Two Votes For Greatness

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By Keith Danko From The Family Office Alpha Report, May-June 2016 In May I attended the graduation ceremonies at Duke University, where I was treated to legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski giving his first ever commencement speech. As a complement to this, on the trip down to Durham I read investor and technologist Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. Both Coach K’s speech and Theil’s book offer some timely nuggets of wisdom for today’s family office and institutional investors. One piece of advice resonated in the words of both Coach K and Thiel: choose greatness as the goal. Coach K went s...
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Postcard from Asia

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By Keith Danko From The Family Office Alpha Report, March-April 2016 I recently traveled to Asia to meet with investors and other finance professionals. The 16-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong reminded me that while it may be a small world, it still takes a long time to travel across it. It also gave me time on the return trip to reflect on the interesting dynamics prevalent in the investment world of Hong Kong and mainland China—a topic much discussed and speculated about, yet often misunderstood. In retrospect, what surprised me most was how much the concerns of family off...
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Accentuating the Positive: A Show of Strength

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Originally posted on SmartBlogs on Leadership Are today’s leaders introspective? Self reflective? Perhaps. But do they regularly concern themselves with what qualities they might be lacking, or second-guess the positive traits they possess? Probably not. People of influence have not reached success by falling into the weakness trap. They instead focus on leveraging their inherent gifts. One experience that drove this point home with me was my past business partnership with a large Japanese trading company. As CEO of the joint venture, I spent a good portion of my time in our Tokyo of...
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Leading to Liberate: Freedom Through Discipline

Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi gets carried off of the field by his players after winning the 1961 NFL Championship game versus the New York Giants at City Stadium. 
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Originally posted on SmartBlogs on Leadership The most effective leaders know how to teach their employees the value of one powerful quality, one that most likely helped them rise to the top themselves: Discipline. The great sports coaches are transparent examples of this. Teaching and emphasizing discipline to prepare for the contests to come is what best guarantees that under the pressure of competition each player will feel free to make the right decisions and execute to the best of their abilities. None did this better than Vince Lombardi, considered along with John Wooden as on...
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Operating Partners: The Value of Boots on the Ground

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By Keith Danko From The Family Office Alpha Report, September-October 2015 The lower middle market in private equity is brimming with opportunity, with an abundant supply of small- to medium-size private businesses available for potential acquisition (see our July-August 2015 issue of The Family Office Alpha Report, which discussed direct private equity investing opportunities). It is not difficult for investors to find reasonably valued companies that are seeking to hand over the reins. What is not as easy is going the process alone. The best way to maximize success—and upside...
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The Unexceptional Outweighs the Unbelievable

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Originally posted for SmartBlogs on Leadership Leadership success stories about superstar managers, brilliant visionaries, and transformative role models proliferate in the media to a point where it appears that industry leaders are minted every moment, and the exceptions are almost the norm. We are subliminally encouraged to emulate their glory. Inspirational stories can help motivate us as professionals, but it’s important to recognize and contextualize these messages and understand that success is not as ubiquitous or as straightforward as others would lead us to believe. ...
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Only the Sharks Survive? The Risks of Confrontation

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Originally posted for Smart Blogs on Leadership The show “Shark Tank,” like much of the media, perpetuates the myth that you have to be aggressive, assertive, even confrontational to advance your career and become a leader; that thoughtfulness, politeness, and the inability to summarize an important idea in less than a minute are crippling diseases; and that the business world is akin to a shark tank where you are likely to be devoured unless you adopt the characteristics of the sharks to survive. Amusing for sure, but as true reality? As Borat would say, “Not so much.” Confron...
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Incubating the Most Viable Nest Eggs: Direct Private Equity Investing

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By Keith Danko From The Family Office Alpha Report, July-August 2015 The trend started several years ago. Spurred on by the astounding private valuations of companies like Facebook, Groupon, and Twitter, the idea of incubating startups took hold, and soon enough hundreds of “incubators” or “business accelerators” sprang up around the country. Today they are usually found near major universities or in big cities, or in regions where more mature tech or Internet businesses have taken root. While startup incubators have successfully enticed investors, in our view a more compelling...
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Outcome Obsession (Part 2)

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  Success signposts, like rank and pay, generally come from others, and the precise timing of their arrival may be subject to numerous external factors well beyond your control. But the glowing satisfaction of contributing your utmost is created by you alone. It assuredly lies within your grasp, as does the recognition that will follow. I am not preaching the joy of sweating on a treadmill for only the feeling of sweat. By proceeding with the philosophy I outline, you are each day bettering your odds for successful outcomes in your vocation and life. Simply put, what I am...
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May 2015 Family Office Alpha Report by Keith Danko

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The Continuing Evolution of Hedge Funds From The Family Office Alpha Report by Witherpoon Partners, May 2015 By Keith Danko In their earliest days, they were an investment for well-connected high-net-worth individuals, particularly Europeans and others with access to offshore accounts. Today, hedge funds have evolved into primarily an institutional investment, with most high-net-worth investors funneled through one type of platform or another, or through a family office that follows an institutional framework. A markedly elevated due diligence process h...
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