Over the weekend, I read Guy Spier’s The Education of a Value Investor
based on Diane Coyle’s recommendation. Like Diane, I sped through the book in a couple of sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful, authentic, honest story about how Guy unlearned some of the unfortunate things an elite formal education can instill in you and then learned some new, more positive approaches to living life and doing business. These were mainly inspired by Warren Buffett but the book is full of all kinds of useful references to books and people that helped Guy think things through along the way.
I’m spending a lot of time at the moment thinking about the kind of investor I want to be and I learned a huge amount from the book. There are a couple of things that are different for me though — firstly, I’ve taken to investing because I want to help new things into the world — usually startups. Hence you could never really call what we do at BGV ‘value investing’ which is entirely focussed on businesses that have been around for a while and have safe, predictable cashflows. And secondly I want to help those ventures to have a positive social impact — Guy has mainly surrounded himself by people who see a disctinction between their day jobs backing businesses that act ethically but are also profitable (fundamentally they aren’t out to change the world for the better) and charities that ‘do good’. I see much less of a distinction and want to try to support ventures that do both.
It’s a great book for anybody who is interested in having a happier, more fulfilling work life and bravo to Guy for the honesty and openness he shows throughout.