Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

The Power of Meaningful Conversation

By Jim Woods

Last night, I had the privilege of guest lecturing for a class of MBA students at California Baptist University. My original plan was to deliver a lecture on how I select stocks in my Bullseye Stock Trader advisory service, and to talk about the financial newsletter industry at large.

Yet, there was a slight obstacle to my giving this talk, because there were some technical issues with the A/V equipment in the room that prevented me from sharing my PowerPoint presentation replete with charts, technical analysis, etc. So, instead of trying give the lecture I had planned, I called an audible that I think turned out to be much more enjoyable.

What I chose to do instead is to simply have a conversation.

Now, by conversation I don’t just mean me pontificating about what I do. By conversation, I mean that I asked each and every student in the room what they wanted to do with their lives.

The answers were quite interesting. Some of the students had very specific goals and an exact path mapped out to get there. Others didn’t quite know what they wanted to do, but they knew that getting their MBA would help them become more knowledgeable and more marketable.

During these conversations, I learned quite a lot about the students’ ambitions, how they thought and why they were choosing their respective paths. I found this out because I asked questions first, and then, most importantly, I listened to their answers.

I say listened, because so often, we engage in discussions with colleagues, friends, family and casual acquaintances without truly listening to what is coming our way.

Instead, many times we are so intent on getting ready to present what we want to say that we are tone deaf to the dynamics of the interaction. Hey, this happens to all of us, but it doesn’t have to.

If you make the conscious effort to really listen to another person, and not merely wait for them to stop talking so that you can make your point, you will become the kind of person that people really like to converse with.

This is of critical importance in life, because the only means of understanding, persuading, changing and growing is via honest, open and meaningful conversation.

Ask yourself this, when was the last time you engaged in a truly meaningful conversation? If coming up with an answer is difficult, perhaps you’re long overdue for just such a meaningful interaction.

Here are three actions steps/how-to tips for engaging in a truly meaningful conversation:

Actively listen to your interlocutor. Pay attention to what is being said, and how it’s being said. Then, don’t interrupt, don’t make negative facial gestures and don’t look away. Pay attention and learn.

Be an honest interlocutor. If you want to have a meaningful conversation, come from a place of honesty, integrity, facts and values. Don’t evade reality, don’t make stuff up and don’t deny your feelings. Be frank; and be real.

Find points of commonality and build from there. Every meaningful conversation consists of hashing out points of disagreement, and more importantly, finding points of commonality. It is my belief that whatever differences people have, they have many more points of commonality they can build on. After all, we are in this thing called life together, and regardless of different perspectives, we share far more agreement than disagreement. So, build on that commonality and run with it.

For more tips on effective communication and how to have increasingly meaningful conversations, I recommend, “5 Ways a Renaissance Man Can Improve Communication,” by my friend, colleague and communications expert Heather Wagenhals.


ETF Talk: There’s No Place Like HOMZ

The real estate investment trust (REIT) market is a volatile and confounding place at present.

While the commercial real estate market continues to struggle, the housing market is on the rebound from its drop last year, with prices rising on mortgages and interest rates amid a significant housing shortage. While many investors want to take advantage of this upward spike in home prices, the decline in commercial retail has made people rightfully wary of traditional REITs.

Instead, investors may want to turn to other ETFs that exclusively focus on stocks in the housing market, staying out of commercial retail entirely. I have one to share with you — Hoya Capital Housing ETF (HOMZ).

Founded in 2019 by Pettee Investors, HOMZ tracks the Hoya Capital Housing 100 Index, a tier-weighted index of 100 equities representing the residential housing industry in the United States.

The fund’s holdings are selected through a screening process that looks for stocks with significant business operations in home ownership and rental operations, construction, home improvement and furnishings or home financing, technology and services. The top 100 companies are then included in the fund’s portfolio. The index is also reconstituted and rebalanced semi-annually.

Currently, HOMZ has $38.41 million assets under management, and has an expense ratio of 0.30%. It boasts a P/E ratio of 15.60 and a distribution yield of 1.93%.

The majority of HOMZ’s holdings are based in the United States, with an additional small percentage of its holdings based in Canada, making it fully centralized around North American stocks. Its current top holdings include Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (LOW), Home Depot, Inc. (HD), Toll Brothers, Inc. (TOL), KB Home (KBH) and Meritage Homes Corporation (MTH).

Courtesy of

As seen by the chart above, HOMZ has been steadily rising over the past several months and is trading above both its 50- and 200-day moving averages. As of July 24, the fund had risen 9.53% in the past month, 15.47% in the past three months and an impressive 28.54% year to date.

While there will never be a place quite like home, what makes an ideal home is different for everyone, and the same holds true for one’s investment plan. Remember to always consider your personal financial situation and goals before making any investment. Investors are always encouraged to do their due diligence before adding any stock or ETF to their portfolios.

I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You may just see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.


In case you missed it…

When Mr. Crump Don’t Like It

Recently, I spent nearly a week in Memphis, Tennessee, marinating in the spices of liberty, friends and great ideas at FreedomFest. Of course, the conference was amazing, as it always is. Highlights for me included delivering talks on markets, the economy and my investment advisory newsletters, and meeting up with friends, subscribers and fellow free marketeers.

My favorite personal highlight was that I got to sing and play a few of my original songs, and a Bob Dylan song, with the great FreedomFest band Triple AXL, live on Beale Street! So, I got to put another checkmark on my bucket list (and hey, at the rate I’m going, I’m gonna need to add to my bucket list, as I have been fortunate enough to have already put checkmarks on most of it!).

Another interesting part of FreedomFest for me was learning Memphis’ history. You see, while Memphis is a small city geographically, it’s big on musical history, civil rights history and the political history of the American South.

Your editor, playing and performing original tunes on Beale Street.

I went to a few of these historic places, including Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins all got their start. I also visited Stax Records, where greats such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MG’s and many others recorded their most memorable hits.

Yet, one of the most interesting elements of my historical journey to Memphis was actually a walking tour of Beale Street. Here, I found out about the fascinating history of Memphis, and how the river city was built on the vices most port towns are built on — music, food, booze and “barrelhouse women.”

The story I liked most was that of “Mr. Crump,” also known as Edward Hull “Boss” Crump, the dominant force in the city’s politics for most of the first half of the 20th century. Crump served as mayor of Memphis from 1910 to 1915 and again briefly in 1940. However, it is said that he basically ran the political machine in Memphis, as he effectively appointed every mayor who was elected from 1915 to 1954.

During his mayoral campaign of 1909, Crump ran on a platform of getting rid of the vice trade in Memphis by ridding the city of the noisy music, free-flowing alcohol and the cathouses that populated Beale Street. Now, here is the lesson to be learned from Mr. Crump.

You see, a famous song was written as a protest to the Crump campaign’s message. That song, written by blues legend W. C. Handy, was officially titled, “The Memphis Blues,” but the subtitle is “Mr. Crump.” Here’s a version by the Beale Street Sheiks that I think captures the spirit of the song, and here are the lyrics from the first verse:

Mister Crump don’t like it, he ain’t gonna have it here

Mister Crump don’t like it, he ain’t gonna have it here

Mister Crump don’t like it, he ain’t gonna have it here

No barrelhouse women, lord, drinking no beer

Mister Crump don’t like it, he ain’t gonna have it here…

Now, you might think that Crump would want to prevent this song from being played in public, given its rather sarcastic tone. Yet, Crump actually made the song part of his mayoral campaign, a virtual theme song, if you will, by amplifying the message and ignoring the irony of a critical song about him.

This incident shows you that when it comes to publicity and spinning the circumstance in your favor, it usually pays to embrace the critics and to bring them into your fold. And while most of us will never run for public office, we all face our own critical songs at some point in life.

So, the next time you face this, do what Mr. Crump did — and make it your own!


Heaven’s Wasted on the Dead

Heaven’s wasted on the dead
That’s what your mama said
When the hearse was idling in the parking lot
She said you thought the world of me
And you were glad to see
They finally let me be an astronaut…

— Jason Isbell, “Only Children”

Sometimes you come across a lyric that stimulates your mind in the best possible way. I recently encountered such a lyric in the song “Only Children” by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The version I like best is this acoustic performance for the radio station KEXP (a station I highly recommend for music lovers of all stripes).

The notion that “Heaven’s wasted on the dead” is quite intriguing, as it makes you think about the life you have now, and how best to live that life. And no matter what you think happens after we die, one thing we know for certain is that we have this moment. So, please don’t squander the now. Instead, create your own heaven, right now, because when you really think about it, all we have is now.

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,

Jim Woods

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