Do you think you could hold up on with the big guys?

newbie112's picture
Rank: Senior Baboon | 201

I saw a forum posting about one Carl Ichan and Bill Ackman feuding on CNBC. These guys were talking so fluently - using acronyms, talking about buying and selling this and that, selling shares, buying out companies and a lot more I couldn't understand. On top of all that they had these ruthless attitudes about them, they were on national television but going at it like boxers would before a fight. My question is, do you guys believe you could hold a solid argument against one of these guys given your knowledge and theirs on certain problems in the industry? This question may not make sense given a few reasons but answer if it's possible.

I'm new so I usually have an overblown perception until I become more experienced. I also usually hold off on questions like this but I figured, why not.

Any thoughts?

Comments (85)

May 21, 2014

I think they have a bunch of analysts backing them with numbers, etc. They're also more eloquent than you'll ever be, everything is premeditated. Sure you could have a better argument, but they can outdebate you.

my opinion

speed boost blaze

May 21, 2014

I respect the fact that it's your opinion but answer me this: "they're also more eloquent than you'll ever be..." -- How so? They're only human. I agree they may have the means to a more information than you, but actually having superior mental abilities? I highly doubt it. Then again, I'm a non believer in natural born talent and people having some skills other people cannot attain.

@thebrofessor Nice points. I'm currently trying to work on just those skill-assets. I should have said debate sorry, not argue.

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May 21, 2014

it depends on what we're talking about. I guarantee they could talk circles around me about companies they own or follow, but overall market thoughts, I think I could hold my own, even though they would definitely sound smarter, but I wouldn't be pissing my pants. the difference lies in what types of investors they are, I choose to be a passive value guy, which means I won't have as many talking points on companies in my sphere of knowledge than they will. I mean for God's sake, they probably know the board members' and c suite's favorite brand of whisky.

May 21, 2014

Cool. I'm happy to hear that there's not a huge disparity in information (other than what is logical - aka like you said they'll obviously know more about people and their companies that you've never spoken to/looked at), even with the top guys - The gist I'm getting is that they'll have had a good amount of knowledge more since they have more resources and access - but overall, you both have about the same access to the vital/majority of information. You could potentially gain the same access they have though, correct? They didn't do anything insanely different to have achieved their wealth/positions - I assume they made one or two vital deals that made them very wealthy...or did they consistently display a set of hard-to-replicate-skills that accumulated wealth over time?

What your saying sounds logical, and I'm glad to hear that. I always used to think - career wise - the rich guys knew some way of thinking or secret that other (also successful - but not as) people didn't. I'm glad I can put that irrational fear to rest.

Best Response
May 21, 2014

Socrates once said he's the wisest person in the world, for he knows one thing and one thing alone, that he knows nothing. people may have more intellect than the others, and Carl & Bill are certainly very intelligent, very astute, and very wise, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are peasants. I have an educated view on the economy, I have an educated view on the stock market, and I can articulate both of those.

wealth is the intersection of risk taking, hard work, luck, and opportunity, nothing more. there's no "secret sauce," there's no silver bullet, and despite what Joel Greenblatt writes, there's no magic formula. I'm serious when I say if you become well-read, have an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and follow whatever it is you're interested in, you will become more articulate and confident over time. it will never happen overnight, but it will happen.

I'm at a BB, so I have lots of access, but most of those guys just pay for research services that they want. for example, you could buy Birinyi research, Ned Davis, Bespoke, Value Line, Manual of Ideas, and a Bloomberg terminal and still not know your ass from a hole in the ground. once you become more knowledgeable, make some mistakes, and have some successes, you'll know HOW to learn and be able to distill information down to what's relevant and in the end, be able to debate with people who have much more impressive resumes than you do.

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May 21, 2014
newbie112:

I respect the fact that it's your opinion but answer me this: "they're also more eloquent than you'll ever be..." -- How so? They're only human. I agree they may have the means to a more information than you, but actually having superior mental abilities? I highly doubt it. Then again, I'm a non believer in natural born talent and people having some skills other people cannot attain.

@thebrofessor Nice points. I'm currently trying to work on just those skill-assets. I should have said debate sorry, not argue.

I'd say that they're good debaters - didn't really mean they'd be more eloquent than you'd ever be.

I guess what I'm getting at is that they're playing their game that they've played for many decades, while us, going in armed w/ whatever ideas we have, don't really know how their turf functions. So eh

speed boost blaze

May 26, 2014

I like the way you think. +1.

May 26, 2014

"Then again, I'm a non believer in natural born talent and people having some skills other people cannot attain" - well, newbie, you better start believing it because we are NOT born with the same talents. You can see it in kids at a very early stage. Some better at quant, some better at qual etc. If you ingore this, you might find yourself working really hard only to get "mediocre" at something, whereas you could spend the same amount of time / energy becoming excellent at something else (the Icahn / Ackman of the thing, if you will).

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May 28, 2014
newbie112:

Then again, I'm a non believer in natural born talent and people having some skills other people cannot attain.

@thebrofessor Nice points. I'm currently trying to work on just those skill-assets. I should have said debate sorry, not argue.

Then you would have been better off playing golf every single day when you were young and becoming tiger woods. Lol at non-believer in genetics.

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May 21, 2014

I was able to talk intelligently to a chief investment officer of an investment firm 2 years into the business and same goes for hedge fund guys. become well read, learn relentlessly, and realize that if you speak well and are interesting, you can talk with just about anyone.

to answer your question directly, I don't think I would "argue" with Icahn or Ackman. maybe it's because I'm not an activist value investor like they are, but I'm confident I could justify my own investing process to either one or both of them, yes. that comes not from a superior intellect (nowhere near a 1600 SAT, 4.0 GPA, nor HYP undergrad), but by knowing what I'm good at, and knowing what I don't know.

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May 26, 2014

They're mental master debators

May 27, 2014

the whole point of the Socrates thing is that no one truly "knows" anything, and the reason I posted it is because it's important to be humble and confident. true, you may have an IQ higher than your opponent, but I firmly believe that every person in this world can teach you something, good or bad, so have an open mind. if you think you have it "figured out," you'll stop being curious and stop learning, which is bad.

May 28, 2014

I agree with your post all in all, especially your point on curiosity. Very very wise!!! I'm genuinely impressed by how much I agree with your post.. I'd like to comment here -- "important to be humble and confident" - entirely agreed, I've noticed since I started speaking with IB, IB related ppl (for lack of more thought out words) I'm starting to gain these skills myself. Not entirely willingly, but more so forcefully, nonetheless I appreciate and respect those teaching me. At this moment I'm not sure if I could allow myself to willingly be humbled, as I am.

May 27, 2014

These guys are titans of the industry and have egos to match. They would be difficult to debate simply because I doubt you could get a word in. But after a few years in nearly any business you'll one day hear yourself talking to senior people and knowing more than them. It's a pretty cool feeling.

As for being one or two deal wonders, no, they've been doing it for years and have many successes. I don't know quite as much about Ackman but he's made money on multiple deals and various types of investments (although some haven't paid off) but Icahn's made money on so many different deals and was one of the pioneers of hostile takeovers and activist investing. Hell, Gordon Gecko was partially based on him and Milken. You don't become worth almost $25B in this business on one or two homers.

May 28, 2014

hm nice post, interesting points - I hope to one day acquire that feeling.
And I see. I'm glad to hear that, then their wealth is merited, and it feels fair and just.
I'd like to do more research on Icahn.
Milken...I'll research that name.
Nice post.

May 28, 2014

I have to say, all in all - these posts were very, smart interesting and amusing/funny. All of them. You people go far beyond the average person I often run into and speak to (internet or life), in terms of intelligence. Either that or it's just I can relate to you all more, perhaps similar attitudes, view points. Perhaps a combination of the both.

I'm glad to have joined this community. I look forward to continuing to observe, and learn from you all.

side pont: @"EvanM" I agree with your point of view, except that I think Bieber gets a hard time and for that reason I don't believe he's a shitty person. If I were to have taken the same path he did, I would be acting similar. I don't feel he's ever needed to display discipline, and therefore does not -- I feel it's understandable but perhaps you see something I do not.

Odd, I (and I assume most people here, if not all) have no interest in his work, but he's become such a big social influence that IB's and IB to be (me :D...lol.) are having discussions with he involved. Amusing..

I agree that genetic plays a small role but by and large it's practice, effort and resilience that pays off. Then again, I'd be curious to know how much JB practiced before he became famous. It couldn't have been that long, since he was what, 13 when he sang his first hit (has he really been around that long?)? And if that is the case, there are probably people who've practiced much longer and never matched his success, but now we're getting into luck, charisma, and other factors that lead to one being successful.

Really hard topic to draw a conclusion in IMO.

@"Dingdong08" - "grey" areas are what make up the majority of life IMO.

But I disagree with your physical attributes theory. I need to drink a protein shake (just got back from the gym - nutrient timing.) but perhaps this discussion will continue another day.

May 28, 2014

You're probably right about JB...I just really detest the way he acts. He thinks he's the shit, and expects everyone to think he is too. I hate people like that. He tries so hard to be cool, and it's so pathetic. Look at Justin Timberlake. I don't listen to his music but I can respect the guy, he's got the same set of talents (plus acting) and isn't a colossal douchebag. He doesn't try hard to be cool, he just works hard. And that's why he's so good at what he does. JB on the other hand seems like he's given up and just wants to be famous for being famous...and cool.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

May 29, 2014

@"miscer" - genetics determine certain factors sure, but they're miniscule when looking at the larger picture. There are extreme cases, no doubt, as there are in every aspect of life. There are giants and midgets, and ridiculously ugly and good looking (proportionally faced) people, but those are extreme cases. You could be a 6'7 250lbs monster built for football, but if you don't have the confidence, determination, willpower, etc. to ruthlessly trek towards your goal, well it'd be worthless. Likewise you could look like a prince from a story but if you don't have the confidence and charisma to do whatever it takes to succeed in modelling then the advantage you have will go to waste.

IMO that's all genetics is, in most cases, a slight starting advantage (in extreme (rare) cases it's a bigger advantage). Fortunately (for people who believe and desire a just and fair world) life is not a sprint, it's a marathon.

"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard".

I don't for a minute ever doubt I couldn't have made it to the NFL if I trained for it day in and day out at an early age, and of course had the passion, or have become a scientist, or an IB. It's all about preparation, determination and of course the will to do what you love (probably a lot more things to, but it's not (to a large degree) genetics!). I don't think I would be the best, because I think that spot would be reserved for someone who did have an immense amount of talent (again an advantage, albeit a large one, not a guarantee of success) who also worked hard, and had determination and passion.

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May 29, 2014
newbie112:

I don't for a minute ever doubt I couldn't have made it to the NFL if I trained for it day in and day out at an early age, and of course had the passion, or have become a scientist, or an IB. It's all about preparation, determination and of course the will to do what you love (probably a lot more things to, but it's not (to a large degree) genetics!). I don't think I would be the best, because I think that spot would be reserved for someone who did have an immense amount of talent (again an advantage, albeit a large one, not a guarantee of success) who also worked hard, and had determination and passion.

Stop deluding yourself.

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May 29, 2014

Get the fuck outta here with the 'genetics play no role' bullshit. If you want to say that genetics are often overemphasized for traditional business roles, then you will get a lot more people to agree with you. But to say they are 'scientifically proven' to not matter is one of the biggest loads of horseshit imaginable.

A very rough estimate is that if your father played in the NBA, you are 62x more likely to play college basketball. Basketball is a great example because to have a realistic shot of playing, you need to be tall. You can't learn 6'10".

http://thepowerrank.com/2013/03/29/nature-vs-nurtu...

May 30, 2014

Raised on chicken nuggets and soda by a 16 year old ghetto crack addict mother:

Stats: 6'8'', 250 lbs, 5% body fat, best athlete in the world.

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Raised on wild Alaskan salmon, organic brown rice, and calcium fortified grape juice by two parents. His mother left motivational quotes next to his breakfast every morning and told him he could do anything he put his mind to:

Stats: 5'5'', no strength, 250 ng/dl testosterone levels, virgin.

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GENETICS

May 30, 2014

Extreme examples. How many lebron james are there for every million people? And brock lesnar is irrelevant and even if he wasn't, do you know how many athletes lie about being on steroids?

May 30, 2014
highlander:

Raised on chicken nuggets and soda by a 16 year old ghetto crack addict mother:

Stats: 6'8'', 250 lbs, 5% body fat, best athlete in the world.

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Raised on wild Alaskan salmon, organic brown rice, and calcium fortified grape juice by two parents. His mother left motivational quotes next to his breakfast every morning and told him he could do anything he put his mind to:

Stats: 5'5'', no strength, 250 ng/dl testosterone levels, virgin.

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GENETICS

False. You gave away the answer. LeBron was raised in a shit environment, and worked his ass off every single day to be the best. Whiteboy McGee up there probably sits around at home all day doing nothing.

Posting a bunch of idiotic bullshit and then saying "Genetics" is insane. Also...again..outliers. Have you no knowledge of statistics? You need to read more.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

May 29, 2014

"I bet you I've taken over 60 steroid tests. In college I had 15 random drug tests in two years. I've taken drug tests for the NFL, the WWE, the UFC. I must be pretty good at masking steroids. God gave me this body: Are you jealous of it or what? Give me a break... It's all genetics. I wouldn't say we're all created equal. That's just to make the other guys feel good who don't have what you've got."
-Brock Lesnar

May 30, 2014
highlander:

"I bet you I've taken over 60 steroid tests. In college I had 15 random drug tests in two years. I've taken drug tests for the NFL, the WWE, the UFC. I must be pretty good at masking steroids. God gave me this body: Are you jealous of it or what? Give me a break... It's all genetics. I wouldn't say we're all created equal. That's just to make the other guys feel good who don't have what you've got."

-Brock Lesnar

Yeah he wasn't literally born with it. He's likely spent thousands of hours getting to where he is. My cousin runs a personal training service. One of my good friends is now a fitness model. Kid used to be tiny, skinny-fat, and unhealthy as fuck. Hell if you've been in a Vitamin Shoppe this year you've seen him on a magazine cover. You can be whatever you want to be, within a pretty large limit. I've seen literally a hundred plus examples of people going from looking like absolute slobs to being in competition shape in a matter of only a couple years, sometimes less. And that's maybe the hardest thing to change about yourself. You can change your level of knowledge about any one subject significantly quicker. This idea that you are who you are and that you're stuck where you're at is for weak-minded people.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

May 30, 2014
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May 30, 2014