By Robert Miller | Portfolio Manager at NAOS Asset Management
Podcast Review: 10 Business and Investing Podcasts for the Holidays
At NAOS Asset Management we find podcasts a great learning tool across a wide array of topics, issues, and opinions. With so many great listens on offer, we thought we'd put together some of the most interesting business, investing and general podcast episodes that we’ve listened to throughout 2022. If you’re looking for some interesting listens over the holiday period, there should be something below for you to enjoy. Happy listening!
Link to Livewire
1. SEA CHANGE | THE MEMO BY HOWARD MARKS
The podcast version of Howard Marks’ famed investment letters, this memo titled Sea Change is his most recent from December-22. If you’ve not listened to or read any of his publicly available memos previously, it is very much worthwhile doing so.
“When I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they're the first thing I open and read. I always learn something” – Warren Buffet
Marks describes the current investment climate as being the third ‘sea change’ he’s witness during his extensive career. The first being the junk bond era and subsequent high inflation, high interest rate era. The second being the ultra-low interest rate environment that since the GFC, of which the impact of the level of interest rates we had become a custom to, cannot be overstated. The difference between 2021 and 2022 has been drastic. Whilst Marks does not profess to be a macroeconomic forecaster, he paints a picture that describes the current environment as being unlikely to ‘shift back’, rather we are in a new era of interest rates and inflation being front page news not an afterthought they were previously.
2. THE MISSING CRYPTOQUEEN | BBC SOUNDS
The Missing Cryptoqueen is a podcast series we’ve reviewed a few years ago that dives into the story of OneCoin and those behind its creation. OneCoin was a cryptocurrency launched in 2014 that was a multibillion-dollar ponzi scheme that has now collapsed. After boarding a Ryanair flight in 2017 destined for Athens, the founder and perceived brainchild of OneCoin, Dr Ruja Ignatova suddenly vanished.
The series had left listeners back in August 2020 but with the passage of time, plenty of new information has brought us further episodes of this thrilling series. Arrests have been made (as has an appearance on the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted List) but it appears there may be powerful group(s) whom would prefer the ‘cryptoqueen’ stay ‘missing’. Either re-join where the series left off or listen to every episode and hear how not only justice, but also the BBC Journalists behind this podcast, close in on OneCoin and Dr Ruja Ignatova.
3. ROLEX: TIMELESS EXCELLENCE | BUSINESS BREAKDOWNS PODCAST
Up front, it is worth establishing that Rolex appears to be a very secretive company. Details on their operations are scant, however, what we do know is that it has been in operation for over 110 years and is in fact, a family-run, non for profit. Their manufacturing operations are extremely vertically integrated to the point of owning and operating their own foundry(s) that produces the metals and alloys used within their watches.
Forget the fact this is a luxury watch company, as this podcast isn’t really about that. Think of it as a widget company that has a steadfast approach to its operations, which in turn drives quite a unique company culture. There are many important business lessons which listeners can take away from this fascinating podcast.
4. SATYA NADELLA (MICROSOFT CEO) | MASTERS OF SCALE PODCAST
Companies don’t just need founders… they also need re-founders. To achieve massive scale, you don’t just need founders, you also need a re-founder – someone to come in at a later stage to keep the mission and culture on track.
This is an interesting discussion around the balance for second or third generation CEO’s coming into a business to both carry on the culture that had been created by the founder but then also bring new ideas and creativity to the business to keep it going and take it on its next strategic journey. The concept of the re-founder also needing to articulate things that had simply been implied by the founder or founders of a business is discussed as well. Satya Nadella also talks in depth about the process of “hitting refresh” for areas like culture and mission which is a remarkable achievement given the size and scale of Microsoft.
5. JO MALONE | HOW I BUILT THIS PODCAST
Pass through any airport duty free store and you’ll likely have walked past the understated black ribbon on top the packaging of a Jo Malone product. It is a remarkable story behind how a young girl called Jo, who in 1970’s London didn’t finish school then went onto create a globally renowned cosmetic and fragrance company before selling it to Estée Lauder.
One thing that very much shines through in this podcast is how much passion she has for what she does as well as the industry more generally. Growing up mixing ingredients in a small kitchen, Jo Malone did this using simply using her sense of smell. Whilst success is ultimately achieved, the emotional rollercoaster of doing so is very tangible for Jo Malone. This is something that no doubt many successful businesses would resonate with.
6. DID MICHAEL LEWIS JUST GET LUCKY WITH “MONEYBALL” | FREAKONOMICS PODCAST
If you’ve not heard of Michael Lewis, then it’s time for that to change. The best-selling author has spent his career shedding light on some very intriguing stories, characters, journeys and events over the last few decades. Many of his books have been turned into critically acclaimed Hollywood blockbusters including The Big Short, Moneyball and The Blind Side.
In this interview Lewis gives us a behind the scenes understanding of Moneyball, a story of analytics and statistics by the Major League Baseball (MLB) team the Oakland A’s that upended the entire league. It is a thought-provoking discussion in which the questioning behind the status quo is not just isolated to one particular sport, it has currency across a wide range of industries and most certainly in the world of investing. A certain rule of investing adopted by some of the Moneyball characters is very out of the box but then again possibly not all that surprising when you understand who these characters are. This is not just a good podcast episode but is a great book and movie too.
7. LUNCH WITH WARREN BUFFETT, WORKING FOR BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY, AND THE FUTURE OF INVESTMENTS WITH TED WESCHLER | I AM HOME PODCAST
Ted’s notoriety for many is derived from his unbelievable retirement account return, wherein he turned $70,000 (USD) in 1989, into $246.4 million (USD) in 2018. This return that dwarfs what the S&P500 Index did over the same period, is even more remarkable given his personal account suffered a 52% loss in 1990 when two of his core holdings (Continental Health Affiliates stock and Intelogic Trace bonds), suffered 67% and 55% drawdowns respectively.
The podcast however discusses the interesting story of how he came to work as one of the very few Portfolio Managers at Berkshire Hathaway, involving a lunch with Warren Buffett at the (since closed) Omaha steakhouse Piccolo’s, how he got into Investment Management and what his day-to-day life is like.
8. THE DATA HIGHWAY ABOVE | THE A16Z PODCAST
More science than business, this episode of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z podcast series is way over our heads... This is because it is all about the realities of the Low Earth Orbit region of space. We all know that satellites provide many amazing benefits to us down on Earth from ‘way up there’ but I bet you didn’t know that behind the scenes there are many concepts which translate from earth to space that seem both remarkable and problematic at the same time.
It's hard to believe but this Low Earth Orbit region is already very clogged up with space debris and its dangerous. Far more of what goes up now is commercial in purpose rather than from government organisations. The words from the interviewees which include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak describe space as going the same way as say, ‘the gold rush’. There are minimal rules & enforcements, its first in best dressed, it’s an extremely strategic land (space) grab and it unfortunately won’t take too long before the damage being done is irreversible. ‘Space sustainability’ might be a word we hear more of in time…
9. THE BREAKUP OF BIG OIL | AMERICAN SCANDAL
John D. Rockefeller is one of the most iconic names in American business history. There has been no one like him before, nor anyone since. He is widely regarded as being the wealthiest American of all time. Oil was his industry and becoming immensely wealthy & powerful was his game. From very humble beginnings he became ruthless in his quest for the absolute domination by his company Standard Oil throughout the 1800s.
In a time where the laws did not necessarily prohibit and/or were more challenging to enforce, this 6-episode series tracks the story behind Rockefeller and his operations. Eventually a journalist by the name of Ida Tarbell, who grew up living & breathing the trail of destruction left behind by Standard Oil, has a major influence on everything. It’s worth remembering that companies like Exxon, B.P. & Chevron stem from the remnants of Standard Oil. Thinking about that helps to conceptualise the sheer size of this ‘the bigger you are the harder you fall’ story.
10. SHANE BATTIER: THE NO-STATS ALL-STAR | INVEST LIKE THE BEST PODCAST
This is a slightly different episode than what listeners are used to from Patrick O’Shaughnessy at Invest Like the Best who normally covers the best investors and business leaders around the globe with big names like David Rubenstein and Roelof Botha. In this episode Ravi Gupta, who is a partner at Sequoia Capital and regular guest of Patrick’s interviews Shane Battier. For those who don’t know much about Battier, he is a two-time NBA Champion (2012 and 2013 with Miami Heat) and has been described by Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, “a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.”
Known as one of the best defenders in the game, Battier not only goes into detail about the statistics he used on the court to limit players scoring but flags the level of preparation he did before each game. One key thing that stands out during the podcast is the level of effort Battier puts in doing the small things as his focus throughout his career was solely on “what can he do to help my team win”. We are firm believers in the notion that there are many learnings which translate very well from the success of sport to the success of business. Some of which can be gained from listening to this interview.
Link to Livewire
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