Bird, Jordan, Hamilton, Jefferson: an American Fourth

I spent most of 6th grade defending Larry Bird.

But at the end of the year, I gave in to my classmates and became a Michael Jordan superfan. Larry just didn't have the numbers against Michael. He didn't really have the art. And he certainly didn't have the ups, especially from the foul line.

Looking back on this momentous turning point in my life, I've realized that the key thing was not basketball, but changing my mind. With varying levels of success, I've tried to do it ever since.

America, as we head into July 4th, is held hostage to two political parties that act as corporations protecting themselves, screening out new ideas so their duopoly survives. And media outlets have learned that it is *far* more profitable to reinforce their siloed users' views than it is to present challenging ideas, a business model made possible first by cable television and now more-so by the Internet.

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson argued over this (political parties, not the Internet), and we're still arguing. But from an investment perspective, siloing is very bad indeed. Any great investor (or scientist, or executive, or chef, or you name it...) has to keep the door open to new ideas and consider them against baseline controls. The interesting ideas rarely originate from obvious sources.

Like a nation aging, as humans age this process gets harder. For people who have figured out a system that works, "creatively destructing" one's ideas and beliefs does not feel like progress. But changing your mind is how you move forward, and it has the side benefit of potentially being profitable.

Thirteen years ago, I didn't think people tweeting about their soon-to-be-eaten chocolate soufflé was progress, and watching other people play video games seemed like the definition of pathetic. Look at those industries today - new ideas that grasped enormous market share.

So keep those ears open, keep the mind changing, and have a great weekend.

Dan Cunningham

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