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Podcast Episode – Gerald Marzorati
What is an encore quest? What’s it have to do with Serena Williams? Matt talks with celebrated author Gerald Marzorati about picking up serious tennis in his 60s and his new book on Serena Williams. Gerry shares his love of the sport, how trying to master the game taught him discipline, and what he observed spending more than a year following Serena Williams. Plus, hear what Gerry says should be Williams’ “Disney movie ending” triumph. Listen below or click here to listen on Apple.
Illustration of the Month: How To Play the Winner’s Game
I’m obsessed with tennis. It’s mostly a healthy obsession, but this time of year, I start to slip. Why? Wimbledon, the finest tennis tournament in the world, is about to begin. It’s steeped in tradition, and yet its host, the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, isn’t afraid of innovation and science.
Whenever there’s a way to combine statistical analysis, tennis, and investing, I’m all over it. That’s why my life was transformed nearly 20 years ago, when Larry Swedroe did exactly that in the brilliant introduction to his first book (emphasis mine):
“After making what I thought was a great shot, a forehand that landed right in the backhand corner of my opponent, my teaching pro said, ‘That shot will be your worst enemy.’ While it was an exceptional shot, he explained, it was not a high percentage shot for a good ‘weekend player.’ Remembering how good that shot felt, I would try to repeat it. Unfortunately, I would be successful on a very infrequent basis. The pro asked me if I wanted to make great shots or would I rather win matches? (I thought that one was the cause of the other.)”
Playing the winner’s game is what the pro was getting at as he cautioned Larry about falling in love with his special and rare shot. Winning calls for consistent and disciplined play. When players go for shots beyond their skills, they’re playing a loser’s game. This decades-old analogy goes back to a book by Dr. Simon Ramo, Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Player.
With this background, you’ll know why the following ad is so meaningful to our firm. As a minor sponsor for the April 2018 Men’s Clay Court Championship, Hill Investment Group was proud to support an event that has been in play for more than a century – and held near our Houston office since 2001. As our sponsorship ad expressed, we enjoy helping investors play a winning game, by embracing a “long view” game plan.
Me, Roger Federer, and the Long View
I’m obsessed with tennis, but especially Wimbledon. In 2015, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to attend the event, which I consider to be the greatest tennis tournament in the world. See that white-clad speck on the left? That’s Roger Federer. You can click to enlarge the image, but he’ll still be pretty tiny.
From my perfect vantage point, it was incredibly exciting to watch Federer play in person. It was also fun to watch him from afar this year, as he added another Wimbledon Cup to the pile. Nearing age 36, he’s clearly still achieving “firsts” and “bests” that most of his 20-something competitors can only dream of.
How’s he doing that? Federer seems to be a fellow advocate for our Take the Long View® approach. Consider this Wall Street Journal commentary published just prior to his Wimbledon victory:
“Federer … will play for a grand slam title after doing something none of his top competitors here did ahead of the feature event on the tennis calendar—he took a break from competitive tennis.”
In other words, he won over the long haul by knowing when it was time to compete, and when he’d be better off staying patiently put. In his own words:
“Once you hit 30 you’ve got to look back and think, ‘How much tennis have I played? How much rest did I give my body over the years or how much training have I done? Did I do enough? Did I overdo it or not enough?’ It’s always calibrating the whole thing.”
The WSJ called this a “new playbook” for tennis. New? When it comes to investing, we’ve been running with a similar playbook for years.