SuperHero  Skills  – Observation

Something happened this week to make me move forward another SuperHero piece, this time about expanding your ability to Observe, evaluate and react to what you see or hear.

Being extra good at observation requires you first, to be alert and to be sensing what’s going on around you, to be sensitive to variances or ratios, to think about what you are sensing means, and lastly, how you might use it for some purpose.

Example Nr. 1: Some months back I was reflecting on how many television commercials had Dogs and Cats in them.  Along with Babies, they provide the ultimate feel-good touch to keep you watching to the end.  Dog ownership has become high, and upkeep costs keep mounting.  So, I scouted for some way to get something out of this strong phenomenon.  I identified two successful companies that could be owned as stocks and took positions.  Now, this week the Mars Candy company has decided to get into the pet business by buying one of the companies, VCA (stock symbol WOOF) for 9+ Billion dollars, and a premium of +29% to last week’s stock price.

Interestingly, this was not an “only one person wins” kind of event – several thousand people could have observed and gotten this result. (But Big Warning: Do not move now to buy this stock, as the price is frozen and will not increase for some time to come, while Mars is busy integrating a business that’s totally new to them).

Example Nr.  2: Rather than listening to the news channels tell you how far Hillary was ahead of Trump in 2016, could you have gotten a clue about what might happen by counting Bumper Stickers?  Someone else suggested that they counted Lawn Signs in Ohio to get a correct election prediction.  But how could you cover all the States?  Well, back in 1982, when John Naisbitt wrote his bestseller, Megatrends, he had developed his predictions by team-reading a lot of newspapers from a cross section of the US and noting the parallels he found.  Quite a bit of that style of coverage appears now in the newspaper, USA Today.  What if you made that paper your daily read – could that habit fill the gap?

Example Nr. 3: Here’s a simple one for you to practice on.  There are five branches of military service in our Defense Department. From the largest to the smallest they are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.  Over a week’s time, count how many of each service’s markers do you see on vehicles.  What does each of the numbers you get say about the pride and respect each group of drivers has for their chosen service (Esprit de Corps/Morale)?  What are your conclusions?  So now, if you wanted to inspire a bunch of people to be your political aides,  which group would probably be easiest to enlist? (See Gracian’s Manual #26)

*  The purpose of learning and improving your SuperHero skills is to put yourself ahead and beyond the rest of the crowd.  In most cases, you only need to be 10% better than everyone else to be significantly superior.  You Observe, to be able to Anticipate, which allows you to React earlier than everyone else.

Lessons in Money

A $20 Million Loss ? !  –  One of the stories going around last year was that Tim Duncan, the now-retired Power Forward for the San Antonio Spurs pro basketball team had a Financial Adviser who lost 20 million dollars of Duncan’s money and Duncan was suing him for recovery.

Usually,  this happens through some form of a “Cocktail Party” style investment, where the”adviser” is steering money toward something that is hard to quantify but has plenty of “sex appeal” as an idea to own.  Duncan has said he had been positioned in hotels, sports merchandising and wineries – and he lost $20 million dollars!

Let me quickly give you a simple antidote to mistakenly choosing this style of investment: only,and I mean only, invest in something which has its price quoted every day in the newspaper.  Accept nothing less.

Now you can see your values every day, and should you need to have some of your money; a brokerage firm will sell a portion to get funds back to you in three days.  That is Liquidity, people.