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There is no rule saying that things must be done forever as they have been done in the past. I am a traditionalist but one with respect for the renegades and the nogoodnicks and the ones they called “meshuggah” in the hours and days before unexpected breakthroughs. Einstein was meshuggah before he was Einstein!
This is especially true in the investment management business as so many vaunted ideas about finance and economics have been discredited and torn asunder over the last decade.
The casualties are numerous and notable:
1. Don’t Fight the Fed
2. Modern Portfolio Theory
3. The Efficient Markets Hypothesis
4. Diversification as Free Lunch
5. The Laffer Curve and the Meaninglessness of Deficits
There are other ways forward that many haven’t thought of before. Sometimes it pays to respect – but ignore – one’s elders.
When Dan Graf got interested in the finer points of bagel making, he was told to pay tribute to his culinary elders, as done by his bosses and his bosses’ bosses before them.
Graf’s boss’s boss, cooking icon Alice Waters, put in time in the global cuisine capital of Paris before creating Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. Graf’s boss and Waters’s former cook Peter Levitt, in turn, made a pilgrimage to the iconic delis of New York before taking over Saul’s, a delicatessen a few doors down from Chez Panisse. After working as a cook and deli manager at Saul’s, Graf was likewise encouraged by Levitt to “stage” with a longtime New York bagel producer and learn the old methods of poached bread.
Graf had other ideas. Rather than bowing to tradition, the 27-year-old former genetics major dove into online forums, scoured research, and embraced analytical lab techniques, emerging from his basement-apartment kitchen with a bagel that combines a uniquely crisp and blistered crust with a rich and chewy interior redolent of the best bagels in and around Graf’s native New Jersey. Less than a month from launch, Graf’s one-man company Baron Baking is selling to three different San Francisco Bay Area restaurants, building buzz in the local press, and pleasing a fan base of local gourmands and restaurant owners. Lower East Side bagel elders be damned.
We want to show deference to the ways of the past, but build on them to move forward and ignore the aspects of them that have proven to be stumbling blocks on the way to progress.
You can go your own way, in the bagel business and in the markets.
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