It is finally time for another In-Depth project! The project is one of my favorite TALONS events, and I have thought long and hard about what I want to learn about. After some comparisons and evaluations, I got down to investing in securities, funds, etc.
The reason that I decided to learn about investing is partially due to the eminent person project I completed earlier in the year. Even when I was younger, still in elementary school, my parents exposed me to some books that humorously talks about the importance of growing money. The vivid metaphors intrigued me and planted a seed inside. All of that helped me make my decision for this year’s project.
There are two possible mentors that can support me in my learning. One has already agreed orally and is experienced doing trading (he worked at a stock exchange). The other person manages my family’s stocks and is very professional, with many years of outstanding record. I might be able to Skype her since she is in China, but if not she can give me some pointers if I email her.
“In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.” – Robert Arnott
There are quite a few things that I want to talk about in this post, first and foremost my process of writing my speech. I will then go on to say a bit about my research and learning centre planning.
The highly technical aspects of my eminent person, Ben Graham, meant that my speech would have to center on his core contribution to the world, a stock investing principle. I had quite a bit of trouble deciding what I wanted to direct my focus. I knew that an informative speech is not what the audience came to hear, and I knew that because Graham is such an inspirational and compassionate person in sharing his ideas; I wanted my speech to inspire the audience. Ben Graham hoped to every day do
“something foolish, something creative, and something generous,”
and that is the attitude that I wanted to focus upon.
The final theme of the speech that I decided on was that value investing is the key to success both in the stock market and in life. Indeed, many things are interconnected and similar in many ways, and time-tested principles can often serve as an allusion to something else. I completed my speech, but the more that I practiced, the clearer I understood Graham’s perspective. I ended up rewriting a new copy a couple of days before NotN. My peers did not find any mistakes to fix, but again, as I read the speech over and over I discovered better ways to phrase some paragraph. I only wish I started sooner so I can incorporate those changes and have time to practice still. You can find both versions of my speech here.
This year, I was not able to secure an interview. I sent out around 10 emails, and around 3 replied with a “no”. The rest were stones thrown in the ocean, never to be heard of again. The two versions of my request email are featured here, as well as a record of who I sent out an email to.
I think that this year’s unsatisfactory results are due to my emails being too concentrated in a few organizations. I chose to focus on Columbia Business School because it is the school that Graham taught at, and is now a value investing centre. There is even an option on their website to filter professors who specialize in value investing. Most of my emails there went unanswered, suggesting that maybe that period is a stressful time for them. Besides that, I found two organizations that focus on value investing. One of them is a mutual funds group, and the other an educational research institution. I sent the rest of my emails to their staff.
If another opportunity like this comes up, I will try to find people in more diverse locations and institutions, to increase my chances of finding someone who is available and willing to help. Like the saying in the investment community and elsewhere,
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
My initial ideas for my learning centre is to make it like an office space. I knew that when Graham was young, he used to work posting stock and bonds prices on the walls of the trading centres. From that, I had the idea of posting stock prices and asking visitors what they would want to buy. I tried to use foam boards and push pins to resemble posting prices on blackboards, and put up multiple frames to make the space look more “professional”. Here is a video of the final result, versus the plan.
Overall, I would say that this year’s Eminent is not much different from last year and that all the differences are positive changes! It is hard work for all of us, from the students to the teachers, and it looks like we all did the best we could to produce such a spectacular night. Ciao to Eminent, and good luck to the nines for next year.
Remember to make a list of supplies needed, and write everything down. I forgot to bring something and didn’t have time to put up other things.
Keep in mind that people WILL come and try to use their lockers when you just finished putting up paper on the walls.
try to actually compare the wall length and width to your design, and don’t change your design on the day of. Go scout the locations a day before and imagine the placing of everything [Use this doc, it has all the dimensions of locker bays]
Preposition: this is a speech given by graham in his late years
Hook: ? (something investment related) [try using a story/or question]
Body (rising action): explanation of value investing
Value investing vs. speculating (explain speculating)
What is value investing about? (1-2 POINTS)
These (climax): You need to invest in qualities of your life that is deemed valuable by analysis, because life is full of sheep like participants who follow the flock to do what all others do and believe in what others believe
Whatever you do, do it with a purpose and commit to it once you choose it
Conclusion: best of luck to you and every thing that you choose to invest in. I look forward to your name on life’s superinvestor’s list.
Few outside the investment circle would have known him, but to those that lounge on Wall Street, it is as familiar as the names of George Washington or Pythagoras. He is Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing.
Graham was born in England, but he soon moved to New York with his two older brothers. His father died young at only 35, leaving his family in the care of Maurice Gerard, his uncle who is a civil engineer. Gerard quickly realized young Graham’s talents and nurtured them, later even becoming one of Graham’s first business partners. Graham then achieved the second highest score ever given on a national scholarship test and was accepted into the University of Columbia with a scholarship. He graduated the second of his class.
Upon entering Wall Street, he worked his way up, from the very basic job of posting stock listings to a highly respected investor. He used his natural talents of logic and mathematics to analyse the market and the companies behind them, opening a new path to investments. It is not just about looking at fluctuations and the DJIA, the company asset value, or insider information. By combining deep analysis into all parts of company data, he created a cult in Wall Street who followed his example to this day.
He had realized at the peak of career that he has a duty to pass on his knowledge and thinkings to those who need it. He went to teach at his alma mater, Columbia University, creating a popular course that many of the current world’s greatest investors sat through. His most famous student is perhaps Warren Buffett, with a net worth of 79.2 B dollars. Graham’s natural love of teaching able young minds and his talent for using examples and class debates to reinforce concepts made him a hugely popular teacher with many students travelling from remote places to see him. This group of students eventually became the Graham-Dodds ville, an intellectual village with many elites in Wall Street. The success of those who followed Graham can be clearly seen in Buffett’s 1984 speech of “The Superinvestors“. Graham’s brilliant theories in a world of chance helped many stand their ground even in crisis, and saved them from a fate of bankruptcy. He made his contributions to the economy by levitating investor’s faith in stock exchange after crashes and giving birth to many of the world’s greatest philanthropists. He ideas helped materialize the dreams of many who had nothing but their mind, their 200 dollars and their passion.
Logic and mathematical thinking has always been part of my approach on the world, and the investment community have always been a jewel that I want to explore. Growing up in a foreign country with a middle class family, Graham had learnt to be confident of himself and to believe in his potential to achieve. His generosity and air of positivity are things that I look up to. I believe that his ideas on investing will not just apply to the financial field, but also the lives of everyone influenced by him.