The Digest #37
The Podcast Road Trip
For the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not venture beyond a five mile radius of my home. But with no end in sight for the pandemic, I could no longer delay an important trip. Rather than flying, I rented a car and drove 2,200 miles round-trip last week. As the boredom of mile after mile of interstate highways took hold, I started listening to a long queue of podcast episodes, a few of which stood out as worthy of mention in this week's newsletter.
Tyrone Ross: Giving Back, Empowerment, and Gratitude Tyrone Ross is a man on a mission to improve financial literacy in America. As is the case with most habits, the best time to instill the right approach to financial literacy is at an early age. Ross believes in empowering young people in ways that they can relate to. The topic of cryptocurrencies was discussed in the context of empowering poor people by removing layers of expensive intermediation that have long plagued people of limited means. (Infinite Loops)
Apolo Ohno: Process Versus Prize Short track speed skating is a sport I never thought about until I listened this this podcast. Apolo Ohno is an eight-time Olympic medalist who took up the sport at a young age and quickly came to dominate the field. However, his path to the Olympics was not a smooth one. Numerous bouts of self-sabotage and the ordinary tumult of being a teenager nearly derailed Ohno's career. Shane Parrish does a great job of drawing out Ohno's story, with a focus on the lessons we can learn from. (Farnam Street)
How Public Companies Can Deserve Quality Shareholders Phil Ordway and Larry Cunningham discuss best practices in corporate governance, capital allocation, alignment of incentives to mitigate agency problems, and how quality shareholders can add real value to companies. Cunningham is the author of several books on Berkshire Hathaway, most recently Margin of Trust which I reviewed in January. His new book, Quality Shareholders: How the Best Managers Attract and Keep Them, comes out in November. (Manual of Ideas)
Power and Dissent Clay Jenkinson portrays Thomas Jefferson in this fascinating episode exploring the limits of Presidential power and the role of dissent in a democracy. Jenkinson attempts to answer questions as Jefferson himself might had he lived to see current events unfolding. Although there is a speculative element to such a portrayal, from what I know of Jefferson's views, Jenkinson's interpretation seems accurate. Many people do not realize how radical many of Jefferson's beliefs were. (The Thomas Jefferson Hour)
How to Judge the Durability of a Business Geoff Gannon and Andrew Kuhn walk through how they think about the market power of a business with respect to relationships with customers and suppliers, especially as it relates to the degree of industry rivalry. Their discussion reminded me of Michael Porter's "five forces" model of how to analyze a competitive environment which is discussed in his classic book, Competitive Strategy. (Focused Compounding)
Open Source Software David Perell interviews Nadia Eghbal, author of Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software. Eghbal works at Substack and previously worked at GitHub which was acquired by Microsoft in 2018. Those of us familiar with the software industry know that the initial cost of software is often not the greatest cost in an implementation. Open source software might be "free" but, as Eghbal points out, the cost of maintenance must always be taken into consideration. (North Star Podcast)
Three Barking Dogs "Val Hughes" is a forty-year Wall Street veteran who claims to be someone we have seen on television but has taken on an anonymous persona due to restrictions imposed by his employer. In this episode, Val, who discloses that he has been heavily drinking, discusses Verizon, Pfizer, and 3M, three companies that qualify for this year's "Dogs of the Dow", a very old stock picking strategy focusing on high yielding, out of favor stocks in the DJIA. (The Value Guys Podcast)
The Rational Walk website has been redesigned to make it easier for readers to find older content. The reverse chronological order presentation that is the default for blogs does not work very well for an eleven year old website with nearly 900 articles. In addition to a new home page, I have added archive pages for individual company write-ups and for Berkshire Hathaway articles. If you have any feedback regarding the redesigned site, please let me know by responding to this email.
Thanks for reading!
Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, Virginia, August 20, 2020
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