In my family there were three great loyalties—family, faith, and football. One inspired the other and sometimes those distinctions grew a little blurry.
Whether you like football or not the game has generated some great leaders and life lessons. Its great coaches have distilled philosophies that drive success into a few maxims. “The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win” is the first of General Robert Neyland’s game maxims. In similar fashion some of the great investors have distilled their wisdom into a few noteworthy maxims.
Winning the Loser’s Game. Professional money management has become a Loser’s Game—i.e., a game one wins by avoiding mistakes rather than by positive achievement. As in other Loser’s Games, those players who assume they are playing a Winner’s Game meet only with frustration. Drawing examples from tennis, golf, and war, Charles Ellis offers advice on how to win the money game.
What’s Your Game Plan? “The key to investment success isn’t hitting home runs; it’s avoiding strikeouts and inning-ending double plays” according to Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management. Investment careers don’t end because of too few home runs. Rather they end because they strike out too often.
The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville. “Superinvestor” Warren Buffett, who studied under Ben Graham at Columbia, applied the principles of Graham & Dodd’s Security Analysis all his life. In this classic article, Buffett tracks the records of investors who stick to the “value approach” and have gotten rich going by the book.
Templeton Maxims. Sir John Templeton of Winchester, Tennessee passed away in 2008. The principles he laid down are among those he considered to be of enduring value to investors.