Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

ArchiveJanuary 2019

Making Good Decisions – Advice for My Younger Self

Adults frequently inform students there are no multiple-choice exams in real life. They are wrong. Life is in fact a series of multiple choices. It just requires creativity to ask the right questions and understand the available choices, analytical thinking to reason through potential outcomes and intuition to select the best answer (because in some cases, intuition outperforms logic). You’ll...

Middle School Boys

When I attended Central Middle School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, our principal, Mr. Stockstill, called all the boys from all three grades (6th, 7th, 8th) into the gymnasium for a special assembly. An unprecedented move. Once there, we learned, in a bit of a circuitous way, that after-hours the previous day, two boys had urinated on the side of the red brick school building outside of the shop...

Integrity in M&A

This update points to a story I wrote on my professional blog. It would have been better on this forum, which didn’t exist at the time. Years ago, a defining interaction happened around a large conference room table as we were negotiating the final points on an M&A deal. This is a story of unusual integrity and transparency in business. It was a beautiful moment and I learned from it. I...

Efficient Markets, Pricing Anomalies – Chicken Little & Donkeys

When I was completing my MBA in Finance at the Stockholm School of Economics in the late 1990’s, the rumor was that one of our professors had discovered a pricing anomaly in the Stockholm Stock Exchange and had made a sizable amount of money in a pure arbitrage play. Because the details were scarce, I wondered if this was true. And, more importantly, why can’t this happen to me? It did. Read on…...

4-Plex – Worth It

Part 5 of a 5-part series… This is the final continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth, swarming bees, grow lights, electricity theft & spy cameras, the flood and termites. But there’s more to this story because… The value of the 4-plex was hidden, as are many things in life. Even though we had all these challenges (and more) with this...

4-Plex – Flood

Part 4 of a 5-part series… This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth, swarming bees, grow lights, electricity theft & spy cameras. Same property. Water Damage We also had a flood. Not the natural kind where a stream crests its bank during a heavy rain and water creeps in the front door. No. We had the toilet kind. Overflowed for...

4-Plex – Grow Lights, Electricity Theft & Spy Cameras

Part 3 of a 5-part series… This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth (Part 1) and swarming bees (Part 2). Same property. A resident called to tell me his electric bill was running $350/month. That’s way too high for a small 2-bedroom apartment. I agreed. The main source of electricity consumption is the air conditioner. We figured...

4-Plex – Bees

Part 2 of a 5-part series… (read Part 1) This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth. Same property. Different day. Bees I got a call from the tenant in unit A. He said there were a lot of bees outside the main entrance and I should come take care of it because it was dangerous, especially for the kids. Nice of him to...

4-Plex – Crystal Meth

Part 1 of a 5-part series… I stopped to talk to a friend I haven’t seen in a while at the grocery store the other day. As the conversation meandered, he mentioned he was considering buying rental property. I had some limited experience with this and shared a few stories with him, one of which I recount below. 4-Plex On a whim, I purchased a 4-plex apartment building in Austin, TX. This was a dumb...

My Father Knew He was Fallible

For years, my father kept a slip of paper in his wallet, torn from a small 3 x 5 spiral notebook. On it, strangely, was a simple geometric sketch and a calculation of how far a 6-foot person could see before the horizon drops off due to the curvature of the earth. This is a curious thing to keep in one’s wallet. Backstory My dad and my older brother (a teenager at the time) made this calculation...

Mistaking Noise for Signal

Throughout human history, it has been important to be able to make quick decisions, especially if the outcome of a wrong decision might lead to injury or death. Consequently, our brains are pre-wired to be incredibly adept at generating predictive algorithms and generalizations from previous inputs (experiences), even if the data is incomplete. This is a legacy issue with our brains – that we...

Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

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