Paul Meloan – Vested Interest

Collectively, poker players better understand the role of randomness in any given moment. If the next card drawn is a king or a spade one player wins and if it’s not another player takes the pot. Within the confines of a deck of cards, the outcome is random.

What happens when we expand the study of randomness over the course of a human life?

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S.A. and with that people are encouraged to express gratitude for good fortune. (It’s literally the name of the holiday). But what exactly is good fortune and where does it come from?

A few years back Michael Lewis gave a speech on the topic to new graduates of Princeton about the role of luck and randomness in the outcomes that became his life. He makes several insightful observations on luck including one that I think took the graduates by surprise: being lucky carries with it an obligation to the unlucky.

Finally, when watching this speech again I was struck by a blind spot that Michael Lewis has: he fails to note the role of his maleness or his whiteness in his good luck. Even a gifted storyteller such as he can fail to notice the subtle but pervasive wind at his back.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Paul Meloan is the co-founder and co-managing member of Aegis Wealth Management, LLC, in Bethesda, Maryland USA. Before Aegis Paul was a practicing attorney as well as working in the tax practice of Ernst & Young, LLP.

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