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Dr. Zen
Dr. Zen
Articles (29)  | Author's Website |

What Investors Can Learn from Jeremy Lin

February 15, 2012 | About:

Footage of stunning basketball plays by Harvard grad Jeremy Lin have been sweeping the globe since he was given a leadership role on the New York Knicks and led his team to six straight wins.

The humble, religious and hard-working Jeremy Lin is incredibly popular because people around the world can all see a little bit of themselves in his past failures and now successes.

But what can we, value investors, learn from this young man in the sports field?

Jeremy Lin’s formula for winning

- Feverishly believe and fervently trust the Force within.

- Find your strength and your system, and play the game your way.

- Survey the entire field for openings and be opportunistically open-minded.

- Scout and deploy the talents around you.

- Practice humility and give credit to others in your team.

- Stick to brutal practice and endure years of heart-breaking disappointments.

If you really look at all the top players, their skills and talents are pretty much on the same level. In the end, what really matters is perhaps the innermost spirit that you can win. In that regard, a religious zeal does help all those who reach the top.

Survey the entire field and find your circle of competence

One of Lin’s key strengths is court vision. He looks at the entire field for openings and capitalizes on team members’ strength and expertise. He also works hard to find the system that works for him. Lin doesn’t have the athletic power of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. He’s not an amazing scorer. He’s an opportunistic passer who can also dive and score. He didn’t find his system in Golden State or Houston – where he was benched before landing at the Knicks. Then Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni gave him an opportunity to lead and helped him to discover a system that utilizes his strengths.

As an investor, you have to search deep and hard like Lin for years in order to find your weaknesses and your “circle of competence,” a central idea stressed by Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B). And then you must ensure that you’re in a field or system that is a good fit for your expertise and insights. You must play the game your way in a field you truly understand.

Believe in your own analysis when you hit rock bottom

Undrafted by the NBA, Lin was rejected by all the top teams. He was benched for years against seemingly impossible odds in a field where only a handful of Asian-Americans could make it. He was sent by the Knicks to play for their D-League team three weeks ago in Erie, Penn. He’d already been cut by two other NBA teams before joining the Knicks this year. Facing rejections and doubters for so many years, you have to believe in yourself and your own assessment.

And the key of success in value investing is exactly the same. You have to believe in yourself and your years of hard work at the moment when the entire world is against you. And you have to summon the courage to stick to your game plan during the darkest moments because those days are most likely the best opportunities you will see in your entire career.

Your courage and attitude,

Not your skill and aptitude,

Will determine your altitude.

May the Force be with you, in your game and on your field!

About the author:

Dr. Zen
Brian Zen, CFA, PhD, author of "Superinvestor Lecture Notes", serves as Chief Investment Strategist at Zenway Group, a New York-based registered investment advisory firm providing asset management services, training Certified Securities Appraisers (CSA), and teaching Graham-Buffett Value Investing. Previously, Brian served as vice president at JPMorgan Chase and portfolio manager at Prudential-Bache Securities and Janney Montgomery Scott, while teaching graduate-level investment analysis at St. John's University. Brian was a Bernard Baruch Fellow and graduated summa cum laude from Bernard M. Baruch College. He is also a graduate of Columbia University's executive program in value investing. Brian appreciates your feedback at: [email protected]

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Rating: 3.5/5 (22 votes)


Fareastwarriors - 5 years ago    Report SPAM
really... investing and j lin... what's next...
BrianZen - 5 years ago    Report SPAM
The next is to study our own strengths and weaknesses. I thought we could learn something even during sport hours. :):)
Cornelius Chan
Cornelius Chan - 5 years ago    Report SPAM
Brian, your analogy from sports to investing via Jeremy Lin is very good. If people took the time to brainstorm the analogies from the world to nature and the world of investing, they would find many. I am not a sports fan so I draw mine from the world of traffic:

Investing is like driving a car:

i) you have an investment vehicle that has to go from A to B

ii) the other drivers on the road are the other investors

iii) rules of the road and traffic cops are the SEC

iv) green light = buy low / red light = sell high

v) traffic jam is like an overcrowded bull market

etc, etc, etc.
Ramands123 - 5 years ago    Report SPAM

I think he is the same guy Francis Chou spoke in one of his lecture's at Richard Ivy. His sucess really resembles him. Francis came from no-where , with no formal college degree and rose to morningstar manager of the decade. Beyond thier hard work it goes to show if you got it , then free enterprise capital system will eventually get you what you deserve.
BrianZen - 5 years ago    Report SPAM
CWR and Ramands, yes, like Lin, we all have to find our own playing style that fits our own unique strength.

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