Around The World In 100 Words - June 2017, Week 19

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[complacency] noun 1. A feeling of quiet security, often while unaware of some potential danger; smug satisfaction with an existing situation.

This week's Around The World (ATW) is about investing, and how complacency is the nemesis of it. Complacency lurks, quietly and unobtrusively waiting for its moment. And, like dry rot - a wood decay with a long life cycle, complacency deteriorates to eventual collapse. Such is the case with Sears - once the largest retailer in America and a pioneer in retailing through its iconic Sears catalogues. Sears was founded in 1886 by Richard Sears - then called the R.W. Sears Watch Company, as a mail order business offering watches and jewelry. Over the course of its storied history, it owned everything from the Encyclopedia Britannica to the then-world's tallest office tower in Chicago. Efforts to diversify into such businesses as real estate and financial services caused the company to take its eye off its lagging core business, retailing.

But it was complacency, the belief that its 2100 stores would continue to dominate American retailing despite the existential threat of on-line retailers led by Amazon that ultimately proved to be the undoing of Sears. The physical appearance of stores deteriorated and parts of the business including its venerable Craftsman brand of tools were sold to stay afloat. Like burning the floor boards in the fireplace in an effort to stay warm, this could only end one way.

I must confess I'm a little nostalgic already, and wonder if this is how Eaton's devotees felt upon the end of its days. Nonetheless, the rise and fall of Sears is a poignant reminder of why success requires eternal vigilance. Resting on one's laurels is another way to define complacency, and is a blueprint for failure. Our commitment to you is to stay sharp, stay current and stay vigilant. Watching your money, protecting your money and growing your money, knowing that, as the saying goes, "an author is only as good as his last book" we must do well for our clients every day, and never, ever consider what we've done in the past good enough. Excelsior.


Martin Weiler