Learning About Investing Makes Me a Better Coach

investment coach
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I am not an investment coach, but I believe that learning about investing informs my coaching and makes me a better coach.

I enjoy reading and thinking about investing. For many of my friends this is incredibly dull.  OK, for most of my friends.

They really hope that I don’t discuss stocks or the markets. Or, write about it.

Before you turn away or move on, let me share just one thought.

Many of the things that I learn when reading about investing translate into valuable information for coaching.

For example, this little article on an investment site about overcoming our bias towards action.

The author discusses our need to act in most situations even when it might be best to simply do nothing, show patience or have faith.

Many coaches change quickly when times are tough because they feel the need to do something, maybe anything, to impact the situation.  We humans can’t tolerate how it feels to simply continue on the path, or worse, just wait.

Our team calls this urge to act the “Do Something Bias”—the feeling that you need to act, even when the situation doesn’t warrant it. This bias often surfaces when we feel like we are experts in a situation—and feel an undo amount of control over something uncontrollable—or when we face uncertainty and acting is our way to alleviate the anxiety of the unknown. But this bias becomes a problem when the best course of action is to do nothing. And it’s surprising how often this is the case.

It brings to mind a book I am reading and re-reading lately Antifragile, which is more philosophy than investment, but Taleb, the author made his reputation writing in the investing world.

Of course, this is probably true of any field.

The more we expand our interests and reach, the more commonality we will find among disciplines, the wider the lessons we are exposed to and the more thoughtful we can be about coaching.

Much of what we learn in other areas can be applied to coaching and in fact helps us to expand our thinking and improve our work.

So no I’m not an investment coach, but I still think learning about investing makes me a better coach.


Bias Towards Action

The Farnam Street website provides more insight into our tendency to act, our bias towards action, when the best course may be stillness or better yet, maintaining continuity.

The post from Farnam Street begins with this quote:

“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” — Roman satirist Petronius Arbiter

We all have this bias towards action at some point. Can you recognize it? And, can you stop yourself from action when the opposite is warranted?

The entire article ,which draws from the great book Seeking Wisdom. is worth reading.



Final Four Debut

Ann Killion unpacks the success of the Cal Bears’ women’s basketball team whose win last night over Georgia earned them  a spot in the Final Four. This was their final four debut. They are the first Cal women’s basketball team to do that.

Lindsay Gottlieb, the head coach, also ranks as one of the youngest coaches to do take a team to the Final Four.

Killion credits the team’s ascent to her confident vision for the program,

“After the game, Gottlieb thanked mentor Joanne Boyle for recruiting the players whom she’s inherited. Boyle left for Virginia in 2011, after a second straight year without making the NCAA Tournament. Gottlieb was hired in April 2011 and rallied a downtrodden team. In her first two seasons, she has now won five NCAA Tournament games.

No other Cal coach has accomplished that. No other Cal coach has dared to dream this big, this quickly. Gottlieb arrived and told her team that it had everything it needed to succeed. Gottlieb had a vision.

Moments after cutting down the net at the Spokane Arena, she smiled. The beginning was ugly, but the result was beautiful.

“This is still better,” Gottlieb said, “than my wildest dreams.”




Calipari Takes the Blame

Last week I featured an article from the New York Times about Kentucky basketball in which Calipari takes the blame for his team’s mediocre season. I was impressed by the coaching tactic of accepting responsibility for the team’s troubles.

But curious about his prediction that if they won the next game all would be solved.

It seemed too easy.

They did indeed win the next game. But then they lost the first round of the SEC tournament to Vanderbilt.

Today they were not included in the NCAA tournament. Last year they won it all.

Calipari takes the blame

On another note, you have to be impressed with Miami’s Jim Larranaga, who has only been at the school two years, but was voted ACC Coach of the Year and led his team to an ACC Tournament championship.

He gets his teams focused and prepared:

“This league is so good, that your next opponent is always very, very good, so you have no choice but to stay focused,” Larranaga said. “If we worry about our win streak or rankings, or gloat on our last victories, our minds won’t be focused on the present task. So far, we’ve been very focused no matter if we’ve been home or away, and that makes coaches very happy.”

They are a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and on a path to meet Indiana should both teams play as predicted.



Focus on the Road

Advice to CEOs

advice to ceos applicable to coaches Storm Crypt via Compfight

Ben Horowitz partner at Andreesen Horowitz and author of “Ben’s Blog” offers some advice to CEOs dealing with the loneliness and pain of running their company’s.  Much of it seems applicable to coaches.

Here are his solutions, but the description of problems and how they develop is also well worth the read.

“Techniques to Calm Your Nerves

The problem with psychology is that everybody’s is slightly different. With that as a caveat, over the years I developed a few techniques for dealing with myself. Hopefully, you find them useful too.

Make some friends—Although it’s nearly impossible to get high quality advice on the tough decisions that you make, it is extremely useful from a psychological perspective to talk to people who have been through similarly challenging decisions. My friend Bill Campbell was a huge help to me as CEO, but interestingly it wasn’t his great success running Intuit that I found most useful; it was his disastrous experience running Go. Through that experience and his most traumatic days at Intuit (like laying off 1/3 of the company), Bill learned a tremendous amount about how to think about excruciatingly difficult decisions from a psychological perspective.

Get it out of your head and onto paper—When I had to explain to Bill and the rest of my board that, as a public company, I thought that it would be best if we sold all of our customers and all of our revenue and changed business, it was messing with my mind. In order to finalize that decision, I wrote down a detailed explanation of my logic. The process of writing that document separated me from my own psychology and enabled me to make the decision swiftly.

Focus on the road not the wall—When they train race car drivers, one of the first lessons is when you are going around a curve at 200 MPH, do not focus on the wall; focus on the road. If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you will follow the road. Running a company is like that. There are always a thousand things that can go wrong and sink the ship. If you focus too much on them, you will drive yourself nuts and likely capsize your company. Focus on where you are going rather than on what you hope to avoid.”

That’s good advice for CEOs. What are your techniques for calming the nerves and staying the course?