Hug Your Kids

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September 2018

I am back from California. I really enjoyed my Q&A presentation to the CFA Society of Orange County. It was an extra-humbling experience, because one of the attendees drove eight hundred miles to see me speak! Since the whole presentation was in Q&A format, we had the opportunity to explore a lot of diverse topics. I selfishly enjoy doing Q&A, because every single time I learn something new from the good questions thrown at me.

After the presentation I caught an Uber to join by family in Laguna Beach, where we spent a long weekend. This was our second trip to Laguna Beach in four months. It has turned into our favorite place to decompress and do absolutely nothing – we walk on the beach and read. The ocean is barely swimmable unless you’re a surfer, but that doesn’t bother us at all.

My daughter Hannah and I like to wake up at 6:30, walk through the streets of the still-awakening town, and find a coffee shop. I get a coffee and she gets a drink loaded with sugar. (That’s a rare treat for her – she gets those only on vacations). Then we walk along the beach, talk, sit, and read. My wife and our four-year-old daughter, Mia Sarah, meet us for breakfast, and then we just spend the rest of the day at the beach and the evening by the swimming pool – Mia Sarah’s favorite activity. We go to dinner early and we’re in bed by eight.

I know if I added a game of bingo to this picture I’d be describing Florida retirement. If I did this every day I’d be restless, but I could see me travelling to Laguna Beach for a weekend. Leave early in the morning on Friday and come back on Sunday evening. The flight is less than two hours from Denver. The Orange County airport is small and convenient, and it’s named after John Wayne – hard to beat that! I wouldn’t even rent a car, just hail Uber. A great place to decompress every few months.

On Monday afternoon, a few hours before our flight, my wife, Mia Sarah, and I were sitting by the swimming pool at the hotel. All the other guests were gone; it was just three of us. (Hannah had gone to our room to get something. I was engrossed in my book, with AirPods on. My wife was putting sunblock on Mia Sarah. Then I hear a scream: “Mia!” I look up and see my wife running to the swimming pool and pulling Mia Sarah out. Mia Sarah is shaken; she’s crying.

Here’s how it happened.

Mia Sarah doesn’t know how to swim. She swims with a floating vest. After my wife put sunblock on Mia Sarah, she received a text on her phone. As she looked down at her phone, Mia got excited about swimming, charged to the pool 20 feet away, hopped in (forgetting that she didn’t have a vest on), and promptly sank. My heart shrinks just writing this. It’s unimaginable what could have happened. Mia Sarah was underwater for only a few seconds, thank God. But what if my wife had looked for Mia Sarah thirty seconds later? We are taking Mia Sarah for swimming lessons next week. There are lots of obvious lessons packed in this little episode – I’ve been hugging my kids a lot more the past few days.

Vitaliy Katsenelson

I am the CEO at IMA, which is anything but your average investment firm. (Why? Get our company brochure here, or simply visit our website).

In a brief moment of senility, Forbes magazine called me “the new Benjamin Graham.”

I’ve written two books on investing, which were published by John Wiley & Sons and have been translated into eight languages. (I’m working on a third - you can read a chapter from it, titled “The 6 Commandments of Value Investing” here).

And if you prefer listening, audio versions of my articles are published weekly at investor.fm.

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