How Stanford professors became 10X smarter in 10 years

My recent trip back “home” gave me some time to reflect on things other than my usual London life, work and children.

I went to high school in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley. My father was on Stanford faculty and my friends consisted mostly of “faculty brats”. Stanford professors were really dull and knew nothing when I was 15. They were insufferably boring with not a drop of fun in any of them.

Since we were a geeky lot, our form of teenage rebellion consisted of missing a cello lesson here and there, or submitting advanced calculus homework a day late. What we 15 year olds did have in common is that we thought our parents were the stupidest people around… really lacking in cool.

Add ten years to that -- at the age of about 25, when teenage angst was past, suddenly our professorial parents didn’t seem that useless anymore. In fact, when I was preparing to go to graduate school I scheduled a series of meetings with the same faculty members, asking them for their wisdom in making decisions. Ten years later I was in full appreciation of the value of their perspective.

The intelligence of the Stanford professors didn’t change over the ten years, only our perspective on the worth of their knowledge.

Investing in companies is all about perspective. The value of a company can often be distorted for months, even years, due to external reasons or temporary problems (more in my next post).

Value investors are a professional cadre of investors making returns from waiting for this change in perspective.

They are a quiet but successful lot, their investments take at least a year plus to come to fruition. Usually more like 3 years. Value investors make for bad TV. They are quite cerebral and it’s hard to get people excited about the value of a company in 2019 when there is so much doom and gloom to be found in the current moment.

One of the most (if not the most) elite groups of value investors can be found online at the Manual of Ideas. They recently hosted their annual European Investing Summit 2017 where Europe focused investors presented their latest investment ideas.

If you scroll down carefully you will find the one lone woman investor - me! I presented a Swedish automotive component manufacturer.

My oldest daughter turned 6.5 years old this month. Double that and you have a teenager. I have a feeling I’m soon in for many years for being considered really stupid.