Traits Great Investors Have in Common

Last week I wrote about two of my takeaways (see here and here) from an interview with the founder of Carlyle Group, David Rubenstein. David shared a lot of great nuggets, including some that would otherwise take people a lifetime to figure out. In addition to being a founder, David also hosts The David Rubenstein Show: Peer to Peer Conversations. He’s had the opportunity to interview over two hundred people, some of whom are investors, on his show and work with numerous investors over his many-decades-long career.

Over the years, David has noticed a few traits that great investors have in common:

  • Well educated – They aren’t high school dropouts.  
  • Good at math – Their math skills are above average.
  • From an average family – They were raised in a blue-collar or middle-class family.
  • Willing to own mistakes – They’re willing to recognize a mistake, admit it, and get out quickly.
  • Generous – They’re willing to share credit for good things.
  • Accepting of accountability – They’re willing to take the blame when things don’t go as planned.
  • Avid readers – They have a strong appetite for learning and knowledge. They’re constantly reading. I noticed something similar.
  • Gratified by the act of investing – The challenge of investing—not just the money—is interesting to them. It’s a matter of mental sharpness and challenge.
  • Contrarian – They’re comfortable going against the grain instead of following the path of least resistance.
  • Philanthropic – They enjoy promoting the welfare of others.

This is an interesting list. Some of the items I wouldn’t expect. I’m going to think about this list and see if it holds true for the investors I know.

Take a listen to David’s comments on great investors here.