Bidding Farewell to a Mettle-Building Site
On Sunday, I learned that the auto racing group, NASCAR, had sold the land that houses the motorsports venue Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. The reported sale of $543 million for the estimated 568-acre parcel went to Hillwood Development Co., a Dallas-based commercial real estate firm headed by Ross Perot, Jr.
Although Hillwood didn’t comment on the transaction, there are rumblings that a new NASCAR track will be built on part of the grounds sometime in the next couple of years. Now, I am not a huge NASCAR fan; however, I do have a personal connection with the Auto Club Speedway. You see, I live just a few miles from this facility, and I consider it my “home track” for all of my own personal amateur motorsport adventures. In addition to NASCAR events, the facility also held many sports car and motorcycle events open to the public, where enthusiasts could take their own cars and bikes on the track to test their skills.
One such mettle-building adventure at the Auto Club Speedway was chronicled in a previous issue of The Deep Woods. So, this week, in honor of the sense of nostalgic loss that I feel for the shutting down of the facility, I’ve decided to present you with that article. Doing so will serve as a fitting tribute to a place that will always live in my heart, as it is a place that tests one’s courage, challenges one’s skill and uplifts one’s sense of life.
Lessons Learned at 168 Miles Per Hour
Some people play golf. Some people play tennis.
And while I certainly understand the appeal of these great activities, I prefer to engage in recreational activities that are, shall we say, a little more extreme.
Another way to describe my proclivities is the way many of my friends and family do, and that is to just say that, “Well, Jim’s just a little bit crazy.”
Now, I know what my friends and family mean when they say I’m a little crazy. And I know that they don’t mean that in the clinical sense. What they do mean is that the recreational activities I engage in are usually relatively high-risk, and often come with an intensity factor that’s a little bit high on the extreme scale.
Tactical marksmanship, Gracie jiujitsu and high-intensity training to build muscular size and strength are some of these activities. Yet there are even more extreme arrows in my recreational quiver.
I bring this up, because some of the greatest insights I’ve gleaned about myself, including insights on risk taking, risk management — even the meaning of life itself — have come to me while engaged in extreme pursuits.
Moreover, these insights have helped me become a more skillful writer, entrepreneur, investor… and just a more well-rounded Renaissance Man.
Perhaps most importantly, I suspect some of these insights can help you do the same.
For many years, I was really into motorcycles, and not just riding motorcycles around on the weekends exploring the country. My motorcycle pursuits involved sport bikes and, in particular, road racing bikes. These are the bikes that go really, really fast, and the bikes that require you to lean off of them and drag your knee on the ground to go really fast around turns.
In other words, they are the kind of motorcycles that can get you into a lot of trouble, if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So, when I decided to buy my first road racing bike in the mid-2000s, I didn’t just go to the dealership, jump on the prettiest model and ride off the lot with abandon. Instead, I did my research on what was the best model of road race bike for riders just getting into the sport.
Then, I researched which training facilities were considered the most effective, and the ones that stressed safety first. I also made sure I researched the right safety equipment, including which brands offered the best protection in the event of the inevitable crash.
It was only after doing this due diligence on what the sport requires to be able to excel, stay relatively safe and really enjoy the experience that I actually embarked on the motorcycle road race journey.
It is this kind of thorough due diligence that I bring to the rest of my personal life, and to my professional life as an investment newsletter writer.
Yet, aside from the lesson of proper due diligence, I think the real lessons one learns in life are those garnered under heavy stress. You see, it’s the presence of stress — literally life-threatening stress — that teaches us a lot about ourselves, our resolve and our ability to focus our minds on a singular task.
That’s the lesson I learned after participating in several motorcycle road racing “track days.” This is where you go out with a group of riders of similar experience and try to do your best lap times around a professional racetrack.
The track where I really learned a lot was the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. This track has one of the longest straightaways in road racing, and experienced riders regularly reach speeds north of 170 mph.
Your editor tackling the turns at the Auto Club Speedway.
After several “timid” laps around the track reaching top speeds of 130, then 140 and then 150 mph, I finally felt comfortable enough to open up my machine to see what she could really do. Yet this decision came toward the end of the day, and my brakes weren’t working as well as they had been early in the session.
I found this out quickly, as I spun up the engine on the Honda CBR 1000, hitting an exhilarating 168 mph on the front straight before applying the front brake — only to find that I was getting little response.
Moreover, as I looked ahead, there was a pack of riders in front of me who were slowing down for the next turn, a task I should have already done seconds before. I decided there were only a couple of things I could do. I could apply both the front and rear brakes as hard as I could, hoping the bike would slow enough for me to pull off the racing line, or I could dump the bike while going about 160 mph and risk severe injury (but still manage to avoid my fellow riders).
My decision had to be split second, and as you can imagine, it was under extreme duress. I opted to trust my equipment, and my training, by pumping the lever that controls the front brake, downshifting into a lower gear to slow the bike down and gently but steadily applying the rear brake to help slow the bike and steady the chassis. The maneuver worked, and I was able to guide the bike — and myself — back into the pit lane safely.
That day, I learned to A) Trust my equipment, B) Trust my training and C) Trust my judgement under stress.
If I had panicked and opted to get off the bike, the consequences could have been disastrous.
So, the next time you’re faced with a situation where a potential calamity quickly approaches, trust your due diligence, trust your training (i.e., your accumulated knowledge) and, above all, trust your judgment and wisdom.
It is the knowledge of self and confidence in your own decisions that will carry you through times of acute stress.
Whether that stress is manufactured by your “crazy” choice to ride a motorcycle really, really fast, or whether that stress is created by an investment you’ve made in the equity markets, in a business or anywhere in your personal life, what will get you through is a clear mind, good preparation… and trust in your good judgment.
ETF Talk: Seeking Solace in Dividends and Technology
As I mention frequently in my paid trading services, I am still bullish with regard to the technology sector, despite the recent economic downturn that has taken place there, as that is where the innovations that help us live better, richer and fuller lives are developed, created and produced.
In addition, I am also bullish on dividend-paying stocks, especially during a time of market volatility such as now. Not only do dividends serve to augment income derived from other sources, but economic research has also demonstrated a link between dividend payouts and a lower probability of a sharp decline in share price.
Traditionally, technology companies have been well-known for not paying dividends, as their managers often prioritize the decision to reinvest profits back into the business to generate growth. However, certain dividend-paying technology stocks are out there, and some make an appearance in my trading services.
So, why not combine these two criteria into a single, exchange-traded-fund (ETF) centered package?
The TDIV ETF, also known as the First Trust NASDAQ Technology Dividend Index Fund (NASDAQ: TDIV) is an investment vehicle designed to provide exposure to technology companies that pay dividends. These companies are mostly based in the United States, with international exposure coming mostly from American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). The fund’s managers are also interested in both large-cap and mid-cap stocks, decreasing this exchange-traded fund’s level of risk to a specific part of the technology sector.
The companies in TDIV’s portfolio are first weighted according to their dividend yield relative to other securities in the index and then adjusted so that tech companies occupy 80% of the index, while telecom companies occupy only 20%.
Top holdings in TDIV’s portfolio include Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ: AVGO), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL), QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ: TXN) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Sponsored ADR (NYSE: TSM).
TDIV has a relatively low expense ratio of 0.50% compared to other technology-focused ETFs. It is down 2.58% over the past month, dipped 1.32% over the past three months and climbed 5.25% year to date.
While TDIV can be a way to gain access into the technology sector, this fund is not without its risks. As with any investment, it’s important to do your own research and consider your personal investment goals and risk tolerance before making a decision to invest.
As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.
In case you missed it…
Invest in Your ‘First Wealth’
“The first wealth is health.”
That’s a profound proclamation by essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, a man who was brimming with all kinds of excellent wisdom. Here, Emerson reminds us that even if we’ve managed to achieve a good measure of monetary wealth, that wealth cannot, and should not, replace the first goal of actual physical health.
As you likely know, in my newsletter advisory services, I am primarily concerned with delivering the tactics and strategies for improving your monetary wealth. But this is The Deep Woods, a publication that casts a wider net on issues germane to our lives, and there is perhaps no more important issue to contend with — especially as we begin to feel our age — than the issue of our health and wellness.
Now, I’ve long been a fitness fanatic, and my weapon of choice to help maintain and achieve physical health is a specific type of exercise protocol known as High Intensity Training, or H.I.T. This type of training is both brief and brutal, but it’s also wildly effective in stimulating muscular growth and positive physiological adaptations. Yet, having a great workout regimen in place is only part of the equation.
The other part of the health and wellness equation is making sure nutritional needs are being met, and by that, I mean making sure our bodies are getting what they need on a cellular level in order to thrive.
Fortunately, thanks to progress in scientific testing and nutritional analysis, we have sophisticated tools available to us at a relatively moderate cost (about $800) that can tell us all about our cellular health, and that can help us shore up any glaring deficiencies in our nutrient profiles.
I recently underwent a battery of these tests provided by a company called SpectraCell Laboratories, and the results were quite revealing.
The first test is known as a Telomere Test. A telomere is a region of repetitive DNA sequences at the end of a chromosome. Telomeres basically function to protect the ends of chromosomes from becoming frayed or tangled.
Each time a cell divides, the telomeres become slightly shorter. Eventually, they become so short that the cell can no longer divide successfully, and the cell dies. So, the theory here is that the longer your telomeres are, the “younger” your cells are, and hence the younger you are.
The graphic here is my actual Telomere Test results, which measures the length of my telomeres and then plots that metric against the average length of telomeres in the SpectraCell database that’s been collected over the past decade.
Here, you can see my telomere length came in at 8.89. Now, at age 58, my telomeres are extremely long. In fact, they are in the top 93% for my age group. Another way of seeing this data is that my telomere length is at the average telomere length of people in their early 20s!
So, the good news is now I know why I look and feel so young. I jest, of course, but the real good news is that barring some tragedy, there’s a good chance I will be writing The Deep Woods for many more years to come — telomeres permitting, of course.
The next set of tests were more detailed, regarding my specific lipid profiles, vascular inflammation markers, metabolic syndrome traits and immune function scores.
On these important fronts, I am happy to report my scores were solidly in the “No Functional Deficiencies” group. There was, however, some specific areas of deficiency with respect to macronutrients. For example, I was borderline deficient in alpha lipoic acid, folate and manganese. Knowing about these deficiencies allowed me to address them by beginning an enhanced supplementation protocol that included higher levels of each of these nutrients that I now take in addition to my usual intake of multivitamins, amino acids and minerals.
This is an example of a what I call, “investing in your first wealth,” because for a little bit of time and a little bit of expense, I have a much greater knowledge of my cellular health. And as a result of that knowledge, I am now taking the proper action steps to maximize my physical health.
If you are concerned with your “first wealth,” then I highly recommend you check out the SpectraCell Laboratories cellular diagnostic tests. The way I did it is by going through one of SpectraCell’s providers, a man who also happens to be a good friend, Dr. David Allan.
Listeners to my podcast, Way of the Renaissance Man, might recall my Season Three episode with Dr. Allan. Here we shared thoughts on how to eliminate muscle, nerve and joint pain caused by repetitive use injuries, and how to build good physical habits that can prevent these injuries from recurring. Now, Dr. Allan and SpectraCell have helped me look within the cellular level, literally into “The Deep Woods,” to help enhance my physical well-being.
If you want to do the same for yourself and get a deeper look into your telomeres and your cellular profiles, then I highly recommend you contact Dr. David Allan for a consultation.
Finally, I want to say that I have no monetary relationship with Dr. Allan or SpectraCell. I am just a fan of the insights they provide, as these insights have helped me enhance my “first wealth.”
If you want to do the same, then there is no better place to start.
What Happens, Happens
“What happens, happens. And then, we are gone.”
— Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio”
If you think Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” is a tale for kids, think again. The stop-motion animated film is a dark fantasy that reimagines the classic story in a unique and brilliant way, even setting the story in the interwar (between WWI and WWII) fascist Italy. The end of the film is supremely impactful, with the narrator of the story, “Sebastian Cricket,” reminding us that our lives matter, and that struggles are noble, but that someday we all will be gone. The ending celebrates life’s beauty and brevity, and I challenge you not to be moved by that sentiment.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.
In the name of the best within us,