Letters from Wharton

Written by
Peter Dunn

Hi Kids! I am in the land of Academia this week. Wow! I forgot what it was like. I would have felt more comfortable if I would have shown up wearing sweat pants to the first lecture. I was hoping the guy in class next to me would smell like stale beer so that I would feel like I was back at my own college. He didn't.

I have decided to break down this entry into two sections. Things that matter and things that really matter.

Things that matter:

  • My first day classes were: a discussion on Modern Portfolio Theory, a lecture on Risk Adjusted Performance Measures, and unbelievable lecture on Hedge Funds.
  • I learned, from an academic perspective, that our world's best academic minds think that the stock market will only make modest gains over the next several years.
  • I learned that people often invest poorly when they are trying to be conservative. It is a FACT that a portfolio 25% stocks and 75% bonds actually is safer than a portfolio with 100% bonds. That blew my mind. I could explain it to you, but I won't. But I could.
  • I learned that Hedge Funds, on a conceptual level, are much safer (from a risk management perspective) than people think. The problem is knowing what fund to get into. Most hedge funds require that you are an accredited investor ($250k annual income or $1 million net worth).

Things that really matter

  • I am not the type of guy that would bash Northwest Airlines in this public forum for canceling my original flight, rerouting me through Detroit, delaying my second flight, putting me in a 2 hour holding pattern over western Pennsylvania, and ultimately making my 2 hour flight, a 7 hour nightmare.
  • We all have name badges. One guy's name badge says Big Jon Smith. I introduced myself to him, and said "Hi Jon. I'm Peter." He said, "It's Big Jon." I said, "Excuse me?" He said, "It's Big Jon. Everybody calls me Big Jon. I was born big, and you see how big I am now, so call me Big Jon."
  • That officially is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I now have to call people a name that includes the most descriptive adjective for them. Big Jon? Are you kidding me? Is that the way he justifies his health? By just making it part of his identity? I have nothing against his size, but I think that it is really sad that he has to be reminded of his size every time someone calls his name. Not to mention that I am stuck calling a man "Big Jon" at one of the finest academic institutions in the world. Later that night I met "Smelly Larry", "Tall Debbie", and "Skin-Condition Steve".
  • There are always a couple of guys that try to upstage the lecturer. They often do it by using the wrong terminology, and they end up just looking like morons. I wanted to get "Big Jon" to beat them up.
  • I wore a sweater vest. It seemed like the right thing to do at an Ivy School.
  • I haven't had a cheesesteak yet. Yet!

I will have more for you tomorrow.

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