Mistakes Were Made

Dave Hutchison, CFA |

That phrase always makes me laugh, it has so much “pass the buck” embedded in just 3 words.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle have embraced what William Safire described as "a passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it."

We read extensively at Triad – in large part to learn how our companies and the companies in our research universe are performing as businesses.  We also want to hear what other investment managers we respect have to say about their own portfolios and investing in general.

Nick Sleep is in that group, and he’s covered a lot of topics in his letters.  One is on mistakes in investing.  He advises a non-judgmental forgiveness mentality.  Ultimately, future investment value can be derived from a mistake if it results in learning.  Investors can react in extreme ways to a company’s misstep, which in Sleep’s mind means they assume the company won’t learn from it – hopefully not the case most of the time.  He says “we have made lots of mistakes…that is how life is.  We don’t justify them, but we don’t condemn them either.  Indeed, they are best not judged.  Our model is to learn from our mistakes.”