We finally got around to reading this 232-year-old classic cover to cover though it lay around our study for several years.
A lot of it is now ingrained common sense in the West but there’s something magical reading it in Franklin’s own words – as if he’s talking directly to you; the humanness of this legendary figure. And there is no substitute to reading it yourself – anecdotes will strike each reader differently.
His methodical attempt at moral perfection is probably best known. He focused on developing 13 virtues by concentrating on one a week - and discovered he had to break bad habits and establish good ones before he could attain his goal. (Reminds us of Buffett's pre-talk 'sermons'.) Self-control truly is mastery.
His key character trait that echoed to us is diligence. With level-headedness and industry, he accomplished much.
Being well-read when most weren’t, and engaged in the printing business running the best newspaper in town turned him into a wealthy and influential man from relative obscurity.
One section sums up his mindset: “… I was not discouraged by the seeming magnitude of the undertaking, as I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, make the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.”
Echoes Buffett and Gates attributing their success to "Focus" – applies to any endeavor, particularly active investing.
Poor Richard's Almanack
Also got around to reading this short pamphlet written by Franklin under a pseudonym – apparently this was the most read item in Philadelphia after the Bible.
“A penny saved is two pence clear”
“One To-day is worth two To-morrows”
“Drive thy Business, let not that drive thee”
“So rather go to bed supperless than rise in Debt”
The key ideas that resonate throughout is the value of industry and frugality; most of it is lifted from Proverbs in the Bible and adapted with Franklin’s wit. It’s a good reminder to walk the way of wisdom in any calling, including investing.
Playing the capital structure: Milken Conference
Michael Milken’s credit discussions are insightful – relatively under-viewed videos.
The following video highlights the value of looking across the corporate and capital structure for value following the fundamental analysis – the holding company or operating company, debt or equity - and to go long or short.
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