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The winning investment portfolio for your time


Our world is driven by money and financial products, in other words, investments. Nearly all of us have jobs today because there are people out there (including us) who are keeping their money in banks, buying stocks of established companies, investing in new companies, etc.

Of course, more than seventy percent of financial products don't involve investing in companies that make products and services used by the general public, hence adding to the shipping apparatus, but that's a post for another day.

Among the ones that invest in people and companies that make and ship things, there are plenty of options that an investor with money faces.

And all these options are similar to the ones we face ourselves, if we consider our own time as a resource that can be invested for returns.

The first option is to put our money in a savings account with a bank and derive the little happiness of the tiny incremental returns we get on it in terms of the interest paid by the bank. This is risk free and takes little to no effort from us.

If we do this with our time, it is like spending our days watching Netflix and eating good food everyday. Some people might actually enjoy this and there's nothing wrong with it. But there is no hope of becoming good at anything that we can do. Just like there is no hope of becoming rich and doubling your money by investing it in a savings account.

Then, there is the option of investing in blue chip stocks - ones that are stable and tend to provide three to four times the returns when compared to a savings account. These are relatively risk free too, but definitely more risky than investing in a savings account. After all, Enron was a blue chip stock once.

If we do this with our time, it is the equivalent of investing in learning skills that are widely popular and ones that have good odds of landing us a decently paying job. It could be going to college and getting a computer science degree and learning to code, and landing a job as a software engineer. While this has better returns and growth prospects than netflix and chill (a savings account), it is still not a route to becoming incredibly good (incredibly rich).

The other option is to invest in early stage startups. Most good investors start off by investing small (seed round) and backing 1-2 winners that return in excess of 20x of their investment. Once that happens, they progress down the chain to invest in later stages (Series A & Series B) where they have a higher probability of backing winners that yield returns in excess of 10x.

Now, the thing with investing in early stage startups is that it takes a lot of effort and patience. This is because these investments are made in ideas that have low probability of succeeding, and can take years to yield the return. These are investments that only a handful minority of investors decide to make.

If we do this with our time, it is in learning and mastering new and varied skills which only a handful minority of people do. As Peter Thiel puts it, "What is the truth that you strongly believe in which many others do not?"

Of course, a good investor knows that she shouldn't put all her eggs in one basket. So, she analyses the risks and spreads her investments in a portfolio that has investments in all these categories.

So, that's what we ought to do with our time. You don't have to quit your job and dedicate all your time to become a successful writer or an entrepreneur. And you don't have to netflix and chill as much as you can.

I say you don't have to, because you may still choose to do any of those things and have a single investment portfolio. But come to terms with the reality of what the returns you can expect. 

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