Good Reading -- November 2015
Facts and Figures
334 companies in the S&P 500 reported non-GAAP earnings in 2014, up from 232 in 2009. The dollar amount of the costs removed from those adjusted profits totaled $132 billion, more than double the level of 2009. (Source: Jack Ciesielski of The Analyst's Accounting Observer)
The Devil's Financial Dictionary -- The big names keep coming. This is Jason Zweig's new book, and while it might make you chuckle the lessons behind the humor are serious. Beyond the expected laughs, there is a lot of genuinely interesting history in here too. This book makes an excellent holiday gift, especially for someone contemplating or just starting a career in the industry. A detractor might argue that the book is overloaded with snark, but in most cases I think it is warranted.
Startup Wealth: How the Best Angel Investors Make Money in Startups -- This book was written by loyal "Good Reading" reader Josh Maher. (Disclosure: he sent me a copy of the book.) I wasn't expecting to enjoy it just because I assumed it was out of my league. I'm not a tech/VC/angel investor by any stretch of the imagination, but I still found the book very interesting. It is organized as a series of interviews with successful angel investors (I would compare it to Jack Schwager's "Market Wizards" books.) The interviews are further segmented into Momentum Investors, Value Investors, and Alternative Investors, but there is a lot of overlap (e.g., the first interview in "Momentum" says, "As investors, our goal ought not to be 'How do I find the 100x opportunity?', because you don't. It's 'How do I not lose money?' My goal has always been to avoid value loss in the portfolio.") And surprisingly, there are several references to Warren Buffett throughout the book. Maher ties a bow on it by providing some of his own commentary and a lot of outside resources, including his website (startupwealth.com).
Talks at Google: Will Thorndike -- The author of "The Outsiders," discussing his book and other topics.
More Google Talks I have (or should have) sent before:
John Mihaljevic from The Manual of Ideas
Pat Dorsey on moats and his book
Larry Cunningham, author of "Berkshire Beyond Buffett"
How Auction Houses Orchestrate Sale for Maximum Drama -- Another example that could have been ripped out of "The Psychology of Human Misjudgment."
How Failed JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson is Redeeming Himself with Enjoy -- A long profile with some surprising nuggets.
How an F Student Became America's Most Prolific Inventor -- This story about Lowell Wood is fascinating.
Why New York Subway Lines are Missing Countdown Clocks -- This is a long article and I thought it would be more than I ever wanted to know about NYC subways, but I couldn't stop reading. Interesting on several levels.
To Catch a Falling Knife -- A Conversation with Sam Zell -- Never boring, never disappointing, Sam Zell talks about his investments, energy, manufacturing, real estate, demographics, emerging markets, and immigration, among other topics.
IBM's Design-Centered Strategy to Set Free the Squares -- This was a surprisingly interesting look at IBM and the attempt to reinvent the company and its culture yet again.