You don't know what you don't know

Since queueing up a handful of meetings, coffee chats, and quasi-interviews, I've begun to think a lot more about markets/sectors/industries that I wish I knew more about--if anything, just for fun and for the sake of engaging conversation with colleagues or in interviews.

On a more practical level, it's frustrating when you realize that a rudimentary knowledge of something ostensibly unrelated would've saved time on a project. Super basic example (maybe a bad one): falling oil prices potentially lead to disinflation, which affects GDP, which will likely affect top-line revenue for ad agencies some huge% for every 1% decline in output. Then you're left thinking "if I only knew more about the marketing/ad industry, it would've really helped my analysis of random XYZ company because of this, that, and the other thing."

Everyone here knows that there's an ecology to finance. And, sure, knowing your coverage universe inside-out comes with a lot of time and hard work, but the whole idea follows the old saying "if I only knew then what I know now." So, for those of you who feel so inclined, would you mind sharing how knowledge of some specific market/sector/industry really helped you do better work covering some other industry when maybe you didn't expect it to?

Should make for some fun discussion, and should be especially useful for those who are just beginning to explore their interests in certain industries.

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Comments (4)

Dec 9, 2014

"You don't know what you don't know"

I read that on a fortune cookie once, ironically I'm pretty sure that restaurant gave me food poisoning.

It's like building an engine, you learn by either watching someone build it or taking one apart. Reverse engineering, study things that fucked up and work from there. Whether you're looking into an investment or buying a new kitchen, that's the best way.

Dec 10, 2014

I am looking into equity research and I very interested in what can be discussed on this post!

Dec 10, 2014

Currently applying to ER for the summer, and yeah I've been thinking this too, you're coincidental knowledge of some irrelevant industry may at some point have a real impact on your understanding of a situation in your universe.

It's part of the reason I've started looking into doing ER for a career maybe, I'm naturally curious about random shit and get carried away delving deeper and deeper into it. Sounds like a useful trait for this line of work

Dec 10, 2014