The NFL has a lot in common with investing. Both can be rough sports. You can get beaten if you’re not at the top of your game. That’s why a methodical approach is necessary to win both on the field and in the markets. Back in 2002 I wrote about the inspiration former Cleveland Brown’s football coach Paul Brown has given me during my years of investing. Read on about how Brown used a focused, methodical approach to build a football dynasty.

Former Cleveland Brown’s coach, the legendary Paul Brown, was a full professor. And Professor Brown taught his football players a systematical/methodical procedure of understanding tasks to attain successful results in the face of unforeseen variable difficulties. Paul planned for everything to the nth degree. As Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer Dante Lavelli has said, “Much of the way the game is played at the end of the century can be found in the innovative strategies and techniques that were developed and implemented by Paul Brown. Everyone for example has heard of the West Coast offense. That’s our basic (50s Browns) pass attack that Paul brought from the Browns to Cincinnati. Bill Walsh who was an assistant picked it up and took it to San Francisco.” Today, 50 years later, the West Coast Offense is bigger than ever.

Brown’s Unmatched Record

Paul Brown coached the All-American Football Conference Cleveland Browns to the championship in each of the leagues’ four seasons, including a 29-and-0 run from 19 October 1947 to 9 October 1949. Brown coached the NFL Cleveland Browns to an 88/30/2 record (win/lose/tie) in the 1950s, reaching the championship game in seven years. His methods produced winning results over and over again.

Through the years, I’ve followed Paul Brown’s career in Cleveland about as closely as anyone could, and I’ve based my investment approach and a lot of what I do in life on what I learned from Paul Brown and the Browns. The key is a systematical/methodical approach. Our new office at 500 Fifth Avenue in Naples, Florida, is dedicated to Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns. As you enter the office, the innovations and techniques of Paul Brown are on full display.

Diversification—Patience—Value–Compound Interest

I write to you monthly of my basic investor tenet: diversification and patience built on a foundation of value and compound interest. If you apply a methodical approach, you can harness the power of my tenet to your own maximum value. Paul Brown was a fanatic on notebooks. Nothing was left to chance. Every player, even back in the 1940s, had to have one. Get yourself a yellow Sharpie marking pen (they write on the glossiest surfaces) and a shocking orange three-ring binder. I want you to circle the key points I make for you in these issues and keep each issue in your orange binder. Like Paul’s winning teams, you will quickly develop an indispensable investor playbook that will help you become a more successful, comfortable investor for the rest of your life. I can promise you success.

Investing without a plan is a recipe for disaster. Chasing the latest fad, or relying on unresearched “tips” from friends can land you in trouble. If you don’t have the time or patience to develop a real investment plan, work with an advisor who will do the heavy lifting for you.

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