In 1977, Nike ran an advertisement showing a lone man on a rural road. The image was still, but clearly the man was not. He was moving. Forward. Plugging away. Putting one foot in front of the other. Putting the past behind him. Below the photograph were five words in big, bold, black letters: “THERE IS NO FINISH LINE.”
The runner was alone. And yet, not alone. There were the trees – tall fir trees that seemed to lean over him in judgement. There were the record books – seemingly untouchable. There was the road – cold, hard, unyielding. And there were the other runners – not physically next to him, for he was alone. But runners elsewhere who were doing the same thing, just as he was. This runner was part of something. Something bigger. Bigger than a single race. Bigger than the record books. And there was no finish line.
I am not a runner. I am an investor. Like the runner, I work alone. And yet, I am not really alone. There are others out there, doing what I am doing – seeking greater value in the investment universe. And there are those readers of this letter who follow my portfolio, buying and selling with me in their own accounts. These people trust me. I do not hold this trust lightly. Like partners, we are in it together.
What am I chasing? A cause, a purpose, a journey. My goal is to beat the market, and yet…something more. I want to find a better way to invest – not just for myself, but also for the benefit of others. And once I’ve found it, I’ll want to discover an even better way. Maybe not the best way – but hopefully…better. How can I achieve this? Simply by moving. Forward. Plugging away. Putting one foot in front of the other. Putting the past behind me. Keeping in mind that: I am not alone. And there is no finish line.
The road forward is not going to be easy. Markets will fluctuate, and at times crash. The stocks I own will go down at some point – I am confident of that. And if you follow me, so will yours. And yet, the path does not change. The goal does not change. I will continue on, and welcome anyone who will join me.
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The above essay is an excerpt from our 2017 annual letter, sent earlier this month to premium members. For more information about premium membership, including how to start your 30-day free trial, visit www.josephinvest.com.