The Master Craftsman

March 18, 2024

His soft gray eyes survey the wood slab, carefully noting the tiniest details: the subtle contours of the grain, the natural uneven edges, even the slightest variations in color and thickness. He is not analyzing the piece – he’s getting to know it, befriending it.

​His practiced eyes do not see problems or irregularities; they see opportunities and outcomes. Even as he surveys the piece, it begins to come alive in his mind’s eye. The rugged years of experience allow thousands of simultaneous calculations to happen and synthesize without conscious effort.

​His grizzled hands begin to work effortlessly and with breathtaking precision. Every movement is intentional and natural. There are no wasted efforts, unnecessary pauses, or extraneous motions.

​He is one with the wood, with his tools, and with his shop as the final product starts to take shape in its earliest forms. The master craftsman does not think about his next move; he simply knows.

​He works in silence, but there are no ruminating thoughts as he works. He executes with a gentle focus, and his hands move expertly. He is one with the piece.

​He does not worry about how long the piece will take; it will be ready when it is and not a moment sooner. The master craftsman does not worry about whether others will find his work good because he already knows it to be so.

​The final piece is not an accident, nor is it lucky. The piece always existed in the craftsman’s mind, his job is merely to liberate it. The outcome is not affected by chance, or the weather, or his mood, or any other factor. The outcome is inevitable.

​The master craftsman does not question his worth because he knows he has earned it. He does not question his skill any more than he questions gravity or the laws of physics. He simply knows them to be true.

​This is artisanship at its highest levels, in its purest form. The years of practice are etched into his callused hands and the crow’s feet that frame his wise eyes.

​The master craftsman is never distracted while he works – distraction is inefficient. He sees art where others see nothing. His expertise, his gift, does not come from him but comes through him. It is a part of him, as natural as the rise and fall of his chest as he draws each breath.

​The master craftsman is his art. They are one and the same.

​The final piece stands in its perfection, a testament to what is beautiful, true, and good. The craftsman polishes and puts his tools away with the same careful precision, a wry smile forming at the corners of his mouth. His work is done.

Expertise embodied.

As investors, we would do well to emulate the master craftsman.

The world of finance is full of distractions, primrose paths laden with ruin rather than riches.

​Our quest to generate wealth is contradictory and counterintuitive. The more we diversify and spread our capital into different asset classes, the more we begin to resemble the broad market and mirror its returns.

​If we seek to generate above-market returns, we must make fewer, more concentrated bets. These bets must be of the highest quality, expertly selected from a sea of mediocre options.

Most people are trying to do too much. It’s not their fault, of course, because it’s what we are taught by the finance industry, by investing gurus, and when we analyze wealth reports from high net worth research groups.

​We play the investment roulette table randomly and sporadically, spreading our chips across a smattering of numbers in hopes that one will hit.

​A master craftsman would never be so cavalier. Remember, he moves with intention informed by expertise. No wasted movements.

​As a business owner, you already have a vehicle to beat the market. With your expertise, you can invest in your business and reliably generate superior returns. You control the outcome. You’ve had the at-bats. You’ve earned the expertise.

​Why then would you take time away from your artisanship, your craft, and invest precious resources into areas where you are not a master?

​However, this is exactly what so many of us do. We take the money we earn from our businesses and decide to become an angel investor or build a portfolio of rental properties. Now our time (and capital) is split between our expertise and a new area where we must learn the ropes, often from scratch.

This is shiny object syndrome at its finest.

​If you are considering jumping into a new venture because you want to diversify, consider our story of the master craftsman. He does not split his time trying to become a potter or a cobbler. He is laser-focused on the skills that he has already mastered.

Your best option for alpha is always within your zone of genius. And the truth is we only need one avenue to generate wealth.

Distraction is the greatest destroyer of wealth, and conversely, focus is its greatest ally.

​And so, my friends, may this serve as a gentle plea to eschew the jack of all trades in favor of the master craftsman.

​And in doing so, may you find the profound calm at the center of true artisanship.

​To grizzled hands and weathered faces,


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