Seeking Alpha

Chris DeMuth Jr.'s  Instablog

Chris DeMuth Jr.
Send Message
"It's not given to human beings to have such talent that they can just know everything about everything all the time. But it is given to human beings who work hard at it - who look and sift the world for a misplaced bet - that they can occasionally find one." - Charlie Munger I look... More
My blog:
Rangeley Capital on Harvest
My book:
Rangeley Capital Best Investment Ideas
  • Be A Quitter 13 comments
    Oct 28, 2013 3:13 PM

    I always love seeing press about Timo Weiland. I don't know that much about fashion or design, but I know the designer. Today, his designs draw crowds at fashion shows and sell for astonishing prices at Barneys in New York. When I first met him, he was an investment banker at Deutsche Bank, but his obvious passion was for fashion and design. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and he knew just how to do it, but he was still kicking around a big bank, thinking and overthinking his next steps.

    A few years before, I was drinking coffee with a friend and confidante who worked as an analyst at Farallon Capital Management, the large hedge fund based in California. He was patiently listening to my complex plans to take all of the various steps necessary to save up working capital over the course of years, secure various jobs for the experience, and build up the connections necessary to start a hedge fund by the time I turned forty. After a moment of silence, he looked up and waived away all of my plans and said simply, "do it now". Quit. Launch. I knew what I wanted to do and how to get there. Don't spend a substantial share of my life expectancy angling and preparing for what I actually want to do with my life. Just start. I did and it proved to be extremely valuable advice.

    So, I was ready with the same thought to pass on when Timo and I were in a car heading to some party that he was hosting (these are typically packed with impossibly beautiful women, free food and drinks, and really great gift bags). It is entirely likely that he was on his way out the door from banking anyway, but I felt great that I could add my vote of confidence and offer some small additional permission to quit and get going with his real plans. As was the case with my career, as long as we kept our reputations, what is really wrong with being a 20-something penniless failure after one's entrepreneurial ventures fail? Is that really such an awful downside? Seems worth the risk. In both of our cases, it proved to be worth it.

    And what of job security? This is one of the dullest of virtues. It is typically a lousy excuse to fall short of one's best and highest use. It is also a bit ephemeral - almost every alternative career that I've had since beginning to work in the investment industry in 1999 has involved prop desks that had to shutter, hedge funds that have folded up, or investment banks whose signs are for sale on eBay as collectors' items. So, even if I wanted to trade in my aspirations for job security, it is not at all clear where I would go to make that trade.

Back To Chris DeMuth Jr.'s Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (13)
Track new comments
  • Good insight, though I'd posit that few people have the guts (or talent) to do what you're recommending.

     

    Tangentially relevant (on the topic of busting common myths we've heard since we were kids): hard work is not a virtue.

     

    A smart fund manager I know refers to i-banking being analogous to a "fraternity" and derides the culture of hanging around the office until 2 AM playing with the copier settings and changing the font color on powerpoints. He went on to say that a lot of people in the money management/finance world in general tend to view schedules as a badge of pride.

     

    He then asked me how investment managers are judged. I said by their results; he pulled out his wallet and opened it up. "By how much money we make," he replied. "I could play golf for 20 hours a week and you know how much my investors would care if they got good returns? I could work 18 hours a day, and you know how much my investors would care if they saw a zero, or worse, a negative?"

     

    To be fair, hard work is an important and necessary prerequisite for success in most (if not all) fields. That being said, if you're generating a million bucks in value working two hours a day, and another guy's generating two hundred k working twenty hours a day, who's really winning? Prioritization and working on what really matters are far more likely to lead to success than just spending inordinate amounts of time doing things and stuff for the sake of working long hours.
    28 Oct 2013, 07:11 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Great comments. I think one of the biggest wastes of time imaginable is to spend time looking like you're working. Get your work done, then get out of there. To that end, I just replaced my chair with this stool: http://bit.ly/18wrTQZ and set up a standing desk at home so I don't get too comfortable when I'm working. A few hours of prep for the market, work through market hours, a bit after the close, and I'm ready to get outside. If someone doesn't think I'm working, who cares?
    28 Oct 2013, 08:36 PM Reply Like
  • So true. I like working actually on research because it's fun. But health + happiness are way more important. I should head home now and stop dallying at the department!

     

    For my investing hobby I take <= 1 day a week. Seems to work fine so far. My IRR is above what I thought was possible for a hobbyist investor. Partly this can be excused by my small capital, rising market, etc, but also I like to think the value crowd is to blame ;-).
    29 Oct 2013, 07:12 PM Reply Like
  • I recently quit my secure job to start a fund. Some days I see it all working out and some days not as much. Regardless, it's always been my dream and I figured I rather fail than not try.

     

    I never actually read this book...haha, but the title is my mantra.

     

    http://amzn.to/1djA3S8
    28 Oct 2013, 08:26 PM Reply Like
  • Good for you Eric! I wish you all the best!
    29 Oct 2013, 09:12 AM Reply Like
  • Thank you Wilson! I wish the same for you as well!
    29 Oct 2013, 09:52 AM Reply Like
  • This is a wonderful write up Chris and it explains my philosophy towards life so so well.

     

    I was working at a bank, and I kept asking myself what is it that I want to do with my life. And the answer was simple, find undervalued investments and make money off of them. So I decided to quit and start. A lot of people looked at me as if I was some kind of lunatic, but I view it as a win win. If I fail, I can always go back to get a job.

     

    So thank you for this write up Chris, because due to family pressure recently, I almost stopped pursing my dream.
    29 Oct 2013, 09:11 AM Reply Like
  • I see your point Wang. I bought the wife a 35k mini van in 2008 and paid it in full. If I would have kept the old vehicle and put the same amount in GM when it was penny stock, I could have owned my own dealership. I did not want to catch a falling knife, yet I saw the tell and didn't go all-in. Hesitation is like masterba$#&@ your only f#$&$@# yourself.
    29 Oct 2013, 09:58 AM Reply Like
  • Wilson, take a look at this short but powerful poem:

     

    http://bit.ly/19PuDNi
    29 Oct 2013, 10:27 AM Reply Like
  • Beautiful poem Barry! Thank you for sharing that!
    29 Oct 2013, 10:36 AM Reply Like
  • I think a lot of people can relate to this article. I had the same problem - I was stuck in a "secure" Accounting job for the money but never really thought it was for me. Luckily, I had a chance to get away from it and start what I love to do - Investing!
    29 Oct 2013, 04:38 PM Reply Like
  • This is an wonderful write up Chris! I want to start my own investment management company in Portugal and these words are gold! Thanks!
    How old were you when you got started?
    30 Oct 2013, 06:45 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Investing? 9. Hedge fund industry? 23. Rangeley? 30.
    30 Oct 2013, 06:48 AM Reply Like
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers

StockTalks

More »

Latest Comments


Most Commented
  1. GCVRZ Forum (929 Comments)
  2. Event Driven Q&A Forum (218 Comments)
  3. GPT Forum (124 Comments)
  4. Shorts Forum (115 Comments)
  5. Gold (110 Comments)
Posts by Themes
Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.