20 January 2020

On today’s show, I talk with Jacob Taylor, the CEO of Farnman Street Investments and the author of the novel, The Rebel Allocator. The book follows a young man who is mentored by a legendary business leader and a master of capital allocation. Charlie Munger liked the novel so much he called up the author to discuss it and encouraged him to make it into a movie. So what was Munger so excited about? The book is full of wisdom related to business, investing and living a good life. Jacob Taylor joins me to talk about his conversation with Munger and the life lessons that run through his novel, The Rebel Allocator.



  • How to bounce back from life’s set-backs
  • The importance of self-reliance and having an inner-scorecard
  • The importance of capital allocation in business and life
  • How to get better at capital allocation
  • The importance of finding the right partner in marriage and life
  • The downside of focusing one’s life entirely on business and investing


Help us reach new listeners by leaving us a rating and review! It takes less than 30 seconds and really helps our show grow, which allows us to bring on even better guests for you all! Thank you – we really appreciate it!





Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using Artificial Intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors may occur.

Sean Murray 0:00
Welcome to The Good Life! I’m your host, Sean Murray. Today’s guest is Jacob Taylor, the CEO of Farnam Street Investments, the host of the author interview series, Five Good Questions, and the author of the novel, The Rebel Allocator, which is the topic of today’s conversation. The book synthesizes the wisdom of Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Ray Kroc, Sam Walton, and other great investors and entrepreneurs into a compelling storyline that serves to reveal timeless wisdom about life and business. So join me as we dive into the novel, and pull out life lessons that we can apply to help us live the good life. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Jacob as much as I did. My friends, I bring you Jacob Taylor.

Intro 0:52
You’re listening to The Good Life by The Investor’s Podcast Network, where we explore the ideas, principles, and values that help you live a meaningful, purposeful life. Join your host, Sean Murray, on a journey for the life well lived.

Sean Murray 1:15
Jake, welcome to the show!

Jacob Taylor 1:17
Thanks for having me, Sean. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Sean Murray 1:19
I first heard about your novel through The Wall Street Journal. It was in the column, The Intelligent Investor by Jason Zweig. And he was telling the story about Charlie Munger. And how Charlie picked up this book, The Rebel Allocator, and, and he liked it. He loved it! And he searched out the author; got him on the phone; and talked to the author about the book maybe even had some suggestions, I believe. And I have so much respect for Charlie Munger. I know how well-read he is. So immediately it sparked my interest. What is this book? Who is this author? And what is this all about? So tell us if you could a little bit about that experience. What was it like to get a call from Charlie Munger?

Jacob Taylor 1:58
It was more than you could ever imagine for a Munger fanboy like myself. You know, I’ve been going to Berkshire for a dozen years to hear him talk; going to Daily Journal. And before that Wesco meetings. You pick up the phone, and on the other end is, is Charlie’s voice, and it’s like almost kind of the voice of God in a way. That might be a little bit exaggerated. But you know, that same voice that you hear at Berkshire; to be talking to him, it was the most surreal 25 minutes of my life, for sure.

Read More

Sean Murray 2:25
Well, what kind of questions did he ask you about the novel? Or how, what–how did the conversation go?

Jacob Taylor 2:31
Well, it’s kind of funny because he actually had specific character points of–like things that could be a little different or better about the book. And actually, his biggest thing that he wanted to tell me was encourage me to get the book made into a movie. I haven’t made a ton of progress yet on that. Number one, I don’t know much about movies. I don’t know a lot of movie people either. So I guess if you’re listening and you, you are a movie person, and you have any interest, please find me because I do think it would be kind of an interesting project to work on. I mean, the other thing that we talked about kind of surprisingly was actually he had read some of my quarterly letters that I write for being the CEO of Farnam Street. He actually told me, you know, I’ve been kind of lamenting the last few years in my letters that I haven’t found a lot of good investment opportunities, basically; like prices have been relatively high for a lot of businesses. And he told me that if I was finding too much right now, he’d actually be worried. You know, just to be patient, and to look where others aren’t looking. And don’t be afraid to go where the fish are is kind of what he said. And yeah, I mean, it was just an incredible experience. You know, one that I never would have guessed having written this little book as a fun side project–that it would lead to Charlie calling me one day.

Sean Murray 3:38
Yeah, it must feel great to be encouraged by someone like Charlie both in your investment world and also as a writer. Let’s talk about the book, The Rebel Allocator. The novel is–it follows Nick, who’s a young man. He’s working in a private equity firm. He’s studying for his MBA kind of on the side. He’s got some socialist leanings; worked in journalism before he got into business, and comes from a family with a sort of has a lot of sympathy for socialism. And he’s a little skeptical of capitalism. He’s sort of getting involved in business, so that he can maybe do a takedown piece or a muckraking, sort of journalistic takedown of capitalism from the inside. But along the way, he is befriended or meets this billionaire, Mr. Xavier, known as Mr. X. Sounds a little bit like Warren Buffett. He lives in Wichita, not Omaha like Warren Buffett does. But he is a billionaire. He’s a successful businessman. And he takes Nick sort of under his wing, and through a series of exchanges and meetings, he starts to change his view of business and capitalism. There’s a number of similarities between Mr. X and both Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. For example, Mr. X reveals that he, at some point, he had lost a son to cancer. We know that Charlie Munger also lost a son to cancer. Did that come up at all in your discussion with Charlie?

Jacob Taylor 5:04
There are several things in the book that are call them kind of Easter eggs for like hardcore value sort of nerds; that there are lots of little subtle tips of the cap to different heroes that we kind of all have, and we know their stories. One of them being Charlie’s unfortunate losing a son. But there are other Buffett Easter eggs in there. There’s some Sam Walton; some Henry Singleton; Ray Kroc. Mr. X is, is an amalgamation of all of those guys. And I wanted to put in little tidbits like that that would just be kind of fun for us who are really into that world; to just get these little things like that and say, “Oh, I know why he put that there.”

Sean Murray 5:39
It’s a great lesson in the book that Mr. X sort of teaches Nick. And what I took away from that was, you know, life isn’t fair. Life is going to throw you some curveballs. It’s going to be challenging even if you’re a billionaire. It’s not like you don’t have problems. Money’s not going to solve all your problems. You have to be persistent. You’ve got to stay positive. You’ve got to go on, and that’s something that Charlie did in his life that is somewhat amazing for those of us, who haven’t been through something as tragic as that. It’s something we can all aspire to. And I thought that was a great lesson.

Jacob Taylor 6:08
Yeah. And really, I tried to bake, call it a decade more or plus of different books that I’d read and interesting ideas, and just good ideas that I came across in my various readings and include them in the book. It’s not just always about cap allocation and business. There’s also some life lessons in there as well. And a lot of that had to do with my motivation of writing the book was, you know, I have two young sons. I can talk at them all day about different things. And it’s hard to tell how much of it registers, right? You think it is, but maybe it’s not the point that you’re exactly trying to make. And I thought, “Gosh, you know, if I could give them something; a different medium than just dad talking at them. Maybe it would, it would resonate for them, and give them a head start on all the work that I had done over the last 10 or 15 years.” Around the time that I was writing the book, I lost a close friend, who was my age to a freak accident. And it was sort of a wake up call for me of–all right, if I was to be taken off the earth tomorrow, what would I want to leave behind for my kids? And this was one idea that I had that made sense to me of giving them this story that would teach them a bunch of stuff that their dad had kind of learned over the years, and give them a little bit of a head start, and more than just leaving them my big pile of books that are in the library. Here’s all some of the best things that I’ve come across in this big pile of books wrapped up into one story for them.

Sean Murray 7:29
Well, you mentioned in the intro that you are motivated by a quote in the essay, the famous essay of Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Could you read that for our listeners? And maybe we could just talk about that in the context of your children and your motivation to write the book.

Jacob Taylor 7:47
Sure. I’ll read it real quick. “There’s a time in every man’s education, when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him, but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground, which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows that he is what he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” Why that quote really resonated with me, you know, I originally sat down to write a book about cap allocation and business. And it was a nonfiction as you would expect that type of like a business book to be. It was such a dry topic. I just felt like that’s not the legacy that I want to leave, if I had to leave. And that’s where I pivoted to a fictional story, which incorporates all of the same principles that would have been in a nonfiction book. There were lots of points during the writing process, where I just felt like I was insane. And like who writes a fiction story about cap allocation? This is certifiably crazy like what are you doing? It felt like that was my little plot of ground that I had to till; that I had to get it out of my system. That’s why the Emerson quote was so pertinent for me.

Sean Murray 9:00
It’s a great quote. And to me, it says, “Look! If you’ve got an idea, or you have something you want to bring into the world, there comes a time when you just have to do it.” You’re not going to get there by reading a book. You’re not gonna get there by imitating someone else. It’s inside you. And the only way to get there is to toil your own soil, and just do it. And you’ve created something here that hopefully will last for a long time.

Jacob Taylor 9:23
I did try to make as much of it obsolescence proof as I could. The lessons are very generalized. It’s not highly prescriptive. The book isn’t. It’s more kind of trying to teach you how to think about a problem and frame the problem correctly. When I say cap allocation, at the end of the day, it’s like what do you spend your money on inside your business? Everybody inside of–that works in a business or does anything is doing cap allocation at all times. There’s this funny joke that I actually heard from David Foster Wallace, and he says, “These two young fish are swimming together, and they swim past an older fish. And the older fish says, ‘How’s the water, boys?’ And the two younger fish keeps swimming on. And then they look at each other and say, ‘What the hell is water?'” Right? Because they’re, they’re so immersed in it that they don’t understand that that’s the medium of their world. And a lot of times we, I think that cap allocation is sometimes the water that all the business fish are swimming in that we don’t even realize that that’s what we’re doing. It became a very passionate topic for me, when I thought about it in that kind of lens.

Sean Murray 10:22
And capital allocation is this metaphor that kind of goes throughout the book. It is in many ways like the water; like the oxygen we breathe or the water. We just don’t realize it because it’s all around us. But yet, at the same time, there’s kind of a famous Warren Buffett quote on capital allocation, where he sort of–maybe we could read that too to kind of jumpstart our deep dive into the novel because it reveals that actually, it’s a little bit more complicated. If it was just something that we don’t even realize we’d all sort of mastered eventually, but what Buffett kind of points out is it’s actually very challenging to master capital allocation, even though it’s so fundamental to business.

Jacob Taylor 10:57
Yeah, that’s right. So in his, his 1987 letter Berkshire shareholders, he wrote, “The heads of many companies are not skilled in capital allocation. Their inadequacy is not surprising. Most bosses just rise to the top because they have excelled in an area such as marketing, production, engineering, administration, or sometimes institutional politics. Once they become CEOs, they now must make capital allocation decisions–a critical job that they may have never tackled, and that is not easily mastered. To stretch the point, it’s as if the final step for a highly talented musician was not to perform at Carnegie Hall, but instead to be named chairman of the Federal Reserve.” At one point early on in the book project, when I was working on the nonfiction version, one of the working titles I had was, From Carnegie Hall to the Fed. I’m glad that that never ended up being a real thing ’cause it was a terrible title, but it was way too obscure for most people to get, but just goes to show I have a lot of bad ideas as well.

Sean Murray 11:50
That would appeal to the most hardcore Buffettologists or Munger follower. You know, you get to the point there of this is challenging. Capital allocation is not something we normally learn in business, especially in corporate America coming up in a career. So often the CEO is selected from marketing, or from sales, or was the previous CFO. And all of a sudden, they’re in charge of reallocating this incredible operational cash flow. They’re thinking about dividends; they’re thinking about mergers and acquisitions. These decisions are, were not part of their previous world. And that’s something that Mr. X talks about quite often in the novel. And you get the sense that Nick eventually through his journey becomes a little wiser in capital allocation. I wouldn’t say he’s all the way there. He’s pretty humble, but he’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Jacob Taylor 12:41
Yeah, I mean, you, you got an MBA. Do you remember ever really covering cap allocation in a, in any of your classes in a specific kind of format?

Sean Murray 12:50
No. In fact, I remember reading, I think it was, The Outsiders or the Thorndike book, and realizing that, “Wow, the most important skill in business was not necessarily taught to me; maybe indirectly in various ways.” But it’s almost like you go. You get a degree, and then you realize, “Wow, the most important–you get a degree in philosophy, but the most important philosopher was never discussed.” Right?

Jacob Taylor 13:13
Yeah. It’d be like they left Plato out or something.

Sean Murray 13:16
Yeah. What about capital allocation? I got a sense that it was bigger than just business in your novel. Was that part of what you wanted to teach?

Jacob Taylor 13:24
Yeah, I mean, I think in cap allocation, it applies in all aspects of our lives, really. I mean, what do you spend your money on? What do you spend your time on? What do you spend your energy on? Capital in this instance, you know, happens to be for a business context. But all of those lessons that apply to business also apply to life, and family, and friends, and leadership. You’re a cap allocator whether you want to be or not just by existing; by taking a breath, you’re allocating capital. I think all of the lessons can be more generalized into life.

Sean Murray 13:57
But one of the life lessons that Mr. X imparts on this young man, Nick, is the inner scorecard, which, which I think is a great model for all of us to emphasize.

Jacob Taylor 14:11
So if you look at what, why are there problems in cap allocation today in most business contexts? And the answer is simply that people are afraid to think for themselves. It’s not that they’re not smart enough to figure this stuff out. Because probably every single Fortune 500 CEO or even further down in market capitalization is plenty smart enough to do cap allocation. However, they have an uncertainty. They lack maybe the EQ to trust themselves; to follow that inner scorecard; to execute on whatever makes sense to them. And at the end of the day, I really wanted the book to be a boost to their confidence; to follow their own decision making; and to follow their own inner scorecard. Part of the book is really just to give that motivation that, “Yeah, you know what? I can figure this out for myself. I don’t have to look around and see, well, all the other CEOs are doing buybacks right now. I guess I should be doing that, too. Or Wall Street wants me to pay a dividend right now, but I have a lot of good internal investment opportunities that they don’t know anything about. It would be stupid to pay a dividend. I’m not going to do it.” And I think you saw that with The Outsiders book; Thorndike’s book. You know, they were all iconoclastic leaders. They were following their own inner scorecards. The other nice thing about that is that I think we can actually tamp down some of the perturbations of capitalism, when we have more independent thought throughout. It’s the groupthink that leads to the largest confluence of entrepreneurial errors. If we have everybody all going the herd mindlessly going over a cliff. That’s how you get bubbles. That’s how you get crashes. But if everyone’s thinking for themselves, it’s actually a much more robust system. The idea that my little book that I wrote could like throw a little pebble in that ocean, and maybe make some kind of an impact is, is feels like it’s worthwhile for me.

Sean Murray 15:51
That’s a good point that often the cycles in capitalism, when you look back at these bubbles, you see everybody moving in the same direction. If we had more independent thought; independent thinking, capitalism would make better progress. Maybe slower, more incremental progress, but not the wild swings of up and down.

Jacob Taylor 16:08
Yeah. And I’m really at the end of the day like those that swings are what hurt real people. A project that gets funded; that’s a stupid idea; that it turns out the customer doesn’t really want whatever it is that you’re making. Well, that comes attached with employees; its resources; some kind of a drain on the environment. Like all this stuff doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Cap allocation decisions are how we arrange our economy and how we access the resources in the environment. If we’re making better decisions there, you’re doing a lot actually for the environment not to build a building somewhere that it turns out, no one wants to do commerce there. Or the employees that were involved now, they get fired because they’re attached to a project that was ended up going bust, and now their lives are thrown into an upheaval. Or even the way that how conservative or how aggressive do you run your balance sheet as a company. The business can serve as a really nice shock absorber to the rest of the stakeholders in the entire ecosystem by running more conservatively. If they’re borrowing a bunch of money, and they’re way over leverage, and now they have to lay off a bunch of people. Or they can’t get their goods or service to their customers because of these, you know, they’re over aggressive expansion. These are all things that are just like wear and tear on the entire system, you know? If you run more conservatively, you have more margin of safety. There’s less chance of you interrupting your good or service that’s being delivered. There’s less chance of you laying off employees that were attached to the wrong projects. You know at the end of the day, all these decisions they matter to real people’s lives. And it’s really easy to lose sight of that fact, when we just kind of create this veil of like, oh, “business.” It becomes very abstract.

Sean Murray 17:44
Absolutely. And in these wild swings or cycles that affect real people as you say–that’s where the seeds of a backlash to capitalism often begin and start to grow. And one of the themes that I appreciated in the book was–I saw the novel as sort of a defense of capitalism in many ways, and–against the threat of socialism.

Jacob Taylor 18:06
Yeah, I mean that’s definitely one of my concerns today. With–capitalism is a little bit under pressure right now. I think, I think the tide is probably swinging the other way. And I think it’s really easy for people to forget about the little, mundane, nice things that free markets provide for us every day; to show up at the grocery store, and there’s pretty close to the right amount of food available. It’s very rare that the shelves are empty, or that like there’s food just like piled up to the moon. It’s usually in kind of a tighter band, or that you go anywhere to get your hair cut or something, and like, hey, there’s somebody that’s there to cut your hair. We really take that ease of life that comes from free markets, and capitalism, and competition, we take it for granted. I do have concerns, especially for younger people that perhaps they haven’t been impressed with enough appreciation for, for the good things that come from it. I purposely tried to skew the book a little bit younger for that reason. I wanted it to resonate with a younger person, and I–it was kind of a literary device actually to have Nick be so socialistic to start out and have socialistic parents. I did not be too heavy-handed with it. And I tried to make it a little bit more subtle; some of the finer points of capitalism, but maybe I wasn’t successful. I’m definitely prone to being too pedantic about it.

Sean Murray 19:19
You know, there’s another theme that kind of runs throughout, which is marriage. And early on, Mr. X tells Nick, and he’s actually talking to students. He says, “Look! The biggest decision you’re going to make in your life is deciding who you’re going to marry.” This is interesting, too, because later we find out that Mr. X has a very, I wouldn’t say completely successful marriage; seems like his marriage has sort of fallen apart somewhere along the lines. And then, at the same time, Nick is courting someone named Stephanie, and that’s kind of heating up. So talk a little bit about marriage and the lesson you want to pull marriage through this novel.

Jacob Taylor 19:54
I mean, probably as my wife would attest like I’m–I have no business talking about marriages; isn’t any kind of an expert. The quote that Mr. X gives about marriage being the most important decision, that’s, you know, Buffett and Munger have both mentioned that a hundred times. And I think they’re right. I think it’s totally true. It’s that lifelong partnership that is such a prism that your life gets filtered through; that it’s really difficult to imagine that if you don’t have a good setup there that it’d be easy to do a whole lot else in life, actually. It’s either going to be a prime mover that helps you or this huge anchor that that holds you back. Now, as far as Nick’s relationship with Stephanie, part of it was character development. To have him, you know, he’s very indecisive at the beginning. You know, he’s very unsure of himself, and this plays back to my wanting the inner scorecard part–him growing up; and starting to trust himself; and trust his feelings. Part of that is his, his relationship with Stephanie. The other part of it is that, when I was writing the book, I went looking for inspiration on how to write stories. I actually read several books on screenplay writing. In every single screenplay, there’s going to be some kind of a love interest, right? Like that’s just something that has to happen. There’s like a B story of the love interest, and it has to tie in at the end. The A and the B story have to come together. And it has to be obvious than looking backwards. I had to have some kind of a B story love interest if I wanted this to be an actual, like, read like a good story. With all of those constraints set up then, you know, we had to have a Stephanie. I had to give Nick someone to, to grow with and, and learn from, and, you know, grow up a little bit, and come of age, really.

Sean Murray 21:27
Yeah, it’s a great lesson. I’ve been married 17 years now. And it was absolutely the best decision I made. I remember reading a–Peter Lynch wrote, I think it was one up on Wall Street, but he had a line in there where he said, “You know, I went to business school; I didn’t learn much, but I met my wife…”

Jacob Taylor 21:45

Sean Murray 21:45
“…And that made the return on investment in business school absolutely worth it.” I can say the same thing. I met my wife because of business schools during an internship between the first and second year. And I always remember that Peter had said that. But the thing about the marriage decision that I find kind of fascinating, and it comes out a little bit in your novel, which is, you know, in decision making we get better, when we make more decisions. Like investment; in investing when you, when you read about Buffett and how he became such a great investor, a lot of it was he started young. He took his own capital; he made these investment decisions. Many of them were–did not have the outcome he expected. So he learned from that, and it was a feedback loop. And over time, he ran up businesses, and he invested them. And the fact that he was an investor and an operator also was a virtuous cycle, and he got smarter. Marriage is the kind of decision where we don’t get a hundred cycles at making that decision, right? It’s a big, big one. I thought that might come out because Stephanie’s studying decision making, which I thought was an excellent move as the author that you threw that in there; that you could kind of have another character in there talking about decision making. But this is a big decision, we don’t have a lot of chances to practice.

Jacob Taylor 22:57
Yeah, that’s true. I mean, the end is very small on that. And when that happens, you’re–you don’t have a lot of feedback loops, necessarily. If you don’t have feedback loops, it’s very difficult to trust your intuition. You know, I think marriage is such an intuition-based phenomena like–it probably should be, too. Like the idea of being like a, a cold, Vulcan, logical, no-room-for-emotion type of approach to marriage is…it’d be interesting to see the wife that you get or husband if you’re approaching it in that type of frame of mind. It’s one of the most important decisions, but it’s also very difficult because we don’t have a lot of potential for a high end. Part of the other problem, too, is, you know, being social animals, we look to other relationships. We look to other people and how they interact to try to form some idea of what’s normal, and then apply that to our own relationships. And, you know, one of the dangers of that–you don’t see how people interact, when there’s no one around. And you don’t see how they behave, when it’s just the two of them or, or their small family. You only see them in public, when they’re putting their best foot forward. Maybe even worse, you only see them in social media, where there’s this comparative thing, and they’re putting out a very finely textured version of themselves. Of course, your relationship is going to look like it’s lacking, when you’re only looking at honeymoon photos of people. And that’s the only thing that they’re putting out, right? Nothing’s going to feel as good as what they’re showing you. You know, that kind of goes back to your inner scorecard thing of you have to look and be happy kind of on your own with your own setup; with your own choices; and not look for that external validation, especially in this place, where you’re not going to have enough in to develop any kind of intuition.

Sean Murray 24:33
The theme of marriage kind of comes full circle, when we find out, spoiler alert, that Mr. X, his marriage was not as successful as maybe he would have wanted. What he says about that is he had a gift for capital allocation. He was extremely driven to be successful in business, and he wanted to focus, and put a lot of time and effort into that gift. It did deliver a lot of value to society, but it came at a personal cost. And that personal cost showed up in his marriage at some point. You know, that’s just reality. There’s some trade offs. And I saw a reflection in Buffett’s life, where at one point, his wife picked up and moved to San Francisco, Suzy Buffett. And he had to deal with that. And it’s probably the result of his focus, and his drive, and his energy.

Jacob Taylor 25:19
Yeah, that’s right. And I, I wanted people to recognize some of the sacrifices that are made by business people, who Mr. X makes a conscious decision that he can help humanity more by being a good businessman than he could by sacrificing business for the sake of family. And granted, that’s also part of the inner scorecard. For his inner scorecard, what he felt like was the right thing to do. Maybe for someone else, family is more of a priority than business.

Sean Murray 25:47
Well, there’s a number of little tidbits of life advice that come out during the novel that I wanted to just kind of tick through and maybe get your thoughts on. One is reading books and how important that can be.

Jacob Taylor 25:57
Yeah, that one’s an obvious one. Can’t be much of a Buffett fan or a Munger fan or host an author interview series if I didn’t read a lot of books. It’s one of the biggest hacks that’s available because really, if you think about it, a book is like a one-sided conversation that you get to have with an expert, who spent oftentimes upwards of a decade distilling crazy amounts of information into a logical narrative for you. I like to think about it as that books are really like the, the equivalent of informational oil. All this sunlight that gets trapped, and put under extreme pressures, and smashed together; that same intellectual equivalent is happening through the mind of an author before they publish a book. A tweet is not much density as far as information goes, generally. Maybe an article is a little bit better. A white paper maybe a little better than that. But eventually you get to a book probably being one of the most informationly dense things that you can consume. Just like your diet, really a book is the meat and vegetables of your diet. You want to carve out your reading time to eat the most dense things that you can.

Sean Murray 27:01
You mentioned that you wanted the book to appeal to a younger audience. I think it’s something that we all struggle with. And I think the younger generation is going to struggle even more to read because we live in this world of reading Twitter feeds; reading quick blog posts. So the art of picking up a book and really getting into it; spending a couple hours doing some deep thinking seems to become more rare. Watching my kids grow up and getting them to read a book seems challenging to say the least at times. One thing that Mr. X, you know, talks about early on, in addition to reading the book is focus, right? Because he’s talking to a classroom, and he sees kids with these college students with their iPhones and with their devices, and I think even says something like, “Boy, I don’t envy you at all for having to live in this world, where there’s all these devices to take your attention.” He wasn’t even sure he could have handled it when he was younger. And I think those two things kind of go together.

Jacob Taylor 27:55
Yeah, I think that you’re right. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have some kind of a swing back; back towards closer personal relationships and less social media. Maybe more time in nature and less time staring at our phones. You know, my understanding of history is that the pendulum swings back and forth throughout time, especially when things in areas of fashion. I can’t help but wonder if some of our technology use isn’t just a current reflection of the fashion of today, and that we may have people decide at some point that they want to be a little bit less plugged in than they are today, and a little bit more thoughtful about their technology usage.

Sean Murray 28:30
I think you’re right. This technology was sort of thrown at us. We didn’t as a society or individually have a chance to really figure out the best way to utilize it to meet our goals, and we’re trying to through fits and starts figure that out. I think what we’ve learned is just completely going all-in on social media and spending too much time there. You don’t feel great about yourself. You get worked up about societal problems, and it’s just not a recipe for a happy life.

Jacob Taylor 28:58
The math on it is the staggering part. If you, if you think of yourself in our evolutionary terms, you know, ancestrially speaking, you know, you were in a tribe of probably roughly a 100 to 150 people. You saw their everyday experience up close, and they saw yours as well. You also got to see what they were good at; what they weren’t good at. And now, you know, with social media, your tribe is a billion people that you’re comparing yourself to in a very curated version of themselves; only doing you know their best things. It’s hard not to feel wanting. It’s hard not to feel like you’re coming up short. It’s hard not to feel like you’re weaker than everyone else in all kinds of different domains, when you’re comparing yourself to their very portraited version of them, and a, a billion people. In that kind of a tribe, you’re never going to be the best at anything. So to subject yourself to that and to have that be a constant reminder that you’re not better than a billion people. You know, it’s no wonder people get depressed.

Sean Murray 29:56
But one of my favorite Munger teachings and Buffett as well is the idea that you must avoid envy if you want to live a happy and flourishing life; that envy is–I think the way he described it as the–it’s the sin that really provides no real benefit either because…

Jacob Taylor 30:10

Sean Murray 30:10
Like gluttony or you get to at least eat a little bit or lust or some of these other sins. It’s like…

Jacob Taylor 30:15
Yeah, and I mean, can you think of a better or worse, I guess I should say, envy machine than, than Instagram? Or, I mean, really, is there, is there a worse way to generate more envy in your life?

Sean Murray 30:27
No, I think it’s finely tuned to push the buttons, the evolutionary buttons that you’re talking about to grab our attention and to rile us up with envy. So you have to consciously take a step back. I think that’s where the example of Buffett and Munger really–they provide a good example for someone like me in my life to aspire to. And it comes up in your novel, where Mr. X; although, he’s a billionaire, he lives a fairly simple life. He kind of cautions Nick–don’t get caught up in the trappings of wealth. Don’t get caught up in envy.

Jacob Taylor 30:59
Yeah, and you know, to tie this back into that inner scorecard, when was the last time that you asked yourself: Where do my desires come from? Why do I desire the things that I do like what’s the influence that’s creating desire? And I think I’ve heard Naval Ravikant talk before about, he has this great quote about how, “Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get something.” If you have desires that are coming in from all over the place; and you’re not being careful about where your desires come from; and where your–the inspiration for your desires come from; and picking your heroes is part of that, I think. Being thoughtful and conscious about where desire comes from, I think could play a big part in how happy you are in life.

Sean Murray 31:38
Yeah, I think that’s a great Naval Ravikant quote. I’ve seen it play out in my own life. Having heroes like Munger and Buffett; to look at these billionaires, who live a simple life. It’s a reminder that–and they just come out and say it, “The money’s not gonna provide the happiness.” It’s going to be doing what you love and doing it with excellence; and committing yourself to that; having a group of people around you that love you, and you love them, and they love you back. And that’s what really matters. And it comes through in Buffet’s writings and Munger’s writing. This is something when I talked to friends about the value of reading the Berkshire Hathaway letters or books on Munger and Buffett–that’s really not all about business; it’s not all about investing. What I take away from the bigger picture is it’s about life.

Jacob Taylor 32:24
Yeah! And I think when you first get attracted to these guys, it’s because you have illusions. Or maybe this is–I’m just speaking about myself, but you have illusions like, “Well, I’m going to be a billionaire, too, like them.” And that’s going to be so amazing. What you’ve come to realize is that the score–the bank account–is the least amount of things that you could learn from them. It’s all the other things about life that you learn from them that are, that are even more important. So if you’re, you’re paying attention, it’s not about the investing like that’s the simple, easy stuff. It’s more about a life well lived. And I think that they’re both great examples of that.

Sean Murray 32:57
Well, I think that’s a great way to end this session podcast on that note, and I just want to thank you for coming on the show, Jake. But also, is there a place where our listeners can learn more about you and this book?

Jacob Taylor 33:10
Yeah, I, I have a couple websites: is where I–my investment business information resides. I have is, is where I do the author interviews, and there’s a tab in there for The Rebel Allocator book. It’s also on Amazon. It’s kind of a good hub for that, where it’s an audio book, and also digital, and print; different ways to to consume the information if it resonates for you.

Sean Murray 33:35
Great, thank you for being on The Good Life!

Jacob Taylor 33:37
My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Sean!

Outro 33:39
Thank you for listening to TIP. To access our show notes, courses, or forums, go to This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decisions, consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


Check out our latest offer for all The Investor’s Podcast Network listeners!

TGL Promotions

We Study Markets