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Friday, 14 February 2020

Weekend Reading


Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week.

Coffee is good for you
It's now clear that coffee drinkers are less likely to get cancer than people who drink other beverages, including tea.
Just to be clear, coffee can't repair your DNA directly, so it's in no way a cure for cancer. But scientists now know that coffee does reduce cellular damage, including mutations to your DNA that otherwise might lead to cancer.

Brands still matter. Brandless shuts shop!
Today direct-to-consumer retailer Brandless becomes the first SoftBank Vision Fund-backed startup to close down, as it stops taking orders and halts all business operations. Brandless had been one of SoftBank's highest-profile companies. Launched in 2017, the online retailer had a big ambition: to sell "better for you" essential products at lower-than-name-brand prices, going toe-to-toe against Amazon and Walmart. But the economics were tricky from the start. Everything it sold was $3. It was losing money from high shipping costs and was plagued with quality problems. It had tried increasing prices to $9 on some products, but it wasn't enough.

The real risk is what you don't know about
The biggest economic risk is what no one’s talking about, because if no one’s talking about no one’s prepared for it, and if no one’s prepared for it its damage will be amplified when it arrives. Two things happen when you’re caught off guard. One is that you’re vulnerable, with no protection against what you hadn’t considered. The other is that surprise shakes your beliefs in a way that leaves you paranoid and pessimistic. Paying attention to known risks is smart. But we should acknowledge that what can’t see, aren’t talking about, and aren’t prepared for will likely be more consequential than all the known risks combined.

Something I wish someone told me when I was starting off
For more than three decades, I’ve spent my days perusing the business pages, reading finance books, scanning academic studies and talking to countless folks about their finances. Yet, despite this intense financial education, it took me a decade or more to learn many of life’s most important money lessons and, indeed, some key insights have only come to me in recent years. Here are 10 things I wish I’d been told in my 20s—or told more loudly, so I actually listened.

You think you are listening, but you are not!
The closer we feel toward someone, the less likely we are to listen carefully to them. It’s called the closeness-communication bias and, over time, it can strain, and even end, relationships.
Once you know people well enough to feel close, there’s an unconscious tendency to tune them out because you think you already know what they are going to say. It’s kind of like when you’ve travelled a certain route several times and no longer notice signposts and scenery.
But people are always changing. The sum of daily interactions and activities continually shapes us, so none of us is the same as we were last month, last week or even yesterday. It turns out the best way for us to really understand those closest to us is to spend time with them, put down our phones and actually listen to what they have to say.

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