Quick win: The problem with saying yes

March 17, 2015 | Kara Lilly Print

When you say yes to doing something you’re not good at, you are also saying no to something you are.

Another way to think about it:

Because our lives are made up of finite resources, when you say yes to something that is not valuable, you are saying no to something that is.

It is easy to pile on activities that don’t move the needle and expend energy in areas of life that we associate with having little value. But completing tasks is not the same thing as being productive. This is especially true within investing, where virtually a limitless stream of information threatens to distract us from research that actually matters.

In 1906, economist Vilfredo Pareto noticed that 20% of the people in Italy owned 80% of the land. He went on to discover this phenomenon occurred in numerous areas of the natural and social world. The Pareto Principle, or the “80-20 Rule,” shows how a small but vital amount of action (roughly 20%) is responsible for a disproportionate amount (about 80%) of results.

Saying no to performing tasks that we know don’t add a lot of value allows us to say yes to the 20% of activities that drive big value. In investing, this focus can mean the difference between either beating the benchmark over time or impairing capital. In life, it often means the difference between mediocrity and something bigger.




No one has commented on this page yet.

Join the Discussion

Stay Curious

Subscribe to receive our latest insights and quarterly updates.

Popular Posts

Capitalizing on cloud migration | EP65

The enemy is us: Mitigating confirmation bias

Introducing the new Mawer EAFE large cap strategy | EP64

What the FAANG is going on? | EP62


(Not) Boring Links

Business Models

Investment Approach

Mental Models


This blog and its contents are for informational purposes only. Information relating to investment approaches or individual investments should not be construed as advice or endorsement. Any views expressed in this blog were prepared based upon the information available at the time and are subject to change. All information is subject to possible correction. In no event shall Mawer Investment Management Ltd. be liable for any damages arising out of, or in any way connected with, the use or inability to use this blog appropriately.

Stay curious

Subscribe to receive our latest insights and quarterly updates.