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Oct 10, 2023

Reading List - Fall 2023

At Patient Capital, our purpose is to help investors achieve better investment outcomes. We understand that in order to do this we must identify and utilize our edge: differentiated thought. We achieve this by reading widely and broadly. We thought we’d share a sampling of what we’ve been reading.

The Code Breaker by Walter Issacson
Elon Musk by Walter Issacson
Better by Atul Gawande
The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
War & Peace by Lev Tolstoy
Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone
How to Invest by David Rubenstein
Mild Vertigo by Mieko Kanai
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

Samantha has been on a Walter Issacson memoir binge:

She started with The Code Breaker – Walter Issacson. A History of Jennifer Doudna and gene editing. Then she started on Einstein. She couldn’t resist jumping into Elon Musk when it came out. Issacson is a masterful storyteller and they’ve all been interesting and informative reads. If anyone thinks creating greatness is easy, read about how both Elon and Einstein’s efforts left them physically battered.

Samantha also recently completed Better by surgeon Atul Gawande. She found this after hearing Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman recommend reading “anything” by Atul Gawande on a recent podcast. Gawande’s work focuses on evidence-based ways to improve performance, especially in healthcare but his work has broad applicability. Better shares vignettes on how to improve performance in various settings, like how the WHO handled a polio outbreak in rural India or doctor involvement in capital punishment executions. Gawande outlines “three core requirements” for successful performance in medicine: diligence, doing right, and ingenuity. All are essential in investing too.

Samantha also read The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. It’s s Buddhist monk’s reflections on unlocking the secret and science of happiness. It was recommended by her meditation teacher. It’s a mixture of the science of meditation/Buddhism with practical tips on how to train the mind through meditation. Investing requires patience and fortitude, and the calm mind achieved through meditation helps with both.

Our analysts covered a lot this month as well:

War & Peace by Lev Tolstoy – This novel defined the genre of historical fiction for decades after. In addition to being a classic work of world literature, Tolstoy’s philosophy of advocating for change through nonviolence heavily influenced future generations of world leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The interwoven narrative of historical events from the viewpoint of various characters reminds us of the importance of variant perspective when analyzing individual investments and the broader macroeconomic environment.

Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone – The sequel to The Everything Store, Amazon Unbound discusses the remarkable rise of Amazon Web Services in addition to building out Amazon’s core retail business. It also explores Amazon’s ever-increasing role in the everyday lives of affluent American consumers and its impact on broader society. As one of the most consequential businesses and influential management cultures of the last three decades, Amazon’s history and managerial philosophy is required reading for any aspiring entrepreneur, manager, or investor.

How to Invest by David Rubenstein - Each chapter of the book interviews investing titans in various asset classes, highlighting common traits that separate great investors from average ones. While all unique in their own right, the book serves as a great reminder that there is no substitute for hard work, attention to detail, reading widely, and a willingness to go against conventional wisdom.

Mild Vertigo by Mieko Kanai – Following the seemingly ordinary Natsumi and her nuclear family living in a modern Tokyo apartment, Mild Vertigo explores the dizzying reality of being unable to locate oneself in the endless stream of minutiae that forms a lonely life confined to a middle-class home, where both everything and nothing happens. Similarly, we believe our long term, low turnover investing approach requires many long days of diligent research that often show little in the way of immediate results. To be successful, patient persistence through such days is imperative.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson – The New York Times bestselling author examines the events surrounding the final voyage of the Lusitania during World War I. Larson explores the story of “the other Titanic” that sunk in just 18 minutes and dives into how the sinking of a ship carrying nearly 1,200 passengers, including a record number of children, 128 Americans, a Vanderbilt, Broadway impresario and noted art collector turned America against Germany and incited the nation to enter the war. Dead Wake reminds us that certain rare events in history can represent the tipping point and initiate a paradigm shift. As investors we need to be vigilant of these events in order to avoid adverse outcomes for our partners.

Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove – Intel’s Founder and Former CEO shares his strategy for success as he examines his own record of success and failure in becoming the world's largest chip maker and one of the most admired companies in the world. Grove reveals his strategy for overcoming massive change, moments he calls Strategic Inflection Point, when the ordinary rules of business go out the window. If managed well, these Strategic Inflection Points can be an opportunity to win in the marketplace and emerge stronger than ever. At Patient Capital, we are constantly studying great biographies – developing mental models and pattern recognition skills to identify the next Andy Grove or the next Strategic Inflection point in a business, an industry, or the broader economy.

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron - In her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema draws from traditional Buddhist wisdom and offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns shows habitual ease and boundless joy. Contrary to what you may believe, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. As Charlie Munger counsels, we always try to “rub our noses” in our mistakes. We know that embracing challenges means we will invariably fail. We use these failures as opportunities to learn and grow as investors, colleagues, and human beings.

The views expressed in this commentary reflect those of Patient Capital Management analyst(s) as of the date of the commentary. Any views are subject to change at any time based on market or other conditions, and Patient Capital Management disclaims any responsibility to update such views. The information presented should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any security and should not be relied upon as investment advice. It should not be assumed that any purchase or sale decisions will be profitable or will equal the performance of any security mentioned. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. 

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