Nassim Taleb always has some interesting thought provoking things to say on this twitter account. Being an avid runner and someone who generally enjoys being in good physical condition I found a recent note of particular interest:
“When I look at people on treadmills I wonder how alpha animals expend the LEAST amount of energy; others hunt for them. Caesar pontem fecit.”
Now, my latin is a bit rusty after all these years, but I believe he says “Caesar built a bridge” in the final sentence. As for the rest, I am having more trouble deciphering. Perhaps Nassim is trying to justify his hatred of physical activity (I jest). Who knows.
In all seriousness, however, I think Nassim is referring to the fact that the hunter hunts while the prey are preyed upon (I could have it completely wrong of course seeing as Taleb has me far outmatched in the game of thinking). In the end, it is all a mind game. The alpha animal uses his mind to win the game, not just brute force or physical superiority. The lion in the grass never has a chance if not for his ability to outsmart the prey by getting close. Otherwise, his superior strength is of little use. Humans are obviously the best example of mind over physical superiority. The alpha animal in the human world is rarely the strongest, but is almost always the wisest or most cunning.
Caesar (not sure which one he is referring to) did not build a single bridge. But he (they) had the vision that involved the building of many bridges (that his (their) men built) that he ultimately used as a means to meet some end. Caesar was a leader due to superior mental aptitude (and the downfall of many Caesar’s was due to their lack thereof).
The markets are the ultimate thinking man’s game. In this game you can be the lion in the grass or the antelope on the move. Are you feverishly trading, churning your account diminishing alpha thru excessive fees and turnover or are you the patient hunter who places his best bets when the odds are most in favor of you landing a meal?
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.