A Former Marine’s Answer To Finding Your Mission & Purpose in Markets

Yesterday I introduced the three lessons I learned from my conversation with Dr. Andrew Wittman. If you haven’t read the intro post, check it out here. Also, make sure to listen to our conversation on the Value Hive podcast.

To review, the three main lessons I learned were:

    • Be Proactive, Not Reactive
    • Knowing Your Mission and Purpose
    • Clear Thinking = Clear Communication

Today we’ll chat about the second lesson, Knowing Your Mission and Purpose. If you don’t read past this, here’s the main takeaway:

If you don’t know your mission or your purpose you’ll fall victim to the random gyrations of the market. If you don’t have an anchor, how can you stand firm amongst the waves of volatility?

Let’s get it!

Lesson #2: Know Your Mission and Purpose

“Without purpose or identity, you’re floundering. There’s no anchoring, there’s no anchor.” – Dr. Andrew Wittman

Knowing your purpose and mission is top-priority. It’s crucial in life and relationships. It’s also vital in financial markets. In a world where there’s thousands of ways to skin the cat, knowing your identity gives you a foundation on which you (hope to) build market fortunes.

During our conversation, Dr. Wittman used the analogy of Dorothy and the Yellowbrick Road. Each character had a reason for walking that road. As Dr. Wittman eluded to, “the only reason they put up with [the witch and storms] is because they had a final destination.”

At the end of the day, market participants have two main purposes:

    1. Not to lose money
    2. Make money

That’s it.

Sure there’s nuances and variations to strategies. But at first principles, those are the only reasons people engage in financial markets.

So we know our purpose. Do we know our mission? Can you define your mission? The purpose is to not lose money and to make money. The mission provides the steps necessary to get to your purpose. Our mission is our Investment Style.

The Different Colors of Mission

Like we mentioned earlier, there’s thousands of ways to make money in markets. Even where we live — the value investing space — there’s different styles. Walter Schloss invested in hundreds of stocks at a time. He allocated around 1% of his capital to each investment. His returns? Over 20% compounded for 18 years.

Ben Graham invested in a less diversified manner, but still owned around 50 net-net stocks. He did well. Charlie Munger’s early partnership days involved large bets on three-to-five stocks. While more volatile, Munger walked away with market-beating returns for over a decade.

In each example, the mission differed, but the purpose stayed the same.

Mission also applies to geographic regions. For example, Prem Watsa delivers his mission in Canada. Li Lu enacts his mission in China. Where will you make your mark? Where will you deliver your mission?

How To Find Your Mission

Finding your mission takes time. Your mission, your investment style, should hit certain criteria:

    1. Does it fit your personality?
    2. Does it fit your time horizon?
    3. Does it work within your schedule?
    4. Does it stand the test of time?

These are questions you’ll find out as you learn, study and try out various strategies (various missions) throughout your learning process. What works for one person might not work for you. And that’s okay. You’ll grow as an investor and find out what works best for you.

Maybe you’re a fan of Schloss and want to spread your bets. Maybe you don’t have enough time to search for one hundred net nets and decide Munger’s old way works best.

Don’t Be Afraid To Optimize Your Mission

Markets don’t exist in a vacuum, neither should your investment style. Don’t believe me? Look at Warren Buffett. Buffett went from Ben Graham cigar butts to great companies at decent prices.

If Buffett (perhaps the greatest value investor of all time) can change his mind, why can’t you?

Remember, it boils down to mission and purpose. Your purpose stays the same. Your purpose never changes. The mission is what gets you to your purpose.

Look Ahead

Tomorrow we’ll discuss the third and final lesson learned: Clear Thinking. In the meantime, check out my conversation with Dr. Wittman here.

That’s all I got for today. Shoot me an email if you come across something interesting this week at brandon@macro-ops.com.

Your Value Operator,


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Brandon Beylo

Value Investor

Brandon has been a professional investor focusing on value for over 13 years, spending his time in small to micro-cap companies, spin-offs, SPACs, and deep value liquidation situations. Over time, he’s developed a deeper understanding for what deep-value investing actually means, and refined his philosophy to include any business trading at a wild discount to what he thinks its worth in 3-5 years.

Brandon has a tenacious passion for investing, broad-based learning, and business. He previously worked for several leading investment firms before joining the team at Macro Ops. He lives by the famous Munger mantra of trying to get a little smarter each day.


Investing & Personal Finance

AK is the founder of Macro Ops and the host of Fallible.

He started out in corporate economics for a Fortune 50 company before moving to a long/short equity investment firm.

With Macro Ops focused primarily on institutional clients, AK moved to servicing new investors just starting their journey. He takes the professional research and education produced at Macro Ops and breaks it down for beginners. The goal is to help clients find the best solution for their investing needs through effective education.

Tyler Kling

Volatility & Options Trader

Former trade desk manager at $100+ million family office where he oversaw multiple traders and helped develop cutting edge quantitative strategies in the derivatives market.

He worked as a consultant to the family office’s in-house fund of funds in the areas of portfolio manager evaluation and capital allocation.

Certified in Quantitative Finance from the Fitch Learning Center in London, England where he studied under famous quants such as Paul Wilmott.

Alex Barrow

Macro Trader

Founder and head macro trader at Macro Ops. Alex joined the US Marine Corps on his 18th birthday just one month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He subsequently spent a decade in the military. Serving in various capacities from scout sniper to interrogator and counterintelligence specialist. Following his military service, he worked as a contract intelligence professional for a number of US agencies (from the DIA to FBI) with a focus on counterintelligence and terrorist financing. He also spent time consulting for a tech company that specialized in building analytic software for finance and intelligence analysis.

After leaving the field of intelligence he went to work at a global macro hedge fund. He’s been professionally involved in markets since 2005, has consulted with a number of the leading names in the hedge fund space, and now manages his own family office while running Macro Ops. He’s published over 300 white papers on complex financial and macroeconomic topics, writes regularly about investment/market trends, and frequently speaks at conferences on trading and investing.

Macro Ops is a market research firm geared toward professional and experienced retail traders and investors. Macro Ops’ research has been featured in Forbes, Marketwatch, Business Insider, and Real Vision as well as a number of other leading publications.

You can find out more about Alex on his LinkedIn account here and also find him on Twitter where he frequently shares his market research.