Building an investing career based on writing

Jack Bogle did it.

Warren Buffett did it.

Ben Horowitz too. And Chris Dixon.

So did Fred Wilson.

So did Howard Marks.

And David Einhorn.

Gross and El-Erian. Fisher and Edelman. Gundlach and Grantham. They all did it. Many others too.

Did what?

Built investing careers and raised billions of dollars based on the ideas expressed in their writing – books, columns, memos, annual letters – their words.

Barry Ritholtz did it with a blog before anyone else. I learned at his elbow with my own blog. Michael and Ben carry on the tradition with blogs of their own. I think there could be as many as five hundred or a thousand young men and women in the wealth management space who are following in our footsteps with writing of their own. I’m only going by the emails, Linkedin messages, DMs, etc we receive almost daily about what we’re doing and why it’s inspiring others.

Imagine never having to find a new client or investor ever again – because they’re coming to you? Imagine never having to explain your investing philosophy from scratch because the investing philosophy itself was the thing that made the conversation happen in the first place? Who wouldn’t want to build a practice, fund or firm based on this premise? That’s why Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s content efforts have become an entity unto themselves. Patrick is razor sharp. He knows. His dad’s book, What Works on Wall Street, became an operating manual for the firm in its first couple of decades. Colossus will likely serve the same function for the next couple of decades. A16Z is doing this too. Watch what happens when you type out into a browser. It’s not a vanity project. It’s not an infomercial. The content is becoming central to their strategy – research, writing, influence, relationships, trust, expertise – it’s a wheel. It’s a snowball.

What could be better? Cold-calling? M&A? Advertising? Networking? Mass mailings?

F*** that.

Words are powerful. When they’re used to explain the future in optimistic terms, they find an audience among the young, the hopeful and the ambitious. That’s a killer audience to have. Packy McCormick has that at Not Boring. His audience, in addition to being ambitious, is energetic, curious, accomplished and excited about new ideas. They see the opportunities and risks inherent in the sort of mass experimentation being underwritten by 5G, the blockchain, software as a service, open architecture, social media and the cloud. They want in. They’ve built up a trust in how Packy sees things, the volume of founders he has access to and why his vision of the future might be a good one to bet on.

And so he was able to raise money from these friends, fans, believers and subscribers with his eyes closed. That’s how it should be. Good ideas and an outward projection of insight and dedication should count for a lot in the fundraising game. Are your ideas public? Are they being challenged (and successfully defended)? Are you able to change your mind, publicly, when new facts present themselves? Can you explain your ideas in a way that demonstrates both a technical understanding as well as the mastery necessary to translate complexity to the less informed? Can you be trusted? Does the enthusiasm you have for your subject matter shine through? Can the reader tell that you would be writing and expressing these thoughts regardless of whether there were an audience or not?

Good, then you’ve got something there.

All the people I mention above have been able to do this for years, and, in some cases, decades on end.

Packy is doing it weekly, at an extremely high level of competence. It’s why Michael, Ben and I became fans of his stuff early on. It’s why he’s going to succeed. It’s why I love having him as a regular on The Compound and Friends. He’s doing what many of the great investors have done – building a fan base around his research and insights, then investing alongside of those fans in real life.

Hear him explain the launch of his venture capital firm in his own words…and subscribe to Not Boring immediately to stay in the know.

Get the podcast on the app of your choice here. 

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