The Aleph Blog » Blog Archive » The Rules, Part XXXVI

The Rules, Part XXXVI

It almost never makes sense to play for the last 5% of something; it costs too much. Getting 90-95% is relatively easy; grasping for the last 5-10% usually results in losing some of the 90-95%.

When I was a corporate bond manager, and doing my own trading, I had a first question in dealing with any broker: Am I getting a good deal?  If the answer to that question was “yes,” then the proper response is “Done.” Don’t haggle.  Even if you get a slightly better deal, it will damage your reputation.  The best reputation to have is between “reasonable” and “tough.”  Tough is worth more when you are driving the deal.  When the deal is offered to you, and it is a good one, reasonable preserves your reputation as a fair negotiator.

You never want to be seen as a pig.  Once you seem to be a pig, opportunities dry up.  The guy who followed me after my time as a corporate bond manager was a pig, according to my brokers, and as such, the ability to do deals suffered.

This is true of much of life.  In negotiation, leave something on the table for the other guy.  You want to be able to do more deals afterward, and a reputation for being tough but fair is the gold standard.

Kids play for all of the marbles.  Intelligent adults play to win a competent fraction of the marbles.  That is an intelligent way to view many aspects of life.  And so I encourage you to play fairly, but cleverly, for your share.

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One Response to The Rules, Part XXXVI

  1. [...] David Merkel, “Kids play for all of the marbles. Intelligent adults play to win a competent fraction of the marbles.”  (Aleph Blog) [...]


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.

Also, though David runs Aleph Investments, LLC, this blog is not a part of that business. This blog exists to educate investors, and give something back. It is not intended as advertisement for Aleph Investments; David is not soliciting business through it. When David, or a client of David's has an interest in a security mentioned, full disclosure will be given, as has been past practice for all that David does on the web. Disclosure is the breakfast of champions.

Additionally, David may occasionally write about accounting, actuarial, insurance, and tax topics, but nothing written here, at RealMoney, or anywhere else is meant to be formal "advice" in those areas. Consult a reputable professional in those areas to get personal, tailored advice that meets the specialized needs that David can have no knowledge of.

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