Do You Know What You’re Up Against?

Wes Gray is a modern renaissance man. Check out his C.V.

The Investors’ Podcast ran an interview with him over the weekend and asked what he thought was the number one mistake that new investors make. I am paraphrasing from my notes, but basically: the number one mistake people make is when they go into a market and think that it’s easy, or a magic “free lunch,” instead of realizing that they’re actually up against grizzly bears and 200 IQ people, all trying to feed their kids.

Between Bitcoin and regular old stocks and bonds, markets are freaking out a bit over the past few days. Wes’ statement is your reminder: competition is very real. Just because you’ve been making money doesn’t make you a genius, or even remotely immune from the market forces of competition. The grizzly bears and 200 IQs are coming for you. Always.

But maybe you’re not an investor. Maybe you’re just excited because wages are finally starting to creep higher for the first time in a hot minute. Maybe you’re wondering, “what’s this got to do with me?”

Shane Parrish (of Farnam Street, and also a recent TIP guest) shared this quote in his weekly email: “You get paid linearly for analyzing and solving problems. You get paid non-linearly for spotting and seizing opportunities.”

You’re either wearing the coat, or riding the coattails. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with either – you’re still getting paid – but you need to have an awareness, because the grizzly bears and 200 IQs are lurking.

If you’re riding the coattails, you have to stand out from the other worker bees. You have to align yourself with where your services are needed just to keep getting paid linearly. Be smart about the coat you pick to hop on, and be aware about who is trying to pull you off. Better yet, figure out how to become a linchpin.

If you’re wearing the coat, you need to think about how you’re going to “see around corners.” The people on your coattails are depending on you. If you want the big payoffs, you’re going to need to be different. You need to do this in the face of the grizzly bears and the 200 IQs. Want to start an online store? You’re challenging Amazon. Don’t forget that.

No matter which side you’re on, it’s not going to be easy. Start with awareness.

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