The Art of the Good Life #41 : The Illusion of Changing the World – The Great Men Theory


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Can we really change the world ?

This chapter tells us not to subscribe to the “Great Men” theory. It is very tempting to believe that India needed Gandhi to become independent. Closer to home, it is very much harder to accept that Singapore can become the economic miracle without Lee Kuan Yew. But success is larger a series of interconnected events, and so, cannot be attributed to an individual.

How do we apply this to investing ?

I think the first thing we need to do is to start thinking about how much we hero worship the top investors.

Warren Buffett comes into mind.

It’s pretty sickening to keep hearing Warren Buffett being quoted out of context.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get.
Be greedy when other people are fearful, be fearful when other people are greedy.

We make the mistake of taking the intentional stance. That things happen because there is an intention behind it.

But I think we’re not even close to peak Great Men yet.

Once Jack Ma announced his retirement, I know that very soon, he will become very free to share his “wisdom” with this world. Make no mistake, Jack Ma is a communications genius and some of his quotable quotes are legendary. I was quite impressed when he talked about why we should be looking at TechFin companies in stead of FinTech ones. ( And yet some idiots tried to argue with me that his stint as an English teacher did not contribute much to his business success today. )

But rhetorical flourishes aside, Jack Ma is very possibly only qualified to talk about his experience as a businessman, specifically building up a B2B business like Alibaba. And yet, we get so excited when he talks about how he parents his kids and tells them that there is no need to top their studies.

Is Jack Ma a fantastic parent ?

Does Jack have anything useful to say to a startup engineer at Ayer Rajah Crescent who can’t seem to get a match on Tinder ?

Probably not.

My friends and readers are much smarter. When you read something about love and relationships on this blog, people know that I’m trolling and read it for entertainments sake.

Rarely would my readers actively screen and backtest prospective spouses by choosing the venue they hunt for dates.

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