I am being driven through Ohio at a good radar-detector clip by a banker in a fully loaded BMW. Automatic rear window screens! Global Positioning System guidance system! Seat warmers! This banker oversees $18 billion in client investments. And his story—well, his best story—is as simple and instructive as this:

About twenty years ago his grandmother died (I think it was his grandmother), leaving him and his older brother about $5,000 worth of Coca Cola stock apiece. His older brother sold it to put towards purchase of a Corvette. Loved that damn car. And proud of how it kept its value.

Indeed, they got to talking about it recently, and his brother recalled what fun he had driving the Vette . . . and how it had so retained its value that, when he sold it a couple of years later, he got for it exactly what he’d paid. It had cost him nothing! And he had gotten to drive a hot red car for two years.

That’s pretty good, admitted his younger brother the banker. What he had done was just hang on to the $5,000 stock. Didn’t sell it. Still hasn’t. Today’s value? Three hundred thousand dollars.

Sure, these were an exceptional 20 years and Coke is an exceptional company. But this could have come straight from Aesop’s Fables if there had been satellite guidance systems and caffeinated brown sugar water in Aesop’s day.

 

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