A Hold Is A Buy

At one of the Blitzscalling classes I’m taking, Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) said the phrase “A Hold Is A Buy” in relation to re-evaluating one’s decisions on an on-going basis. Thinking about that phrase – it’s quite genius. It is a good rule by which to manage many things in our personal and work lives. Googling it, though, provides just one result. Apparently, Reid came up with something people don’t often use yet.

Imagine you own a stock and it’s going up. You haven’t decided whether to sell it or not and so are still holding onto it. The next day, the stock crashes and you lost all of your investment. The fact that you have not made a decision to sell it means, implicitly, you’ve decided to buy it. You are responsible for losing your investment. Daunting, right?

Instead, what you should have done, is sold the stock and then reconsidered whether to buy it or not (which would be the ideal way if we didn’t have a gap between buy and sell prices as well as the existence of fees).

Applying This To Our Day To Day

Whatever you are doing today you need to sometimes reconsider whether or not you should keep doing it. As we all know, it may be drastically easier to keep things the way they are than it is to change them. Reid used the example of employees (“would you hire this person knowing what you know today for the role they are doing today?”) but let’s think of something completely different: how we run our day to day.

indeni’s customers are normally engineering and operations teams within large enterprises. The engineers are responsible for setting up the infrastructure, purchasing new products, etc., while the operations team are responsible for running the infrastructure. If something breaks, the operations team needs to fix it. If they need to, they can escalate the issue to engineering, who are the ones who originally set the infrastructure up. To conduct these processes, a plethora of tools are used.

Once in awhile, a break can become very severe and cause a shakeup of this model. The break is so severe, it results in ripple effects throughout the organization and the higher execs are pressing on their people to find a solution to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Suddenly, the current processes and tools in use get reviewed to see if they can be adapted to fix the problem, or if new tools are needed.

The reason this review is only done when a severe issue occurs is that teams today are simply underwater with all the responsibilities that they have. It is difficult to make time to do something like this. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right?

But take it from the approach of “A Hold Is A Buy” and it suddenly looks very different. If you do what you do today, it means you have made the choice to do it the way you’re doing it. In other words, you are responsible for the current method by which you go about things. Even if you think you didn’t take an active choice, you’ve made an implicit choice. You “held” onto current methods and so you essentially “bought” into them. The same scrutiny you apply to using a new tool (as our potential customers do to indeni, for example), is the level of scrutiny you should apply to your existing processes and tools.

So What’s The Solution?

You should wake up every morning, and during your commute (or shower, in my case), “sell” an item from your day to day. A process, a tool or a strategic plan. Once you’ve sold it, reconsider if you’d like to buy it. Consider the price, the value and whether or not it makes sense. I started doing this recently and noticed it changed my perspective on things. All of a sudden, things seem a lot clearer.

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