RR Journal No. 4

And this bird you cannot change.

- Lynyrd Skynyrd

I'm a balanced guy - a Libra, after all.

But, as most of what I've learned about astrology comes from a risque coffee table book, Sextrology, perhaps I'll move on to a more concrete take on what I'm observing about myself lately. You might find that you have a few things in common with me.

When things are going too well, I subconsciously look for ways to screw them up.

I send my balance totally out-of-whack. And as you'll read later in the Journal, balance is critical.

It's never anything extreme, but it's subtle enough to take me off course or cause me to "drift" ever so slightly that I may end up somewhere I don't want to be in the next month or year.

The danger lies in the subtlety.

I did exactly that this weekend. And am writing about it to save you from the same plight.

After spending a significant amount of time building a hierarchy of my goals (you think you know what you want until you actually go to write it down in rank order!), I know a few things about myself.

One biggie is that my long-term financial success is more important than any short-term fun.

I also value my health and fitness more than being a wild 'n crazy guy.

In fact, I spend so much time tracking progress that I assign a "score" to each week.

This past week was the highest I've ever scored to date - I signed some new deals, met cool-ass people, and was interviewed by a major publication.

What a week, folks.

So, what did I do to celebrate? I drank mid-shelf tequila and hung out in a few fancy places and woke up the next day with a splitting headache.

WTF?

Is this how mankind must reward himself for doing well? By poisoning himself, sleeping like crap, and shirking on work for the next day or so?

I sadly find a way to trick myself back into this all too common habit - or as we call it, blowing off steam.

But what steam did I blow off?

The most pleasure I get out of life is from self-development, rather than the big Friday night cocktail party.

Unfortunately, you become a lone wolf when you break away from the norm. But this norm of "celebrating life" doesn't really work for me anymore.

Now, I'm the furthest thing from Mr. Killjoy (my friends will confirm this), but I don't get the same pleasure from the common affluent person's weekend kicks that I see outside my window in Miami.

Maybe I'm getting older. Maybe I'm getting wiser. But growth is where I extract meaning and happiness in my life.

This is part of the "really rich" way of thinking that I depict in my skits.

From Dr. Huberman's interpretation of dopamine, we already know you should celebrate the climb, not the summit.

The way I look at it, the mindless indulgence of those that can afford it suggests they have too much time on their hands or they need a supplemental passion.

Something is missing.

For me, free time will be filled with more motorcycle track days and training under professional coaches. Trying new things in content creation. Running more marathons. Meeting more cool people. Being kinder.

Passions keep us from drifting. Passion keeps us sane.

That's a much more valuable way to spend my "off time" than idling around a nightclub or visiting the next hot-shot destination that doesn't recharge my batteries.

Living a balanced life also affords me more opportunities to give to you, the reader.

May you too recognize when your scale is out of balance.

As much as you'd like to see my 80's dance moves, I'm happiest right now, at work, on this Journal.

This week, I'm taking meetings in Miami, FL.


 

Global Markets: The Payments War Wages On


If you've been digging into my financial writing, you've seen me mention payment technology a few times now.

For years, Square (NYSE: SQ) has been the go-to for peer-to-peer payments and turning your phone into a de facto credit card machine.

But now that Apple has unveiled its own payment method, Tap to Pay, set to be released sometime this year, it's time to ask: is Square's reign coming to an end?

The answer, unfortunately for Square shareholders, is probably yes.

Apple's payment method is already integrated into millions of devices, and it offers a more seamless experience than Square. In addition, Apple has deeper pockets and can afford to undercut Square on fees.

Apple is emphasizing its security and privacy protocols too - all music to users' ears.

Square has wisely pushed the Cash app, it's trying to make peer-to-peer payments more popular by making them easier to use, hardware free. So you can pay your friends back without having to pull out your wallet. And it's working. The Cash app is already one of the most popular peer-to-peer payment apps in the US.

However, Square will need to continue to aggressively innovate, adding more banking products to the Cash app and eroding its core use case. That's why I think it will continue to find itself under selling pressure after Apple releases its device-to-device payment method.

Apple takes no prisoners when it comes to its peripherals - we may find a day when Square hardware will no longer easily integrate with iOS.

And natively paying someone without using a 3rd party app on your phone - what could be easier than that?

The Cash app ain't that easy to use.

The Pair -Trade

The best way to put on this trade (and I'm not recommending that you do) is as a pair-trade, that's buying AAPL and selling SQ simultaneously as a market cap weighted ratio - this way we're betting on the divergence in the strategy of the two companies and not the movement of the overall market.

Holdings: Cash ($USD), S&P500 (small), REITs

Bullish: Residential real estate, collectibles, vintage American sports cars, and crude oil

Neutral: US Equities

Bearish: UST Bonds, Euro Equities, PayPal

* This isn't financial advice and is for educational purposes only.

 

Reading & Listening


We are a consequence of our choices. I believe it was Epictetus who said, "Make beautiful choices, live a beautiful life."

Seems easy enough, right?

Wrong.

We have more than enough sources of entertainment and inspiration than we know what to do with.

YouTube, blogs, podcasts, TV, music, TikTok...

It's easy to fall into the trap of consuming garbage. GIGO - garbage in, garbage out - as the coding community says about the correlation between crappy code and crappy software.

With the right choices, I'm of the impression that we can be in a perpetual state of growth even while vegging out on the couch.

Because as much garbage there is out there, there's an equal amount of insanely high-quality content.

By selecting our form of entertainment and gating your living environment to making better habits - you effectively get to have your cake and eat it too.

Here's how I do it:

  1. I don't own a TV, the effortlessness of flipping on a TV and watching whatever's on is too tempting and I find it to always be a massive waste of time

  2. I own a projector that sits out of the way - when I'm interested in a movie (I do like movies), I'll set it up and make the commitment - Keeping up with the Kardashians has never caused me to bust the projector out

  3. I listen to podcasts that are on timely topics in my life - if I'm working on building a newsletter, I listen to podcasts about newsletters (yes, they exist)

  4. I permit myself to good music all the time of my choosing - I find no downside here

But what if we need the proverbial mental cookie once in a while?

Remember the 'ol Libra scales mentioned above?

We need to find a balance between the things that inspire and delight us, and the things that inform and educate us. We need to consume media that makes us think, but also media that makes us laugh.

We need to read books, but also listen to podcasts.

In short, we need to be smart about what we consume so that it doesn't consume us.

Suggestion: Decide where you want to go and entertain yourself with the media about getting there.


 

Mindset: Compromise is Crap


I was sitting around the kitchen last week, chatting with a good friend and successful entrepreneur here in Miami. He had just returned from what many would consider a dream vacation in Europe.

It lasted a full month and included many of the picturesque destinations many humans reserve for their honeymoons.

While, I pressed him on how, exactly, he was able to maintain the growth momentum in his business while feasting away on coma-inducing pasta and fine wine daily - the conversation evolved into something far more interesting.

That compromise sucks.

When it comes to the things we really want, compromise is rarely the best strategy.

But, first let me clear something up. There's a common misconception that once people reach a certain stage of wealth that they stop looking at price tags.

It's B.S.

You're still you. So if you debated between the $500 and $650 hotel room five years ago, chances are you're still doing it in your head, even if you're far richer now.

However, this mental haggling is a waste of energy. It's better to ask, what do I want out of this trip, car, meal, etc. and plan exactly that.

There's a mathematical way to express this:

Cost of Good - Utility in $ Terms = True Cost

4-Star hotel:

$500 - $200 = $300 of true cost

5-Star hotel:

$650 - $400 = $250 of true cost

It's cheaper to stay in the 5-Star if you're getting more utility out of it.

Of course, you'll never debate things you truly can't afford - that's irrelevant, I'm not talking about that. I'm referring to things in your grasp, that you can rightfully enjoy, that you'll deny yourself in the name of responsibility or frugality.

Or worse, you're operating from a place of fear.

You're doing it right now, deciding between a BMW and Mercedes and buying a Toyota instead to be safe. If you want a Bimmer, buy the Bimmer. Not that I give a crap what car you drive.

Sure, we might be able to save a few bucks by choosing the mid-tier hotel instead of the luxurious one on our vacation. But is that really saving us money? Not if it means sacrificing all the utility and enjoyment we would get from staying in our first choice hotel.

In fact, we might even be better off not taking the vacation at all than making do with something that falls short of our expectations.

It all boils down to this:

We're far too frugal with meaningful experiences and spend freely on junk.

I can assure you that your Supreme hoodie is worth less in utility than an extra night in the Amalfi.

So next time you're tempted to settle for second best, ask yourself if it's really worth it in the long run.

Chances are, it's not.

Suggestion: Decide to buy the thing you actually want, emphasizing experiences over material goods.

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.

Was this email forwarded to you?

Sign up here.

Advertise | Press | 1:1 Business Consulting | nicholascrown.com

9 views

Get The Journal delivered right to your inbox.

Thanks for signing up!