I don’t watch sports no care to even pretend to, but I just became aware of my new basketball hero Rick Barry via a TAL podcast who is known for his unorthodox but effective underhand free throw shooting technique, and at the time of his retirement in 1980, his .900 free throw percentage ranked first in NBA history. This technique of shooting granny style looks very stupid but it is very effective in scoring points at a 90% success rate at the free throw line.
The episode is narrated by King Geek, Malcolm Gladwell and it talks about why we know the right thing to do, but due to social pressures we don’t do what’s right, but actually do what’s wrong (but popular). If Shaq and Wilt Chamberland were to shoot with the granny underhand technique they may have been the greatest players of all time. However in an effort to not look “silly, like a sissy” Wilt Chamberland went from scoring 100 points in a single game using the granny technique to having less than 40% scoring at the foul line, but looking cool while missing 60% of his shots.
How does this relate to Churning and to TSP retirement? Everything, because it is probably the most unorthodox thing you can do is to maximize TSP to have it index for 40 years in CSI, never rolling it over, all while racking up 20+ credit cards for the points and benefits. Everyone thinks you are going to ruin your credit and not make massive YOLO gains on 3x leveraged ETFs. Despite these naysayers, all the math and rules are in your favor, you know you can’t beat the market, and that your low utilization of credit will paradoxically bring your score to 800+!
The TAL episode goes on about Threshold Model of Collective Behavior of why we do things that are out of character or beyond of those things we believe to be true because those around you think something else more popular. In the case of basketball, no one thinks it was cool to shoot granny style, so no one does, despite the numbers showing that this technique is easier and results more points at the basket ball ring (sic). Rick Barry on the other hand, doesn’t give a f*ck what you think of his free throw, and for the love of his game, has played basketball at 100% of his ability, something that Shaq and Wilt can’t claim.
In churning and investing you need to be like Rick, you need to stick with the numbers and the goals even when people laugh in your face. From the episode:
That’s exactly what it means to have a low threshold. If you have a threshold of 0, you’re someone who doesn’t need the support or the approval or the company of others to do what you think is right. Now, here’s the catch– the person who thinks this way is not always easy to be around.
There you go, its hard to be right, the best move is to always keep the churning and proper investing as as a deep dark secret. The last 3 years of hard churning have been amazing, but my openness about it really made it easy to be labeled as a joke or the asshole by thinking drastically different than the rest. Just because your trying to optimize your life and want to share like a good maven, doesn’t mean that people will share your joy of optimization if they do the same.
In reality bringing up investing and churning to those who do not seek it, makes it seem like your criticizing their life, they won’t appreciate the shared analysis, and wish you never opened your mouth. My mistake was believing that others wanted to optimize as well, but because of high Threshold they would never change their technique until 6 of their friends, their uncles, and their babysitter say it’s something they are doing.
So when your flying in business class on points and staying at the $1000 a night Ritz for free, your just keep your damn mouth shut, no one wants to hear it. When you retire at 65 with a million in TSP, just laugh from your yacht, because the information was always here. You can’t help those that do not wish to change, just help yourself and remember it’s never cool to shoot granny style, nor is it cool to talk about retirement while trying to meet chicks at fantasy space club as an E-1, but when you look back on it you should be proud that you went your own way because you knew it would pan out.