Feb 14 2023
Journaling to Improve Your Investment Process with Jake Taylor
Jake Taylor is a man that wears many hats. He is the CEO of Farnam Street, the founder of the new Journalytic app, the author of The Rebel Allocator, and the co-host of the Value After Hours podcast. Somehow amid his busy schedule, he recently found time to sit down with 7investing lead advisor Matthew Cochrane to talk about these roles and dive deep into the inner workings of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B).
Their conversation begins with Taylor explaining to Cochrane the genesis of the idea for Journalytic, a journaling tool designed specifically for investors. Taylor says that one of the most challenging aspects of investing is that the only thing the individual investor has control over is their process, so he searched for an existing tool that could help him improve his investing process. When Taylor couldn't find anything, he decided to design something they could use in-house at Farnam Street and wield it as an advantage over other investment shops. This was before he decided to open Journalytic to everyone.
Cochrane shows Taylor how he used sprawling Word documents for each stock he owned for years before it grew too tedious and cumbersome to continue. Taylor believes Journalytic can help investors organize data and opinions on stocks. By using it, he believes investors can improve their buying and selling processes by journaling their thoughts as they make investment decisions. Recording their thoughts and feelings as they own a company should help investors push back against many of the behavioral biases that have traditionally haunted investors and not let emotions overwhelm them in the heat of the moment.
When Taylor wrote The Rebel Allocator, he started by writing a non-fictional thesis on capital allocation. He says it was so dry and dull that he could not envision anyone reading it. Taylor scrapped the non-fictional piece and started from scratch. He takes the same investment lessons he wanted to communicate in the earlier work and weaves them into a fictional story. The story follows a college graduate's journey into young adulthood, as the protagonist meets a fast-food mogul who takes him under his wing and teaches him the secrets to his business success. Meanwhile, the young hero falls in love, gets a promotion at work, and generally matures in his worldview as he learns about life.
Taylor and Cochrane end their discussion by discussing Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's conglomerate that owns everything from Dairy Queen and GEICO Insurance to a significant stake in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Taylor discusses the advantages of holding a Berkshire position, including the ethos with which Buffett has run the business. Taylor believes the company's culture, including its decentralized structure, will long outlast Buffett's and Charlie Munger's tenure.
Taylor believes Buffett made one investment that encapsulates some of his best teachings. Berkshire acquired See's Candies for $25 million in 1972. Before acquiring See's, Buffett made "cigar butt" type investments, buying companies well below their book value. At this point, See's Candies has paid back Berkshire Hathaway about $2 billion, illustrating how time is on your side when buying great businesses.
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