oracle of louisville

The Curse of Cash on the Sidelines

photos shows empty bench in a dugout

A recent theme among some financial types: lamenting the dilemma of clients who sold out of long-term investments in a panic a year ago, thus missing the following recovery.

The sharp drop in the markets at the beginning of the pandemic was a little unnerving, but those who sold low face a tough question: “When do I get back in?” With the best clients in the world, this is a question that does not come up here at 228 Main. It is worthwhile to consider the factors that lead us to this wonderful state of affairs. We believe there is one skill and one mindset that explain it.

The skill is being able to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. There are very few “lead pipe cinches,” as Grandpa used to say, no absolute certainty about how things will turn out. Investing is largely a matter of sorting out what may be likely to happen—a question of probabilities.

Clients, you know your portfolios inevitably will include some stocks that just did not work out as we imagined. It turns out that our crystal ball is not quite a crystal ball: we can’t know the future. Our experience and our hope is that those stocks that do work out—or perhaps even dazzle us!—will more than balance out the disappointments.

The mindset is that the United States will always get through its setbacks and challenges somehow, and we’ll emerge on the other side with opportunities for new growth and greater prosperity. (Also, if we are doomed to return to the Stone Age, as some portend, it isn’t going to matter what we own. Might as well be optimistic!)

This mindset, combined with that skill of being able to make decisions despite uncertainty, help us stay the course. We believe that sticking with sound strategy has helped us all in the past—and that it offers opportunity for the years and decades ahead. Clients, if you would like to talk about strategy and tactics, or about anything else, please email us or call.


Investing involves risk including loss of principal.


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Streams of Consciousness

photo shows four different driftwood fires burning on a Platte River sandbar

A pastime of mine is enjoying driftwood fires on the Platte River, just outside beautiful downtown Louisville. With the changes in the weather, a recent trip to the river got me thinking.

There’s an idea—often attributed to Greek philosopher Heraclitus—that suggests, “No one ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and they are not the same person.”

Each day, we experience new things. These events bring us joy, sadness, pain, elation. Some events change us by an inch. Others change us by a mile. Some changes are flighty. Others are permanent.

But we change daily.

The market has been acting like this proverbial river lately. From a distance, not much has changed. But if you look closer, you’ll see it differently. Small victories. Temporary setbacks. The ebb and flow of new information.

We have a sense of where the market is flowing. But just like an actual river, there are no guarantees (Mother Nature has her ways, right?).

As the river makes anew, it brings me more driftwood. Which allows me to continue my pastime. Which prompts me to recognize that each fire is different—and the observer is different too.

Clients, if you’d like to talk about this or anything else, email or call.


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Raphael, Donatello, da Vinci… Markelangelo?

photo shows paint jars and brushes on a painted surface

When you mow a lawn, or paint a wall, or run a race, every bit of effort moves you closer to the end. There is only progress. You see tangible, visible results: grass clippings pile up, or the paint covers more of the wall, or the finish line gets closer. 

Long-term investing is different. On nearly half of all days, the broad market averages go backward. This has also happened over whole years, about one out of four historically.  

When we paint a wall, there are no forces moving with us and wiping away one stroke of paint for every four we make! 

So in this respect, investing is more like creative work. An artist who paints might have to add layers over their earlier work to create the effect they want. They might even use a palette knife to—yep—remove paint and clear a space for something different. 

Maybe investing and creating both require a long view, guided by a vision of what might be. Both pursuits require the patience to work at it even when results come only in fits and starts. No guarantees in either arena, but we don’t know which ideas will pan out without the pursuit.

I’m no artist, but that sure is what investing feels like. 

A lap with the mower provides its own immediate feedback. When we make an investment, the early results could be positive or negative, and it may feel like a coin toss. Only as the months and years roll by do we see the fruits of our work. Some backward movement, sure, but we expect to see progress across the process. 

We cannot do this work for just anyone. It takes people who have perspective, the ability to take that long view, to have faith that we are on the right track even when temporary setbacks engulf us.

Fortunately, here at 228 Main we have the best clients in the world. We are grateful for you. 

If you would like to talk about progress toward your goals (or anything else), please email us or call. 


All investing includes risk including loss of principal.


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Raphael, Donatello, da Vinci… Markelangelo? 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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A Carousel of Goals

photo shows a colorful carousel ride of horses

Many of us have ridden on a merry-go-round, a carousel, at one time or another, haven’t we? In my earliest childhood memory, I regretted that I could only ride one of the colorful horses at a time. I knew which one I wanted first, but then there were others that I seemed to need a turn with. My folks arranged another ride, then another, so I could try a variety of them.

Life is like that, too. We tend to be consumed by different goals or interests at different times, even while others strive for our attention.

I spent a dozen years from age 40 on establishing the business at 228 Main; commerce was the theme of that chapter. Before that, my children received more time and energy. After that, a decade of snowbirding to Florida taught me to balance business with pursuits normally reserved for the retired. Family health issues then became the dominant concern.

Now, at an age when many are climbing on the retirement horse, I’m back on the business horse. Some of my contemporaries are spending more time in warmer places in winter, while I just sold my Florida home. It’s like I’m doing things backward, but don’t we all pick different seats on the carousel? Different preferences?

I wonder whether this is the latest manifestation of my contrarian nature, that approaching age 65 I am committing, more than ever, to my work and business. Or is this just a piece of a very old pattern, my intent to work to age 92?

I am not sure of the answers to those questions, but I do know this: I’m content in this chapter. My efforts are fulfilling; I have the time and space to do the things one might do to try to stay healthy; I am happy with my connections to you and others in my life. My life feels integrated, all aspects.

At the heart of this sense of fulfillment is being of service. No matter which goal currently has your attention, if there is something you would like to work on together, please email me or call.


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Keeping Up with the Joneses’ Retirement Plan

photo shows person looking at watch and holding coffee

Half our staff here at 228Main.com is under 40 years of age, and as you may realize, I’m… not 40.  

And I plan to work to 92.  

Suffice to say, my “retirement” plan won’t be the right model for everyone. But that doesn’t mean these younger staffers—and many clients their age—aren’t working on their own plans and planning. 

A client’s age or generation matter to a certain extent in our line of work. What we’ve noticed, however, is that the most important part is how each person relates to their age.

Think about my goals again. Of course my age is a factor in my planning, but my intention to continue working changes things more. If I were only working for 2 more years, my strategy would require a totally different gear than my plan to earn an income for 20 more years! 

Clients, I don’t mean to suggest you need to know your retirement date now—or even have an exact vision of your retirement lifestyle. In fact, what I want to suggest is that it’s okay if it feels like you’re saving for a fuzzy future self. 

“But how do I know whether I’m track? I should’ve started years ago, right?” We’ve heard this before.  

No guarantees, but if you’ve made it into a conversation where you’re asking someone you trust this question, you’re on your way. From here, it’s about working toward your goals. How your parents retired, how the plan goes in a chart in a pamphlet that gets stuffed into your hand… if you compare your plan to those examples, they can add more anxiety than applicability. 

Reframe. Retirement planning is about your goals, your timeline, your lifestyle. No external marker. 

Feeling behind? Arianna Huffington calls this sense of a ticking clock being in a “time famine,” a state where “your feeling is that it must be later than you think it is.” Feeling starved for time to do what you need to do is no foundation for a strong plan. 

“Yeah but how will I…” 

Ooh, good question! That’s where we come in, and we’d be honored to help you shape this vision. Reach out when you’re ready. 


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Wintering

photo shows sunny, snowy woods

Winter here is a demanding season—and not everyone appreciates the discipline.  

— Parker Palmer 

We talk plenty about seasons and cycles here at 228Main.com. There are useful lessons even in the most frigid of winters, literal or figurative. 

As I write this, our part of the world in southeast Nebraska is experiencing negative temperatures. The roadsides are lined with mountains of snow that have risen across the last few weeks. 

It’s hard to find the deeper meaning when even your boogers feel frozen. 

Teacher and author Parker Palmer writes about the seasons in this part of the country, like the stillness and clarity many Midwesterners can find in a snowy field. And, he explains, “Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter—it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring.” 

We spend our money differently in this season, but these needs will make way for a new focus in a few months. We keep our eyes open for the turn as challenges in certain industries give way to new opportunities.  

And as the circumstances may make it difficult to spend our time and resources exactly as we’d like to, we’ve still got one final gift of winter. It’s “the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things.” 

Clients, if you want to talk about your winter or the coming spring, please write or call. 


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