Why I Invest
Dear person(s) who have not yet been named,

I wanted to write to you today to let you know that I am thinking about you even though you do not exist yet. Today is my 30th birthday. A couple of days ago Grandma passed away. And on the 28th of last month I asked your mom to marry me. I am caught up in both reflective and futuristic thinking at the moment; feelings of thankfulness as well as loss are both quick to percolate through my brain.

We all depend on those who were thinking about us before we were born. Grandma was thinking of me and my two brothers. She has just moved on but she left behind a life full of decisions designed to allow her children and grandchildren to flourish. Her forethought and generosity put me in a position where I could experience many luxuries, such as changing my career trajectory five years in; even the time to sit down and write a letter to kid(s) that haven't been born yet is a gift. And I'm writing it in a journal that was a gift from my Mom and with a pencil that was a gift from my Dad. The apartment I'm in right now is being supplied by your mom. All of these gifts, big and small are the fruit of selfless choices that other people have made.

I want you to know that if anyone ever asks you if you are a "lucky" person, the answer is yes. We often don't realize how much our own success or failure is brought on by the generosity of others rather than our own actions. I would not be doing my job if I didn't let you know about the rich history of lucky breaks you've already gotten- and you probably won't even be born for years.

A hopeful development in the world right now is the emergence of tools that help us collaborate across time and space. I routinely do video calls with other software developers who live in Paris, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. They could be 13 time zones ahead of me and as far away as two humans can physically be from each other in this day and age, and yet we can still work together. I love that. Its one of my favorite things to do right now- connect with someone else on a shared project, simultaneously learning from and teaching to, a friend.

But it turns out these developments aren't new at all. The collaboration across time and space is something we've been doing for centuries. The people who built the sewer system in the city I live in were working on the same project I'm working on today: preparing a great world for you. The only thing different about today is more frequently we get to meet and talk to the people we collaborate with. And that is a joyful experience.

Cross-generational collaboration is how I would describe the luck I've found myself with today. Projects across time and space. People working together, teaching, learning. I find these projects so fun I'd like to start one with you. I know I'm rushing out ahead of you on this, but I really am too excited to wait. You'll be here soon enough, and I promise to document everything you miss. You'll be up and running in no time.

As it happens getting started early is quite important, and its the first thing I want to talk to you about (after, of course letters, numbers, eating healthy, exercise, etc. ok nevermind its not the first thing). There is an idea called 'compounding' which is often talked about in relation to money, however you should more often think about it in terms of your choices. Compounding occurs when the benefits of your past choices combine with the benefits of your current choices to form possibilities that are so good, they are hard to imagine.

Today I'm sitting on top of a mountain of compounding choices made by Grandma, Grandpa Stan, Nana, Grandpa Ralph, Mom, Dad, and many, many other people both in the distant past and whom I talk to today. I'd like to invite you to join a project we can work on together, regardless of whether we happen to be in the same time or place at the moment. I'm not sure if you'll find it as interesting as I do; if not, we can always pick a different project. I am being, as stated before- quite rude in starting without you. Most important to me is finding something to share with you.

The first project idea: investing in your future. Yes, it has to do with money, no, money isn't the most important thing in the world. But if investing is something you end up being interested in, getting a head start will matter more in this arena than in most other projects.

The Plan: I'll start a portfolio with your name on it and make a new investment every month. In the beginning these will be higher growth/higher risk investments. I assume that at this juncture you will have no objection to the riskier strategy, as, at present, you quite literally have nothing to lose. I'll keep track of the investments every month, so that when you are old enough to object we can talk about what I need to learn.

Above all I'm thankful to the people who started projects like this for me, often without even knowing it. My mom and my dad celebrate their wedding anniversary monthly instead of yearly. Growing up I would always look forward to the 28th of every month because it would mean some silly surprise in the number of months they had been married; 114 balloons in the hallway, 187 jelly beans spelling out "Happy Anniversary." It's a tradition I am looking forward to carrying on with your mom. Thats the real power of compounding: the little choices you make on a regular basis that show appreciation for one another spill over into the lives of the people around you and keep growing from there. If there's one thing I can imprint on you before anything else, it would be that small acts of kindness done regularly are compounding machines. Any project you find that helps you do this, is worth getting started on today.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,

Yegor's avatar
This is great. Give me a little tear of joy 🥲
Nathan Worden's avatar
Thanks Yegor! Seeing your comment gave me an excuse to come back and revisit this memo. It's fun to think about how this project started 15 months ago. Looking forward to continuing it for the next 15 years! @from100kto1m