Essays

Long format articles such as essays or longer opinion pieces.

  • In my book The Value Dividend Strategy, which was published at the end of November 2002, I provided readers with two portfolios that at the time met the criteria of Value Dividend stocks. This article analyzes the performance of these portfolios after one year.

    Background

    On October 21, 2022, I screened the U.S. stock market against the criteria of The Value Dividend Strategy. As a result, I created two portfolios: one focused on value stocks that paid significantly high dividends, and one focused on value stocks that paid no dividends at all.

    In this performance review, we will evaluate the one-year performance of the two portfolios I created as of October 2022. Due to the publication date of my book, this performance review looks at the 1-year performance from October 21, 2022 through October 20, 2023. In the future, I will track and publish performance updates on an annual basis from January 1 through December 31. Therefore, as a subscriber, you can expect updated Value & Dividend portfolios on January 1st, 2024.

    At the time of creation, all stocks in the Value & Dividend portfolios had a low price-to-earnings ratio, high or no dividend payments, an Altman Z-score of >2.99, a Piotroski F-score of >6, and an equity-to-asset ratio of <0.5.

    Incidentally, in my book I emphasized that the value dividend strategy is particularly effective and yields the best returns when implemented toward the end of a recession. Keep in mind that this was not the case on October 21, 2022.

    The Dividend Portfolio

    The high dividend Value Dividend Strategy portfolio consisted of 14 stocks.

    The 1-year performance since inception of the portfolio is 17.31% excluding dividends paid.

    The average dividend yield of this portfolio at inception was 4.2%.

    The average performance was 17% with a standard deviation of 21%.

    The average dividend yield was approximately 4.19% with a standard deviation of 1.84%. This indicates a wide range of dividend yields among the companies, with a maximum yield of 8.98%.

    Hypothetically, if we’d only invested in the five best performing stocks, we could have returned 38% on undervalued value stocks.

    The question I’ll be answering in this publication through selected deep dives is how we can identify these winners early. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing.

    The Non-Dividend Portfolio

    The non-dividend paying Value Dividend portfolio consisted of 21 stocks.

    The total 1-year performance since the portfolio’s inception is 15.04%.

    The Value Dividend portfolio, which pays no dividends, had an average performance of 15% with a standard deviation of 36%. This standard deviation is quite high as some stocks performed exceptionally well (100.70%) while others had large losses (-60.06%).

    Hypothetically, investing in the 5 best performing stocks would have resulted in a 64% gain – on low P/B value stocks!

    With non-dividend paying value stocks, the challenge is to weed out the bad performers while focusing on the high performers. That is what I will be focusing on in this newsletter. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing.

    Distributions

    The Dividend Portfolio shows a more or less normally distributed performance curve, with most stocks clustered around moderate returns. This distribution suggests a relatively stable and less volatile investment landscape where gains are modest but more consistent.

    On the other hand, the non-dividend portfolio has an intriguingly skewed performance distribution, with returns spread over a wider range, including some significant outliers. This implies a higher risk/reward profile, with both significant upside potential and downside risk.

    Interestingly, the data shows that this higher volatility is positively correlated with lower price-to-book ratios, suggesting that undervaluation may be a catalyst for these extreme performances.

    Outpacing the Indices

    Let’s put those performances into perspective. Over the same period, the S&P 500 gained a respectable 10.75% and the Vanguard Value Index Fund ETF (VTV) lagged with a modest gain of 1.44%.

    In stark contrast, both Value Dividend Strategy portfolios delivered returns that significantly outperformed these benchmarks.

    1. The Dividend Portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 by 61% and the VTV Index by 1.100%.
    2. The non-dividend portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 by 40% and the VTV Index by 942%.

    This serves as a powerful assertion that the Value Dividend Strategy may be more than just a theoretical construct – it may be a roadmap for achieving superior returns with undervalued stocks.

    As a result, I will be constructing Value Dividend Strategy portfolios on January 1 of each year, including an annual performance review. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing.


    If you want to learn more on how I discovered this strategy and how the portfolios were created, you can read my book online or order a copy from amazon.com.


    Legal Disclaimer

    The content provided in this newsletter is for informational purposes only. The information, analysis, and opinions expressed herein are solely those of Marius Schober and do not represent, reflect or express the views of any other person or entity.

    This newsletter does not constitute investment advice, financial advice, trading advice, or any other sort of advice, and you should not treat any of the newsletter’s content as such. Marius Schober does not recommend that any securities, transactions, or investment strategies mentioned in this newsletter are suitable for any specific person.

    The information provided in this newsletter is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but Marius Schober does not guarantee its completeness or accuracy, or warrant its completeness or accuracy. Readers are urged to consult with their own independent financial advisors with respect to any investment.

    All information and content in this newsletter are subject to change without notice. Prices, quotes, and other financial information may be out of date or inaccurate. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of all amounts invested.

    Marius Schober does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which is incurred from you acting or not acting as a result of reading any of our publications. You acknowledge that you use the information we provide at your own risk.

    By subscribing to this newsletter, you acknowledge and agree to the terms of this disclaimer.

  • When we talk about business plans, we talk about very specific plans on how to start and run a business. However, before we write a business plan, shouldn’t we define for ourselves what we want to work on in life?

    I extensively thought about what I want to work on in life – in parts quite philosophically. I did not develop my plan on what to work on in one evening. It is more the result of my merged interests, projects I worked on, books I read, and people I met. Something which evolved over many years.

    Over the past weeks, I tried to distill this clutter and write what you might call “My Plan for Work“. By reading it, you’ll get a great understanding why I work on what I work on. Hopefully, it will also help and inspire you to design your own “Plan for Work” as well.

    Because work is a crucial part of life, I started with the meaning and significance of life itself – before we can talk about work.

    The Significance of Life

    Work is an inextricable part of life. There is no work-life-balance. There is only life. Work is a crucial part of it. First, before we get to the subject of work, what is life all about?

    In 7.5 billion years, the thermonuclear fuel of the sun, hydrogen, will be depleted. The sun will turn into a “red giant” star which will vaporize the planet Earth we inhibit today.

    It is a beautiful reminder that – in the cosmos of time – nothing we do or could ever achieve has any significance.

    But we don’t have to go that far into the future to realize our total insignificance.

    Off the cuff, can you name one significantly successful person of the 18th century? I can not. Less than 300 years have passed, and we cannot remember a single successful person of that time – unless we studied history.

    For me, it is clear, nobody will remember my name 500 years from today. I don’t strive for it. And I believe if you strive for it, it’s megalomaniac. What is the point of wanting people, who you’ll never get to know, to know your name anyway?

    All status and ego games are sheer waste of human potential and a degradation of the soul.

    Because nothing I could ever achieve will be of any significance in the cosmos of time, the question of how I want to live my life – thus what I want to work on – becomes a spiritual and philosophical question.

    Luckily, the question of what it means to live life is already answered within the question itself: life is supposed to be lived.

    I don’t want to merely survive until I die. I want to feel alive. I want to truly live every single moment of your life.

    How do I feel alive and truly live? By taking risks.

    I cannot live my life to its fullest by opting for the easy, safe, and comfortable options. Only by stretching beyond my comfort zone do I truly feel alive. When I face a choice, I always try to choose the riskier more difficult option – even though the easy option might be the right choice. Why? Only by picking the riskier option do I feel the adrenaline pumping through my body and oxytocin being released. I truly live life by taking risks and stretching my comfort zone.

    But is life solely about living and expressing our beauty and creativity on earth?

    No. I believe to purely live life is not enough. We have to fulfill our potential. Somehow, all of us were gifted with a surprisingly high intelligence, high creativity, and high curiosity. If god only wanted us to live life, why would he have given us such a high intelligence, creativity, and curiosity? But having these qualities enables us to question everything, to solve problems we see and to invent solutions. I believe that we were born on this planet to fulfill our full potential. Not to merely survive. But to become the absolute best version of ourselves.

    Becoming the best version of oneself also mean’s I have to nourish and develop my soul and expand my consciousness. How do you develop your soul? By living rightfully.

    At the core of all major religions – whether it is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, or Hinduism – you can find guidelines on how to live rightfully.

    You might summarize the core teachings from all major religions into these 10 rules which I try to abide and live by:

    1. Love and respect God, the universe, and all living beings.
    2. Treat others as you would like to be treated, with compassion and kindness.
    3. Practice self-discipline, self-control and strive for mastery.
    4. Seek inner peace and live in harmony with the world around you.
    5. Follow a moral and ethical code, including not lying, stealing, or harming others.
    6. Be humble and avoid pride and arrogance.
    7. Be honest and truthful in all your actions and dealings with others.
    8. Show gratitude for the blessings in your life.
    9. Be generous and give to those in need.
    10. Seek spiritual enlightenment and strive to live a life of purpose and meaning.

    No matter which religion you follow, I believe religions should still play an important role in our society. Not because of the literal teachings but particularly because of the ethical guidelines they offer.

    I always try to abide and live by these ethical guidelines. They allow me to live a principled and spiritual life full of risk and adventures.

    As I’ve already mentioned, work is an inextricable part of life. This means all these principles also apply equally to what I work on. I don’t look at work and life as two separate things.

    Business as a Playing Field

    Work and thus business is not only about earning a living. It is what makes the world work. Everything around me – the house I’m living in, the MacBook on which I’m typing this text, the chair I’m sitting on and the Sencha tea I’m drinking – was created by an entrepreneur who took the risk and created something of value for society.

    For me, business is like a giant playing field with dozens of industries, hundreds of sectors, and thousands of niches in which you can create value for society.

    Within this gigantic playing field, I can choose the character with which I’d like to play the game of business.

    For example, I can be an inventor, an entrepreneur, a scientist, a manager, a specialist, or an investor. I strive to be all of them – at the same time.

    And because the playing field of business is so gigantic, I can also choose the location: where I want to work.

    Next, I can also choose the people with which I want to work and do business with – ranging from partners to investors and employees.

    Exactly because we as humans are so insignificant, I see work – and thereby business – as a game I am supposed to play in order to achieve self-mastery, to prove my character, to develop my soul, and ultimately fulfill my potential.

    Mimesis in Business

    The playing field of business is gigantic. The options seem unlimited. The most important task for myself is to define exactly the character with which I want to enter this playing field of business. If we don’t carefully define the playing character ourselves, we will end up imitating what others are doing.

    This is explained beautifully in the mimetic theory of René Girard. It is a theory of social psychology that suggests that people imitate the desires and behaviors of others, rather than following their own individual desires and values. In the context of business, this means that entrepreneurs are influenced by the desires and behaviors of others when deciding what business they’d like to start.

    For example, an entrepreneur may observe that a particular industry or type of business is currently popular or successful, and may decide to start a similar business in order to imitate that success. This can lead to a proliferation of businesses that are very similar to one another, as each entrepreneur is imitating the desires and behaviors of others rather than pursuing their own unique ideas and values.

    Imagine a playing field where a small part is crowded with people, while all other parts of the playing field are sparsely populated.

    The problem is that independently considering our own passions and interests is not as easy. According to René Girard, mimesis is an innate and universal human tendency that arises from our need to form relationships and social bonds, making it impossible to completely escape. Therefore, the best way to minimize mimesis seems to lie in our choice of role models. To do so, I have consciously selected those who embody the values and qualities I admire, rather than simply imitating those who are most successful or popular.

    Three of my biggest role models are Alfred Herrhausen, Peter Thiel, and Charlie Munger.

    Alfred Herrhausen was a prominent German banker and former chairman of Deutsche Bank who played a key role in shaping the country’s economic and political landscape during the late 20th century. His worldview centered around the importance of business as a force for positive change in society. He was committed to building bridges between the worlds of finance, politics, and culture to create a more sustainable and equitable future. Unfortunately he was murdered in a car bombing before I was born, but his biographies and essays inspire me who I want to become.

    Peter Thiel is an American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author, known for co-founding PayPal, investing in numerous successful startups, and his controversial views on various social and political issues. His worldview is characterized by his belief in the transformative power of technology, his embrace of contrarian and libertarian ideals, and his vision of the future as a space of boundless innovation and progress. His courage to stand up for contrarian standpoints and his relentless aim for real progress strongly define how I think about business and innovation.

    Charlie Munger is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist, best known as the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and a close partner of Warren Buffett. His worldview is marked by his belief in the value of rational thinking and lifelong learning, by his focus on seeking out high-quality businesses with long-term potential, and his commitment to ethical behavior and personal responsibility. His rational approach to life and business helps me as a compass in my life and business.

    Freeing Myself from Mimesis

    Back to mimesis and our playing field of business. As I started to grasp the ramifications of mimesis, I sat down to define in which area of the gigantic playing field of business I don’t want to play in.

    The answers surprised me. I did not want to start another startup. Neither did I want to become just another value investor who is allocating capital to undervalued businesses. Just as getting involved in finance – such as corporate finance and private equity – was turning me off. Even though I am naturally interested in writing or creating media, I had no interest in creating just another media company.

    Having defined what I don’t want made it easier to define in which area of the gigantic playing field of business I want to play in.

    As I reflected on my authentic self while considering the opportunities I saw at hand, slowly, things got clear, and I created a vision which I am very excited about.

    My vision is to blend these seemingly contrarian philosophies of the exciting high-growth, high-risk, short-term startup-venture-capital world and the conservative high-cashflow, low-risk, long-term value-investment world.

    Not in any industry, but particularly in health.

    One thing I don’t want to build is a conglomerate of dozens of great businesses which are part of all kinds of different industries. Instead, I want to build a streamlined business focussed on a few selected future-proof niches within the health industry. Quasi a conglomerate within the health industry.

    Why health? Ever since I can remember, I’m fiercely interested in health and longevity. In essence: How to be as healthy as possible to live as long as possible. This is why I dedicated my life to it and formulated my massively transformative purpose: “Inspire and guide humanity to reach our full potential and live a fulfilled and naturally healthy and long life.

    Combining these contrarian business philosophies in an area I’m extremely passionate about – health and longevity – gives me a purpose to wake up each morning with excitement. In the long term it will also be my edge over anyone who competes with me.

    Creating a Plan

    As I started to think about ways to combine these disciplines, I also looked at the overall big picture. Trends which will inevitably impact and transform our society.

    The first thing I realized was it was not blockchain or artificial intelligence which is about to impact our society drastically in the near future. Rather it is the demographic change. We are entering a Silver Economy, an economy shaped by the demographic transition, in which – among others – business owners have to find a successor, or they must shut down their business. Hence, thousands of well-conducted and vital businesses will be for sale over the coming 15 to 20 years. These are businesses which are providing real value to our society today. Some of them might be described as boring and unsexy businesses – especially when compared to startups – such as home health, handicraft businesses, laboratories, or snow removal. These businesses are crucial for a functioning society. Artificial intelligence cannot yet care for your grandmother, draw blood, repair your sink, or clear the snow from our highways. Each boring business provides crucial products and services just as dozens of jobs which in turn support dozens of families.

    For me, it became clear that I wanted to use this opportunity to apply and combine principles from both worlds – the value investment and startup world – to create a unique business.

    First Buying

    My decision was clear that, instead of founding a startup with a high failure rate, I will start by acquiring great businesses at a fair price. Businesses with a solid track record of consistent earnings growth, strong cash flows, and a clear path to continued growth.

    My overall idea is to find three or four businesses in three or four niches within the health care or health technology industry. As soon we find and acquire a great business in a certain niche, we will follow up with multiple further acquisitions within the same niche. Not with the goal to create the largest but rather the best run and most profitable group within that niche. A long-term approach with a strong focus on sustainability rather than aggressive growth.

    I don’t build a business with the intention to sell it. I rather invest my time and energy into building a business I can be proud of, a business which creates value for society, a business I can still joyously be the chairman of when I’m 99 years old.

    To build such a long-term oriented business, I defined a strict – quite conservative –investment hypothesis:

    1. Small, Excellent Businesses at Fair Prices
    We buy excellent businesses at fair prices – which are too small for traditional private equity firms but often too large for employee buyouts – which excel in quality, management, and potential.

    2. Healthy and Sustainable Growth
    We put quality over quantity by focussing on a smaller portfolio of excellent and industry-leading businesses and by avoiding aggressive growth by acquiring mediocre businesses.

    Then Innovating

    By following these principles of acquiring excellent, small businesses at fair prices and by emphasizing health and sustainable growth, we will build up a healthy basis of equity and cashflow. Thus, we not only create a very healthy business, we also create a foundation from which we can develop technology and new business models to disrupt markets we are participating in. By combining stability with innovation, we create unique competitive advantages which will allow us to evolve into a monopoly within our niches.

    Traditionally, one starts with an innovative bold business idea. Instead of starting with the bold idea, we stay open-minded to great businesses and opportunities in a wider range of promising, future-proof, and fragmented niches within the health and longevity industry. The market will then guide us towards three to four specific niches within the health industry through the businesses we find and acquire.

    As we find and acquire the first business, we stick to this niche by seeking further great businesses to acquire within that specific niche to build a very profitable portfolio of companies within that niche.

    The plan is to repeat this process in three to four different niches of the health industry resulting in a health conglomerate with three to four portfolios of extraordinary high quality businesses.

    As soon we established a foundation within one niche, we will not only optimize these through digitalization, marketing, sales, and branding – but also develop new innovative business models and technology which will create unique competitive advantages and lift these businesses out of their competitive landscape into a new blue ocean.

    If you know me, you’ll know that I’m nothing but short of ideas. Give me a problem or show me a business, and I’ll give you dozens of quality ideas on how you can solve it and improve it. Every day I come up with at least a dozen of ideas of how I can solve a problem, improve an existing business, or innovate. Innovation is in my blood.

    By changing the order – from finding a great business first before turning on my idea engine gives me mental freedom. Instead of starting with dozens of innovative and revolutionizing ideas, I first focus on one thing: finding great businesses. Innovation comes second – with the aim is to infuse innovation into great but seemingly boring businesses to grow them and fulfill their full potential.

    I’m absolutely certain that ultimately, by focussing on the long-term, I can build a unique business over the next decades, the likes of Berkshire Hathaway. And by doing so, I can attain self-mastery, build my character, fulfill my potential, and most importantly live a principled and exciting life.

    What It Is All About In The End

    Again, in the end, nothing I can ever accomplish will be of any meaning within the endless vastness of the universe. Nothing. This makes it all the more important that I focus my energy on living rightfully and developing my own soul and consciousness.

    We spend approximately one third of our day working. Work is such a crucial part of who we are. Therefore, to fulfill my own potential, I have to strive for mastery in what I work on.

    I believe that only by constantly striving for self-mastery and by applying and developing our creativity and intelligence can create progress and by doing so ultimately fulfill our potential on earth.

  • Ever since, I’m well known for being the curious guy who is always asking the challenging and often uncomfortable questions. Questions about life, philosophy, religion, science, health, politics, or business. It may be to optimize my life, to innovate, to think outside the box, or to call bullshit and detect and fight corruption. Ultimately, I ask questions to find the truth.

    I believe, this is something everyone should do. We all should question everything around us. Because the only solution to all of the surrounding misery is ultimately the truth. And we can only get to the truth by asking the challenging and tough questions – about everything.

    Children Intuitively Question

    Children intuitively question everything they observe. As they explore and try to make sense of their environment, they ask countless questions. Before we can explain why the grass is green, they dive into the science and philosophy of life, space, and time.

    With the example of children, we can see that by questioning – you explore complex ideas. But not only that. You also uncover their implicit assumptions, you expose deeply held beliefs, and you recognize hidden contradictions.

    As we can observe in our children, curiosity, and questioning are part of our natural intelligence. Why is it so difficult for us adults to maintain this innate curiosity to question everything around us?

    Our education system is a major reason why most people lose their childhood curiosity and their innate skepticism. As soon we are six years old, we enter an education system which is entirely based on dogma. In school and later in university, we are forced to memorize facts. Nobody teaches us to question these facts and discover everything around us. In fact, challenging the facts gets punished – not rewarded. And because we only memorize and never question what we are being lectured, we never really engage with this knowledge, and thus we can never build upon it.

    Instead of lecturing, we should focus on questioning – again.

    Questioning from an Historical Perspective

    The Buddha encouraged questioning. It is seen as a fundamental skill which is still embraced in the practices of modern Buddhists today. Tibetan Buddhist monks often have a daily practice of “debate” where one monk continually questions the other monk for an entire hour. The purpose of this practice was to train logic, mental concentration and intense exchange.

    Socrates was well known as the questioner of everything. He also used questioning as a teaching method to explore the unknown and evaluate the validity of an argument. To do so, he asked questions after questions until his students arrived at their own understanding. He rarely revealed or lectured opinions or knowledge on his own, rather, he taught his students to dissect their thoughts and ideas by questioning everything. Even his death embodied the spirit of questioning every assumption, as he was condemned for death penalty because of his teachings.

    Quite similar is Chavrusa, a traditional Jewish learning method. Chavrusa challenges a small group of students to analyze and explain the learning material to each other, point out errors in their partners’ reasoning, and sharpen each other’s ideas by questioning them. By doing so, they often arrive at entirely new insights into the meaning of a text they are studying.

    The Chavrusa is beautifully showing how questioning takes the familiar and makes it mysterious again. There is no teacher lecturing the meaning. There is nothing to memorize. It removes the comfort of “knowing”. Instead of memorizing, you explore complex ideas on your own. You uncover their implicit assumptions, you expose deeply held beliefs, you recognize hidden contradictions. You develop your own sense, think more clearly and change the way you see and perceive reality.

    Philosophy and Science as Oneness

    Our current education and university system is not only focussing on lecturing facts, they are also trying to categorize everything into small categories and subjects. Scientists and educators then look at these tiny subjects only independently of each other – and ultimately miss what’s really going on.

    This narrow-minded thinking leads to very abstract science and philosophies. We focus purely on terminology and thereby divide the world into logic and creativity. By separating logic and creativity, we ultimately miss the existential truth encompassing all of it.

    For example, let’s assume you understand everything about the brain: neurochemistry, neurobiology and so forth. Does it mean you understand consciousness? No. Looking at a separate subject alone is not sufficient. To really understand our world, we need to look at the whole.

    Separating logic and creativity is therefore nonsense. The word creativity itself comes from create. It is not only art and philosophy which you create. You also create plans, you create logical rules, you create science, and you create inventions. Science and philosophy are one – but we separated it into tiny little subjects which we only look at separately. But this is wrong and has not always been the case.

    Philosophy and science were once very closely connected and inseparably intertwined. Both: logical argument and creative thinking were renowned ways to explore and explain the natural world. There weren’t many “facts” that were known for certain. The idea of using experiments and data to understand the world only started to become popular in the middle of the second millennium. Since then, science and philosophy have grown apart – both – in subjects and methodologies.

    Today, you’ll rarely see scientists and philosophers exchanging ideas. But it is precisely what we need. We need philosophers questioning scientists and scientists questioning philosophers. Even more, what we need are people who integrate all the aspects of art, science, philosophy, and practical creation into one unified art of science.

    Because science, philosophy, art, and spirituality are all one, you always have to be open-minded. You should never categorize yourself into one category, for example: “I’m a scientist” or “I’m an artist”. Instead, you have to be everything. You are an artist, a scientist, a philosopher, and you are spiritual. All at the same – because otherwise you will miss the wholeness as you only look at the world from a very limited perspective.

    As soon we can grasp the wholeness of everything again, innovation, re-thinking, or going from Zero-to-One will become natural states of our inner-being again – not some innovation workshops we have to attend.

    To innovate and discover new things, we first have to forget all the beliefs which we have of ourselves, like: ”I’m a logical person, I’m not creative”. This is bullshit.

    Do everything – to discover everything: Art and science are one.

    If you describe yourself today as a logical person, you might want to learn an art or craft, such as making music or painting. By being creative, you’ll learn that there is more than the logical mind.

    If you describe yourself today as a very creative person, you might want to learn mathematics and physics. By doing so, you’ll learn about the significance of logic.

    Question Everything!

    To make new discoveries and inventions, we finally have to start thinking for ourselves again. Many people believe they are thinking for themselves, which is gigantic bullshit. From the very first second of our lives, we have been conditioned with dogma and the desires of other people. People are naturally mimicking other people and other people’s desires.

    Before we can make new discoveries, we have to first free ourselves from all the indoctrinated dogma we received. We have to free ourselves from all the limiting beliefs we have of ourselves. In other words: before we can discover new truths, we must start to think critically.

    We have to have skepticism. We have to doubt our own experiences, our own standards, our own concepts. By questioning our own prejudices, beliefs, and conclusions, our mind becomes clearer and more active. We free our mind from conventional wisdom, from dogma, which helps us to discover what we want in life. It prevents us from doing the same which has already been done before. It prevents us from repeating mistakes and problems. It leads us to discover great new things – for our lives and the lives of others.

    Discovery doesn’t mean that we have to endlessly sit and do research. For some people, yes. But for other people, discovery can also mean a practical mission to materialize things you envision.

    This discovery process is a journey of life. In this journey, you need to be humble. Ultimately, it is about arriving at the truth. Still, we all have egos. Pay attention to it. People always want to be right. But trying to have the better argument prevents us from discovering truths.

    Again: Question everything!

    We are often afraid to ask the most challenging questions because when we challenge the core of our beliefs, we will have to admit to ourselves: “I know nothing and I have to start all over again.”

    Questioning everything and being honest about it will hurt. It is worth it.

    Ultimately, by questioning everything we see, read, know, and believe, we will enter a new age of great discoveries and thereby an abundance of prosperity and – most importantly – a lot of joy.

  • Over the last two years, we’ve seen a massive shift towards remote work. Employees were forced to work from home. Just as executives, lawyers, and civil servants. Many enjoyed and learned to love working remotely from where they want to work – not from where they have to work.

    This shift towards working remotely also affected young entrepreneurs and researchers. Suddenly, they could work from where they liked – not from where their peers, co-founders, customers, investors, or employees were located.

    This shift towards remote has been so significant that it will never return to normal – meaning pre-2020.

    People enjoy working remotely for a variety of reasons. You can summarize all of them under one term: “freedom”.

    However, making use of this newly gained freedom comes with a cost.

    The location and thus the city where one lives has an enormous impact on one’s ambition.

    Where you live has an impact on how ambitious you pursue your goals and thus whether we – as a human society – advance.

    Back in 2015, I spent just over a month in Silicon Valley. The entire neighborhood screamed at me: do more, risk more, innovate more! I lived in a shared housing with a couple of other entrepreneurs and everyone was hustling hard on their startup idea. Every night I could attend meet-ups on a variety of bold topics with people at least 10x smarter than me.

    The first time I ever set foot in Palo Alto, I stepped into a small café. After I grabbed my coffee, I sat down at a table outside, just next to the door. On the opposite side of the door, was sitting an energetic bold man. Somehow we got into a nice small talk until he was joined by a nerdy guy in his late 20s. While I leaned back to enjoy my coffee, they started to converse about a potential multi-million dollar investment into the startup of the nerd who just arrived. It turned out I was by chance talking to a big investor. As you can imagine, this encounter fueled me with a desire to achieve more. It fueled my ambition.

    Palo Alto is also home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world – Stanford University. Which is why the chance of running into one of the smartest engineers in the world or the next Mark Zuckerberg so high.

    The Silicon Valley used to be a magnet for ambitious people. People who wanted to grab power and change the world by creating technology.

    London and New York City are for finance – what the Silicon Valley and San Francisco were for technology. These two cities are the strongest magnets in the world which attract people who want to become super rich.

    When I visited London for the first time, the entire city was screaming at me: Earn more! Get rich! And dress better!

    The key point is the following: certain cities attract certain people.

    The Silicon Valley is a magnet for ambitious entrepreneurs who aim to change the world through technology.

    London and New York are magnets for people who want to get rich by any means.

    Shenzhen is attracting entrepreneurs who wish to build the great hardware of the future.

    Los Angeles is attracting all the people who want to become famous at all cost.

    Cambridge is attracting the world’s most intelligent people.

    Tenerife, where I currently live, is attracting people who seek quality of life above everything else.

    Cities are not great because of their macro factors, but because of the people they are attracting.

    The most ambitious researchers will do everything to get to Cambridge where he can be surrounded by the smartest people of the world.

    The most ambitious technology entrepreneurs will do everything they can to move to Silicon Valley or Austin – only losers will stay in Berlin or Lisbon.

    Just like strong magnets, the best of the best are all attracted to the major city of their field – principally because of the ambitious people they encounter there.

    Thanks for subscribing.

    Magnetic Fields of Cities

    After two years of remote work, many people have realized that almost everything is better remote.

    You choose where you live: a sunny town with affordable housing prices. Or in your hometown, very close to your loved family.

    Instead of a tiny city apartment, you now have a large house with a garden in which you can see your children joyously playing.

    You’re growing your fruits and vegetables in your garden and the food is more delicious than ever.

    Finally, you can work without any distraction and with it your productivity is skyrocketing.

    Everything seems perfect, but your ambition is declining. The magnetic field of the big cities is still palpable. It is whispering at you: You can be more. You can be richer. You can be smarter. Etcetera.

    Even though your quality of life is now a 10 out of 10, you deep inside feel the magnetic field of the big city. Whatever it is you want to accomplish – might it be intellectual, creative, or financial – you know that there is a place on earth where the smartest, most creative, or richest people live. And you know exactly:

    • Being in one of these cities is energizing your inner ambition.
    • Being outside these cities is soothing your inner ambition.

    From Libraries to the Internet

    We’ve finally arrived at a point where the location matters less and less. You finally can work from anywhere – if you wish to.

    I decided to do so in April 2022, when my wife and I moved to the island of Tenerife. An absolutely stunning island in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Africa and the Sahara desert. Delicious fruits, tasty vegetables, a lot of sunshine, great people.

    The quality of life is a 10 out of 10 here. I couldn’t imagine a better place to life.

    But as soon as I moved to Tenerife – I still sensed this magnetic field of the world’s most ambitious cities. I feel and know that there is a city out there, where I should rather be, in order to be all I can be.

    But it is not the city. It is the people in the city which are luring me. The melting pot of like-minded ambitious individuals working towards similar goals.

    I have the feeling that if I never go there, I might never meet the people I should meet, which may prevent me from fulfilling my full potential. And this feeling can kill you inly.

    On the other hand, I know with absolute certainty that cities are not the solution.

    Cities evolved over hundreds and thousands of years. Cities were – so far – humanities greatest invention. They allowed people to come together to work on science, arts, politics, philosophy, and religion. Our ancestors created universities, libraries, and town halls. Cities became melting pots of people. And over time, certain cities got to be known for certain specializations: knowledge, art, fashion, philosophy, business, etcetera.

    Moving to a city was the only way to meet people and gather knowledge.

    There were no computers and there was no internet then. Which means: no PDFs, no email, no Google, no e-books, no blogs, no chat rooms, no social media, etcetera.

    Today – on top of all of that – we also have the technology for free global calls. We have high definition video calls. We have virtual reality headsets. Not only that, but we have hundreds of collaboration tools. And most importantly, we have the entire knowledge of humankind accessible within seconds– not only on our computers but on our smartphones we carry around all day long.

    But despite all the technological solutions we have accessible today, the magnetic field of ambition is still centered around cities.

    If you are serious, a city is still this melting pot of people where you can blossom.

    Digital Ambition Magnets

    In cities, the infrastructure is only a small part of what makes people want to move there. The primary reason people move to cities is because of the people living there. Which is launching an endless loop.

    In cities, where smart and ambitious people come together:

    1. Science happens
    2. Ideas form
    3. Inventions are made
    4. Businesses are started
    5. Jobs are created
    6. Wealth is accumulating

    The more smart and ambitious people move to a certain city, the better the city is doing.

    Meeting and being with ambitious people has an exponential ripple effect. This exponential ripple effect – which I call the ambition magnet – is always happening when people with ambition and intellect convene. In the past, it just made sense that cities evolved into ambition magnets because these were the places where smart people met.

    Today, we are experiencing a turning point in human evolution. For the first time, we see smart and ambitious people move out of big cities. While the magnets of ambitious cities still pull in ambitious people, the internet reduced the force of these magnets. Not only that, but thanks to the internet, smart and ambitious people can now collaborate regardless of their physical location.

    Just as in the 1940s the smartest physicists and mathematics gathered in Los Alamos in New Mexico to create godlike weapons, today the smartest physicists and mathematics can come together regardless of their physical location. With the internet, the boundaries of physical location are of little importance.

    Imagine how our human species can evolve if we don’t limit science and innovation to physical locations – i.e., cities and countries.

    Imagine what can happen when many brilliant and ambitious people not only from the United States, Germany, or the United Kingdom, but also from India, Cameroon, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Russia, and China come together to work on our world’s biggest problems and our world’s unresolved mysteries.

    I am certain that if we create digital spaces, where ambition and intellect is not separated by location, we – as a human species – can evolve towards the next step.

    To achieve this, these digital spaces cannot simply be a combination of email, collaboration tools, online forums, chat and video calls.

    Instead, these digital spaces must be designed from first principles basically from scratch.

    First, digital spaces for intellect and ambition must have a magnetic field at least as strong as the world’s most ambitious cities. Currently, the magnetic field of Cambridge with Harvard and MIT is attracting the world’s smartest people to move there. A digital space must have an ambition magnet just as strong as cities like Cambridge, the Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, Shanghai, London, New York City, or Austin.

    To do so, the smartest of the smartest must be committed to this digital space.

    Digital ambition magnets must allow random accidental meetings. Just as I walked into a café in Palo Alto and all of a sudden, found myself talking to a VC investor. Or just as you randomly meet fellow students in a lecture, the cafeteria, on the campus or an event.

    It must also have some kind of entry barrier. For Cambridge, this bullshit filter consists of a ridiculously high tuition fee, a tough selection process, high housing prices, pitiful weather, and a U.S. visa if you’re from abroad.

    For digital ambition magnets, there shouldn’t be an entry barrier based on the economic situation or nationality but rather based on input. The more smart and useful contributions you make, the higher your status in this digital space becomes. The higher your status, the more exclusive and small the communities you can interact and work with.

    When creating a global digital space, it must also be clear, that the intellectual property and spin-offs are based on a rock-solid legal basis. This might be established with smart contracts secured on a blockchain.

    By creating a legal system for these digital spaces, we also turn on the magnetic field for investors. They can now join digital ambition magnets and fund these communities, digital research endeavors and digital businesses.

    Most importantly, digital ambition magnets must be created as digital spaces which are fun and exciting to use.

    No one wants to join video calls, write emails or post in forums. Digital spaces must be built upon existing technologies but by doing so, re-invent what it feels to use them.

    Imagine it as a blend of chats, forums, video-calls, voice messages, videos, photos, and VR games.

    As soon a digital ambition magnet is created, it will attract the world’s most ambitious people of a certain field. Whether it is science, entrepreneurship, or philosophy.

    This digital ambition magnet becomes a real mastermind which can attack the world’s biggest problems and mysteries.

    By making it digital first, we remove the biggest barrier of entry: location.

    Some people cannot move to a certain city because of their nationality or financial situation. Others would rather not move to a certain city because of family values and traditions. Others don’t want to move to big cities because they hate the city life.

    Nevertheless, the intelligence and creativity of these individuals who – for whatever reason – cannot or want not move to a certain city may, in fact, be the key to scientific and technological breakthroughs.

    Today, by being at the wrong location, the potential of these people is wasted. Tomorrow, with digital ambition magnets, their talent, intellect, and creativity is used productively and will be crucial to solve the world’s most important problems.

    It is not a question of IF, but a question of HOW and HOW FAST we can design and create digital ambition magnets, as they are the key to advance human evolution and consciousness.

    Thanks for subscribing.
  • Starting a business has never been easier. The internet is abundant of solid business ideas, methods, strategies, and even step-by-step instructions on how to create a profitable business. Social media is full of people who share how they build a successful business which is earning them six or seven figures. But don’t be fooled.

    (more…)
  • I am not vaccinated against COVID-19. Just five years ago, in a sane and free society, I’d have laughed at myself for feeling obliged writing publicly about such a personal health choice. Unfortunately, our society is not that free anymore. The personal decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine or not ought to be an absolutely free and voluntary choice. Is this really the case?

    Click here to listen to the audio version of this article.

    (more…)
  • We see so many problems around the globe. Experts are warning about massive inflation, we see forests burning. The ocean is full of plastic rubbish. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the world economy. The virus and the lockdown measures are costing millions of lives. What role does corruption play, and why is it our world’s most important problem? Which tools can be design to fight corruption once and for all?

    (more…)
  • On Amazon, you can find hundreds of thousands of books on relationships, marriage, and sex. Which proves that most people are striving for a successful and fulfilled long-term relationship or marriage with a life-partner. But what exactly is the major factor and the basis for a successful long-term relationship?

    (more…)
  • It is a hypothetical question: what impacts would it have if businesses were not allowed to merge with or buy other businesses – including competitors? Do you think this would rather have a positive effect on the worldwide economy and wellbeing or do you think this would have adverse effects – if so which?

    (more…)
  • Finding and reading scientific papers is a pain in the ass. I am not a researcher nor a fresh university graduate. I still love to read interesting scientific papers regularly. For me finding and accessing scientific papers was nearly impossible or unaffordable.

    (more…)