If you’ve been a reader of this letter for any length of time, you may have noticed that I try to spend my weekends and free time at our farms in Chile.
I’m still on the road at least 6 months out of the year and travel to 30-40 different countries annually.
But when I’m not traveling or I’m not needed at our offices in Santiago, I go out of my way to spend as much time as I can at the farms.
Seth Klarman Tells His Investors: Central Banks Are Treating Investors Like “Foolish Children”
"Surreal doesn't even begin to describe this moment," Seth Klarman noted in his second-quarter letter to the Baupost Group investors. Commenting on the market developments over the past six months, the value investor stated that events, which would typically occur over an extended time frame, had been compressed into just a few months. He noted Read More
It’s paradise for me. I love being surrounded by so much pristine nature, organic food, and absolute quiet.
This past weekend at Sovereign Valley Farm we harvested our almonds.
Almonds aren’t a commercial crop for us; our primary business is blueberries, of which we’ll soon be one of the largest producers in the world.
But we just happen to have a bunch of natural almond trees at the farm.
They’re wild, we didn’t plant them. We don’t even need to maintain or irrigate them.
And yet, each year they explode with an abundance of nuts.
Our harvest method was pretty low-tech; we shook the trees by hand until the almonds fell out, onto a giant blanket that we placed on the ground.
This is pretty much the same way the ancients did it thousands of years ago.
But despite our primitive approach, we harvested a few thousand dollars worth of almonds in about an hour and a half.
Aside from enjoying a bit of time outside on a beautiful summer day, my cost of these almonds was basically zero.
They literally grow on trees. All we had to do was pick them up. Not a bad return.
The whole morning I kept thinking of what my dad used to tell me over and over as a kid– “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Well, actually it does.
Perhaps not money itself in the literal sense, but certainly the opportunity to make money.
Agriculture is an obvious example– a single tomato seed creates a plant that can produce 15-25 pounds of tomatoes, not to mention hundreds of new seeds.
At, say, $2 per pound, one seed can generate $30 to $50 worth of organic tomatoes. Nature does all the rest of the work.
This is all small potatoes (NPI), but it’s indicative of the opportunities that surround us.
It’s not just agriculture.
Opportunity is in the ground (gold, silver, other minerals). It’s in the sky (wind and solar power generation). It’s inside our digital devices (cryptocurrency mining).
This is important to remember.
Hardly a day goes by without another eruption of anger and hate, or some bit of news that takes us closer to a trade war (China), financial crisis (Greece), debt crisis (most of the West), etc.
The social divisions in the United States stand out as being especially poisonous.
You may have seen the news from a couple of weeks ago when a bunch of people decided to “resist” by burning an American flag.
Flags are powerful, emotional symbols to hundreds of millions of people. To others it’s just some colored fabric.
Either way, I wonder– what did these people honestly think they were going to accomplish?
It’s not like throwing a childish temper tantrum and setting some cloth on fire will suddenly cause millions of people to change their views.
By definition, deliberately burning a flag (or anything else) is an act of destruction, which seems like a dubious way to make anything better.
The reality is that, as individuals, we have zero control over what happens next– trade policy, tax policy, monetary policy, national debts, federal budgets, etc.
We can only control what we do ourselves.
And that’s what brings me back to this idea of opportunity.
No matter what happens in the world… no matter how dire the long-term outlook or how strained the social tensions, there will always be a near infinite abundance of opportunities.
Some of them are literally growing on trees.
We don’t have the power to wave our magic wands and remake the entire world as we want it to be.
But we absolutely have the power to seize the opportunities in front of us and remake our own realities into exactly what we want them to be.
It’s 2017. You can live anywhere and make money anywhere.
You can start a business in a day and start generating income tomorrow.
You can reach prospective investors, customers, and employees who live on the other side of the planet.
You can raise money for new ventures on dozens of websites without ever having to set foot in a bank.
You can invest in countless asset classes in every corner of the world without having to get out of bed.
You can protect yourself from every major risk in the financial system with nothing more than an Internet connection.
We have so much power to affect our own lives, far more than any politician or government.
And THAT is the entire point of personal sovereignty.
It’s about being independent and self-reliant, not waiting around for some government to legislate the nation into prosperity.
All it takes is a little bit of education… and the will to act.