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The Critical Element

by Lobo Tiggre
Monday, March 11, 12:00pm, UTC, 2024

by Lobo Tiggre


During the Great Depression, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman was a boy who fixed radios. He went on to become a curious character famous for many things, including:

  • Working on the first atom bombs at the Los Alamos lab during WWII.
  • Becoming an infamous safecracker and a prankster.
  • A painter.
  • A drummer.
  • A debunker of NASA nonsense during the Challenger hearings.

Feynman’s character is well summed up by the motto Casey Research cofounder David Galland came up with for that company: “Intensely curious. Focused on facts.”

But Feynman’s critical element was neither of those things.

That’s where the radios come in. A man once hired young Feynman to fix his radio. Apparently, quite a few people were willing to hire him because money was tight, and a boy was cheaper than a professional.

At any rate, the man turned the radio on and it made a horrific noise, then calmed down and worked normally.

Feynman did nothing at first. Before even taking out a screwdriver to open the radio up, he set to thinking. The way the noise faded seemed obviously to have something to do with the way the tubes in the radio heated up. (Before silicon chips, there were transistors, and before transistors, there were vacuum tubes, and these took time to warm up.) But the radio did work when everything was heated up, so he decided that it had to be the order in which the tubes heated up.

While Feynman was considering this, the man grew impatient, saying, “What are you doing? You came to fix the radio, but you’re only walking back and forth!”

“I’m thinking!” was Feynman’s answer.

Of course, he did figure it out and quickly got the radio working properly simply by rearranging the tubes. The man was astounded. “He fixes radios by thinking!” He then became the young electrician’s great promoter in the neighborhood.

The right thing to do is often nothing—at first. Sometimes you have to sit back and listen a while. Gather data. Think. Learn. In short…

The critical element is due diligence.

I’ve tried to emulate Feynman’s example in my work. I take whatever time is needed to gather data and think about my investment strategies and stock picks. And yes, I’m constantly learning more about geology, metallurgy, finance, and everything that goes into successful investing.

This is why I don’t include new stock picks in every edition of The Independent Speculator. Some editions might have several, other times there can be several months with no new picks. I won’t compromise on what makes for a great speculation, so I take the plunge when I find one, not on any set schedule.

And it’s why I never, ever give in to FOMO.

I strongly encourage you to do the same.

If you’re not sure how exactly to go about that, I invite you to join me on my due diligence journey. Sign up for my free, no-hype, no-spam, Speculator’s Digest and you’ll receive my latest thoughts on what I’ve learned about markets and investment opportunities, as well as how to go about implementing them. And that’s it—no flood of daily advertisements—just one email per week, full of ideas and answers.

Whatever you decide, do remember my mottos:

  • Disciplina praemia (discipline pays).
  • Caveat emptor (buyer beware).




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