What can I say? I'm just a lucky guy.
A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal offered us a rare bit of humility from the likes of Rob Arnott and Jeff Gundlach. This was, of course, preceded by an opportunity to brag on one of their less-unsuccessful endeavors, but all the same.
Among those opening up was Oaktree’s Howard Marks, who had to go back 40 years to find an example of when he was wrong. He also offered this little nugget: “The most important single decision an investor has to make is whether to be on offense or defense.” Which is not to say that it is the most important thing, because that is simple, blind, dumb luck.
In 1978, at the age of 29, Mr. Marks was Citibank’s director of research. He had a big budget and about 75 people reporting to him. One day, his boss asked Mr. Marks to start a fund to invest in junk bonds. He’d been analyzing the most prestigious companies. Now he’d be working with the smallest and riskiest companies, a Wall Street backwater and a potential career killer.
Mr. Marks accepted the job; it became a lucky break. He soon realized markets for convertible and high-yield bonds were overlooked by most investors….
Another reason he believes in the importance of good fortune: Mr. Marks met his wife in an elevator.
Howard Marks on the Importance of Luck in Investing [WSJ MoneyBeat blog]
Star Investors Reveal Their Hits and Misses [WSJ]