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RR Journal No. 11

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

- The Beatles

The Realization

Most of what I do day-to-day, I do alone in front of a computer. Every year, a little moreso. Not exactly the Roman battlefield. Sure, it’s peaceful in a way. I have access to limitless coffee, a walk outside whenever I want it, and plenty of other creature comforts that many aren’t able to access on the job in other fields. I’m not a doctor on site. I’m not a lawyer filing into a boardroom with my peers. I’m not an actual soldier sitting in a trench or inside an armored vehicle. I don’t really need to be anywhere in particular or at any particular time. I set my own schedule - redlining times that don’t jive with my sweet spot for mental cognition. Don’t bother trying to book a meeting with me at 7 AM; I’m at the gym. It’s the so-called digital dream.

Now before you jump on my back and say I’ve got it easy, I already tried to fit within the structure of a big organization in my early career. Show up on time, all that stuff. It didn’t work for me. Make no mistake, getting to this place of independence was about 100x harder than following my career track. However, it was a monumental win for me in every area but the people department. COVID turned my occasional meeting or phone call into a Zoom; seemingly for good. I legitimately never need to meet anyone face-to-face. Your life may start to look a bit similar with flexible office policies. Where the hell did everyone go?

There’s a strange phenomenon that I’ve picked up on. Because I’m not physically interacting with people on a daily basis, I started to get the illusion that I was alone. As in, isolated. A Venn diagram without the juicy connection part. This is a very, very bad thing. I’ve pretty much optimized for everything except the comradery of friends, inter-office or otherwise, bumping into me on a daily basis. Grabbing an espresso or B.S. in a hallway. Maybe running to lunch together in a full sprint as I often did with colleagues' desks back in my Wall Street days.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to solve something particularly challenging, I can easily go a week without seeing anyone except a barista or cashier (and that’s better than nothing). I’ve developed a lot more digital friendships with other creators I’ve never met. I’ve developed digital friendships with you, the reader. I’m making more money, I’m working on cooler stuff. So, my quality of life should be leaps and bounds better, right? Why am I working so hard in my own cave? To enjoy another expensive trinket in solitary confinement?

When I travel, which I do quite a bit solo, I admire the friendly BS-ing from non-digital folks that goes on at coffee shops, mom-and-pop-stores, and on the job. Ah, the analogue world. We cannot achieve our goals without others–collaboration is central to my message on social media and behind the scenes. A collaborative life is a really rich life. But there’s a physical component to this; texts and FaceTimes aren’t going to support a fulfilling life. My motivation dips without gatherings to look forward to. The balance is out of whack. Travel gets me close to the feeling, but not quite to the mark.

The Revolution

But last weekend was different

It was like a mental upgrade from MS-DOS to macOS. Dorothy stepped into Technicolor.

Yes, this one goes out to all the friends out there. Your friends, my friends. You crazy assholes changed the game for me yet again.

I briefly posted about my birthday on social media–I do my best to have a quality filter–if it doesn’t offer immediate value to you, I don’t post it. The average person doesn’t give a crap that it’s my birthday–there’s a lot more important things going on. But let me tell you, dear reader, it was some party. But according to the rules, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, so I’ll only provide a brief outline.

A whole six of my extremely busy, extremely successful friends (and brother!) made the crazy-ass commitment to join me in a city where no one lives, to stay in the largest room available, and eat outrageously expensive food for 48 hours. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in my entire life.

Here’s why.

My friends work hard, often plugged-in around the clock. Some are married. Others had to break other significant commitments to join. But I asked and they made the trip. When everyone arrived, from six different cities, meeting at the casino bar like some strange cult pilgrimage it all felt good. I felt like people had my back. I could see it in the flesh.

The environment we created for ourselves in Vegas was like an overgrown adult fraternity house, we lived together, ate together, raced deadly go-karts together, and went through a series of hilarious events that I can’t tell you about as long as I live. It was paradise. It was the anti-bachelor party–there was simply no good reason to be all together other than to have fun. At some point along the trail in my life, I forgot all about this stuff and how much fun it was.

Now, our little paradise just-so-happened to cost an insane amount of money. Quite frankly, that part’s irrelevant. I could see the same amount of fun at a lake house off the beaten path with a supermarket nearby. Bring the crew, bring the cheap, fizzy beers. See what happens.

How the hell have you grown up and forgotten about your friends?

The Awakening

On the flight home, with my head ringing like the end of a Taco Bell commercial on repeat, I had an epiphany. This is what you’re doing it for. It’s not the watch, the car, the sweeter pad. It’s experience. Space to roam with your pack. Be yourself, laugh your ass off, and remember, no glass on the balcony. It’s the moment where you step back into the garden of eden. And anyone can do it.

I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder than the week after I returned. I had something to aim at. Imagine being able to throw more gatherings; see people in any city you want. Doing the best of everything, anywhere. That’ll take some cash. I want more of this. Something aligned in my brain a step further. Purpose. I think it’s called purpose.

So how did you get so old? How did you find yourself alone? How did you become plainly “digital” and cold? You’re suddenly connected to everyone and no one at all.

Here’s the secret: everyone’s waiting. They’re just too proud to admit it. This is the story of reclaiming your happiness and fulfillment with others along for the ride–friends, family, the blackjack dealer. You will not enjoy this ride as much alone. You need a reason for all your hard work. Hint: it’s not another BMW. So, pick up the phone and throw yourself a goddamn party.

Thank you to my friends, my family, and to you, wherever you’re reading, for making this one hell of a ride.

This week, I’m taking meetings from Miami, FL


Global Markets: Meltdown Mode

Anyone who doesn’t have an extremely sophisticated or heavily-diversified portfolio (out of equities) is feeling the pinch right now as stocks enter a continued deleveraging phase. That’s French for–everything is down. This of course already happened to the blockchain mafia first and now it’s happening to anyone that owns, as Warren Buffet says, a slice of American ingenuity. Let’s think about what’s happening.

The Fed needs to tame inflation by raising interest rates no matter if it pushes us into a recession. Inflation prints just popped up again, too, so expectations for more hikes are eminent. It’s the bitter medicine we have to take to clean up the inflationary mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. We’ve gone through a similar cycle before. And it saved us from not using Benjamins as wallpaper in the 90’s.

I’m a thematic investor, meaning I invest in an undiversified way around a certain business model, industry, or technology. This is a great place to be when you get it right in the long run, but in bear markets such as what we’re seeing now, it’s a hot seat. Generally, emerging companies trading on high multiples feel the swing down more than the staples–PG, JNJ, etc. It’s called having a higher beta or volatility than the overall market.

Now, I ain’t sellin’. Not because I’m some Wild West holdout refusing to relinquish my rights to The Dusty Saloon so they can build a parking lot, but because I’m holding something with intrinsic value. I’m not holding a digital GIF of a chimpanzee.

My long run bets are around mandatory innovation in EVs and batteries. I believe most people won’t be driving an internal combustion engine in 10 years–certainly no new ICE’s are rolling off the line in about 2 years. Your vision might be completely different. As long as you’re holding something that you believe will make sense in the future. Growth will kick back in. And yes, long term inflation will too, it’s baked into fiat currency. Things go up for one of those two reasons. It’s going to hurt in the meantime.

If you do, for some reason, find yourself holding a bag of cr*p, I suggest allocating capital to consumer staples, energy, and a tiny bit of metals. These are the times of coming clean about what you’re holding in your portfolio. Web3, I’m talking to you.

*Not investment advice

About this newsletter.

This weekly email is written by me, Nicholas Crown. Meaning: this email is not professionally edited (yet), so please reach out with any suggestions or errors by replying. This is not investment advice.

If you want to meet me 1:1 you can always book a time here.

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