We spend so much time and energy worried about what other people think and how the world expects us to behave. And though we all desperately want to get off the hamster wheel, life seems to have a predetermined script for everyone that can frustrate and stifle the brilliance and creativity in any of us. It is a sick game we play living the life we subconsciously think others want us to live, and behaving in ways we don’t even enjoy. This is a cycle that has gone on for many years, and perhaps is only getting worse in today’s world of reality TV and Facebook posts. How many people curb their true thoughts for something “more appropriate”? How many people go to meetings they would rather not attend? How many people go out with friends they have no desire to see? How many emails get sent daily simply because someone feels compelled to reply? We live in a world of frustration and blame. We blame others for our lack of success and unhappiness, and get frustrated by not being true to ourselves. It, quite simply, is a life of fear; constantly afraid of losing something, we adhere to the status quo and do what is expected. It is a sad existence, and one that most people innately cling to.
The late Steve Jobs was known for living each day with nothing to lose. Many think he was a great inventor that simply had an IQ higher than the rest of us. But, there have been too many people as smart as Steve Jobs who never accomplished or invented a thing. This is because, unlike him, they lived their lives afraid of losing.
Mr. Jobs is known for saying, “You are already naked.” How true is this? There is nothing to lose by following your head and your heart. In reality, the only loser is the person who never realizes they are playing according to someone else’s rules, acting out someone else’s script that has been ingrained in their head over years and years. Rarely do we find an adult with the courage of Steve Jobs. Too frequently, people do what they have learned or what is accepted — even though they deeply disagree.
The same applies to investing. The industry is full of some of the most non-innovative, groupthink robots I have ever encountered; it is difficult to even call them individuals. They wear the same boring grey suit, blue shirt, and black shoes. They drive the same overpriced car, eat at the same overpriced restaurants, and take the same boring annual golf trip with the “guys.” Worst of all, this conformity and unwillingness to reach for something better leads to the same bad investment advice — all over or under reacting to markets together, and all providing the same bad leadership and marginalized returns.
Rarely, in life, do we see individuals willing to innovate and motivate like Steve Jobs. And, it is by no mistake that we find the same low numbers of such individuals in the field of investing. We are all naked — in life and in investing. Those that will truly make a difference are the individuals who recognize this and live life with nothing to lose.
Who would you rather be — the guy who dies at 92 but never really lived, or the guy who died at 56 after inventing Pixar Animation Studios, the Macintosh computer, font, iTunes, the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, and literally changed the culture of an entire world? And, who would you rather have managing your portfolio — the robot in that boring grey suit and blue shirt who only makes clients feel comfortable because he drives a car they associate with money, or Steve Jobs?
Jonathan Citrin is founder and CEO of CitrinGroup, an investment advisory firm located in Birmingham, MI. He is an adjunct faculty of finance in the School of Business at Wayne State University.
Founded in 2003, CitrinGroup specializes in portfolio management and advises clients on investment planning.
Contact: 248-569-1100 or www.citringroup.com