Bill Nygren: Joe Maddon Made The Cubs Better. Could He Do The Same For Investors?VW Staff
Bill Nygren has been a manager of the Oakmark Select Fund (OAKLX) since 1996, Oakmark Fund (OAKMX) since 2000 and the Oakmark Global Select Fund (OAKWX) since 2006. He joined Harris Associates in 1983 and served as the firm’s Director of Research from 1990 to 1998. He holds an M.S. in Finance from the University of Wisconsin’s Applied Security Analysis Program (1981) and a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Minnesota (1980).
World Champion Chicago Cubs—that’s a phrase no one alive today heard until this month. Our Cubs have finally shed that horrible nickname “Lovable Losers.” Reflecting back on the World Series victory reveals a concerted effort that began years ago by the new owners to change team culture. One of the important pieces of that change was hiring Joe Maddon as manager. Maddon is known to be a data-driven decision maker, unlike old school managers who rely mostly on gut feel. In addition to his reputation as a statistical savant, Maddon is known for making a deep connection with his players, much like former Chicago Bulls coaching legend, “Zen Master” Phil Jackson. Jackson and Maddon were both able to motivate players to perform to their potential, and also get them to put team goals ahead of personal accomplishments. Take a walk around Chicago and you will see “Maddonisms” on t-shirts everywhere. Phrases like “Respect 90” remind players to always give full effort running out groundballs so that they can reach the base if the opponent slips up (the bases are 90 feet apart). As a long time Cubs fan, seeing that consistent effort is a pleasant departure from prior Cubs teams.
While we know that following these Maddon slogans made a baseball team better, it occurred to me that the Maddon t-shirts in my closet have broader appeal than just baseball. What follows are my Top 5 Maddonisms and how I think they apply to investing.
Thanks to the 2016 Chicago Cubs, I can finally retire my “Party like its 1908” and “Rebuilding since 1908” shirts and replace them with the new “2016 World Champions” edition. As the celebrations draw to a close, Maddon and the rest of the Cubs’ management will begin to focus on the challenge of repeating their success next season. One of the reasons sports are so popular is that the lessons they teach apply to so many other areas of life, such as the rewards of teamwork, discipline, effort and mental preparation. Don’t let the memory of the 2016 Cubs fade without using their keys to success as an opportunity to improve as an investor.