Bill Belichick and Warren Buffett understand value in a way that most don’t.

Many > One

Successful people often seem very creative to the outside world for the sheer fact of how simple their thinking is. Take Quentin Tarrantino films for example. Many of them are retreads of old genres that have fallen out of favor (Django Unchained = the revenge western, Reservoir Dogs = the failed heist movie, Kill Bill = every genre imaginable).

Bill Belichick, legendary NFL coach of the New England Patriots, has succeeded in the NFL mostly because he applies No Duh principles in situations where other professionals would panic.

As an example: the NFL Draft is widely regarded to be one of the most difficult tasks to manage, as well as the most important. It’s extremely hard, even (and maybe moreso) for professionals, to project the success of a future star. The draft is an unstable market.

In addition, getting your investments right in this market (the draft) is extremely important. It’s a panic situation for a team’s decision-makers. What do most people do in a panic? They narrow their decisions, they play it safe. In the NFL, this adds up to general managers going all-in on the next “sure thing.”

But here’s the No Duh principle: in a situation where any decision is likely to blow up in your face, you need the ability to make more decisions. And so, Bill Belichick embraces his uncertainty, embraces the chaos of the market of young players, and trades high draft picks for multiple draft picks in lower rounds.

Staring at a car crash

I’ve been reading The Warren Buffett Way by Robert Hagstrom, and suddenly I’m realizing why we all tend to stare at car crashes.

Car crashes have obvious appeal: danger, the exotic, the empathetic. We know that there is a high likelihood that we’ll look over and feel something. Even if it doesn’t mean anything long-term.

According to Hagstrom, when Warren Buffett makes an investment decision, he doesn’t look at the stock price. The stock market is a car crash. The uninformed, and possibly some of the informed, watch the fluctuations of the stock market like one might stare at a Honda Accord’s mangled frame as gas leaks out of it.

Buffett invests according to a business’s actual future earnings potential, and the integrity of its management. Which is completely No Duh, isn’t it? Wouldn’t a company that will likely make more money (based on its actual practices) and is run well and honestly eventually see an increase in its stock price?

The upshot for me, as I write professionally

I’m trying to decide what my next project will be, and looking to Belichick and Buffett for guidance. Both of them seem to understand this important rule about value: value is often the steady and simple principle, applied in times of panic and speculation. 

So, the questions I’m asking this week as I search for a topic, now that I have established my audience, are: what type of writing will my audience always benefit from reading? And what do I have the unique capacity to write well?

In my next post, I should have an answer to these questions.

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