mark leibman

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[MARK LEIBMAN] They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Really, the whole journey, every inch of it, happens one step at a time. Everything you can think of is made of tiny things, tiny actions, single steps. The secret to accomplishing anything is basically to put one foot in front of the other.

The training of an Olympic swimmer happens one stroke at a time. Our quaint quarters at 228 Main were built one brick at a time. Books get written one word at a time. The 25 year history of LFS happened one day at a time. A $1 million 401(k) account gets built one fraction of a paycheck at a time. Healthy eating habits are formed one bite at a time. Relationships blossom one conversation at a time. A portfolio gets put together one opportunity at a time.

Humble, common actions within the reach of anyone are what great stuff is made of. You do this simple thing. Then you do it again. Then you do it again.

The secret to accomplishing anything great is to put one foot in front of the other, while you are aimed in the general direction of something worthwhile.


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Portfolio Themes: Fall 2022 Edition

graphic shows a photo of a basket of apples and the words "Fall Themes"

Investment research is an ongoing process here at 228 Main. Real-world developments are always intersecting with the changing prices of shares; the mosaic looks a little different each day. In our weekly meetings, we review news about companies we own, trade our insights, and talk about emerging bargains or trends. 

We think about what we own—and why. 

We sometimes find bargains in a particular industry or sector. Other times we study trends and try to sort out who will benefit in the years and decades ahead. Looking over the whole Buy List, patterns emerge. 

The single biggest theme often surfaces as a result of our search for quality companies at fair prices. Dominant, sector-leading firms—the blue chips—run the gamut from big green farm machines and home improvement chains to the largest retail health company and the biggest player in a highly fragmented industry (a consolidation play). This is where you’ll find Warren Buffett’s company, too. 

Emerging growth companies may benefit from increasing connectivity, innovation, and automation. Paired with the large technology companies who make the devices, systems, software, and chips we depend on every day, we have solid exposure to what seem to be likely growth areas in our economy. 

Natural resources have been a focus for years, and we continue to refine our thinking as the energy revolution unfolds. Copper and other industrial metals may have favorable supply-and-demand outlooks for years and decades to come. The fossil fuel industry persists, even as alternative energy becomes an increasing fraction of our total energy needs. 

The evolution of the automobile continues to intrigue us. We have exposure to this theme via big tech companies and copper producers, but also via ownership of automakers old and new, plus a supplier of sophisticated components that support the evolution of mobility. 

International diversification in Europe and India makes sense to us, and a few plain old bargains (in our opinion) round out our list. Among the shifting landscape in Europe and one of the world’s largest populations in India, we recognize some opportunities for exposure. 

Clients, we share a long time horizon; we stay focused on major trends. This approach provides some continuity in our thinking across the years, even while we work hard to understand the day-to-day factors affecting our holdings. It’s a thrilling challenge, and we’re always happy to share our thinking with you! 

Please call or email us when you want to discuss how this relates to your plans and planning. 


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. 

Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. 


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We Walk the Walk: Let’s Talk the Talk!

This operation at 228Main.com has not been a one-man band in many, many years. We’re working on making this enterprise more durable, more sustainable—to better serve you for the years and decades to come.


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Collaboration: It’s a Team Effort!

black and white photo shows six hands bumping fists in a circle

Clients, looking back over these decades together, the word “collaboration” is what comes to mind for me. I have worked with some of your households for years, and I am most proud of what you and we have created together. Successful investing requires effective attitudes and intentional actions with money. You, the best clients in the world, have been stellar partners in this regard. It has truly been a team effort.

But I’m realizing that “collaboration” will have even more meaning for our work in the years and decades ahead. The success we’ve enjoyed together has resulted in an enterprise that is now beyond my ability to run by myself (and not that I would want to—to my estimation, the gang and I seem to be having a pretty good time together!).

Greg Leibman became an integral part of the effort a long time ago; Caitie Leibman and Billy Garver bring us perspectives and skills we formerly lacked and now rely on.

Two of our core activities are investment research and portfolio management. With the increasing wealth you’ve brought to us, these activities are more important than ever. Our capacity to do them depends on the team we’ve assembled. It’s a collaboration that’s become vital to our daily work.

Even as we conduct our work as a team, however, I remain the regulatory head: as an Investment Advisor Representative of LPL Financial, I am the business structure. The others, on paper, are technically assistants working under my direction.

This regulatory structure is a vestige of the days when this was a one-person operation, and it no longer aligns with what we’re trying to do here. So, for the rest of the year, we plan to work toward restructuring our firm as a Registered Investment Advisor: this arrangement should more clearly reflect how we can best serve you in the years and decades ahead.

Friends, you know about my intention to work to age 92, and that is still the case. But I also believe that part of my responsibility to you is to help shape an enterprise that can outlast me. The mortality rate remains 100%, so sustainability is the watchword here.

A team format—four officers, working collaboratively—gives this entity some of the durability it deserves. Fortunately, LPL Financial has developed plans and processes for this exact scenario, which is not unique to us. I’ve not lost my sense of gratitude for what LPL Financial has meant to my family and me; your funds will continue to be custodied with them. Account numbers and history and online access and statements and all that will remain essentially unchanged.

There will be just a bit of paperwork to transition each account. Details will follow as we learn more.

It will take the balance of this year for us to continue this work and implement the new structure. Clients, we will be in touch with more detail about this journey as it unfolds—and we are excited to get things more aligned with the big picture.

Please email us or call with questions or comments. Thank you all again, for everything.


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Getting in Touch

Modes of connection may change over time, but we suspect that the desire to live our lives as social creatures will persist. What can our technology and our history teach us about what it means to be human, to work together?


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Connection, through the Ages

photo shows a gravel towpath along a blue river

I recently traveled through part of the history of communications. I was on a trip to the northeast. On one morning walk, I was able to reflect on how each age has had its own modes, connecting people and places with ever-newer technology. 

This topic is of natural interest to us: communication is a major element of our connection with you. 

For hundreds of years, the rich resources and strategic locales of the Potomac River watershed served as a major crossroads for coastal and inland indigenous groups. Colonizers arrived, and the river also carried settlers and European traders. 

Begun in 1811, the National Pike became the first major highway built by the federal government. Its right-of-way is still in use in many places. I walked on it to get to a canal. 

I followed the path where mules once pulled the boats; the land is a park now and may be hiked its 185-mile length. It stretches along the Potomac from D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. 

Railroad tracks run nearby, tracks from the nation’s first common carrier—the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad—whose service began in 1834. 

Copper wires stretched over my head, another legacy of the 19th century. The B&O right-of-way was used to construct the first telegraph route in the country. 

By the 1960s, parts of this land were crisscrossed with bridges over the new Interstate Highway System. 

I saw all of this on a short morning walk. Add to the list the phone I used to take a picture of the river and the towpath! And these are only a few of the major communication developments we’re witness to every day. 

The means and modes of our connections may change over time, but we suspect the desire to live our lives as social creatures will persist. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call. 


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Live It Like You Mean It

photo shows sunrise over a lake at the Louisville State Rec Area

You may know already: we generally advocate simplicity in most things. Once our basic needs are met, we’ve got some choices to make. So how do we keep things simple?

When it comes to budgeting, this takes the form of “paying yourself first.” You save and invest to meet your goals, and then spend the rest as you see fit. No need to track every nickel; you will get where you want to go so long as you’re getting yourself paid.

But it doesn’t hurt to also review your outlays in greater detail once in a while. Fixed expenses are those that cannot be changed in the short run: if you don’t pay the electric bill, the company will shut off your power. You have to pay the bills. Total up these kinds of items. You’ll need to know what sort of fixed expenses you can expect each month in order to figure out how much is discretionary—what’s left over for the things you want?

This exercise can be useful because it may point you to those expenses that are regular but are not fixed. For some, it might be a gym membership that doesn’t get used. It might be a streaming subscription for shows you don’t watch anymore. These services are just a few examples: there are plenty of things in life that we try out or that once made sense but no longer serve us.

And when we root these things out, it’s like giving yourself a raise!

We each have long-standing habits or hobbies whose costs we may not have considered for quite some time. Taking a fresh look at our spending gives us a chance to make intentional choices about how we live, going forward:

  • What are you not doing that you wish you were doing?
  • What do you wish you had that you do not have? A few more adventures, a new skill or pastime, something for the house or the yard?
  • Where might your money save you some time?

And the big question: what would you have to change in order to afford that new choice?

This isn’t necessarily “just” a budgeting question, because rather than shift your spending around, you might elect to invest more each month. All else being equal, investing more means you reach financial independence sooner. Access to options: that’s what we’re buying when we pay ourselves first.

We don’t mean to make any of this prescriptive. After all, you are the one who must live your life—not us! We just suggest that taking a step back to look at where our money goes, being intentional about how we spend, these are things that come naturally when we try to live life on purpose.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


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Slow and Steady

photo shows blue, partly cloudy sky and brown stalks of rice plants

I’ve got something to say—about rice.

I know. I’m not a foodie. This is not a food blog. But hear me out. A retired client and amateur nutritionist opened my eyes about rice.

I’ve always had issues with white rice: I generally want to eat the whole pot. It’s handy, it cooks up so quickly, but to get full from it, I keep eating and eating.

“That’s not what you need,” the client told me. “They take the good stuff out so it will cook faster.”

Brown rice isn’t “minute rice”: it’s 45-minute rice. But the slow route preserves the stuff we really need. We don’t throw out the good stuff for immediate gratification. And if you want to think about the big picture, remember that this grain has been a food staple across the world for thousands of years. No wonder. It packs a punch, if only we handle it responsibly.

We are not nutritionists (although when you and I visit, you may still hear me talking about brown rice!). But this lesson is still paying off in other ways. Did anything sound familiar as I relayed all this?

In their rush to get in on the action, some new investors head for day-trading. It scratches an itch, but it’s focused on the smallest time frame. Investing for the long haul? That’s where the good stuff is, we believe. (No guarantees.)

There are benefits in the waiting. Preservation, patience—sometimes we need a dash of each.

Clients, email or call to talk about this or anything else.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.


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