What I Have Been Reading – September 2020

What People Want

People don’t buy products, they buy transformations.

From overweight to fit.
From dumb to smart.
From incompetent to competent.
From poor to wealthy.
From timid to confident.

Figure out what you’re transforming.



Growth Investing

Unlike in real estate or in professional sports, in the stock market people seem to get mad when high-growth companies are selling at premium valuations. They get almost indignant about it. How dare you, sir!

I don’t understand it. You’re not better than someone who is willing to pay 20x revenues for Zoom. Or 100x earnings for Netflix. Or 500x thin air for Roku. Finding bargains is not more respectable than paying up for growth. Both endeavors have their risks and rewards.

The reformed broker


UK Household Savings During Lockdown

We’ve never seen households retrench as much as they did during the second quarter – not since comparable records began.

The UK household savings ratio has shot up from about 5% to 30%



This Recession Is Different

“The recession has essentially ended for high-income individuals,” Chetty told Biden and Harris. Meanwhile, the bottom half of American workers represented almost 80% of the jobs still missing.


And a graph showing this change.


Growing Divides

Recent economic data and surveys have laid bare the growing divide. Americans saved a stunning $3.2 trillion in July, the same month that more than 1 in 7 households with children told the U.S. Census Bureau they sometimes or often didn’t have enough food. More than a quarter of adults surveyed have reported paying down debt faster than usual, according to a new AP-NORC poll, while the same proportion said they have been unable to make rent or mortgage payments or pay a bill.




It took decades, but Chuck Feeney, the former billionaire cofounder of retail giant Duty Free Shoppers has finally given all his money away to charity. He has nothing left now—and he couldn’t be happier.



Wikipedia Marketing

Adding two paragraphs of text & nice pictures to randomly selected articles about small European cities led to an over 9% increase in hotel stays.



Life Advice

Marry Well and Don’t Hassle Your Kids: If you do this, nothing else matters. You’ll be miserable 99% of the time, no matter how much money you have. Divorce is one of the biggest wealth destroyers on the planet. As far as kids go, they hate lectures and nagging. Pick your battles, and your chances of emerging victorious will skyrocket. Constantly pressuring your kids to be something they’re not is a fatal error.

Tony Isola


Free Shares

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200. All You need to do is sign up via this link –   Freetrade,  top up your account, could be as little as £1 and complete the w8-ben form on the app.



Nearly one in ten (8%) UK adults said saving money on commuting during the COVID-19 lockdown makes them happy.

Those in Sheffield are happiest scrapping their commute, avoiding a cost of £89³ per month on travelling to and from the office. Over the average career length (47-years), people in Sheffield can expect to have spent a whopping £50,196 on their daily commute.

Despite Londoners spending the most on commuting a month, an average of £397, less than one in ten (8%) said that saving money on commuting and socialising brought them happiness during lockdown. However, 17% of city dwellers have been able to pay back debt using the money they’ve saved and a whopping 67% have also been able to add to their savings pots. Over a 47-year career, Londoners can expect to have spent a staggering £223,906 on commuting, more than any other city.

Love Belfast


Monopolistic Tech

If you’re willing to spend enough capital, you can recreate the railroad systems in America with $500 billion. With a lot of money, you can also build a new cable system or a new electric or gas utility network. FedEx and UPS have shown us that you can recreate the postal system. But you actually cannot spend any amount of money and create a search engine that is better than the world’s dominant search engine today. People have tried: Amazon had an internal effort to build a search engine, and they concluded it was impossible. Microsoft has worked at Bing for many years and never really gained market share. The reason is that with any product where the quality is driven by artificial intelligence, it’s almost impossible to compete with the market leader.



YKK Zippers

For decades now, apparel makers who can’t afford to gamble on cut-rate fasteners have overwhelmingly turned to a single manufacturer. YKK, the Japanese zipper behemoth, makes roughly half of all the zippers on earth. More than 7 billion zippers each year. Those three capital letters are ubiquitous—no doubt you’ve seen them while zipping up your windbreaker or unzipping someone else’s jeans.

“There have been quality problems in the past when we’ve used cheaper zippers,” says Trina Turk, who designs her own line of women’s contemporary sportswear. “Now we just stick with YKK. When the customer is buying $200 pants, they better have a good zipper. Because the customer will blame the maker of the whole garment even if the zipper was the part that failed.”

A typical 14-inch “invisible” YKK nylon zipper (the kind that disappears behind fabric when you zip up the back of a dress) costs about 32 cents. For an apparel maker designing a garment that will cost $40-$65 to manufacture, and will retail for three times that much or more, it’s simply not worth it to skimp.




It’s quite difficult to produce what Google calls a moonshot, a 10X effect in the physical world, because increasingly, we’re running up against the limits of physics in terms of how fast a train can travel, how fast a plane can go. All those things, we’re running up against the limit to either of the physics of air resistance, or indeed passenger safety, because it’s worth remembering that if you have a crash on a 500-mile-an-hour train, that’s 250 people dead. So you’re running up against these fundamental limits.

It’s much, much easier I would argue, and indeed, it’s something you should try first, to achieve a 10X in psychology. And I’d argue that Uber, for instance, is an example of a 10X in psychology because it doesn’t reduce the weight by a factor of 10, it reduces the degree of uncertainty by a factor of about 25.

Investor Field Guide