I consider myself to be extraordinarily fortunate to have been born in the USA at this particular time in history. Further, I was lucky to have been born into a loving family who happened to dwell in an outstanding community. Many millions of other Americans enjoy exactly the same advantages with which I have been blessed but sadly, many of them never take the time to pay the proper homage for their extremely good fortune.
I may have grown up poor in financial terms but in every other facet of life, I was exceedingly rich. I had parents that loved me and the privilege of being able to utilize a superior educational system which did not cost me a dime. When I was old enough to attend college, I was able to access my higher education at a very reasonable cost. Still it took me many years to appreciate the vast advantages which had been bestowed upon me and even longer to achieve a proper sense of humility in regard to my meager accomplishments.
Now that I am well into my fifth decade of life, I finally appreciate the full impact of the massive advantages in which I was accorded. Not only was I blessed with sufficient brainpower to succeed but more importantly, I was born into a place and time which allowed me to have a chance to better myself and my community.
Being able to express my investing thoughts on GuruFocus has become quite an enlightening experience which I regard as a significant privilege. It has required me to think deeply about my own investing methodology as I attempt to educate younger and less experienced investors about the intricacies of stock-picking. I will forever be grateful to GuruFocus for allowing me to use their website as a forum.
The experience has also taught me another important lesson. Until I started writing on a regular basis I never understood how much I enjoyed teaching. It has also given me a much greater appreciation of all the various teachers and instructors in the world who donate extensive time and energy towards their profession without reaping the benefits of large financial rewards. Further, the experience has served to keep my humility in check. Not everything I write is vintage material and the thoughtful comments I receive sometimes alert me to the fact that I still have so much to learn.
Many of you may be aware that I took a low-paying job in the local school system in order to work with "special needs kids." It was one of the best decisions that I ever made in my life. Working in the school system has opened my eyes to a world that I previously ignored. It has also provided me with a sense of gratification which I have never before experienced. The lesson has taught me about the simple rewards of stepping outside of oneself, as well as imprinting in my brain a deep respect for the countless teachers who donate their lives to helping our young people.
It appears that I have suddenly taken in the lesson that Warren Buffett, and Bill and Melinda Gates have been purveying for the last few years. Specifically, while it may be extremely satisfying to amass monetary fortunes, it is even more satisfying to reallocate a portion of one’s personal and monetary resources toward helping others, particularly people who so desperately need your assistance. Further, the experience provides one with a lifetime learning experience that is equally satisfying. As I have learned, education takes on many different forms and contrary to popular belief, its rewards should never be measured in strictly monetary terms.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and forgives my temporary diversion from the world of value investing.
Happy Holidays, John Emerson