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The Scientific Method

Posted by kdadmin on March 14th, 2014.

Several months ago, I was considering a visit to the Black Sea region to get a first hand view of the nostalgic remnants of the USSR and to see a friend of mine in Bucharest, Romania. I wanted to tour Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and The Ukraine. I had fleeting thoughts about Russia and Georgia because I had read they were too dangerous for casual travelers.

Scientific Method

That itinerary would have put me in Crimea on the day the Russians took control.

However, I do extensive research of a region before I travel within it. I look at economics, religion, demographics, social norms, customs, industry, geopolitical history, healthcare, military activities, World Health Organization comments, State Department advisories, and, if I can find them, actual unbiased people who have been or live there. Essentially, I profile every region, country, city, and route before I decide to go. My wife insists that I have just as much fun doing research as I do during the actual travel and that when a well researched plan produces exactly the results I had hoped for, that I’m in my glory (aka The Horsey Dance). She’s right, of course.

This research ethos requires a willingness to be wrong, to fail. Essentially, I’m applying the scientific method (define the question, gather resources and information, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, collecting data in a way that can be duplicated, analyze the data, interpret the data and draw conclusions, publish the results, retest with/by other scientists). Of course, the risks are that my question could be pointless, the resources unavailable, the hypothesis untestable, the testing impractical, the data flawed, the analysis inconclusive, the interpretation cloudy, the conclusions useless, publication unnecessary, and retesting hopeless.

My point is that the method I use to research travel is the same method I use for investment research. In fact, it’s the same method I’ve used to help all of you.

Think about it.

Before I choose a new investment, a new investment strategy, an asset class change, a weightings change, et cetera, I go through the scientific method, usually many times. This is why I was so happy when I found/hired Macroeconomic Advisors a few years ago. They provided the ability to quickly retest my theories with other TRUSTED scientists. I’m not going to change my investment plan based on the random blabberings of some bobble head on CNN. I’m going to TEST the theories.

Let’s talk about you. We go through this same method together during our advisor / client relationship.

  1. We define the question (can you live the life you love?)
  2. We gather resources and information (financial data, risk profiles, income, etc.)
  3. We form a hypothesis (i.e. retire now, work for 20 years, spend more or less)
  4. We test the hypothesis (against the market, the research of others, performance over the year)
  5. We analyze the data (what succeeded, what failed)
  6. We interpret the results (the analysis says you should have more stocks or bonds, more or less risk, spend more or less, retire sooner or later)
  7. We publish the results (financial plan documents, investment statements, summary letters)
  8. We retest with/by other scientists (with your express permission of course, we bring in other advisors, attorneys, consultants, cpa’s, etc)

So, what does all this mean and why am I telling you? One word: Greatness. In more words: I am telling you this because the objective of our method is to achieve greatness.

To achieve greatness requires failure, and a lot of it. You must be willing to fail, over and over, in order to get one step closer to success. Essentially, you must test your way to success, one failure at a time. Like this guy.

Luckily, over time, you start to ask the right questions, have the right resources, pose the right hypothesis, do the right tests, analyze correctly, interpret insightfully, publish eloquently, and retest efficiently. Eventually, your scientific method cycle shortens drastically and the ability to produce great results in a short period of time exponentially improves the quality of your life.

Which brings me back to my travel example. My profile of the Black Sea region was clear, it was simply too dangerous for a lone traveler, who didn’t speak the local language or have several local connections, to travel through the region. There were too many opportunities for catastrophic failure (injury, imprisonment, assault, death) and too few available remedies (hospital, police, embassies). Everything would have to go flawlessly. Which never happens. No matter how I looked at it, or which guides I hired, I couldn’t be sure that in a worst case scenario, I could get home in one piece. Hence, I dropped my plan.

Instead, I booked a wine tasting tour of Provence, France. So, just short of a week after the Russians took control of Crimea, I was talking with the vintner of my favorite wine on the planet (Domaine de la Mordoree, Tavel Reine des Bois) near Avignon, France; instead of trying to figure out how to get off the Black Sea. A better choice indeed.

Sincerely,
Zurich

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