Under 10 seconds (The Financial Athlete #142)

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world, possibly in all human history. He holds the world record for the 100 meter dash at 9.58 seconds. It’s unbelievable that any 100 meter dash race is over in under 10 seconds.

Now think of an investment you own. In only 10 seconds, describe it. On the surface this may seem like a frivolous exercise, but it is no less frivolous than the exciting 100 meter dash. It answers the question: What’s so special about the investment? You may discover there is really nothing special about it. Perhaps you have never realized this because all along you have been bogged down in the details.

Next, suppose you can enter into a limited partnership for several real estate investment opportunities. Consider the difference between “a retail building next to Costco.” versus “a retail building in a small town in a rural area.” Or, “an outpatient medical center” versus “a motel next to the bowling alley.”

Before you make an investment, listen to the 10 second sales pitch. Is it compelling? If it is not compelling in the least bit, forget about it. If the sales pitch sounds weak, the investment is also weak. If the sales pitch sounds too good to be true, the investment is also too good to be true. The 10 second sales pitch brings you to a realization about the investment, much like a Zen Koan is designed to bring you to realization of a profound truth.

Here is my favorite Zen Koan:

A monk was asked to discard everything.

“But I have nothing!” he exclaimed.

“Discard that too!” ordered the master.

(This is near the last entry for the Financial Athlete. For the final draft, an ebook and printed book will be available soon.)


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