He’s just a waiter.

A pet peeve of mine is anyone denigrating somebody for working a certain job. Jobs don’t tell a story about people, even though others love to fill that story in for themselves. When you couple this fancying of fictions with what is happening in the world, it just seems ignorant to judge people in this way.

What am I referring to?

Everywhere you look there are people that have access to information that they’ve never had before.

In the past, prior to the internet, if you expected to take financial advice you may prefer to get it from someone who had an Ivy League education in Finance, and who worked for a large institution who had access to all sorts of financial records that weren’t easy to come by.

The Ivy League education was because that was the best source for books and information regarding how evaluating the price of companies was done. The professors had presentations they taught. The libraries there were filled with works on the past history of the subject, and the halls were filled with fellow students on the same journey, learning the same topics.

The big institution was desirable because they had more people, more memberships, and more storage space to store the physical files. When compiling information, you needed a team of people to pull, aggregate, format and fit the data to something usable.

Well, guess what? That veil has fallen, and not enough people seem to care. The moat is dried and people can now walk over, it’s not keeping anyone out. Those presentations, books, and even professors? All accessible online, even though a few courses and books may cost a few bucks. I would guess for $100-$500 dollars you can have access to the equivalent of a $100,000 education from 30 years ago.

Those students all on the same journey of learning? They are connected in online forums. While they may not be in the same physical space, they are aggregating in far bigger numbers than in the past in spaces that share the same interest online.

That institution? Unnecessary. Financial statements for companies are posted on their websites. You can pull their yearly statements, amendments, and future business plans and stated risks all from the comfort of your home.

That team to compile the data? Unnecessary. Some good Excel skills and basic programming knowledge and you can manipulate things into usable formats and extract models to help you predict the future of what is to come.

All of this is available at super low cost compared the past.

If that gentlemen today is a waiter because he wasn’t born to a family that had significant capital, he can still use his knowledge, curiosity, newly gained skills to create predictions about the world that are every bit as accurate as the walled off “expertise” of the past.

Of course, it’s easier to put our faith in someone with the correct “pedigree”, but like anything in the market, finding the diamond in the rough, the underdog, the one no one else seems to be paying attention to but has all the chance of winning the race is always valuable.

As our long-time held beliefs about institutions, their perceived expertise and value, continues to crumble, a new world is forming around us. Slowly. Subtly. If you’re paying attention you may even see it in the waiter the next time you are out around town. Those that look down on someone for their job in the future may just find themselves at the mercy of others saying, “You see him. He paid $100,000 for an education. and I make just as much money doing this and investing on the side.”

The democratization of information has cast off the traditional hierarchy of society, but we’ve yet to see the full ramifications that are going to play out over decades. Some are still learning to see the opportunities they have that wouldn’t have existed twenty years ago, while others are learning how “undifferentiated” they actually are when the walls of information came tumbling down. During this era of change, the absolutely worst thing you could do is think you know what opportunities, abilities, or knowledge someone has just because of their current work.

P.S. I paid for an education and that’s okay, the world hadn’t shifted nearly as much back then, and even today I’m not denigrating people that do. However, if you think it makes you special in this day and age that is certainly not the case, there are plenty of people who are smart, ambitious and are making their way through life with non-traditional methods. Long-term, new traditions will be made about the path through life out of what is taking place today.

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