When I sat down to write this week I swear I had a plan but I got distracted by some tweets which reminded me to tell the story of Liz. It’s a story that extends last week’s musing.
If you recall, last week I explained how to use Twitter to “build your own cabinet”. Reader Paul Barnes connected this to innovative investment firm Tyro Partners’ strategy of crowdsourcing research from KOLs or “key opinion leaders”. This is the commercial-grade version of following certain people because of the quality of their crowdsourcing. I refer to this as “drafting in their lanes”.
You can go further. You could recruit. If you are a high-status online persona you can effectively lower your cost to meet talented people. This is especially true if the talented target has yet to establish visible status. Famous investor Jim O’Shaughnessey’s advice:
Follow people, get a sense for their thought process, and then when you see something that you think is really interesting, reach out.
Paul noted how Jim followed through on this advice by having Liz Hall on his Infinite Loops podcast this week. Let me give you some background.
Back in December, Venkatesh Rao started this challenge that went viral on Twitter. It boiled down to people threading 100 tweets on a topic of their choosing. I read many of these tweetstorms. I can’t express how stupid I felt reading these. There are a lot of blindingly smart people out there. Some of my favorites were actually threads by people who wrote on things they were not even pros in. The hater in me wants say “get a life”. But really I’m just impressed. Anyway, the first investing storm came from account @LAForeverHall. This was like a meteor without warning. I would have expected the 100-tweet-storm-on-finance to come from one of its more established voices. But it comes from Liz.
I noticed the thread shortly after she posted it. She had a couple hundred followers max. I wish I could have bought the 1000 or 2000 strike call on her follower count, because I immediately knew it was going viral (Viral is of course relative. The biggest #fintwit celebs are not even NFL kicker fame. Jim Cramer is probably the ceiling). I immediately reached out to say thanks and congrats on a great read.
A few weeks later Liz mentioned on Twitter she was visiting the Bay Area, so we made a plan to meet up. She was staying in Berkeley so I asked to meet at Victory Point, a boardgame cafe on Shattuck.
Her story is extraordinary, in the full meaning of the word. Extra. Ordinary. She grew up in rural CA, north of Sacramento. She dropped out of school in 4th grade and was homeschooled for 6 months before that fizzled. She spent the next 5 feral years watching tv and playing games. Meeting in a game cafe turned out to be serendipity. She was well versed in many heavy games including the epic 18xx train games which are meaty stock market simulations. Heavy-handed foreshadowing.
At around 16 years old, her attention focused. She nerd-sniped election strategy both in US and foreign politics. While intellectually interesting, grokking election strats isn’t practically useful. Since her grandfather was an investor she was aware of the stock market and turned her full attention in that direction.
We discussed her views on education. The challenge of being largely unsocialized. The “dark arts” of copywriting and how it can twist your soul up. Some investing discussion, mostly around metagame. As we chat, I’m hearing about all her recent coffees with people she’s meeting. Doors that are opening. In fact, at that meeting, she told me she was going to NY to be on an O’Shaughnessey podcast. I assumed it was Patrick’s, but it would be his father’s instead.
A couple of observations
1) It’s impossible to not appreciate how quickly an unpermissioned platform like Twitter can elevate an uncredentialed, trans outsider based simply on quality of thought. I doubt she could imagine the power of that thread to change her life. Little did she know how many people she would meet in the coming months. Little did she know it would lead to her moving to NYC.
2) While it only took a week to write the Tweetstorm, her more public emergence (she has over 5k twitter followers today) is hardly evidence of overnight sensations. Those don’t exist — you probably know the metaphor of success being like bamboo. Liz logged over a decade of personal investing experience. The thread was a cover letter. Martin Luther pinned 95 theses to a door. That was media in the Middle Ages. Liz put 100 on Twitter. You can go ahead and put the MS Word cover letter template in deleted items now.
- Listen to her story. From living in a skating rink, to her family history, and through her trajectory as an investor and writer. Here’s the recently released podcast episode on Infinite Loops. Liz Hall — An Outsider’s Perspective (Link)
- The tweetstorm that kicked it all off. (Link)
- Her write up about chasing down a small-cap investing opportunity. The Curious Case of the California Orchard Company (Link)
- What she learned as a copywriter. How You Can Make $62,723.85 From Writing In Two Weeks Without An Education (Link)
I’ve read both of those posts. They are long but worthy reads. She started a letter recently if you want to sign up. (Subscribe link)