I had the opportunity to do an interview with Pearl Lemon. We had a free-ranging discussion, covering good advice, bad advice, best investment, recovering from failures, and more.

Here are a few highlights. Feel free to see the full interview here.


What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?

I am a big fan of learning from the life experience of others. Biographies are a terrific way to gain insight from the giants on whose shoulders we stand today. I turn to “Team of Rivals” to learn how Abraham Lincoln assembled a coalition of strong-minded and divergent people to create a successful government. I pick up Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography to think about how Jobs created a new industry by imagining how to give customers an “insanely great” new experience in technology. And I just finished T. J. Stiles’ “The First Tycoon” for insight as to how Cornelius Vanderbilt pioneered the American transportation network.

What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?

Aha – this is the Tim Ferriss question! In this world of virtual meetings, I bought a Logitech C920 PRO HD Webcam, plus a Neewer LED ring light. The webcam provides high video and audio quality, and the ring light improves the visual experience.

What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?

In the deal business, I often hear people say, “Turn over another card.” This is code for “I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but let’s spend some more time on it.” You can end up spending days, weeks or months on mediocre ideas, “turning over cards.” I would rather spend more time on the ideas I’m excited about!

When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?

I write down my goals. At the end of every week, I look at my goals, and ask myself: “How did I do? What did I do well? What could I do better?” It’s so simple, and yet so effective.

What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?

I bought a standing desk in my office. Then, after COVID hit, I bought a similar standing desk at home. There is something energizing about standing when I read and write. It forces me to engage, and to take a more active stance with respect to the subject at hand. I don’t know if the health benefits are as advertised, but I believe the mental focus boost makes a difference!

In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?

I set a goal of reading a book a week. I don’t always achieve it, but the goal helps. I learn so much more from the collective wisdom of others, and it’s far more rewarding than getting consumed by short-term “breaking news” cycles.

If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?

I love the definition of entrepreneurship articulated by HBS professor Howard Stevenson: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources.” This is fantastic! It means you should define your idea first, and then worry about how to get there. If you start with the resource question, you will always think smaller than if you begin with the opportunity

How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success? Do You Have A “Favourite Failure” Of Yours?

I invested in a terrible company and lost 99% of my money. The company looked great on paper and had tripled for the prior two years. However, it turned out that the management team was dishonest. I learned a painful lesson: without high-integrity people, nothing else matters! I’m grateful that I endured this failure because it made me much more focused on seeking out high-integrity people that I can trust. It also caused me to prioritize investing in the supply chain sector, where I know many of the key people, trends, and resulting opportunities. That focus gives me an edge that I wouldn’t have otherwise developed.

What Advice Would You Give To A Smart, Driven College Student About To Enter The “Real World”? What Advice Should They Ignore?

Your end goal might be to do what you love. But to get there, focus on your reputation. If you work hard and do a great job, people will know they can rely on you. If people can trust you, they will give you more responsibilities. And as you earn more responsibility, you will gain more control over your time. This might sound simple, but it’s true.

See the rest of the interview here.

Benjamin Gordon, Cambridge Capital