9 Blocks, 3 Observations
Walking the nine blocks between Grand Central Station and the Four Seasons Hotel to see some companies, I made three observations, and for what they are worth–you paid nothing to read them–here they are. First, I witnessed an as-close-to-bodily-injury-as-an-accident-gets-without-actual-death-or-dismemberment, when a woman in a hurry to get to her desk in a high-rise office building tried to cross 52nd Street in front of a cab. She barely made it unscathed, thanks to quick breaking by the cabbie. It was entirely her fault: for some bizarre reason the cab was neither traveling above the speed of sound or running a red light when she made her move. Observation #1: Sometimes we risk an awful lot for a very little. Second, there is the sad phenomenon of office-workers-who-stand-in-front-of-office-buildings-smoking-and-looking-generally-pathetic. They are almost always in pairs: the better to chat while they smoke, so they don’t appear to be standing on the sidewalk doing nothing but smoking. And there is no glamour attached to what they are doing–they are not ripping power chords on stage at Madison Square Garden; they are not sitting around a campfire reliving the day’s roundup; they are not hanging out in a French cafe. I don’t know about you, but all I can think of when I see these clumps of people is “I will be paying your medical bills when you are dying.” Observation #2: Frequently we risk future pain for near-term pleasure. Finally, I am writing this while drinking coffee at Starbucks, which has created an entire ecosystem for people who drink coffee. There is now food, there is now wireless, and there are tables to meet and conduct business. When Starbucks came public, a lot of people–including me–snorted that it was just a coffee shop. But a lot of people–especially me–were wrong. Starbucks has probably added more value to the American white-collar-worker’s daily experience than any service company in its time.
Observation #3: Sometimes we–especially me–are so smart we miss great long term investment opportunities even while we are exposed to them every single day.
Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up