Patience, Commitment, Rewards …

… and the Nintendo Generation

Reprinted from April 1999 issue of Better Investing to celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary.  Recall that this was before the market breaks after the turn of the century and the Great Recession of 2008-2009 when the “gaming” and irresponsibility reached unprecedented levels.

Patience.

When asked what SINGLE THING he would recommend to new investors to improve their long-term results, [investment club champion] Ken Janke had a one word answer, “Patience.”

It rekindled thoughts of a newsletter commentary that I had written for our investment club partners back in 1997.

Our [35th] wedding anniversary. It seems natural that the long-term benefits of a relationship with my partner sent from heaven might kindle some thoughts of rewarding moments.

In honor of our tenth anniversary, I “wifenapped” my spouse and whisked her away (without warning) to retrace our honeymoon voyage to Hawaii that we’d enjoyed ten years prior. Amidst tumultuous change, we actually found that some places had changed very little, a condition that is sometimes refreshing.

We rented a car and headed for the “Seven Sacred Pools of Hana,” a challenging journey that assails the tourist with winding, undulating roads that can turn the most seasoned boater green. Since my wife had set the all-time record for seasickness on a cruise in 1982, I was amazed that she didn’t throw in the towel. With white knuckles, we pressed on. We continued our quest, gritting our teeth as the roads got narrower, bumpier, and the peaks and valleys came with increasing frequency.

Finally, we arrived at Hana…

… a spectacular place where you can swim in crystal pools with the Pacific ocean surf roaring just a few feet away.

There are waterfalls, waterfalls, and waterfalls…

Hana would rival Niagara for newlyweds, if it weren’t such a challenge to arrive.

After a relaxing swim, we noticed a trail leading up the mountain that seemed to originate in the clouds.

We took a deep breath and began our ascent. The trail traced the river and several charming waterfalls were visited as we made our way. We kept lifting our feet and trudging forward.

Ninety-eight percent of the tourists began to turn back. We crossed the river on stepping stones and decided to venture further. The trail got steeper, the foliage and humidity got thicker, and it got hotter. We reached an “impenetrable” bamboo forest. It became stifling but we continued our foray.

A thunderous roar began as a whisper and now approached deafening proportions.

A few more steps and WOW! We were overwhelmed by an awesome vista… a gargantuan waterfall, and the arduous voyage meant that very few ever see this hidden splendor.

I can still smell the bamboo and hear the roar.

What’s this got to do with investing and the “Nintendo Generation?”

Investing, by definition, mandates a certain measure of patience and perspective.

As I watch the frenzy of traders, I’m reminded of this generation’s heritage of Pong, Space Invaders, Pac Man, and our current Nintendo distractions.

It seems to me that this generation is growing up on lightning reflexes and high speed transactions.

It’s a small jump from Nintendo 64 to the characteristics of day trading and short-term frenetic behavior. Most of the people that you read and hear about belong in this camp.

“Patience?” They ask, “Why?” “What waterfall?”

Patience, commitment, and a long-term perspective. Absence of change and steady focus on principles is extremely refreshing. The investment clubs and investors that we “hear from” are well on their way to living their own hidden waterfalls.