Stand Like a Rock!

Key Point: Seth A. Klarman is a 59-year-old value investor who runs Baupost Group, and the fund manages some $30 billion in assets. He maintains a very low public profile and has been profitable in all but three of the 34 years he has led Baupost. He is considered, in spite of his under-the-radar behavior, a giant within investment circles. According to a recent NYT article on Klarman, “he is often compared to Warren Buffett, and The Economist magazine once described him as ‘The Oracle of Boston,’ where Baupost is based. For good measure, he is one of the very few hedge managers Mr. Buffett has publicly praised.”

Klarman writes a regular newsletter that investors pay a lot of money to subscribe to. According to the same NYT report, Klarman’s last news letter, which raised concerns about the unpredictability of the Trump presidency, ended with the following quote, originally attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Today I hosted a virtual “hang out” where 400 plus team members listened and virtually chatted with one of our most revered executive leaders who’s retiring after 41 years with our company. That alone, is amazing. However, it was such an honor for me to listen to him reflect on his journey and share rich life/career lessons with all in attendance. The following are just a few: 

  1. Become as self-aware as early in your career as possible. Know what your core strengths and limitations are. Build mightily on your strengths. Have the courage to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to test and add muscle to those strengths.
  2. Create effective teams that are truly diverse. High performing ones take advantage of the unique skills of each person on the team and subsequently the group flourishes, becoming much bigger than the sum of its parts. 
  3. Purpose matters and creating a vision towards that purpose rallies and binds all. 
  4. Setting clear expectations so people really understand what’s expected increases overall morale and confidence. 

And much, much more. 

Perhaps the most memorable moment and an inflection point in this fellow’s career was a time when he was put in a position to tell the Chairman of the Board, with overwhelming evidence, that the existing CEO was stepping well outside of reasonable ethical bounds. The CEO was subsequently replaced and the hero of this blog post likely saved the company based on his integrity and strength of conviction. This was a classical example of “standing like a rock.”  It can be seductive to give up and fundamentally compromise on key principles. However, it is a slippery slope to do so. Integrity is vital with any organization and leader. This gentleman is a positive example for the world. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Become very self-aware. Appreciate and define your personal strengths/shortcomings in depth, with the understanding it’s a long and extraordinary journey.  Focus on building on your strengths. 
  1. On your core values/principles: Know them and stand like a rock!! They define you and your legacy. 

Like a rock in the Triangle,

Lorne 

P.S. please enjoy a new podcast release. This unpacks some key questions tied to character move No.1. Enjoy it, and let us know what you think.

One Millennial View: Lessons from life-long experience like the one above are incredibly valuable, especially to us millennials who are still learning how to navigate. To me, the resonating message is when you’re hesitant and believe you can’t do something, shut up and try it. There’s an angle, there’s an answer, there’s an approach. Figure out all the ways you CAN, before you jump to the conclusion that it’s “stupid” or can’t be accomplished. Grit and resilience are principles I stand for, and I think the distinguished retiree above would connect with that as well. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

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