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If I Could Go Back

Richard Connor

I RECENTLY HAD a chance to go back in time. An alumnus from my high school is spending his retirement documenting the school’s football program. He’s done an amazing job. He created a YouTube channel populated with an extensive library of game films dating back to the 1950s.

I recently stumbled across the channel, and scrolled to my senior year, which was 1974-75. I played tight end on arguably the worst team in my high school’s long and storied history. We had won five and lost three the previous year, and the local paper predicted we’d win our division. Instead, we lost every game.

I was a bit apprehensive as I opened the first game of my senior year. I remembered the final score (we lost 10-7) and some of the details. What I didn’t realize was how badly our team played. We fumbled five times in the first quarter. Before the game was over, we had several more fumbles and an interception. Our quarterback got pummeled.

A high school football game can be condensed into 25 minutes of viewing with good editing. It didn’t take long to watch the whole game. I think I played every offensive play. We ran a very simple offense, more 1950s than 1970s. We only passed when absolutely necessary. My primary role was blocking.

I watched the film closely and felt I played pretty well. I blocked well in direct runs, and especially when the offensive tackle and I would double team the defensive end. The challenge was when I had no one in front of me, and I was supposed to find a linebacker to block. They knew we were most likely running the ball, and they played close to the line. It made it harder to reach them before they got to the runner.

I found myself wishing I’d been a better player, that I was stronger and faster and more experienced. I thought of the things I could have done to be better prepared or to contribute more to the team. One thing I noticed, however: I never stopped hustling. Often in football, you see the players on the opposite side of the play’s direction take a play off. On the film, I was happy to see that even when the play went to the other side I hustled down the field to find somebody to block. This worked well a few times, helping the ball carrier extend his run.

Later in the day, as I was thinking about the film, I started thinking about how many other things I wished I could do over. I’ve always felt that way about investing. I should’ve known about Berkshire Hathaway 10 years before it became iconic. I should have put more into GE stock when I worked for the company, and then sold it all before the crash. I should have moved all of my 401(k) into Lockheed Martin stock when it dropped toward $20, and not sold until it broke $400.

I watched a good friend accumulate Apple stock around $20. There are so many others I missed. Instead, my wife and I worked hard, saved in our 401(k)s, drove sensible cars, took camping vacations, invested for our children’s education and paid off our mortgage. We ended up okay. I sometimes still regret not being a better investor. But I’m happy I never stopped hustling.

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John Goodell
John Goodell
8 months ago

This is so good on many levels.

That said, if I watched my high school football tapes 22 years after playing my last snap, I think I’d be horrified. Actually, I know I’d be horrified.

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
8 months ago
Reply to  John Goodell

I recently pulled up one from late in the season. On the first play form scrimmage I jumped offsides! Later I pancaked an LB. I turned it off after that play.

Bob Wilmes
Bob Wilmes
8 months ago

Many years ago I read a one-page Forbes magazine article about an investor that I had never heard of. His name was Phil Fisher. He had written a book titled “Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits” in the late 1950’s which explained how he had made a great deal on money by concentrating his investments in about a dozen stocks over his lifetime. I went to many bookstores trying to find a copy of the book, and eventually bought a copy from his family’s investment firm which had reprinted the long out of print book.

The moral of the book is you don’t have to make perfect investments. As many here are index fund investors (me too), you can try and use his techniques to find those rare 20-to-100 baggers that return multiples of your original investment. It’s never too late to identify a handful of individual stocks that you can leave to your grand kids that have decades to grow. I was able to find a couple using Mr. Fisher’s advice. He made millions on Motorola, Kimberly-Clark and other companies.

“I sought out Phil Fisher after reading his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits…A thorough understanding of the business, obtained by using Phil’s techniques…enables one to make intelligent investment commitments.”
Warren Buffet

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Stocks-Uncommon-Profits-Writings/dp/0471445509/

Last edited 8 months ago by Bob Wilmes
R Quinn
R Quinn
8 months ago

Richard, I’m with you. I was never much of an investor. In fact truth be told I never really tried and even today I shun all the details and calculations and just stick with mutual funds. I ended up okay as well.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re okay if you end up with assets that meet your needs then how you got there, how much you paid in fees or taxes or the rate of return you received matter little. You still have your little pot of gold.

I’m happy I educated my children and achieved all my goals and dreams and I doubt I would be happier if my net worth was doubled.

Last edited 8 months ago by R Quinn

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