring Break.
Brett: Yeah, it is sort of like that, but it’s like this…They call it “Voyage of Discovery,” which it is, because not only do you learn so much about the world and everything, you know, all these places, you also get to reflect on your place in the world. And then, it’s a great entrepreneurial journey, because you’re basically placed in situations…every time you pull into a country, you don’t hold the currency, you don’t know the language and you’ve never been there before and you’re trying to go figure something out. And it’s like rinse and repeat, do it over and over and over again. And you get pretty darn good at it and it builds your confidence to be able to handle just about any situation that life throws at you. You know, this includes like people get robbed and you know, the normal course of life happens when you’re in these places. But it’s really amazing.
Meb: That’s probably my biggest regret is as an undergrad, was not studying abroad. And in my thinking, idiotic thinking at the time, I was an engineer, I was like, “Wow, it’s gonna be too hard to go study, you know, differential equations in Spain,” or something. And I don’t speak the language, so I said, “Well, the next best thing for me would just be to go take summer school in Boulder,” which some people, depending, would say that might be like a different country. But love that as well.
My quick one is, a lot of people don’t know this, but if you’re a skier, some of the best skiing in the world is in Japan. And so in addition to the wonderful…They get some of the best and most and driest snow in the world and some of the best cultural experience as well. So we got three travel-focused ideas. And one of the best domains and curated writing about skiing in Japan is called, a website called Powder Hounds. And it’s written by…
Brew: That’s enough.
Meb: …A guy that basically skis 300 days a year and lives the good life. So check it out. It’s a wonderful experience.
Meb: Thanks everyone for listening today. I hope it’s been a lot of fun. I hope you got some new app recipe book ideas and everything in between that’ll keep you busy in 2017. Again, I really appreciate everyone listening to the podcast. You’ve helped make it a great success. Please again, send us feedback anytime, feedback at the mebfabershow.com. You can always leave a review on iTunes as well as subscribe to the podcast.
My new favorite app for listening to podcasts, in general, is called Castro by the way, I really love it. We wanna wish everyone a wonderful holidays and a Happy New Year. Thanks for listening friends and good investing.
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