Posts filed under “Mathematics”

Nate Silver and the Lessons of 2012

1. Breakout Star Of The Election Season

You don’t have to be running to win. You don’t have to be number one. Concentrate on being a member of the scene and surviving.

2. Paid His Dues

We’re so used to here today, gone tomorrow. Young people thrust into the spotlight who then disappear. Rebecca Black left high school to be home-schooled. College is seen as anathema to success. But those who last tend to have paid dues far from the spotlight for a long time. It’s what they did when no one was paying attention that counts. The seasoning. Whether it be reading books, listening to music, studying economics… If you’ve got no background, you’ll be exposed as being two-dimensional very soon.

3. Transferable Skills

My inbox is littered with the career questions of those who can no longer work in the music business. They say they’re stuck, there’s nothing else they can do. I always point them to the wisdom of “What Color Is Your Parachute,” the career bible. Richard Bolles speaks of transferable skills. Nate Silver started off in baseball statistics. It was an easy, but unforeseeable to most, switch to polling.

4. Established Players Hate Newcomers

If you think kissing the ass of established players is the road to success, you’re sorely mistaken. You know you’re on the right path when those in power are excoriating you, as so many did to Mr. Silver. It’s almost impossible to get the attention of bigwigs. If they’re coming down off their roost to confront you…you know you’re winning. If you’re just a sailor, taking orders, you’re going to go down with the ship.

5. Opportunity

It doesn’t come from marketing, but getting it right. Nothing markets you better than excellence.

6. Nerdom

There’s been a war on intelligence in the U.S. Education too. But to watch Nate Silver in action is to love him. Because he doesn’t primp for the camera, he was on Bill Maher with a bad shave. He wasn’t media-trained. He was like that guy next door you grew up with, maybe played with when you were in single digits, but were never best friends with. But you’re on board with him as an adult, because you know he paid his dues, that this is really who he is.

7. Methodology

There’s an outcry that “Billboard” has changed its charts. By hewing to the old model, you’re just ripe to be overrun by he who develops the new. People criticized Silver’s methodology incessantly. But it was he who turned out to be most right.

8. Track Record

Republicans forget that it was Silver who said they were going to triumph in 2010. People like those who are beholden only to themselves, who call it as they see it as opposed to playing team ball. Today’s media superstars, the ones we’re enraptured by, are not team players, they’re loners, outliers. To the degree people are angry with them, it’s because these winners did not follow the safe path, did not do what was expedient, like the haters.

9. Publicity

Nate Silver’s reputation was built online, surfer by surfer, year by year. You think it’s all about the big time media performance. Getting on late night TV, on the radio. Mainstream media opportunities mean less than ever before. Furthermore, the audience is sophisticated, people know they’re being manipulated. I heard about Silver from my friend who follows politics religiously for years before I started paying attention. We take our cues from those who are deeply invested in a topic, like my friend. The information may sit there for years, until a trigger comes along and we too get on the bandwagon. I kept hearing about the “FiveThirtyEight” blog. And when I saw the link on the homepage of the “New York Times,” the bell went off. I read Mr. Silver and became a convert. I respect the nerds, they’re going to inherit the earth.

10. Selling Out

Yes, Mr. Silver is now aligned with the “New York Times.” But he paid his dues solo, and the news outlet came to him. Stop pitching and start fielding. If you’re excellent, people will find you. Furthermore, Mr. Silver has become bigger than the “Times” itself. Last week, 71% of visits to political sites at the “Times” included a stop at Silver’s blog. Furthermore, 13% of all visits to the “Times” last week, the number six news site in the U.S., were to Silver’s blog. The day before the election, it was 20%. ( Talent has power. Individuals can rise to the top seemingly instantly. The corporation is not king in this world where everybody can start themselves online. If you’re not making it, you haven’t paid your dues and/or you’re just not good enough.

11. Gay

Mr. Silver is. It’s rarely trumpeted. We now live in a post-gay era. As Chris Rock says, everybody’s got a relative who swings the other way. If you’re a hater, get over it. Just like Ms. replaced Miss, the tide has turned, gays have a seat at the table. Not that there isn’t work to be done educating the naysayers.

12. You Can Win

But you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to be willing to follow the road less traveled. You can’t take what you read at face value. You’ve got to be unique. You’ve got to be so outside they won’t let you on the reality TV show. You’ve got to be everything great about America – self-motivated, with a winning attitude, willing to do the hard work.



Source: @cosentino



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Despite its ubiquity, it is routinely ignored by investors.

Every hot mutual fund manager who is on the cover of some investing magazine, every trader who made a one shot killing, every strategist who accidentally stumbled into a lucky call: Many people chase the gurus, looking for a little magic that will make them wealthy.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Consider: The Morningstar mutual fund rating 5 star ranking attracts lots of new investors and lots fresh dollars. The primary factor in the rating is (can you believe it?) past performance. This despite a Morningstar study that found 5 star funds mostly underperform — my assumption is it’s a case of simple mean reversion.  As it turns out, the fund’s expense ratio is a much better predictor of performance (See results here).

When making any investment, make sure you are not merely chasing a hot quarter or two. Note that there are 10,000 hedge funds and 12,000 mutual funds and very few consistent managers generating sustainable, repeatable returns.


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