Editor's Note: Below is the last "Early Look" our friend and colleague Todd Jordan wrote just two months ago. His message is a powerful reminder of the remarkable analyst, teammate, and wonderful human being Todd was. We miss him dearly and we pray for his family and friends mourning the loss of this very special guy.

 10/19/23 08:24 AM EDT

So I Married a Therapist

“If I’ve learned anything from…marriage, is we’re always working on me. Evidently, my wife is this completed work, under museum glass that is to be admired and studied…I’m like, you know, one of those buildings that just has scaffolding around it for like 6 straight years.” - Bill Burr


People say that marriage is a lot of work.  I’ve been married since before indoor plumbing and I can definitively attest that marriage is indeed a lot of work – work, as in me working on me.  Before you assume this is just another guy trashing his wife and the institution of marriage, please stick around as it’s the exact opposite. 

Marybeth is not quite a “completed work” but she’s a damn good wife and mother and I want to stay married to her (which is why I need to move 180 degrees from that quote…and quickly).  She’s a family and couples therapist, social worker, professor, and volunteer.  Meanwhile, I just pick stocks.  But I’m a better stock picker and analyst because of her. 

No, Marybeth is not some day trader on the side teaching me her tricks.  But she’s an amazing therapist and her skills have transferred into our family.  You don’t want to hear about how she’s made me a better person, which she has, but I’d like to share how she’s made me a better analyst. 

Empathy, open mindedness, self-knowledge, awareness, and evolution – these are all traits that Marybeth believes contribute to strong relationships.  Oh and “communication,” but everyone says that.  I contend that those traits also contribute to a good investment process.  I’m still under the scaffolding, personally and in my career, but I’m working toward fully developing those skills. 

Partners in a relationship should understand and be open minded to the other person’s perspective.  Similarly, understanding the other side of the trade has become an integral part of my process.  What’s the bear case?  Can I disprove it?  Search for disconfirming evidence.  Personal biases need to be recognized and accounted for.  Wall Street guys that don’t understand Main Street will not be long for Wall Street.  “I’m too cool to go on a cruise so why would I invest in cruise stocks?”  “I wouldn’t shop there.”  “But the stock is cheap!”  I could go on and on.

Marriage has comprised half my life as has operating in the investment world.  While important to both “disciplines,” staying fresh and dynamic has probably come easier for me as an analyst.  Fighting old age headwinds is a constant, but necessary, in my humble opinion.  Our investment process is constantly evolving.  At home, I rely on the kids to keep me open-minded and on my toes--and at work it’s my team.  I’ve told the guys that if I start to close down to new ideas and processes, tell me.  It will be time to retire.    

A successful investing process needs to be flexible and dynamic.  What used to work won’t always work.  The market is somewhat efficient.  Stock picking is art and science, but more art.  And it’s hard.  As an analyst, you want to get the fundamentals right, but that might be a third of what needs to go right.  Sentiment could go against you.  Macro could take over the secular.  In other words, you will be wrong and wrong a lot.  Like my marriage, It’s a work in progress.

Don’t ever take down the scaffolding…

Jordan: 'Don't Ever Take Down The Scaffolding' - GBofr31W4AAUfm6