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Recently my firm was hiring a junior analyst – someone who’d work directly with me. In the past we’d post an advertisement and get hundreds of resumes and we’d have to dig through them trying to identify a candidate with the right pedigree and relevant experience.

We have probably employed thirty interns over the years to help us with research. We have learned from experience that educational background, prior experience, and even working toward the CFA designation had very little predictive power as to whether a person would end up doing great or just mediocre research. I decided to take a slightly different approach to hiring for this position. There was only one factor that really mattered to me this time – passion.

Yes, passion!

Investing, though it can be an incredibly intellectually stimulating and rewarding endeavor, can also be (and often is) very frustrating. Thoroughly researched and well-thought-out decisions don’t always result in the expected outcomes (you can thank Mother Randomness for that). But even when decisions do pan out, the time for gestation to fruition may be years.

Passion is the fuel that keeps a diehard, process-driven value investor going through the times when the markets are divorced from reality, when it feels like you are living Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

There is a saying in basketball: You cannot teach height. In investing, you cannot teach passion.