the best clients in the world

Fresh as a Rose

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Maybe you remember having to write a persuasive paper or give a persuasive speech in school. The structure of such a composition could be pretty simple: describe a problem, then present a solution to that problem. Done.

I remember this kind of prompt when I see ads today for certain products, especially those related to… the nose.

“Your neighbors will notice your home smells like garbage… if you don’t buy this spray.”

“You’ll never find romance… without our mouthwash.”

Advertising in this country has relied on these types of messages for decades. In fact, the first commercial deodorant makers realized that in order to survive they would need to convince Americans that sweating was an embarrassment. (Your human body leaks? How unseemly!)

Fast-forward, and these products do sell! Scented garbage bags, room sprays, and body washes have become staples for many households. And don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting these products don’t have their uses and pleasures. But it’s pandering to exaggerate about “how much poorer your life will be without this one specific solution I have to offer… and it’s available! Call now!”

We’ve got nothing to sell. We’re not going to provoke a sense of shame or pretend to be high priests. Wherever you are, wherever you’ve been, (however you smell?!), we are here to try to help you strive toward your goals—however you identify them.

The problem/solution formula makes plenty of sense in its own way: of course we want companies and brands to help us improve our daily lives! On the other hand…

We don’t need the world to believe it stinks to be of service to others.

Clients, we’re here for you on your schedule. Let us know how we can help.


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In Business to Talk All Day

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Dire need first drove us to it. Fortunate circumstances made it possible. Now, with more dedicated resources than ever, it’s clear that 21st century communications have transformed our work with you. 

Now we are striving to be available in the forms and places that suit you best. And believe it or not, we think our communications with you are an important part of our mission to try to grow your bucket. 

Clients, maybe you’ve experienced this in your own work and communities. Keeping the channels open is not an extra step you add onto your relationships: communicating is just part of it!

Our work is really a joint venture, a collaboration with you. It does not matter if we can find favorable investment opportunities and manage portfolios in advantageous ways if clients don’t understand why we are doing what we are doing. They might feel driven to sell out at what could be the wrong time. No guarantees that our views are right, but at least you will always know what they are. 

This is why our bountiful communications with you are so key. You know what we are doing; you see our principles in action. With all that, you tend to stick with the program at crucial times when it might otherwise have been difficult to do so. 

For instance, with the best clients in the world, we can take on unpopular but potentially profitable ideas. And we don’t need to jump on every fad or chase popular but overpriced concepts. Each week you hear from us—and get our take on which stories are actually news worth knowing. 

We’ve been working on improvements in our communications program across the last year. Whether you prefer to read, or listen, or watch, you can find us! Have you caught us on our website, or visited the podcast, or watched us on YouTube? Or do you like your content best on social media? 

Here is an update of where you can find us: 

  • The blog at 228Main.com now includes an audio version of every post, playable right below each story. 
  • Want audio only? It’s available as a stand-alone podcast on SpotifyGoogle, and Anchor
  • The weekly “Clients, You Know What I’m Talking About!” videos and more are available on our YouTube Channel. Subscribe or drop in anytime. 

  • The email newsletter “The Weekly Note” rounds up the best of the blog, socials, and updates—short and sweet, in your inbox just once a week. Leave your email here to get it. 
  • You can also find news and notes and commentary from us daily on socials, at FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn

Clients, you can make it interactive any time you want, by replying to an email newsletter, calling, or stopping by 228 Main. We love to hear from you! 


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This text can be found at https://www.228Main.com/.

The Journey [video]


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TRANSCRIPT:

[MARK] 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.

Big Trust

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Many of you know I prefer my exercise in the form of a long morning walk. These constitutionals have become routine as I’ve settled into this chapter of my life here in beautiful Louisville. I have my favorite paths, and the steps have become familiar.

Familiarity is a comfort, in many arenas. People sometimes feel uneasiness in their financial planning, bringing big fears and big feelings to money. And it’s not just those 20-somethings starting out in their careers or with young families or during big moves.

Each new chapter of life can bring unique financial challenges, so even the most familiar paths can seem to shift on us as we go.

I’ve thought about this in terms of my physical wellbeing, too. I have family members who prefer to hop on a bicycle for hours on end, some who hike in the mountains at every opportunity. Those paths seem foreign to me, an avid small-town walking enthusiast.

But then again, I haven’t tried them.

Clients, many of our conversations revolve around imagining new paths forward. It can be thrilling or frightening, joyful or bittersweet. But new paths aren’t about knowing exactly how to get where you’re going. A clear sense of where you’re headed will suffice. The rest is an adventure of details, one step at a time.

None of this is to say we must “conquer” our fear or anything like that. It’s nearly the opposite of that: it’s seeing the fear and choosing to let it ride along—because the trust is bigger than the fear.

Trust that Future You will be able to ride with the feelings as they pop up. You don’t have to know exactly what’s coming: if you believe in your goals and trust your ability to handle the journey, that’s enough to get it started.

Clients, where to next? Write or call, anytime.


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Value Will Out: Living with the Streaky In-Between

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The ever-changing mosaic of the market holds my attention like few things do. It seems that a million factors bear on daily outcomes, mediated by human emotions such as fear and greed.

As fundamental investors, we believe that value ultimately comes out. Fads and fears may drive prices to irrational levels, but sooner or later the bottom line, the intrinsic worth makes itself known. This is why we are sometimes content to invest or hold onto unpopular companies: we’re waiting patiently.

Recently the broad stock market averages had their worst day in many months—followed the next day by the best day in many months. One day the global economy is supposedly going off a cliff; the next, all is well in the world. During such turmoil, we are happy to do our research, make decisions, and hang on.

The crosscurrents have been strong. When some of our larger holdings gain or lose 5% in a day, it has an impact on your account balances. But we pick our spots, thinking about the long term, and judge our results over the longest possible time horizon.

Streakiness in the short run, we can tolerate. It may just be the price of getting to the long-term results we desire.

For you, that means we are interested in your cumulative results: how much have you put in, and how much do you have now? This is generally a more useful, and gratifying, way to look at your portfolios. The day-to-day action can appear random, by comparison. (It goes up and down, this we know.)

In the meantime, we read and study, assessing our holdings and looking for new possibilities. Having the best clients in the world helps: we spend no time apologizing or explaining short-term volatility, for we know it will always be with us.

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


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Value Will Out: Living With the Streaky In-Between 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

This text can be found at https://www.228Main.com/.

Defining Our Terms: Who Is “the Investor Class”?

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Theorists who study classes—whether they are economic, social, or political classes—have to be particular about the definitions and assumptions that inform their work. Without getting on the same page first, phrases like “middle class” would tell us practically nothing (except that maybe members are above some lower class and below some upper class?). 

We’ve recently been reminded of a term that’s now a few decades old: people talk about “the investor class,” or the group that has access to and takes advantage of stock ownership. 

In the past, the push to grow this “class” had political motivations. (The thinking went that if more of the electorate participated in the stock market, those voters would develop a new appreciation for certain policy goals regarding wealth and business.) 

So what defines this group, today? Who is “the investor class”? 

We can’t speak for all shops, but we already know who our clients. The portion of the “investor class” we work with is made up of, well, retirees and workers and truck drivers and executives and nurses and engineers and young teachers and former teachers and accountants and statisticians. 

They are married couples and widows and single people. They live in the Midwest and outside the Midwest. 

Some went to college. Some went beyond college. Some are high school graduates.  

Some start their investment journey with traditional pension plan contributions. Some start later in life when a sudden windfall arrives. 

Some like saving. Some like spending. 

At first glance, this may seem to be a poorly defined group. But hey… we’re talking about the work of growing your buckets, not anthropology or sociology. 

One characteristic does give structure to our definition of “the investor class”this group’s members are those people in the best position to profit from it over the long haul. In this niche market of the mind, we share a desire to own a piece of the action, in the form of shares of common stock, from nearly all sectors of the economy.  

Interested in this special but not-so-exclusive club? The barriers for entry have never been lower, and we’re glad to try to help anybody who wants to be here.  

Let’s talk: please email us or call. 


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Small, Boring, and Extraordinary

We talk a lot about plans and planning. Your goals, your situation are at the center of our work. And they have to be: that’s the whole point.

But you didn’t become the best clients in the whole world overnight. It’s been a journey of change for us and for you. So how did we do it? How did we build relationships where we can navigate change, monitor the conditions around us with clear eyes, and adjust when needed?

We didn’t leap off any cliffs together. We didn’t burn it all down. We didn’t do anything drastic. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” the saying goes—and neither is a solid financial life.

We don’t look at a goal—retirement, for example—and expect that one big, amazing deal is going to land a pot of gold in our laps. But we also aren’t going to scratch our heads and wonder how we’re going to magically produce that pot of gold.

Creative Julia Cameron explains, “When we allow ourselves to wallow in the big questions, we fail to find the small answers.” (In fact, her book The Artist’s Way is all about showing up every day, putting in the work.)

Good work often means doing the small, boring bits—over and over. We show up for work. We make sure our savings plan gets executed every payday. We reevaluate our holdings as conditions change. We read, research, and chat.

Clients, our partnership is not a series of grand gestures. But it is a series of respectful connections. As Cameron would put it, it’s about “respect for where we are as well as where we wish to go.”

That is how we grow, together. And we actually think the small, boring moves can build something pretty extraordinary.

Please, write or call when we can be of service.