The Investing Lesson of a Lifetime

We remember our first flight to Alaska. Nerves were high. But the beauty of the landscape as the jet dipped below the tops of the mountains and followed the white-capped sea to our runway created a reprieve from thoughts of the real world.

Our new home was gorgeous.

Still, we had more questions than answers.

We knew where we were going… but had no idea how we’d get there.

A week prior, we were writing for a financial publisher. We had a couple of coveted licenses in our file and were wrapping up studies to put a few initials beside our name.

And yet here we were in the frigid north, sticking our thumb out and hoping for a ride on a floatplane – so we could live in the middle of a cold, rainy forest.

Little did we know the next few months would teach us the investing lesson of a lifetime… something no textbook, no licensing exam and certainly no colleague could ever explain.

Lines In

We went to Alaska to fish and came back a far better investor.

That’s because fishing and investing have a lot in common – which explains why we ended up spending time with some of the best investors on the planet.

The largest landowner in America… hedge fund managers… corporate dealmakers… CEOs… private equity bosses. They all spent days on our boat.

There was a famed movie producer… the largest restaurant franchisee in the country… and even a drunk about to go to jail. (He taught us more than we expected.)

These men didn’t fly thousands of miles and pay outrageous sums just to dunk a worm and hook a few fish. No, they went because they knew (though we’re still not convinced it was a conscious decision) that the water and the wilds had something to teach them.

Knowing what we do now, we think Ma Nature would enjoy the company of Mr. Market.

After all, she rewards those who have the traits that make men rich.

For us, the lesson was simple.

It’s not complex strategy, fancy gear or some other trickery that wins.

No, while others were fooling with knots and changing one lure for another… we kept our bait in the water.

And the longer it was in the water – big surprise – the more fish we caught.

In fact, the biggest fish of our career came thanks to that simple principle.

Your editor kneeling in front of an afternoon’s grand catch

The bite came when it was time to quit. Our partners had a flight to catch. But instead of clearing all the lines while we cleaned up and plotted our course home, we kept them in the water.

It paid off.

We harpooned a 167-pound halibut… and ended up 45 minutes late.

The idea is no different whether we’re traveling through Alaska’s glacier-lined fjords or investing from our laptop in the kitchen. The more time our hook is in the water – i.e., the more time our money is at work – the better our results.

No Other Way

Throughout our career, we’ve heard investor after investor boasting that they’re smart enough to be in cash right now.

That’s no different from pulling the lines out and cracking a cold one because “the fish aren’t biting.”

We’ve spent thousands of hours on the water, and – no surprise – we’ve yet to catch a fish when our bait wasn’t in the water.

In fact, we’ve been accused of manically trying to keep our hooks in the water. Forget pictures, high-fives and all that congratulatory stuff.

It can wait.

You can’t catch fish without lines in the water… and you can’t make a buck without money in the market.

The bottom line is that if you’re not investing… you’re not making money.

And with money, as we know, comes Liberty.

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