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Flocking for Knowledge: Compounding Experiences with Markel's Jitney Group

I spoke to Markel's Jitney group recently. Markel is an insurance company based in Richmond, VA. I spoke to them about how investing has influenced my views of the world, why I started, and how my experience has helped me become a well informed investor. Please enjoy the transcipt of the talk I gave: My excitement has been compounding since I was first talking about this opportunity, and I hope your interest has been as well. My name is Maya Peterson. I am high school sophomore with a passion for business, math, behavioral finance, and science. I published a book last year about the power and importance of investing early. It is called Early Bird: The Power of Investing Young. I have a blog called Compounding Snowballs that is three years old now, and many other activities outside of school that keep me busy. I want to talk about the ideas of experience and knowledge, two words that are related, but often misused. 
Investing deals with both experience and knowledge. There are countl…
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The Power of Socially Responsible Investing

Social responsibility means that as an individual or a corporation, you have a civic duty to use your actions to benefit the population. If corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about making a "greener" impact on the environment, creating a diverse and accepting workforce, and/or benefiting society over the long-term, why is it so hard for companies to do? The short answer is the long-term. 
People and companies too often focus on the short term: how much money their company will make this quarter. If their drive is making money in the short term, then as Jeremy Grantham says, "Grandchildren have no value… We deforest the land, we degrade our soils, we pollute and overuse our water, and we treat our air like an open sewer. All of this is off the balance sheet and off the income statement". 

As a value investor, I look at the potential growth, competitive advantage, fair price, and good management within the company. As a socially responsible investor, the money a …

Flocking for Knowledge: A Q&A with Ensemble Capital's Todd Wenning

Ensemble Capital gave me a wonderful chance to speak to a lot of young people about my book and my story. Here is a write up of some of the questions I was asked by Todd Wenning: Todd Wenning: The title of your book is Early Bird: The Power of Investing Young. Why is there such power in investing when you’re young? Maya Peterson:I am sixteen years old. As a young person, I do not pay rent and I cannot drive myself places yet, but I can invest. Investing is one of the first adult choices a young person can make. It is very powerful to make the choice to invest your money rather than spend it right away. Investing is a decision that will impact your future. Also because you’re young, you have a lot of time ahead of you which maximizes the concept of compounding. Compounding is the idea that if you have a small ball of snow at the top of the hill as it rolls down, it will continue to get bigger. In reality, time is the hill and snow is your investments, so an ideal situation is having good…

Erin Lash's Take on Consumer Staples

Erin Lash is the Director for Consumer Equity Research at Morningstar Inc. She specializes in the sector of consumer staples (foods, household and personal care companies). Erin Lash has been working as an equity analyst since 2006. She was very kind to answer quite a few of my questions on consumer staples. 
How frequently do consumers switch consumer staples products, and is there a common cause to that behavior? 
There are no meaningful switching costs for end consumers. But leading players maintain the resources to support their brands at the shelf and defend their share position against the encroachment of smaller foes. We view marketing as a cost of doing business (not a source of competitive edge), since even value-added new products can fail if consumers don't know about them. However, this differentiates brands from private-label fare, where innovation and ad spend are deficient. Firms competing in commodity-like categories (where products turn fast and are often perishabl…

Flocking for Knowledge: My Talk with Fifth-Graders

My fifth grade teacher (I will call her Ms. R) recently invited me back to my former middle school to talk to her current class. I talked about what drives me, what it takes to be a good student, and somethings to expect in the years to come. I hope you enjoy a variation of my talk. Before I share what I talked about, I want to disclose that some of what is written below can be found on previous blog posts and ValueWalk.
"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." When my Ms. R would tell us this, it meant nothing to me as a ten year old. Looking back on it now, the only thing I can think about is how perfectly this describes my story.
I am currently in ninth grade. To understand my story, we have to first understand how I got started in two businesses: the jewelry business and the camp business.
When I was in 4th grade, I decided to start a business. I don’t believe it had a name, but I was extremely proud of it. I made earrings and brought …