Gustavo Ballvé on July 26th, 2016
Food for thought, Home, Mental models

An update to last week’s post with two reading lists can only mean one thing… more books!

The first list came from the always-cool tweets by Anand Raghavan, Senior Director of Product Management at ThoughtSpot. It’s a list compiled by TED by asking more than 40 of its speakers for their recommendations. Great stuff there from all ways to look at life.

The second list comes from our most reliably excellent source, The Farnam Street Blog (one of the first sources I listed in our blogroll). Shane and his partners at the blog asked its members for recommendations and, as expected, they are amazing. If you haven’t considered becoming a member of the Farnam St. community yet, make sure you check it out (and this advice is freely given: I am in no way, shape or form receiving any compensation or barter from any source).

In summary, these lists are wide-ranging in nature, coming from a multidisciplinarian crowd. Some books are classics, some new, and if we could only read them all… We can’t. Choose wisely, invest your time to reach your near-, mid- and long-term goals as they change in priority and urgency. Enjoy!

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Gustavo Ballvé on July 21st, 2016
Corporate Governance, Food for thought, Home

I wish I did not have to return to this subject so soon, but apparently in Brazil even very basic rights can be seen as debatable. One remembers that “24-hour” ATMs do not dispense more than 100 Reais from 10 PM to 6 AM due to robberies, or one notices the constant take-downs of the Whatsapp service: our country’s policymakers seem to combat (very rare) examples of people abusing rights by eliminating (or proposing to eliminate) them altogether!

Case in point: after an alleged abuse of data access rights by Board members in Saraiva, an entire debate about these rights is now taking place, as per this Valor Econômico article (in English, but here’s the original Portuguese version). Given that the Board member is personally liable for their decisions, he/she must have the right to obtain information – from management or consultants, for instance – in order to better form their judgement.

We can and should discuss the form of potential abuses and its punishments, as well as reasonable boundaries of access to management and data. But we should not seek to remove a basic right of the Board members – who represent shareholders but must, in the form of our Corporate Law, act in the company’s best interests.

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Gustavo Ballvé on July 19th, 2016
Food for thought, Home, Industries, Investment Themes, Portfolio Management

Shamelessly I return to reading lists (just follow the link to find other posts with this tag).

(As a reminder, I don’t make money from these links at all – nothing against it, I’m just being transparent).

One is from McKinsey Quarterly and compiles a list of books suggested by CEOs of varying backgrounds and sectors.

Another is from Harvard Business School and lists books its professors are reading.

If you don’t know whether to thank me or hate me (“I haven’t finished the last books I bought and here comes an interesting list…”), I completely understand you.

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Gustavo Ballvé on July 7th, 2016
Corporate Governance, Food for thought, Home

Two noteworthy articles and one notable initiative in Brazilian CG practices nowadays.

One already-missed opportunity: the recent law concerning state-owned companies divides opinions. The article is in Portuguese and Valor hasn’t published an English version, but here goes a two-sentence summary: “Most specialists agree that the law makes it easy for companies to look good “on paper” while failing in practice. In fact, some experts say that the existing Corporate law would suffice if properly enforced…”

(In Brazil, as the reader may know, some laws “catch on” and others don’t, with little difference in practical consequences. This is changing somewhat, but CG is a “soft” enough field to make it more vulnerable to this effect.)

One ongoing discussion: the possibility of reforming Novo Mercado (Bovespa’s highest CG listing segment) requirements. A great artible by AMEC president Mauro Cunha highlights the opportunities and risks in these discussions.

Finally, one interesting initiative: the discussion of a voluntary Stewardship Code, inspired by (among others) the UK’s.

Disclosure: I have worked with, and admire, both Mauro Cunha and Isabella Saboya, who are linked to these and past initiatives regarding the improvement of the Brazilian capital markets. As friends we may not agree 100% of the time, but they are Good – and the capital G isn’t a typo.

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Gustavo Ballvé on July 6th, 2016
Food for thought, Home, Mental models

Bill Gates wrote a very touching note on the 25th anniversary of his friendship with Warren Buffett (make sure you watch the VR video!).

It is obvious that they are both immensely intelligent and curious, but it is true that they seemed like very different people when they first met. Buffett was already very successful and wealthy, and Gates was definitely “on his way” to what he (and Microsoft) later became, so there was the risk of ego playing out in their initial interaction. It wasn’t easy at all to guess that they would become such friends.

The lesson here, if there is any, is to be truly humble – intellectually and personally.


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Gustavo Ballvé on July 1st, 2016
Corporate Governance, Food for thought, Home, Risk management

After a very public fraud issue with insurance licensing – and US states take these very seriously – Zenefits is taking steps to re-adequate its financing and shareholder base. Yes, it is in exchange for a promise of no legal action, and no, not everyone is happy – but it seems as interesting as it is unusual. At least it can serve as a lesson for other companies in crisis management / survival mode.

H/T Business Insider’s Finance twitter feed.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 18th, 2016
Food for thought, Home, Mental models, Signal or Noise

And such are the times in Brazil.

Here’s Seth Godin on the ageless dilemma: the short run and the long run.

“Add up the short runs, though, and you’re left with the long run. It’s going to be the long run a lot longer than the short run will last.

Act accordingly.”

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 17th, 2016
Corporate Governance, Corporate Strategy, Food for thought, Home

Very interesting article on The Case for Activist Investors. The first book highlighted in the article – “Dear Chairman” – sounds like a great read, as it compiles now-classic investor letters to Board members and to the executive teams of companies they invested in.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 4th, 2016
Food for thought, Home, Mental models

A few weeks ago I posted about coach Claudio Ranieri’s letter regarding his team – Leicester City – and the chance that they would become Premier League champions in England. The odds were 5,000 to 1 in the beginning of the league. They were crowned champions on Monday, for the first time in the team’s history, when Chelsea tied its match with Tottenham (the runner-ups).

Congratulations, Leicester City fans!

Some curiosities:

Pretty understandable reaction by Leicester City players when the Chelsea x Tottenham match ended.

– Some are calling it the most unlikely sporting feat ever. A Brazilian ESPN reporter calls it the biggest feat in world soccer history (in Portuguese).

– Coach Ranieri watched the game in Italy – he had gone there to have dinner with his 96-year-old mother (respect, man). His reactions here.

– Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel won his first Premier League in the same day (May 2nd) as his father Peter – a legendary goalkeeper – won his first, only 23 years apart.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 1st, 2016
Food for thought, Home, Portfolio Management, Risk management

The meeting has been over for a few hours now. I wonder whether coming here was worth it, even though I have just reassumed coverage of Berkshire Hathaway for my company. It is still good fun and this year the Brazilian team here was pretty sizable. However, since the webcast appears to have worked well, the expense and long travel times (for Brazilians at least) make coming back here more of a luxury.

Here are some pictures taken by me on Friday, in the exhibit, and in the Saturday annual meeting. It’s also the first time I try out the photo gallery feature, so please let me know if it doesn’t work for you.

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