2015 Year-End Letter – Twin Lights

Twin Lights Blueprint

Gloucester Daily Times – February 24, 1919: Steamer George Washington bearing President Wilson and party returning from abroad and her destroyer escort might have come to grief on Thacher’s Island yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock while the craft and convoy were making for Boston, but fortunately the danger was discovered in time. The craft was coming nearly head-on in the snow squall which set in about that time when the danger was learned and the big liner stopped, sent full speed astern and anchored… Read PDF »

First Quarter 2015 Update: Mr. Market Revisited

ecam_2015_q1_artThe Palindromic Mind:
Curiosity is often the genesis of human achievement. The desire to solve for the unknown is deeply embedded in our DNA – the engine driving evolution. This observation is a likely explanation for why humans love detective stories, are obsessed with puzzles, and are captivated by unsolved mysteries and the hunt for hidden treasures. In mental and physical feats, the human drive to do what was thought impossible by breaking the “code” is a daily quest. Since we are solving puzzles from our first breath to our last, continuously improving one’s ability to problem solve can have great utility. Read PDF »

Fourth Quarter 2014 Update: All Is Well Since All Grows Better

All Is Well Since All Grows Better Twenty-Four Lessons I Learned From Andrew Carnegie:

Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 to a poor weaver. At the time of his death in 1919 he had built America’s steel industry and amassed the largest store of wealth the world had known to that point. Prior to his death, Carnegie gave the majority of his wealth back to mankind by establishing various institutions and building 2,509 libraries. I feel Carnegie was not just heroic for his business acumen but also a worthy hero for how he understood and embraced humanity. An exceptional leader with a head as well as a heart and whose legacy will endure. Read PDF »

Third Quarter 2014 Update: Grove of Titans

Grove of Titans Coastal Redwoods as a Model of the Enduring Business

The Grove of Titans is home to the largest ecosystem of redwood trees that has been discovered to date. Long hidden in plain sight off a popular hiking trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the Grove boasts the Lost Monarch, the largest coastal redwood on earth. The Lost Monarch and the nine other Titans that surround her have stood and observed nearly two thousand years of geological time: the rise and fall of Rome, the discovery of America, two World Wars, industrial and technological revolutions and the growth of the population on Earth from 200 million to 7 billion. The Grove of Titans was discovered in 1998 by explorers Dr. Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor. A handful of others have found the Grove since then, but none have revealed its location, even though hikers walk by it every day. The hikers are unable to see the Grove of Titans for the density of the trees before them… Read PDF »

Second Quarter 2014 Update: Horse in Motion

2014 Q2 ECAM Muybridge Image

In 1851, William Rysdyk, a farm hand in Sugar Loaf, Orange County, New York bought the colt he had cared for since birth (along with his mother) for $125. He bought them from his boss, Mr. Jonus Seely, and named the colt Hambletonian. The story of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian illustrates the powerful mental model of an owner mindset. 

With two creatures dependent on him, William Rysdyk’s work had a new strength and purpose. Sleeves rolled, he faced each season like a giant refreshed – splitting logs, hauling, plowing, as if he were made of iron…

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First Quarter 2014 Update: The Economy of Evolution

Economy of Evolution: IllustrationWhile in the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin’s insights into finch beak gradation (of birds native to the islands) were incremental, possibly pivotal, to his theory of natural selection. Darwin’s prediction proved true, as certain finches lived or died depending on which species’ beak structure was best adapted for the most abundant food supply.

Investors and businesses share the same dilemma – the economics of evolution is the ability to survive and thrive by adapting to a changing environment. A business sustains its life through a steady diet (earnings) and safety (sustainable competitive advantages). An investor searches for food in the building blocks of return (investment specific IRR) that offer ample supply of asymmetric compounding opportunities (margin of safety)… Read PDF »

Fourth Quarter 2013 Update: Navigating Beyond the Pillars

Navigation: Flying CloudThe Flying Cloud, a tall ship built to deliver goods quickly from New York to San Francisco during the California gold rush, is arguably America’s most famous clipper ship. The clipper ships were a disruptive technology capable of sustaining speeds in excess of twelve knots. In the 1850’s a typical 16,000-mile voyage around Cape Horn to San Francisco would take 200 days. In 1851, on her maiden voyage, the Flying Cloud stunned the world when she set anchor in San Francisco harbor after a passage from New York of only eighty-nine days, twenty-one hours. She stunned the world again in 1854… Read PDF »

Third Quarter 2013 Update: The Architecture of Reason

A Well-Lighted Place ©ECAM Fra Luca Pacioli (1445-1517) was at the epicenter of the high Renaissance and the Enlightenment, he was a polymath among polymaths, a giant among giants. His personal mentors were the great architect Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), and the progenitor of perspective painting, Piero della Francesca (c. 1415-1492). Pacioli had become famous throughout Western Europe as a teacher, and most famously as an author of his book Summa de [Everything about] Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportion and Proportionality, published in 1494, which was a synthesis of mathematical knowledge at that time. The Summa included the first published treatise on bookkeeping, and to this day Pacioli is recognized as the father of accounting. Pacioli’s soon to be famous book, De Divina Proportione, would be printed in Venice in June, 1509. It would also include brilliant illustrations by the ineffable left hand of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Read more »