Whitney Tilson – CUP Member Spotlight- Jan. 2012

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I’m a value investor and run three different businesses related to this, with three different partners: money management (via three hedge funds and two mutual funds); two investment newsletters, Value Investor Insight and SuperInvestor Insight; and a conference business, the Value Investing Congress, with two conferences per year.  I developed a passion for value investing as a hobby in the late 1990s, largely by discovering Warren Buffett, and decided to turn my passion into a business when I started my first fund in 1999.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

Picking stocks that beat the market is really tough.  It’s a hyper-competitive game.

What is your proudest achievement?

In business, beating the market 10 of our 13 years.  Personally, raising three amazing girls (with my wife, of course!).

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, who run Berkshire Hathaway.  As two of the greatest investors of all time, they are of course great role models for my business, but they are also great teachers, philanthropists, and role models for life, as super-high-integrity people.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Hopefully managing a much larger and more profitable business, with 10 consecutive years of beating the market, and continuing to use my good fortune to make an even bigger difference in the world.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

  • 1) Marry the right person.
  • 2) Pick the right career – not necessary the most lucrative one, but rather the one you’re genuinely passionate about – what you’d do anyway if you never had to work.
  • 3) Work really, really hard to be successful in your career.
  • 4) Early in your career, pick one cause/charity that you’re passionate about and make a genuine commitment to it.  Don’t get overcommitted – at least until you’re at the stage in your career where you can afford to.
  • 5) Being nice and having unquestioned integrity are more important than hard work and brains.
  • 6) Your reputation is your most precious asset – it takes a lifetime to build and can be destroyed in five minutes.