The more I’ve thought about this, the more excited I get about the opportunity to talk about how putting my money where my heart and common sense dictates works. I realize that – for the most part – I’ve enjoyed the best returns over the last 30 years by investing in companies doing business that reflect my values and tells a common sense, easy to understand, engaging story.
My first two investments as a young labor attorney at Sidley Austin in the 80s provide a great example of this.
I witnessed the thoughtful negotiations between AT&T and the US government led by individuals at my firm with incredible character and intellect that led to the break up of our one national phone business (Ma Bell) into many smaller businesses (Baby Bells). No inside information was passed. But common sense dictated – owners of the original stock will soon have 8 stocks. That’s going to be a good investment. It was.
It didn’t take long working in the labor group to see that the most success companies were the ones who truly valued their employees. Time, money & energy weren’t diverted from the core mission of the organization to deal with employee grievances. And if employees shared ownership, they were particularly incentivized to work hard and smart. I was always impressed by innovators too. The steel market in the midwest was plummeting then. When I read an article about Nucor Steel renovating a mill in Indiana using cutting edge technology and developing an employee ownership program. I bought Nucor as my second investment. Another score.