Where do ideas come from?

As an analyst, most of my time is spent deepening my understanding of our portfolio of companies and researching potential new investment candidates.  But every once in a while, I meet with investors in our fund. They always ask “how do you come up with new ideas?”  After my deer-in-headlights stun wears off, I usually give a rambling, incoherent monologue and it is a miracle if they don’t pull out their funds immediately.

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If You Absolutely Must Sell, Please Give Me a Call


An Early Lesson

The day after my college graduation, my roommates and I were packing up to leave. One roommate was preparing to drive halfway across the country to home and deciding what would fit in his car. He asked if I would make an offer for his loose change jar.

I had seen him depositing pocket change into the jar for the last 4 years each time he came home for the day. I had no idea how much money was in there, but offered $20, thinking that was a safe bet. He accepted. Two days later I took it to a Coinstar machine at my local supermarket, which converts your coins into bills for a 10% fee, and walked out with $180 in my pocket.

This was a powerful lesson in the value of taking the other side from a forced seller, even under conditions of uncertainty.

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A Trip to Big Tree Country

I recently visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. I have been fascinated with forests since reading The Hidden Life of Trees , which illuminates the intricate complexity of these ecosystems.

Sequoia is one of the oldest parks in the country and home to the giant trees that have made it famous. Sequoias are the largest organisms in the world and only grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at elevations above 4000 ft.

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