“Who is Louis James?” is a different question than “What is Louis James’ real name?” We’ve covered the latter in our FAQ. The question of who I really am is much more important.
It matters to you because you need to know if you can trust me. Am I, as I claim, offering you my best ideas in sincere hope that they will benefit you? Or are my opinions for sale to the companies I write about? Or is the whole thing some other sort of scam to bilk readers for my own benefit?
It matters to me, because I want to be sure I haven’t strayed from my own standards. I want to be my best self, the one I can be most proud of.
Until the day an omniscient judge lays all bare, how do we know?
Well, there’s the testimony of those who know me. If you don’t know me, you should ask people who know about the sectors I’ve been active in, and see what they say.
And then there’s the testimony of my actions. Actions speak louder than words, after all. Watch how I react to the ups and downs along the way. See if I face up to mistakes, or pretend that only my big wins matter. See if I respond to the needs and interests of my readers, or just tout my own virtues. See if the person defined by my actions is the sort of person you want to do business with.
In time, I’m confident of your favorable judgment. For now, let me tell you a few things about who I really am, according to me.
I am the Eternal Student.
I can remember no time when I wasn’t eager to learn all I could. This is a very different thing from being eager to go to school, which I rarely was. My earliest childhood memories are of examining ant hills, collecting rocks, and disassembling household appliances. The best part of the week was when my father would take us out on Saturdays to explore a museum or a nature trail. The models of ships and machines—and the gigantic Southern Railway 1401 Steam locomotive in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History—enthralled me. When I graduated from Duke University, I knew I would never stop learning, not as long as I was breathing.
When Doug Casey’s then-partner David Galland came up with the original Casey Research motto, “Intensely curious, focused on facts,” I felt right at home. Researching speculative investments was the first job I had in which always asking questions, always wanting to understand more, always taking ideas and systems apart to see if we could make them better was a major asset, not a liability. I knew almost nothing about geology or finance when I started. David says I took to it “like a fish to water,” acquiring valuable expertise in record time.
I’m not telling you this to tell you how great I am—but how much of a work in progress I still see myself as being. That’s a good thing. It means that when I have a conversation with a client or a company exec, I’ll be looking to uncover truth and add value, not to “win” arguments or waste time boasting. It means I’ll listen, admit when I’m wrong, and always strive for improvement.
I am Don Quixote.
I have what I call a “paladin complex.” It’s more than a desire to rescue damsels in distress. It’s a quixotic desire to sally forth and right all wrongs. That may be literal.
When I was a boy, my parents went to see the original “Man of la Mancha” Broadway musical. They brought the LP vinyl recording home. I had an old briefcase-style record player on which I played that record over and over and over. I could see Don Quixote and Sancho Panza so clearly in my mind. I remember lifting the needle to go back to my favorite parts. I never saw the play until I was an adult. It was just a group of college players, but they did a good job, and their performance moved me to tears. That’s when I understood how deeply into my psyche this story had engraved the idea of striving to do right, no matter what those around me may think or say or do.
So now you know: I feel called to oppose evil in all its forms, from the big issues of systems that perpetuate injustice and brutality around the world to the individual failings of hypocrisy and criminality. My personal goal in life is a big one: I want to eliminate institutionalized aggression from the human condition.
I won’t go into the details here, as they are not relevant to this service, but I think it’s important that you know this about me. Even though my writing focuses on what we need to know in order to make great speculative investments, my ideas and attitudes will show in my writing. Better to “fess up” now than to have the truth seep into your awareness over time, possibly giving the impression that I’ve been hiding it.
The key takeaway is that I don’t let my quixotic ideals distract me from my work. What makes this possible is that I see my work as a means to that same end. That doesn’t mean I’m investing based on ideological values. My judgment as a speculator is based solely on what makes us the most money. But money is power, so making more of it will expand my power to impact our world in a way I hope will be positive. In time, I intend to outdo my mentors Doug Casey and Rick Rule, as well as famous entrepreneurs in other sectors who are changing our world. Helping you make money helps me toward that goal. It’s a win-win deal.
I am a Boy Scout.
Daring to dream big may make me seem arrogant, and I have been called that. But I think that’s mostly because I’d rather cut a conversation to what matters than waste time on chitchat. The flip side of my ambitions is that they are driven by ethical concerns. That means that I have to maintain the highest ethical standards myself, lest I become one of the very hypocrites I despise. And that means I work very hard for my readers.
So, while I’ve been called arrogant, I’ve also been called a Boy Scout. “Mr. Stick in the Mud.” I’m no fun, because I don’t smoke (anything), don’t drink hard alcohol, and don’t fool around while on my due diligence trips. Other analysts often seem more interested in the bars, girls, and fishing trips on the side than the investments we’re there to see. I’d rather get more work done.
If you ask my wife, she’ll say I’m a workaholic. I obsess over delivering value to my readers. She may be right. But while the people I meet on my due diligence trips may complain of my “all work and no fun” mind, my readers never do. Scout’s honor.
I understand that I am not like most people. I hope you understand that I’m not suggesting in any way that you should be more like me. You might not even like me if we spent any serious time together.
And that’s okay.
What matters is that my life’s experience—successes, mistakes, quirks, and all—has shaped me to deliver for my readers.
I’m excited to be able to do so in my own way now, and I look forward to delivering in spades going forward.
Wednesday, April 18, 3:46am, EDT, 2018