ESG Drinks | First times: Wolverhampton | Google Campus | Electric Trains| Bitcoin Mystery Quest Story | Autism thoughts | Happy Birthday to me
If you are at all involved with investment, sustainability or the ESG world (or you think you might be) and are free on Wed Dec 13, I’m organising drinks in London. Let me know if you’d like to come, I’ll send details (hit reply!)
It’s my birthday, I can blog if I want to. I’m getting to an age where some of you “young ones” might not know the song “It’s my party, I can cry if I want to”. Hm.
Another thing hit me with age recently. I was told I was a "thought leader". My first reaction was…. who me?
I see it in some of my theatre friends. They have gone from taking workshops, to leading the workshops. It’s one of the things which has quietly crept on us. And as Spiderman reminds us, with power comes responsibility. This likely applies to fund managers as well, although they don’t think about it enough.
At one point do we have a responsibility to share what we know? Ray Dalio certainly seems to feel that at this time in his life now.
Still, we should continue to try new things. No matter age.
Curiosity, empathy, creativity I’d throw out a great deal of the school curriculum if they could teach our children curiosity, empathy, creativity... there’s a whole host of things we don’t really teach our children at school. A post on it some time.
So… this week in a trio of firsts... I went to Wolverhampton for the first time. Wolverhampton is in the “Black Country”.
Two possible origins of the term Black Country. (1) The exposed coal seams that run through the country (2) the smokey black fog that was prevalent in the 1800s. I also learnt the gold and black colours of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC originate from the city's motto 'Out of darkness cometh light', with gold and black representing light and dark respectively.
Many Wolverhampton workers are feeling happy at the moment as they sit top of their football league table (Championship).
And we know happy employees, satisfied employees (better ESG) make better companies (!) and better stock returns. See Alex Edman's paper. In any case, I think it seems true the City folk are some what removed from “non-City”, and fund managers are removed from the underlying beneficiaries they serve.
Over the last 30 years, owners of capital (shares, businesses) have increased relative power and wealth over “labour” - it is sobering to hear the views of the Unison representative, and also the very real impact a small difference in pension amounts can make (or delays, or poor advice). A tiny post on my Wolves trip here (2 mins) listening to (and speaking at) the West Midlands Pension Fund AGM.
I also did my first trip to Google Campus. It’s near the Liverpool St / Shoreditch area. There are certain elements that impressed me.
A decent number of women. Campus claims female membership overall is 38%. This is much better than Google which is only 20% female in tech roles, 31% overall (see Google Diversity)
You get a decent amount of intangibles for free. There’s no silver bullet but you get access to a co-working café-space, events, mentoring and advice; plus that all important network and start-up go-getting vibe. All of that means, I recommend you sign up if you are at all interested in the start-up area.
In other firsts this week: On train travels, we made it to my first Class 378 GWR Electro train. Some pictures here.
And, in principle, my first op-ed piece has been accepted by the FTfm. You’ll need to wait until mid Jan for it though.
I’ve written before that Bitcoin is NOT an investment, it’s a speculation and a maybe-poor-currency. Bitcoin mining is also a huge waste of energy and our limited fossil fuels (unless you are using Icelandic geothermal or Norway’s hydro to power your mining). (Bitcoin is NOT an investment link and also is waste of energy (in my view) But, as Richard Thaler has noted in his work, and I wrote about in gift giving, humans are not “rational”.
The data driven amongst us forget the Power of Story. Or do not give it, its due. Anyone who has touched or grown up on the “sell-side” of the broking business, or indeed anyone in sales knows the power of story. All the Arts peeps live this. Mysteries, Quests…
What do we have from over 4000 years ago? Not many buildings, not many recipes, not treatises on political systems but a heroic epic in the tale of Gilgamesh. (Though maybe it’s the luck of time)
"Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands"
So, one way to look at Bitcoin is as a quest mystery narrative.
...it starts with a legendary mysterious inventor (pen name Satoshi Makamoto), who is unknown, unidentified and has walked away from billions (around $10 billion in mined but unused bitcoin sits in his/her/their name) to serve a larger purpose….
..that purpose is a quest to bring freedom to the people, away from the tyranny of government… it has a side plot for what brings freedom to the people, equally brings freedom to the criminal… and the on-going mystery on who the inventor(s) is.
This is compelling, seductive and I am sure has longer to run, even as fortunes are made and lost. Blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin) will (in my view) by transformative; the story of Bitcoin will last longer than bitcoin much like how Gilgamesh has achieved a form of immortality in his story, long after he has passed away.
“I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.”
A Blog thought on the story of Bitcoin is here (2- 3 mins).
I will be in Stockholm and Copenhagen next week. I might have 3 hours spare in Copenhagen to myself, where I will probably write, hopefully in a hygge restaurant; but let me know if I should be doing something else!
Visit to Google Campus, London You get a decent amount of intangibles for free. There’s no silver bullet but you get access to a co-working café-space, events, mentoring and advice; plus that all important network and start-up go-getting vibe. All of that means, I recommend you sign up if you are at all interested in the start-up area.
Bitcoin - a mystery quest story “I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.”
A Blog thought on the story of Bitcoin is here (2- 3 mins).