Less Really Is More

When I was a kid I can remember looking at my father and thinking, “When I’m a Dad, I’ll know everything about everything.”

Obviously, that’s a little bit all-encompassing. However, there’s no denying that I believed whole-heartedly that with age came not only knowledge, but also some sort of sage-like wisdom that bordered on the supernatural. Now 32-years old and two amazing sons later, I’m here to say I’m still very much a work in progress, far removed from Mt. Olympus.

Case Exhibit 1: Recently, as I was driving in the car with my 7-year-old son, Griffin, he asked me what I did at work every day. He had just prior informed me that he wanted to work at POET Risk Management after graduating from Notre Dame on a football scholarship. He probably figured, before I sign-on with Dad I best find out what I’m going to be doing.

Being the professional that I am, I wasted no time embarking on a ten minute dissertation concerning the key elements of a sound risk management program – highlighting our primary goals of reducing risk without eliminating market opportunities through the use of various derivative instruments. Only after nearly running a red light did I even hesitate to look in the rearview mirror. Griffin was looking out the window.

He paused then said, “Oh…I thought you bought corn.” He followed with, “Dad, would you mind if I played pro football instead?”

What was wrong with me? Or maybe more appropriately, what was it within me that felt the need to craft a response worthy of a second interview at Goldman Sachs to a 7-year old with no front teeth, sitting in a booster chair, wearing a Chargers jersey and headed to his flag football game? It was then that I realized the first of many false pretenses I had willingly embraced on my preordained journey to omniscience.

“The more elaborate and complex the response, the more sophisticated you will appear.” I’m here to say that’s officially garbage. “Elaborate and complex” shall from this point forward be avoided like the plague, and no longer utilized as a backstop to create confusion as a means to insulate one’s self-esteem while also clouding the real issue. Why? Because less really is more, not to mention it produces results.

In our last session, Griffin and I covered several topics – I lying on the couch, and he sitting in my home office chair. He taught me in a matter of minutes the secret to a successful diet.

“Eating less and exercising more.” It’s insanely brilliant and far less intrusive than gastric bypass surgery.

We even concluded with a quick analysis on U.S. corn supplies. I mentioned that this year’s U.S. corn carryout was going to be relatively tight.

He said, “Why not produce more?”

Griff was on fire that day. I mean seriously, why should we be so quick to write-off our ability to meet rising corn demand considering we’re on the heels of a second consecutive record corn crop? Not to mention we did it in 2010 on 5.6 million less corn acres than were planted in 2007.

I’m telling you it works. Oh and for future reference, my new job description at POET Risk Management, “Corn Buyer.” Less really is more.

Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.




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