I try to take a couple of weeks of vacation outside of America and Wall Street explodes. Lehman is filing for bankruptcy. Bank of America is buying Merrill Lynch. I don’t even need to get into American Insurance Group losing a third of value. It will teach me to get away from it all in isolated resort in Phuket, Thailand. I should be sipping Singha’s by the pool now, but I found myself drawn to the financial news.
One analyst on BBC World was asked about Lehman’s reported bankruptcy filing. He made a great point they don’t have a steady stream of deposits – and they don’t enjoy the same Federal protections. This is in contrast to companies like Bank of America and Citigroup who are much more diversified. It is this diversification that is allowing Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch. Once again, we are reminded the value of diversification. Interestingly the next question was about whether it’s no longer worth it to “focus on one thing and do it well.” The analyst kind of panned the question. I would have said that it’s great to be focused in a popular area when times are good. When times are bad, it can be trouble.
Doesn’t that bring up an age old dilemma – is it better to diversify or focus? In many instances, I believe in diversifying. For investing, I think it’s just a certainly the way to go. When it comes to income streams, I believe in diversifying as well. Perhaps, I don’t give focusing it’s due. When it comes to being really successful, it seems that most do it by focusing on a few things and being the best at them. Aerosmith lead singer, Steven Tyler, says that anything worth doing is worth doing right. I mention that example, because he’s one of the best in the world at what he does. More than ever before, I’m reminded that diversifying seems to lead to a safety and possibly an average to above average lifestyle, while those looking for more may be better off focusing – just be prepared to end up bankrupt in your quest for greatness.