From Wall Street To The Human Condition: The 80/20 Principle In Action by Lukas Neely, Endless Rise Investor

“The few things that work fantastically well should be identified, cultivated, nurtured, and multiplied.”

Richard Koch

I woke up in a daze — it almost felt like I was upside-down….

In that moment, an odd sense of weightlessness came over my body. I thought to myself, “maybe I was just dreaming.”

As I finally ‘came to’, blood was running down my face. It was at that moment I realized I WAS upside down. At this point, all I could think about was getting out before the car envelops into flames.

With blurred vision, I looked over at the passenger seat, not having remembered if anyone had been in the car with me. Thank goodness no one was there. I thought to myself, “at least no one else was harmed.”

Once the car eventually came to a stop, and I gathered myself, I was able to climb out of the smashed driver’s side window. 30 seconds after somehow stumbling out of the car, the car burst into flames. “Whoa”, I thought to myself, “that was close.”

Sorry, I am getting ahead of myself here…let me rewind to the beginning.

In late 2007, I had just moved back to St. Thomas, located in the US Virgin Islands (where I was born and raised). I had spent the previous year in Washington, DC, working for an Intellectual Property Law Firm, and I had my heart set on law school. That is, until I realized I was spending the majority of my time researching businesses and investing my savings.

I was a regular person who worked, saved some money and tried to invest. So it was really by coincidence that I realized what I wanted to do the rest of my life. That is what brought me back to St. Thomas, the opportunity to work at an investment firm.

I had been working at an Investment Fund for a family office almost a year, and working very long hours to prove myself to the owners and my colleagues. Maybe I was trying to prove something to myself too. I would consistently wake up around 4:00am to read and research, and would usually leave the office at 7:00 PM or later during the weekdays. The weekends were not much better. I was downright exhausted.

This brings us to the moment that changed my life FOREVER. That eventful car ride home on a Friday night would be a turning point in my life. Little did I know it at the time, but it would be a blessing in disguise.

It was an interesting time in my life. I had spent years trying to figure out investing. I thought I had an understanding, but the “Great Recession” caused almost everyone to second guess their approaches to investing (including my own).

Things were starting to recover but people were so hurt from the preceding two years of market turmoil that market participants didn’t believe anything anymore. They thought the stock market was one big virtual casino now.

People were knowingly selling companies for much less than they were worth. There was certainly panic in the air, but as a value investor I thought it was a great time to be buying if you had the moxy.

Thankfully I kept purchasing my best ideas. Things were starting to turn up for me, but at what cost? I was so exhausted and tired. The days seemed to blur together into one, until it finally happened.

It was Friday night in September, 2009. I’d spent about 80 hours at the office that week and it was only Friday. I decided I needed a break so I went out with a few of my good friends to a local pub. I left to head home a little after midnight. It was a normal St. Thomas night with the conditions dark and around 80 degrees. The windows were down and I was listening to BB King (I know — probably not the best to listen to jazz music while driving home at night).

We drive on the left side of the road in the USVI. So I was traveling on the left side of the road on the north side of the island heading towards my house when the unthinkable happened:

I FELL ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL…

The car had veered to the left of the road over the white line, and hit a drain pipe. After the sudden crash, the drain pipe acted as a ramp and sent the car air born twisting sideways. This is when I woke up to the car flipping and rolling over across the road and eventually sliding along the guard rail on the right side of the road, and eventually coming to a screeching halt facing the other direction.

It was an odd feeling of weightlessness initially. Then came the ferocious body-rattling, thrashing and violent careening that only a professional race car driver could know.

When the car finally came to a stop, I didn’t say a word. I knew I had to get out of the car — FAST.

I was in a hurried state, but an eerie sense of calmness was over me as well. I assume the adrenaline was kicking in at this point.

The passenger side window frame was smashed in and the driver’s side window was equally as bad. The entire left side of the car was also lodged up against the guard rail. I pulled myself through the small opening between the guard rail and the car window, cutting my arms and hands as I reached for freedom. Blood was starting to pour out at this point. I remember having glass in my hair for weeks from climbing through that window.

I know what you are thinking — WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH 80/20 INVESTING?!?!?

Don’t worry I will get to that shortly. I want you to know how this whole process started, so that you can see all of the trials and tribulations it took to finally create a system. And hopefully you won’t have to go through what I had to to finally create an 80/20 process.

There will certainly be times in your life, and in investing, when you think you’re down for the count. Which is why it’s essential to learn how to deal with these moments, if you are to succeed in life and investing.

Personally, I’ve experienced a lot of tragedy in my life — I have had a best friend die in my arms from an asthma attack when I was 13 years old while studying for our final exams and lost my father suddenly when I was 23 years old leaving me as the head of the household. All of these experiences made me stronger as an individual, but it was incredibly painful at the time.

I tell you this not to depress you or to ask for sympathy. Quite the opposite in fact. We can all learn from difficult situations and continue to evolve and grow. Each tragedy has changed my life for the better.

That’s how you have to treat “less than ideal” events or situations. Every set back is an opportunity. That’s life — when you fall down or stumble, you have to learn how to pick yourself up, learn from

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