A friend recently suggested to use the “Downtime” feature in the iPhone’s Screen Time settings.
When enabled, all your apps are blocked, except for the ones on your “Always Allowed” list.
How to enable “Downtime”: 1. Go to Settings 2. Go to Screen Time 3. Go to Downtime 4. Enable Downtime and customize settings 5. Go back to Screen Time 6. Go to Always Allowed and choose apps you want at all times
My personal downtime is from 20:45 to 06:00. From then on I only allow Audible, Podcasts, Calendar, and some other utilities. Everything else is blocked.
My expectations weren’t very high, and I was positively surprised. I really like this feature. Especially that all notifications and badges are hidden.
Also, in “emergencies”, it’s very easy to allow an additional 15 minutes for a particular app. I like the “opt in” aspect of it. There is a hurdle, but you can get your thing done if you really need to.
I enjoyed the recent TEDxBasel 2019. Here are my notes:
Choose your priorities Make health and happiness your main priority. Who would enjoy success or wealth without being healthy or happy?
Tips from a Michelin-starred chef Use a cooking apron. It will transform your mindset and you’ll feel like a chef. Try cooking with tea. Use lots of nuts. Always use salt, even for sweet dishes.
The benefits of walking Martin Vosseler is a physician and walked more than 40’000 km in his life, and he continues to walk 3000 km per year. Some of the benefits he experienced: it keeps you healthy; you connect with Earth and the Universe; you meet a lot of people; you experience a lot of love and generosity; it’s a very sustainable and earth-compatible mode of travel. It reminds me of my Just Walk habit I started a few years ago.
It took me 11 years after becoming a Warren Buffett enthusiast to finally attend my first Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Here are my notes and my guide for first-time attenders.
How to Attend the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting
This guide by The Investors Podcast (TIP) is a great starting point. But there are a lot of additional details to figure out. Here is my guide for first-timers:
When to plan the trip? Next 2020 meeting will take place on Saturday, May 2, 2020. It’s advisable to plan the trip as soon as possible, optimally as early as October or November. I planned my trip in January and it was already quite difficult to find reasonably priced hotels (I was still lucky though, see below).
Credentials / Tickets You don’t need to be a shareholder to get tickets, and there aren’t any further controls once you have tickets. The easiest way is to order them on eBay directly from Berkshire Hathaway (brka_b is their user name) and send them to your hotel address (they only cost $5 including shipping, but they only ship to the US. Also, they sell out rather fast, so I recommend to monitor eBay closely). If you are a shareholder, then simply print out a recent broker statement, bring a matching ID/passport and pick them up at the CHI Health Center on Friday before the meeting at the “Will Call”. You can pick up as many as 4 credentials, so not all of your friends need to stand in line. If you can’t pick up your ticket on Friday, you can ask a friend to pick up an extra for you. You can also check Craigslist.
Accommodation / Hotels I highly recommend staying in Council Bluffs, right across the river in Iowa. I booked in January and was lucky to find a decent hotel for just $55 per night. It only takes 10 minutes to go Downtown and the traffic was always smooth, as you take the freeway most of the way. If you are on a low budget or like to stay with locals, you might also consider Couchsurfing. If budget is not an issue, then you might stay near the Old Market area, so you have everything in walking distance.
Rental Car / Parking A rental car is highly recommended, and only costs around $30 per day. The alternative is using Uber/Lyft, but this can get quite expensive if you want to see many things. I never had parking problems, even in Downtown. Mostly you have parking meters which cost $1.25 per hour (payable with credit card or cash). I downloaded the “ParkOmaha App” which made the process even easier. (If you don’t mind walking 10-15 minutes, you can park for free on the bridge next to the Durham Museum. That’s what I did most days. But don’t tell others ;)
Join a WhatsApp / Telegram group One of the best things I did was to join WhatsApp / Telegram groups. That way I always knew what’s going on and was never alone. We ended up being a group of 4-5 people that did most things together. One group I found on the TIP Forum, and the other through Guy Spier’s mailing list. I’m pretty sure there are others as well.
How to prepare for the meeting If you want to stand in line very early, I recommend to buy a $10 camping chair from Walmart. I did and it was a very good investment. Some Chinese people also brought blankets to lie on the ground, but I’d say this is optional. Other than that no special preparations needed. Pro tip: don’t drink anything to avoid having to go to the bathroom.
When to stand in line for the meeting There are multiple entrances. Mohnish Pabrai recommends to go to the South Entrance, so I did that. We were there at 3.00am, which guaranteed us excellent seats. I think 3.30am would have been fine as well. Most people come after 4.00am and the line will get very long after that. I was sitting in my chair and was even able to take a few naps, as did several Chinese people next to me. In fact, most of the very early people at the South Entrance were Chinese.
How to get great seats When you pass the security check at the South Entrance, take the stairs down one floor, then continue straight until you see the Lexus Club. Take any door to the left to enter the hall (the sectors are not separated, so you can move freely within the hall). If you feel lucky, you might go all the way down to the ground floor and try to get a front row seat. We didn’t do that. We chose Sectors 104 which offers a fantastic view.
Want to see Warren Buffett up close? After you have secured your seats around 7.15am, I recommend to go the the Exhibit Hall. Warren often takes a walk trough the hall before the meeting starts. The movie starts at 8.30am, so there is plenty of time to look for Warren. Don’t forget to go to the restroom before the event starts. The morning session is nonstop until noon.
Backpack / Security CHI Center’s clear bag policy doesn’t apply to the Berkshire Hathaway meeting. You can bring a backpack. Full bottles are not allowed (empty ones are okay).
Events / Meetups There are a lot of events and meetups, and the best way to stay up to date is to join a WhatsApp/Telegram group. I highly recommend doing the 5k on Sunday. It’s a very nice and quite short run. As we’re in the US I expected 5 miles, and was pleasantly surprised to see the finish line after just 5 km :) After that I went to Borsheims to play against ping pong champion Ariel Hsing, which was a lot of fun.
Restaurants I really liked Jams in the Old Market. They have great salads. I also liked the Old Chicago pizza place in the Old Market. On weekdays they have great lunch deals.
Other fun things The Hollywood Candy store was fun. That’s where Buffett and Gates made the Sweet Nostalgia video. You can easily spend one or two hours there. Don’t forget to have a strawberry milkshake!
Disclaimer: All the above information is based on my 2019 trip. Things might change in the future, so keep your eyes and ears open.
Key Learnings from 2019 Meeting
Write down your thesis Before you buy a stock, write down: “I’m buying this company for [insert market cap, e.g. $500 billion], because…” If you can’t answer this question, don’t buy the company. Remember: A stock is not a piece of paper, it’s a part ownership of a business.
Broad vs. narrow circle of competence You need to find what you can understand. There is much more competition today than when Buffett started. It’s always a good strategy to specialize. Read as much you can. Figure out what you are good at. You need an edge. Be smart in spots and try to stay around those spots. Having one edge is enough.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) Don’t spend time creating ESG committees and writing long reports. Simply do the right thing. Example: Berkshire Hathaway’s utility is on a path to soon produce 100% renewable energy in Iowa.
The Future Performance of Berkshire Hathaway “Berkshire Hathaway won’t be the biggest compounder by a long shot. But it will and continue to be a very safe way to make decent returns for a long time.” — Warren Buffett
Keep trying things “If you keep doing enough things, some of them will work out.” — Warren Buffett
Figure out what works “Figure out what works, and go do it.” — Charlie Munger
Inspired by Rolf Dobelli’s book, I stopped using Facebook six months ago. Mainly because I was addicted, and also because the constant social comparisons and the instant gratification treadmill became toxic for me. (I’m still using Messenger/WhatsApp for one-one-one contact.)
The downside of leaving Facebook was that I lost a distribution channel for my content, and the people who were following me on FB suddenly stopped seeing my updates.
Reading Crush It! and Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk convinced me that this was not wise if I wanted to maximize my impact, which I want.
#1: More reach: 1.52 billion people use FB daily. I want a slice of that.
#2: Compatible with social media software: I am using Crowdfire (they have a completely free plan, by the way) to manage my social media channels. You can only use such software with FB pages, not with personal profiles. This allows me to manage the page without having to actually log in to FB (which is what I don’t want).
#3: I can outsource my social media management: You can give third parties access to manage pages. So eventually I can completely outsource this channel.
#4: More options to customize: I can customize a page much better than a personal profile.
#5: Reply to private messages by email: I receive an email whenever somebody writes a message trough my page. I can answer by email, without having to log in.
#6: You can boost individual posts with ads. I’m not intending to do this, but it might be a good way to promote your business.
Final note on my private use of Facebook I’m feeling a clear pressure to log back into FB occasionally. Some of my friends publish exclusively there (e.g. in private groups for travel notes), so each month or so I log in to check the updates of those selected people.
Also, less than 24 hours since creating my page, I received the first message from an acquaintance who missed my updates (and I his). I now make an effort to occasionally reach out to those people one-to-one. Since leaving FB, I ramped up my calls/lunches/dinners/coffees, which is socially much more rewarding anyways.