Investing in Xenophobia
There are nearly 200 cities in China that have a population over 1 million.
So when I tell you that I am sitting in the city of Jinjiang, I don’t expect you to have a clue where I am.
China is hard to understand on a variety of levels. Of course, for a Westerner like me, the language is the first thing that complicates matters. I can’t even begin to understand what someone is trying to tell me in Chinese, and looking at directions on a sign makes it even worse. I’m completely helpless!
Fear is the normal reaction for humans who don’t understand something. It’s fear of the unknown — also known as xenophobia.
This reaction — xenophobia — is natural. It’s preprogrammed within us. When we don’t understand something, our survival instincts tell us to get away.
It makes sense if you think about it. Imagine a herd of antelope in the African Savannah. They’ve got huge eyes and ears to stay aware. If they see something out of the corner of their eye, or they hear the snapping of a twig, they’re gone. They start sprinting for the horizon.
Do they know what made the noise? No. But, they’re not going to stick around to find out. The last one of them, who stuck around to find out what that noise was, got eaten by a lion.
So, this fear of the unknown is really a survival instinct.
“I don’t know what that is.” = “Get the hell outta here!”
But, what if we could take advantage of this instinct? I mean, it’s not like we’re actually going to get eaten by a lion just because we don’t understand something.
What if you and I, as investors, actually spun xenophobia on its head?
Instead of being fearful of something, we intentionally try to understand the unknown. We’d have nearly zero competition, which is a dream for any investor.
It’s funny because every time I come to China I have at least one friend tell me something like, “Be careful Cody… you know those Chinese… they’ll screw you over.”
To which I answer, “Ok… thank you… I’ll be careful.”
Then, I proceed to actually go on the trip to China, while the person who warned me about the Chinese dangers may not even have a passport.
I’m sure you have a similar story. You have that friend or family member who warns you about some danger. They tell you to watch out for something, but in reality, it’s them who is afraid.
Parents are notorious with this. They want the best for their children, so they are always watching out for dangers.
However, many of the perceived dangers that parents identify are just unknowns.
When growing up I remember how many parents didn’t allow their kids to use computers. It was bad for your eyes and a complete waste of time.
Fast-forward a decade and all those kids who “wasted time on a computer” are doing just fine now.
The computer was the unknown for those parents. So, instead of trying to take the time to understand what the machine actually did, they simply restricted their kids from using any computer.
“I don’t understand this.” = “This must be bad.”
I’ll be honest, China is the computer to me right now.
I have so many questions and so few answers.
But, on every trip I make here, I am getting more and more clarity. The scale of this country is simply unbelievable. I probably saw 5 different construction projects in the Hong Kong area this past week that are bigger than most of the construction projects in the entire US combined.
In fact, the Macau to Hong Kong bridge is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world.
And this is just one of many projects in the region.
I doubt I’ll ever fully comprehend what is going on in this area, but I know I am one step closer to understanding than I am from fear.
That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about those of you have decided to join me in Colombia. The only way to fight that fear of the unknown is to take one step closer.