What I’m doing:
When you get right to the beating core, Batting 450 is about a philosophy and a school of thought. It is about seeking value. Mainly what I talk about is the investment model of Value Investing and seeking value in the market. But the value investing mentality is more than just buying great things at discounted prices. It also is about regaining the lost art of wisdom, prudence and thriftiness in one’s finances and (hopefully) in the way you interact with the world. Batting 450’s driving principle is an ambitious one: to educate, influence and equip individuals to take charge of their financial lives; to rethink investing more as building a house rather than betting against the house.
Why I am doing it:
On the micro level I am doing it to help improve our readers abilities to understand the market and how they fit in it (heck, I am also doing it to improve my own ability in making smart moves.) But on a bigger level I am attempting to renew and breathe life into a way of viewing the world. The past 30 years has seen our investing culture and our relationship to money exist in, what Alan Greenspan termed, an age of irrational exuberance. Cheap credit, high speed trading, unfathomable sums of money flowing in and out of institutions have been the modus operandi for the financial world and we are only now beginning to see the effects of the irrationality.
At Batting 450 I am attempting to bring to light the wisdom of simplicity as it pertains to the market. I ultimately feel that this goes beyond just making money and has lots to speak to our culture moving forward. I want people to take pride in the building up of their financial health as opposed to just the accumulation of more money than the other guy. Financial health for their family, church community, city, nation, world, rippling outwards. (I have lots to say about this; send me an email if you want to hear more.)
And hopefully this mentality of taking pride in building something to last (as opposed to squeezing out every drop, making off like bandits and leaving the used up thing dry and dead) will permeate into every aspect of our readers lives. A belief in building up things to last as opposed to setting up weak things to profit from. A collective economic renewal movement!
Who is writing this?
Graeme Donaldson (me) is the main contributor to the blog. I am not someone who has lived and breathed finance or investments for my whole life. I went to school at the University of Toronto taking an undergrad in Philosophy, English and (a specialized program at St. Michaels College at U of T) Christianity and Culture. I also have a Masters of Theology from Wycliffe College. My thesis was on C.S. Lewis. My background is in books, philosophy, theology–in essence a classical humanities and liberal arts education. My interest in the financial world started in the build up to the financial crisis in 2007. I began reading everything I could and learning as much about investing vs trading, the market and, basically, what the heck was going on!
It wasn’t long until my path crossed Buffet and value investments which naturally led me to Benjamin Graham. The school of thought and style of investment that he preached just made sense. Sweet sweet contrarian sense. I inhaled all financial media I could get my hands on and began investing through an online broker. Immediately I became more handsome, was a hit at parties and became more stylish. Well…
It wasn’t long until my writing, theological and literary background started hanging out with my shiny new investment side and when that mixed all together with my thoughts on what it means to be a modern, responsible man in this world I began to write this blog in my head. And here it stands before you!
What’s with the name?
Baseball and Value Investing have had a long symbolic history, mainly because in both VI and baseball, success is measured over long periods of time and true success is a whole lot less flashy then you think.
For example: if you had a lifelong batting average of .450 that means that for every 100 at bats, you are hitting 45 of them. “Wow, less than half, eh?” you may say. That may not seem all that impressive. That even means that more often than not, when you go to bat you are going to be riding pine a few swings later. You may even go for stretches of games where you are way below average. But if you had a lifetime batting average of .450 you’d have the best average of all time. Ted Williams, recognized as perhaps the best hitter in the post war baseball era has a career average of .344. Ted famously divided the plate into over 50 sections and refused to swing at pitches that weren’t in his optimum hitting area. When a big fatty was coming down the pipe and was in his wheelhouse, Ted swung. If not, he would take the pitch.
Having built a career on that discipline, Ted Williams became the best hitter of all time. He knew himself, played the odds and built a legacy.
That same kind of patience and discipline is needed by Investors. We need to find our wheelhouse, our optimum hitting area and have the discipline to only go after pitches that Mr. Market sends us that have a high percentage chance of turning into singles, doubles or whathaveyou. Batting 450 is about helping you find your swing (and, heck, helping me improve mine!) It is about instilling that discipline and training you to think about your investment decisions for the long term. Because in the end, how do you want your investment legacy to look? Were you a gentleman hitter, quietly putting up great numbers? Or do you want to burst on the scene with all flash, but no thunder? Maybe a few good years, but ultimately a minor leaguer?
(If you have spent any time reading investing books, you are probably familiar with this Ted Williams analogy. If this is new to you, I hope I just blew your mind!)
B450, then, is about bringing like-minded people together, sharing resources and profiling hitters who are better than us in order to raise our game. Because in the end, its about taking pride in how you played.
Lastly, as a man of Christian faith, B450 is about me learning how to be a good steward of what I believe God has given me, and learning how to bring my financial life in line with the standard I feel we are called to be. It is my hope that this inspires others to do the same. And ultimately that we can begin to regain belief in the old truth that money is a tool and a means to positive change, not an end in itself.