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Invest Like the Best

Exploring the ideas, methods, and stories of people that will help you better invest your time and money. Learn more and stay-up-to-date at InvestorFieldGuide.com
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Now displaying: May, 2018
May 29, 2018

My guest this week is remarkable. He now applies his talents on Wall Street, searching for smaller cap companies trading at huge discounts in an effort to compound wealth for his investors. He is classically trained, having earned his graduate degree from Colombia, a school known for producing value investors. But his method also reflects what he learned across more than a decade of active duty in the U.S. military.

Mike Zapata served us all as a Navy SEAL in the aftermath of 9/11 and ultimately as a member of the SEAL’s “Development Group,” commonly known as SEAL team 6. I think everyone listening strives for excellence in what they do. This week we get to hear from someone who has pursued excellence on our behalf.

I’ll let him explain the meaning of his firm’s name, Sententia, but for now suffice to say we are lucky to have quiet professionals like Mike. If you are interested in supporting the families of soldiers who fought with Mike and lost their lives, I encourage you to check out the Tip of the Spear foundation and make a donation along with me, small or large.

Please enjoy my conversation with Mike Zapata.

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Books Referenced

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel

Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

 

Show Notes

2:23

 

2:23 – (First Question) – A quick overview of Mike’s career leading up to his time at Columbia

3:43 – What led him down the path of value investing at Columbia 

            3:51 – The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel

5:57 – The focus and goal of the firm

7:12 – Where the name of the firm, Sententia comes from

8:04 – His experience in the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) program and lessons learned from it

13:14 – How much grit is innate vs can be learned

14:59 – What the actual job was in BUD/S

17:33 – Difference between the broader SEAL community and being part of the more exclusive development group

19:03 – The team dynamic within the SEALS

20:26 – Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown

21:18 – The sacrifice that SEALs make with the story of Adam Brown as an example

24:35 – Waiting for darkness before deployment

27:23 – How do you know when to violate your best practices for a risk

29:26 – A look at three pictures in his office and why they are meaningful

31:36 – Lessons that would be useful to other people

            33:10 – Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

33:17 – How is Mike’s skillset applied to the investing world

39:24 – Factors that would be seen as good alignment in businesses

40:18 – How the view the profiles of other investors in these small businesses

41:46 – Examples of “smoke and fire”, markers of an attractive investment

43:42 – Other investors that he has learned the most from and what those lessons were

44:54 – Importance of balance sheets in value investing

47:33 – Is value investment oversaturated

50:28 – Market blind spots that are attractive to Mike

52:03 – What point in Mike’s career has he felt the most alive

53:14 – Any other lessons Mike would want to share

55:12 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Mike

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

May 22, 2018

I came across this week’s guest thanks to the overlap of three passions of mine: data informed investing, value creation, and basketball. 

Sam Hinkie worked for more than a decade in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, and then most recently as the President and GM of the Philadelphia 76ers. He helped launch basketball's analytics movement when he joined the Houston Rockets in 2005, and is known for unique trade structuring and a keen focus on acquiring undervalued players. Today, he is also an investor and advisor to a limited number of young companies in which he feels his experience can improve outcomes. 

At one point in our conversation, Sam mentions that he tracked success via future financial outcomes, so I did some research and found many interesting stats about the 76ers surrounding Sam’s tenure. When he took over the franchise, it was 24th in ESPN’s franchise rankings, and today it is 4th. This is the result of an impressive crop of young talent—players like All-Star Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons—which resulted in large part from unconventional decisions Sam and his team made. 

While I’m sure these estimates are imperfect, Forbes estimated the 76ers value at around $418M when Sam took over and $1.2B a few months ago. NBA teams in general have grown in value, so a lot of that appreciation is obviously “beta,” but given that the 76ers had the top percentage growth number more recently of any team, some of it is “alpha,” too. While we can’t parse the exact amount, it seems his unique approach to building a team clearly created some large amount of current franchise equity value. And it looks like the dividends from those decisions will compound for many years to come. 

While basketball was where Sam plied his talents in the past, his approach is more elemental. It is about finding great people, using data, and structuring decisions that create the possibility of huge returns, be they financial or otherwise. I don’t know what Sam will do next, be it investing in companies, running one, or taking over another team, but I know it will be fun to watch. 

Please enjoy this unique episode with Sam Hinkie. 

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Books Referenced

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think

 

Links Referenced

International Justice Mission

 

Show Notes

3:24 – (First Question) Advantages of having a long view and how to structurally harness one

6:08 – Using technology to foster an innovative culture

            6:18– Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

10:16 – Favorite example of applied innovation from Sam’s career

11:34 - Most fun aspect of doing data analytics early on the Houston Rockets

13:38 - Is there anything more important than courage in asymmetric outcomes

14:29 – How does Sam know when to let the art of decision making finish where the data started

16:29 - Pros and cons of a contrarian mindset

17:26 – Where he wanted to apply his knowledge in sports when first getting out of school and how his thinking is best applied in the current sports landscape

21:39 – How does he think about trying to find the equivalent of mispriced assets in the NBA

23:12 – Where tradition can be an impediment to innovation

25:07 – What did the team and workflow of the team look like in the front office

27:03 -  The measure of truth in a sports complex

29:10 – What were the early factors coming out of the data that helped to shape NBA teams

30:42 – Best tactics for hiring

33:59 – Process of recruiting spectacular people

35:39 – Thoughts on fostering a good marriage

37:57 – Picking your kids traits in your spouse

            38:02 – Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think

40:45 – What kind of markers does he look for when evaluating long term investment ideas

42:44 – His interest in machine learning

45:55 – What’s more exciting, the actual advances in machine learning or the applications that can be imagined as a result

            47:15– International Justice Mission

48:11 – How he got started teaching negotiations and some of the points he makes in that class

49:16 – Effective techniques for negotiating

50:03 – Is negotiating contentious, do you need empathy

50:41 – A Rorschach test of Sam based on his reading of Lessons of History (book)

53:01 – Biggest risk Sam took in his career

54:37 – Biggest risks Sam took while with the 76ers

58:09 – Do people undervalue asymmetric outcomes in the NBA
1:00:11 – The players Sam has enjoyed watching over the years

1:02:45 – Why Robert Caro is a favorite author of his

1:04:30 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Sam

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

May 15, 2018

My guest this week is a bundle of curiosity, and that is one of the nicest things I could say about someone. For several years, Tren Griffin has been writing a weekly blog post that highlights things he has learned from various investors, businesspeople, musicians, comedians, and more. Lately, he has also been tackling individual businesses, and broad topics like scaling, competitive forces, and product market fit.

Tren’s full time job is serving as a director at Microsoft. He’s also worked with or for several well know businesspeople and investors like Craig McCaw, and written several books including one on lessons for entrepreneurs, one on Charlie Munger, and another on negotiation.  

We discuss value creation vs. value capture, alpha in investing, sales, hip hop, and why he’d teach high school students about convexity through a drunk driving analogy. I could have talked to Tren for much longer than I did, but sadly, we both had flights to catch. 

If you take anything away from this, I hope its just how much fun it is to just be curious about business, and how you can learn a tremendous amount if you just keep reading about the things that interest you and talking to others. Please enjoy my conversation with Tren Griffin.

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Show Notes

2:26 – (First question) –  key levers of the universal business model

4:26 – How do you know when you’ve achieved real value creation

6:24 – Importance of value capture and how they enhance value creation 

            6:31 – Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

9:08 – Price power

10:28 – Are discussions of moats more useful to businesses than to investors

13:12 -  What Tren learned during his early years working with Craig McCaw

            16:28 – The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

16:36 – The skill of capital allocation

18:37 – How would Buffett and Munger bet on tech if they were starting out today and their philosophy of betting against change

21:57 – How Tren became so fascinated with Charlie and what he’s learned from him

            22:32 – The Alchemy of Finance

            23:17 – Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger

            23:19 – Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

25:21 – Most memorable moment or lesson from Charlie

28:19 – There are more pockets of Alpha

19:20 – How he thinks about factor investing

31:25 – What are the scalability features that make a business attractive

31:28 – A Dozen Attributes of a Scalable Business

35:37 – Exploring some of the other important levers of businesses, such as subscriptions, customer acquisition cost, and more.

            36:20 – Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

37:11 – Wholesale transfer pricing

39:18 – Pros and cons of subscription business models

43:14 – Magic of getting products distributed

44:58 – Best sale Tren’s ever made

46:46 – Most important lesson for young people

49:01 – Any businesses that are piquing Tren’s interest right now

50:16 – Tren’s interest in hip-hop and how it helps him reach more people

53:49 – A look at some interesting quotes from Jim Barksdale

58:22 – Learning by doing

            1:00:48 – Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

1:01:06 – Period of his career that he felt most alive

1:03:03 – Advice for young people thinking about business and entrepreneurship

1:04:56 – Why are so few people passionate about what they do for a living

1:10:44 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Tren

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

May 8, 2018

I believe that any investment strategy that will deliver strong returns in the future must evolve. Any strategy should rest on rock solid foundational principles, which change rarely if ever—things like price discipline, or business growth. But the features of the strategy must keep getting better, because the marketplace is incredibly competitive.

That evolution is the topic of today’s conversation with Jason Karp. Jason is the founder and CIO of Tourbillon Capital Partners, a multi-billion dollar asset manager based in New York City.

We cover a ton of interesting ground. We start with what has happened in public and private markets, discussing the role of quants, passive indexes, and value vs. deep value investing. We compare the relative merits of investing in private equities, and where and how opportunities arise.

We then focus in on two interesting private investing trends: the health and wellness sector and the cannabis industry. First, we discuss Hu kitchen and Hu Products, the food business that Jason started with his family several years ago in response to personal health challenges. Second, we discuss his evolved views on Cannabis as an investment space and why it may also represent a massive growth opportunity.

You all know I value transparency, so it is important to note that since I recorded the conversation, my family became an investor in Hu Products. It has been a fascinating means to learn about the food, health, and wellness industry which has grown rapidly in recent years. We were customers of Hu in New York City long before I even knew Jason, which made that part of the conversation especially interesting for me.

This episode re-enforced my believe in pushing one’s investing strategy to adapt to change market conditions and competitive pressures. If we have any hope of beating Vanguard, we can’t ever rest on our laurels.

This was an especially eclectic and fun conversation, I hope you enjoy my chat with Jason Karp.

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Show Notes

3:06 – (First question) –  Jason’s view on private markets vs public markets and how his view has evolved

6:02 – Phase of the private markets where companies can achieve huge size and scale without going public

10:31 – Framework of Jason’s value-based investing strategy

13:47 – Reverse discounted cash flow

16:27 – Are there areas of the market that are easier to predict using Jason’s models

20:29 – Tech dominance the longer they are around

            21:01 – Jerry Neumann Podcast Episode

22:08 – How markets have changed over Jason’s career

25:58 – Types of edge that you can have in the market

30:00 – Broad examples of sectors that are high-quality, but momentum is hurting them

31:32 – Backstory of Hu Kitchen

38:33 – Investment research into health and wellness

42:56 – State of acquisitions, particularly in consumer product goods

47:13 – Jason’s research into Cannabis

50:43 – The misperceptions of Cannabis

56:30 – Why cannabis is a more important sector to consider than crypto

57:51 – What are the most important levers to growing a business

1:02:24 – Biggest lessons learned in hiring good people

1:06:10 – Investing lessons

1:09:27 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Jason

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

 

May 1, 2018

My guest this week is Chris Douvos, a managing partner at Venture Investment Associates, which allocates 1.6B in behalf of investors. 

Chris is the first professional allocator I’ve spoken with who focuses specifically on venture capital funds, so I had a ton of questions for him on how to build a portfolio in an asset class known for uncertain, but often enormous, outcomes.

We discuss the major recent changes in the asset class and where things might be going.

I sought Chris out because while this is an investment style that is full of creativity and hope, I’ve always felt it could use a healthy dose of skepticism and a value investor’s mindset. He delivers in spades as we try to separate the real from the ideal. 

We didn’t record it, but Chris’s tour of Palo Alto was one of the most interesting and entertaining hours I’ve spent. He is a student of history and markets, and I look forward to learning more from him in the future. 

Please enjoy our conversation

 

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast.

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub.

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

 

Books Referenced

Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment

 

Links Referenced

Domino Rally Business Models

All About the Benjamins

Speak Like the Locals

David Salem podcast episode

Curveball

 

Show Notes

2:18 – (First question) – Four factors that Chris thinks are important for future success of venture firms; portfolio concentration; repeatability; being early; size discipline

7:40 – What the venture landscape looks like today from Chris’s viewpoint

            8:32 – Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment

14:07 – Is there a glut of startups making it difficult for investors

17:33 – How does Chris think about the investments that are a bit different from what everyone else is investing in in Silicon Valley

19:17 – Why he focuses on college campuses for innovation

20:54 – The role that geography plays in venture

25:06 – The Four M’s; money, momentum, mentorship, entrepreneurial management

27:13 – Chris’s perspective on crypto currency as a threat to venture capital

31:44 – The idea of venture capitalists as service providers to the companies they are investing in

35:15 -  Views on investing in hyper focused VC’s vs those that are generalists and just go after the best opportunities in any sector

39:00 – What hot button areas are of most interest to Chris and why, from an investment standpoint

            39:38 – Domino Rally Business Models

42:22 -  What can a public market investor learn from a value venture investor who mostly has to rely on qualitative metrics

            43:08 – All About the Benjamins

44:38 – Portfolio construction in the world of venture

            46:40 – Speak Like the Locals

48:00 -  What are the characteristics that Chris looks for in managers, as an allocator

53:52 – What type of investors should and should not be in venture

59:15 – What type of allocator would Chris give all of his money to

            59:47 – David Salem podcast episode

            1:01:06 – Curveball

1:01:40 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Chris

 

Learn More

For more episodes go to InvestorFieldGuide.com/podcast

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at InvestorFieldGuide.com/bookclub

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

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