Stray Reflections by Jawad Mian

I’ve followed Jawad on twitter for years but engaged with his material infrequently until 2020. What can I say, there’s a lot of content on twitter and my attention was drawn elsewhere in the past… Through 2020 I’ve been acutely drawn to this work and I loved reading Stray Reflections. It’s not really a personal memoir. Jawad shares his influential experiences and blends these with memorable passages from books he was reading at the time. I like that he writes for investors but hardly mentions investments in the book. And that’s part of his selling point. He’s got a different approach. He’s not trying to be the same as the competition and the market values value this. Here are a few of my personal reflections.

Sensitivity isn’t always welcomed in traditional finance

I feel a strong resonance with Jawad’s approach, style and discovery of his value proposition. His genuine approach, his vulnerability to the unknown his bravery to share his personal journey. This sensitivity isn’t always welcomed (particularly not in traditional finance), so I gathered support and guidance from Jawad’s words.

I believe there is value in vulnerability and genuine exploration of our experience. I feel like I need to write about personal experience to make sense of it, and I need to share it to habituate new ways of thinking. Plus, sharing can develop meaningful connection with others, which is valuable.

Consistent honesty makes it easier to share

It’s tricky to know how far to take that sharing process and where. Family? Sure. Friends? Maybe, but which ones? What about social media? Instagram, twitter or linked-in? Does the sharing cheapen or deepen the experience? And should I care? These are difficult questions to answer.

I sense the answer is somewhat related to honesty. When my writing comes from my genuine heart-felt experience, it feels bullet proof and so I don’t really care what you think. But when I’m striving for likes, retweets and followers I’m cheapening myself from the inside and I’m sure it shows. When I write for effect, when I’m trying to elicit a certain impact, then the reduction in sincerity opens the door to insecurity – a susceptibility to the court of popular opinion.

Then there are the goal-seeking hurdles to overcome. “Is this worth it?” runs over in my head, and “where am I going with this?” But the answers are emerging. Yes, it is worth it. And, sound money is the goal.

Despite the challenging questions and goal-seeking hurdles, I sense there’s real long-term value in self-exploration, documentation and sharing. Plus, the answers only emerge through genuinely entertaining the questions.

Merging personal and professional life

I believe there is a way to way to merge my different writing styles into something more powerful in the future. Personally, I write reflective content about my own experience. Professionally, I write macro investment research, which is based on data and deep research. It’s clinical and less emotive. I love the influence of both subjects in my life, but for years they were unrelated. In recent years I’ve started to explore the ways in which they collide.

I understand the reasons that people partition work, personal and social, but I’m interested in blurring the lines. I want my work to be my life, and my life to be my work. Let me explain.

Personal values make demands on work

My personal exploration of mindfulness, relationships and the desire to live an examined life is so important that I consider these my daily projects. I need to, and want to, work at these every day of my life. I don’t wake up and start working. I wake up and work on myself because I want to be a better person, to myself and others.

“The quality of our experience in the world is determined by the quality of our minds” – Sam Harris.

‘Others’ includes family, friends, colleagues and strangers. I don’t expect everyone to engage in the same way, but disappointment emerges when I spend a significant amount of time with cold people who are unable or unwilling to build meaningful relationships. I’m not saying I want to be friends with all my colleagues, but I want to be to able respectfully disagree with deep intellectual honesty and build strong relationships, even if we aren’t friends.

Friends and family need sound money

On the other side, sound money is my work. Understanding it, explaining it and providing sound money investment strategy are my daily occupation. But sound money is so important to me and the consequences of unsound money so far reaching that I feel compelled to bring it home. I’ll speak to my friends and family about sound money for as long as they’ll listen. Not in a dogmatic or forceful way, I hope. But through a genuine concern for their livelihood and wellbeing, physically and mentally.

I still haven’t quite merged these worlds in the way that I’d like, but the lines are blurring. I’m on the right path and I’m connecting to the right people along the way. Jawad is one of these people. If you enjoy philosophy, personal exploration and reading, you’ll enjoy his book.

In closing, here is a Rumi quote that he shared with me,

“Words are just a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another. Not words.”

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