Welcome to The Nightcrawler, a weekly collection of thought-provoking articles and analysis on technology, innovation, and long-term investing. The Nightcrawler is published every Friday evening by Eric Markowitz, Nightview Capital’s Director of Research.

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    In this evening’s email… 

    Quote of the week: “The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” ― George Carlin

    Mastery as a lifelong journey

    In a recent essay, the writer Trung Phan examines why Jerry Seinfeld continues to work so hard even after becoming so successful. The answer is rather simple: early in his career, Seinfeld became motivated by Zen concepts of mastery. And as part of that motivation, Seinfeld decided to pursue cultivation of skill—not just accumulation of wealth—as the defining goal of his life. It’s an idea that will resonate among many readers: learning and improving as the key to fulfillment.

    “The only thing in life that’s really worth having is good skill,” Seinfeld says. “Good skill is the greatest possession. The things that money buys are fine. They’re good. I like them. But having a skill [is the most important thing].” 

    As part of the essay, Trung digs up the 37-year-old article on mastery from Esquire magazine that inspired Seinfeld. Trung summarizes the essay into distinct categories, from “mastery is plateaus and brief spurts of progress” to “mastery is a lifelong journey.”

    • Key quote: “Mastery is obviously possible in all types of fields — writing, cooking, negotiating, composing, acting etc. — but sports are the most recognizable and relatable path for many people. I’m guessing that most of you readers have spent at least 100 hours on a single athletic pursuit in your life. You may not be a professional but you are trying to get better… To be sure, there have been notable works in recent decades on the topic of mastery, including Robert Greene’s Mastery (2012) and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (2008), which popularized the ’10, 000 Hour Rule’ (people have debunked the ‘10,000 hour rule’ to say that everyone takes a different amount of time to achieve mastery but I think most readers get the gist: if you engage in dedicated practice for one skill for a long time, there will be results).”


    Good decisions are enabled by multidisciplinary thinking 

    In a speech delivered to the Cal Poly Economics Club, Peter Kaufman asks (and answers) a fundamental question: why is it important to learn about lots of different fields—and become a “multidisciplinary thinker”? Kaufman is the CEO of Glenair, as well as the editor of Poor Charlie’s Almanack, a book that captures the wit and wisdom of Warren Buffett’s longtime partner Charlie Munger.

    In the speech, Kaufman lays out a very pragmatic reason to focus on learning: it helps you made better decisions in business and in life. “So why is it important to be a multidisciplinary thinker?” Peter asks. “The answer comes from the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who said, ‘To understand is to know what to do.’ Could there be anything that sounds simpler than that? And yet it’s a genius line—’to understand is to know what to do.'” He continues: 

    • Key quote: “How many mistakes do you make when you understand something? You don’t make any mistakes. Where do mistakes come from? They come from blind spots, a lack of understanding. Why do you need to be multidisciplinary in your thinking? Because as the Japanese proverb says, ‘The frog in the well knows nothing of the mighty ocean.’ You may know everything there is to know about your specialty, your silo, your ‘well,’ but how are you going to make any good decisions in life—the complex systems of life, the dynamic system of life—if all you know is one well?”

    A few more links I enjoyed: 

    Heresies of the Heart – via Tom Morgan 

    • Key quote: “For those finance readers looking at this topic from a more performance-related angle, there’s a small but legendary study that claimed to show that traders’ ability to sense their own heartbeats was directly correlated to their success in the financial markets. Some larger studies have claimed that higher scores on heartbeat detection predict superior performance on some laboratory gambling tasks.”

    Real Success with Christopher Tsai – via Richer, Wiser, Happier (William Green)

    • Key quote: “Less activity is better than more activity, and it totally goes against our ancestral heritage where we were constantly on the move, looking out for the next saber tooth tiger. Less activity is better than more activity—and that I think that’s applicable to life, and applicable to investing.”

    50 Quotes from Legendary Value Investor Joel Tillinghast – via John Rotonti, Jr.

    • Key quote: “In my opinion, Big Money Thinks Small by Joel Tillinghast is the best stock-picking book I’ve ever read, and it contains the single best sentence on stock-picking that I’ve ever read (see first quote below). I’ve now read the book three times and each time something new pops out at me. It’s also funny, sarcastic, witty, and at times self-deprecating, so I found myself laughing out loud each read too. The book covers everything from financial statement analysis and earnings quality red flags to valuation to corporate character and investor mindset.”