SCOTT REED: Tenacity is a good trait in investing

By Scott Reed

Louise Godwin passed on last week. She was a small woman who stood very tall in our community. Her husband, Chauncey, died years ago and left Mrs. Godwin to head a family of community volunteers who have meant a great deal to our community and the quality of life we enjoy in Tupelo and North Mississippi.
What I remember most about Mrs. Godwin’s leadership skills was her quiet tenacity. When she got hold of a project she believed in, she just wouldn’t let go. She was never offensive or belligerent. She never seemed to feel the need to control other people. But she would get her way. Period.
I got a call from Louise one day about a decade ago. She said, “Scott, I wanted to call and tell you how much I enjoyed the dinner theater production you were in last week. I particularly liked the part where you played Elvis. The State Convention of Garden Clubs is coming to Tupelo in a couple of weeks and I would like for you to perform as Elvis for me at the opening event.”
It wasn’t a question; it was a statement. I should have recognized that early on. I told her that I had only impersonated Elvis for that production, and I didn’t really do Elvis and would have to pass.
Two days later, I received a letter from Mrs. Godwin thanking me for agreeing to be Elvis. I called her and told her once again that I was flattered and appreciative, but would have to pass.
The next day my mother called me to say that Mrs. Godwin really wanted me to do Elvis and she thought I should. Once again, I declined.
I didn’t hear from Mrs. Godwin for the next few days and mistakenly assumed that I had finally gotten across to her that I wasn’t going to perform as Elvis at the State Convention of Garden Clubs.
Two days before the opening day of the convention, I got a note in the mail along with an agenda for the convention. The note said, “I am really looking forward to seeing you perform on Thursday. I thought you might need a copy of the agenda and instructions on when and where you need to be. Yours, Louise Godwin.”
The enclosed agenda had a welcome by Louise Godwin followed by 15 minutes of entertainment by Elvis.
I was flabbergasted. How could she have not understood? Could I have possibly made it any clearer that I wasn’t going to do Elvis for her?
Frustrated, I picked up the phone and dialed the number. I was going to do what I should have done from the very start. Beverly Clement, the director of the dinner theater, answered the phone and I said, “Beverly, do you still have the Elvis outfit and wig I wore in the dinner theater? It looks like I am going to do Elvis this Thursday.”
I showed up at my appointed time and did five Elvis songs for Mrs. Godwin. There was never any doubt in her mind that I would.
How does this have anything to do with investing? Tenacity is a virtue for the investor. There is so much white noise in the investment world. Minute by minute experts inundate the airwaves with strong opinions on what you should do.
There are a great number of strategies that will get you to your goals. The one strategy that almost never works is the one where you are constantly changing strategies. That is usually a recipe for failure. Investors must decide on a course of action for their portfolio and stick to their course.
You may know others who are doing better than you this year or have some great idea that sounds better than your plan. There is always someone who has a better sounding plan, just as there is always someone who won big at the casino.
Their gain is not your gain. Your gain will come from developing a sound investment policy and sticking to it. In the investment world you don’t chase the market; the market has to come to you. That requires a solid plan and patience.
Mrs. Louise Godwin understood how to put together a solid plan and stay the course and Mississippi is a better place because of her. We should learn from her quiet tenacity. God bless her.
Scott Reed is CEO of investment advisory firm Hardy Reed in Tupelo. Contact him at (662) 823-4722 or sreed@hardyreed.com.