The Philosophical Investor

Gary Carmell, President, CWS Capital Partners

The Philosophical Investor

Kierkegaard said that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” My book, The Philosophical Investor - Transforming Wisdom into Wealth chronicles the lessons learned in a nearly 30 year journey in the world of investing and in life.  Learning from others and ourselves is at the heart of being a Philosophical Investor so that we can avoid catastrophic failures and take advantage of life-changing opportunities. Here are the key themes.

We Are the Enemy

Most investors do far worse than the averages because human beings are reaction machines and investing is terribly emotional. We find ourselves selling at the bottom and buying at the top as we fall victim to waves of fear and greed. Mark Twain said "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." We need humility to be good investors and flexible thinking. Things change. What the wise man does at the beginning the fool does at the end. Like Odysseus, we have to know where we are susceptible and tie ourselves to the mast either by delegating investment decisions to others or paying close attention to the decisions we make, why we're making them, and learning from what worked and what didn't. 

Power of Partnership

I have found that in business and in life having great partners is immensely valuable. They can complement us by having skill sets and shining light on our blind spots and when we're falling prey to them. I've been at my firm for 28 years and have two amazing partners and married for 26 years to a woman who has clearly made me better. It's been said that good friends stab you in the front and they do.

Think Independently

Legendary investor George Soros said successful investing requires that "we discount the obvious and bet on the unexpected." This is not easy because most people can't see beyond what's right in front of them but successful investing requires seeing around corners and putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

Shift Happens

In business and in life there are powerful events that can change the course of a life and/or business. They can either monetize us or we can monetize them by avoiding disaster, taking advantage of opportunity, or gaining invaluable experience. I call these tectonic shifts and I discuss how important they have been in my life and business career.

Preserve Positive Optionality

It's important to always preserve options to the extent possible. Don't back yourself into a corner. This is an important lesson learned over my business career.

Go for the Jugular (Munger Moment)

When you come across an opportunity in which the rewards dramatically outweigh the risk then load the boat. They don't come around very often and can change the financial results of one's life very meaningfully.

Benefits of Apartments

This is our business and we believe it has an outstanding future for many reasons.

True wealth goes beyond the financial realm

A truly wealthy person possesses these five characteristics:

  • Wisdom
  • Reality
  • Resilience
  • Courage
  • Authenticity

[Image courtesy of Anoop Krishnan at]

About the Author

Gary Carmell is the President of CWS Capital Partners, a real estate investment management firm based in California and Texas, and founded in 1969. He specializes in the acquisition, development, and management of apartment communities throughout the United States, where his company owns and operates more than twenty thousand units with a value of over $3 billion.  

A Chartered Financial Analyst, Mr. Carmell received his B.A. from the University of California Los Angeles in political science and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. He is the father to two adult children, and he lives in Southern California with his wife.  

Carmell can be reached through his website, and through LinkedIn and Twitter.

The Philosophical Investor is available for purchase on Amazon and other fine booksellers.