The Power of Compounding Small Daily Decisions

“Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba” [Little by little, the pot gets filled] – Swahili proverb The beauty of learning directly from intelligent fanatics, through their stories, is that the intelligent fanatic often provides the source of inspiration for their great ideas. Ian and I have found that these ideas often come from great leaders that came before them. Intelligent fanatics take these ideas, put their … Read More

The Genius of Jeff Bezos

Intelligent fanatics hit targets that no one else sees. Jeff Bezos was able to see differently than nearly everybody else in the early 2000’s, and continues today, largely in part to his fanatical preparation. In Jeff Bezos’ biography The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, childhood friend Joshua Weinstein recalled, “He was excruciatingly focused. Not like mad-scientist focused, but … Read More

International Harvester Company – The Rise and Fall of a Monopoly

In 1902, the five largest farm machinery companies merged, including: The McCormick, Deering and Milwaukee Harvester Cos, Piano Mfg. Co, Warder, and Bushnell & Glessner to form the International Harvester Company (IHC). JP Morgan oversaw the merger. IHC had a virtual monopoly, controlling 85% of the US farm machinery industry and was the largest manufacturer in the world. Let’s go back in time … Read More

The Full See’s Candies Story: People & Product

Buying See’s Candies was not only a good investment for us, it was a positive learning experience. We discovered that we had purchased a company that held itself to a high standard of business ethics – product quality, service integrity, and the right sort of relationships with employees and supplier. See’s Candies became our model for investment in other quality … Read More

Lillian Vernon: Unpacking the Lessons From a Mail-Order Queen

Sometimes its better to get out of an industry. In Brilliant Pivot & Patience I wrote about Edwin Wegman’s pivot from novelty mail order business to a bio-pharmaceutical success. On the flip side, Lillian Vernon built a mail order business from scratch and doubled down on her niche, monogrammed goods, and expanded into other hard to get trinkets. She’d focus on … Read More

It’s More Than Buy, Squeeze & Repeat With 3G Capital

Today, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB-InBev Ticker: BUD) is the world’s largest brewer with nearly 30% market share. It all started back in 1989 when the 3G partners took control of Brahma, Brazil’s number two brewer. More people are starting to talk about 3G Capital and their owned companies. Unfortunately, the press misses a few important parts of their system. There is … Read More

Brilliant Pivot & Patience: Mail Order To $400 Million Biopharma Co.

Mail order through catalogs is a method of consumption of a bygone era. Today, the concept has transitioned to the internet. The days of paper catalogs filled with pictures are gone and the experience, along with selection, has vastly improved. Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs have been replaced by Amazon, Shopify, Flipkart and others. You can receive a shipment quicker … Read More

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ): Bruce Cozadd’s $7 Billion Decision

On April 2nd, 2009, Bruce Cozadd stepped in as CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ), a company he co-founded in 2003. He had a big decision to make. The company was a $0.53 per share, $15 million market cap microcap company, with negative equity, $120 million in long-term debt, $15 million in cash, with no ability to raise capital. He could … Read More

Billion Dollars To Bust: Health & Tennis Corp. Of America

Have you watched Shark Tank recently? An 83 year-old, who looked 50, along with a younger partner were pitching a new glove for snowboarding. That wasn’t the most interesting part. The older fellow, named Donahue “Don” Wildman, said he built and sold a multi-billion dollar revenue business. He did. That company was Health & Tennis Corporation of America. Don and … Read More

The Birth & Death Of A Consumer Franchise: Waldbaum’s

Readers who grew up in the boroughs of New York City or in some areas of New England, prior to the mid 1980s, might be somewhat familiar with our next case. Waldbaum’s was a supermarket chain that started from humble beginnings and grew to dominate their markets. The story behind the company is extremely interesting for numerous reasons. Namely, the founder … Read More