Weekly Thoughts

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Shining Light

When we were fresh out of college, we learned a lot about investing during our foray into the world of hedge funds.  Unfortunately, we did pick up some bad habits during that time, of which one of the most detrimental was a baseline level of cynicism.  We think this is because in that world (at least in our experience), the so-called intellectually superior thinkers were never optimists; these people could cut down any idea with an off-handed comment such as “But what about the yield curve inversion?” “But what about decelerating Chinese GDP growth?” or “But what about the Swiss current account deficit?”  There was never a real answer to these nebulous questions, but maybe that was the point.  We quickly learned that the person with the best “but what about” question seemingly “won” the argument. 

While a dismissingly cynical mindset may help win quasi-intellectual hedge fund arguments, it can be detrimental to real-life decisions.  With time, we have come to realize that most of our bad decisions have come from a perspective of fear, negativity, and an overwhelming mindset of scarcity.  We were early fans of Lululemon; looked at the IPO in 2007 and didn’t buy any (it IPO’d at $18 and is now $351).  We didn’t use our first bonus to buy an apartment in Vancouver in 2008 (prices have gone up >200%).  We overweighted cash in 2009 until… well, now… during one of the biggest bull runs in history.  We recall reading (and subsequently dismissing) a thorough research paper on Bitcoin in 2010 (don’t even get us started on this one).  The list goes on and is not limited to financial misses; it extends to lost opportunities to build better relationships and certainly caused us to miss out on wonderful experiences.  Alas, we live and learn. 

With some maturity, we now try to be intentional about having a mindset of abundance.  We try to ask ourselves, “What could go right?” when looking at new opportunities.  We try to avoid knee-jerk reactions.  We try to be positive and supportive.  We try to give others the benefit of the doubt.  We try to assume positive intent.  We try to be great tippers and generous in our community.  The key word here is “try”.  Admittedly, sometimes we can be negative.  It’s so darn easy to point out why something won’t work and we’ll admit, complaining about the stuff that’s not working can feel really good.  

On that note, last week it was refreshing to be reminded of the power of positivity in perhaps the most unlikely of places—a New Heights podcast interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  We’ve been on a bit of an Arnie kick since we read his 2023 NYTimes Bestseller book Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life.  We are consistently struck by his positivity; he says the word “fantastic” too many times to count.  In one segment of the podcast, he was very complimentary of various movie directors and actors.  From the podcast: 

Schwarzenegger: I mean, when I think about my career, [it] wouldn’t be what it was and what it has been if it wouldn’t have been for John Mills who directed [and] Jim Cameron, I mean, think about Jim Cameron, I mean, what a genius director, either The Terminator, Terminator Two with him, True Lies with him and then he went on [to do] Titanic and then Avatar and all of this, I mean, he literally made some of my favorite movies of all times, or Ivan Reitman who directed Twins or John Mcternan, who did The Predator. So this is really extraordinary directors. They made me shine because they were great directors.

Travis: Always shining light, man. You’re always shining light on everybody. [Is] there a is there a modern day Arnold? [L]ike who are you a fan of right now in that world?

Schwarzenegger: In the action show? I think I’m a fan of The Rock. I think he’s fantastic. He’s really good… I mean, [the] guy is really fantastic.

Jason:  Speaking of The Rock, in an alien invasion, are you the better representative [than] The Rock?.. Who’s the better one? Who do you think?

Schwarzenegger: It really depends.

Travis: Both of you in your prime.

Schwarzenegger:  [I] don’t think that you should limit it to just one or the other; [we should] work together.

Jason: That’s what I’m saying.

Schwarzenegger: We have the ultimate talent, we have it all, we have the wisdom.. and then we have the strength, the speed, the talent [and] we can push [our way] out of anything.

We know this is a ridiculous exchange.  However, it’s so darn positive.  It would have been easy for Schwarzenegger to be sucked into the “me versus The Rock” question (i.e., a mindset of scarcity).  However, even in this entirely inconsequential banter, he opted to rise above and asked, “Why not both? We’d be a great team”.  For us, these small moments are a great reminder of the type of people we want to be both personally and professionally: the type of people who generously shine light on others and avoid negativity.  While we work on that, we will also patiently yearn for a movie starring the Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger; it’s not hard to have a positive attitude about how awesome that would be regardless of the state of the yield curve’s inversion, Chinese GDP growth, or the Swiss current account deficit.  

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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