Extreme Business

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NEAR CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA — Yesterday I went kayaking through the salt-water mashes near the sea. The pre-departure briefing, with two of my kids and I, included an explanation of the most dangerous animals in the river: not the alligators, not the sharks… but the oysters and their sharp shells. They’ll “cut you to ribbons.”

So, that’s unpleasant, I guess. But not the stuff of nightmares.

Not like canoeing down the Zambezi river between Zimbabwe and Zambia that we did more than ten years ago. There the risks were listed as:
1) Sunken trees — They’ll flip your boat
2) Hippos — chase you for fun and will bite off an arm or leg, but they’re herbivores at heart.
3) Crocodiles — a good size one for every 3 meters of coast, we were told. They’ll eat you. No doubt.

Right. “Anyone ever canoed before?”

That was a scary trip.

But I’m not sure it was scarier than starting a business right into the headwinds of a recession.

No one starts a business without a strong belief they’ll succeed. And you do get told about the alligators and hippos that you may see… but you assume you won’t.

I have been thinking about people on wages — like I was until recently. I know that they (you?) have worried about the randomness of their employers. Will they toss me out? Will I find another job? Etc.

And I think know that’s why we started this business. We wanted to create a firm like the ones we consult to. We wanted to make it as good as we want our clients to be.

Warren Buffet’s mate and the Vice-Chairman of his company, Charlie Munger, says that their firm invests quite simply in “management with integrity and talent.”

And that’s all we want to be. Even in the past years and a bit of extreme business conditions we haven’t fired anyone. We have held firm on issues that we believe go to our integrity. We have gratefully received the support of our friends. We have indulged the people who want us to fail. We have avoided debt and tried to hold the line of work that we believe we can do better than anyone else.

It’s extreme. It’s maybe even foolish. But hopefully it’s got integrity. And that’s the best way to make it in this world.

I am told that.

And I am determined to make it true.

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