Sunday, August 5, 2007

Letter from the Editor

Life and Times of JWN
Eddie Lampert
A Tribute to Edward S. Lampert

Eddie Lampert is a self made billionaire and a business man that I admire and plan to meet. He is forty-four years old and currently Chairman of the Board of Sears Holdings Company - owner of Kmart and Sears stores and a variety of long-standing American brands such as Die Hard, Craftsman, and Kenmore. Also, his picture is the background on my laptop.

The thing that impresses me about Eddie is his incredible work ethic and passion for investing and financial engineering. He is the wealthiest man in Connecticut thanks to the phenomenal performance he has achieved at his hedge fund, ESL Investments. As founder and CEO of the company, he uses the assets of the firm to purchase large stakes in companies like Sears. Currently, he owns nearly 40% of the company's equity.

This type of "concentrated value" approach as it is dubbed in the investment world is what makes him unique in a financial world focused on diversification. Some dub him the next Warren Buffett, but he would prefer to be considered the one Eddie Lampert, although he studied Buffett's work unceasingly while working in the Risk Arbitrage Department at Goldman Sachs and studying Economics at Yale University.

Enough about his investing, let's talk about the man himself. It would be far too superficial of me to just like the man because he's made himself and many other people a ton of money. I generally have much deeper motivations for the things I do.

Eddie is candid but keeps an extremely low profile.
He will rarely interview and lives a quiet life in Greenwich, Connecticut, where both his office (ESL) and his waterfront home are located. His father died when he was very young,making him the man of the house far earlier than any boy should be. This seems to be the inspiration for the rigor and value he tries to create in his business ventures.

"One of the unspoken secrets about business leaders is that they often have no idea about where they're going to end up." - Eddie Lampert

He worked his way into college and started doing work for Goldman Sachs, one of the world's premier investment houses, before he even graduated high school! He continued work at Goldman after Yale, before starting his hedge fund in 1988.

Eddie was kidnapped in 2003 from the parking lot of his office, but convinced his captors to let him go after two days!

Eddie is a self made man
with an intense passion for what he does. He is incredibly thorough and despite his low personal profile, he communicates his thoughts about the businesses he runs openly to shareholders. Also, the English major in me speaking, he writes extremely well.

In one of the few interviews with the man, he explained his motivations in a simple, inspiring way:

"I want to be known as a great businessman." - Eddie Lampert

It is only a matter of time before Eddie and I are having breakfast at his favorite diner in Greenwich, Connecticut.

CLICK HERE to check out a rare interview of Eddie and his mother Dolores! The piece is very well done.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I own shares of Sears Holdings Corporation (Symbol: SHLD).

Best to you friends, ~JWN

P.S. Check out my piece, "Small Talk for a BIG Effect" below!