What I learned in London

What I learned in London

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I’m on my way to New York City for the launch of my friend Jared Dillian’s new book, No Worries.

Buy it here (I already did).

I also have about a dozen meetings set up. I’ll keep it casual today and answer some reader questions.

First, listen to this…

On my quick trip to London last week, my friend who runs a hedge fund told me about an Indian company he had invested in. It builds and owns “depots” in rural India, where people can get Amazon (AMZN) parcels delivered, take out cash, and buy groceries.

His fund made a lot of money on the stock and was considering doubling down. So he decided it was time to fly to India and check out the operation.

The management team chauffeured David around, giving him a tour of several depots.

Everything looked great. But David noticed executives were being a little too nice. Something was off.

The next day, he hired a car independently and drove three hours outside Delhi to check out the company’s other depots. They didn’t exist!

Turns out, it was a total fraud.

He sped back to his hotel room, called his traders, and urged them to dump the stock. About two months later, the company was exposed and its stock collapsed 99%.

Sometimes, there’s no substitute for boots-on-the-ground research.

Now, some questions…

Q: You’ve said that traditional college is being disrupted. I hear you about AI opening up new opportunities, but I’m old-school. It’s been engrained in me to send my kids to college or else they’re failures, so what other options are there today?  

For most of the past century, going to college was a no-brainer decision.

No longer.

The days of college grads walking straight into good-paying jobs are over.

Check out this Wall Street Journal chart. Even MBA grads from top schools are struggling to find jobs. Degrees aren’t what they used to be:

Source: The Wall Street Journal

If your kid wants to go to college to learn real skills—like computer science or aerospace engineering—go for it.

But if they want to study theology or basket weaving, think long and hard. You’ll spend at least $100,000 on a worthless degree… and they’ll probably come back lecturing you on how real communism has never been tried.

Here are two better options:

#1: Choose a quality school that hasn’t been corrupted. Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir Technologies (PLTR), started the new freedom-of-speech-focused University of Austin. UATX is taking applications for its first undergrad class for autumn 2024. I’m hoping to get down to Austin this year to see it for myself.

#2: Choose a skilled trade. Society spent the past 30 years looking down on people who worked with their hands (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.). Now, there’s a shortage of skilled workers.

A recent Wall Street Journal headline reads: “America Is Trying to Electrify. There Aren’t Enough Electricians.” Anecdotally, every tradesman I talk with is raking it in right now. Even UPS drivers can earn an average of $170,000 in annual pay and benefits.

Q: Stephen, you mentioned a few months ago you had gotten new braces. I would love to know what product you use, what your experience is, and if the price tag was substantially lower (I was quoted $6,500 for Invisalign). Thanks in advance.

My dentist orders aligners from a German company called K Line. He told me they’re more precise and about half the price of Invisalign.

The cost depends on how long your treatment takes. My treatment lasts 20 weeks and costs roughly $1,500. Worth it.

Zero pain, zero hassle, and zero appointments. I simply change my retainer every two weeks, and in less than half a year, I’ll have straight teeth. I can’t recommend clear aligners highly enough.

Q: Your article enlightened me to spend less time on my phone, even if it is hard for me as a 14-year-old. I think you’re not blowing this problem out of proportion. I have friends who average five hours on their phones per day. I found your article inspiring, and I will do my best to stay off my phone as much as possible. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for the kind message, Hugo. You must be one of our youngest readers.

It’s clear spending too much time on our phones makes us more anxious, less social, and dumber. Here are five simple ways to kick your addiction.

I’m sure you’ve heard older folks say things like, “The kids these days are so lazy, entitled, and self-obsessed.” There’s some truth to it. But keep in mind, every generation expresses contempt for their juniors.

“[Young people]... think they know everything, and are always quite sure about it.”—Aristotle, 2,400 years ago.

I actually think many (not all) “Gen Zers” like you are wise beyond their years and are a great source of optimism.

Many in your generation have stared smartphone addition in the face and said, “No thanks.” Take this recent Wall Street Journal article, “Gen Zers Are Snapping Up Flip Phones:”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Buying phones that only call and text is a great idea for parents who want to be able to reach their kids, but don’t want their brains melted by Instagram.

My contrarian bet for the next decade: long Gen Z.

Stephen McBride
Chief Analyst, RiskHedge

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