Money Mountaineering with Peter Neuwirth: Don’t miss Episode 8 featuring critical-thinking experts Leland Faust and Richard Conn Jr., founders, Agents for Critical Thinking

Listen to the podcast on Inkandescent Radio Learn How to Become an Agent for Critical Thinking

May 2023: What is "critical thinking"? How does it differ from "wishful thinking" and "magical thinking"? Learn all about that and more on this month's episode of Money Mountaineering!

May 2023: A Note from Actuary and Author Peter Neuwirth, FSA, FCA — I invite you to tune in for this week’s episode of my podcast and video show, Money Mountaineering, where for 30 minutes, financial experts help us answer the question: What’s your future worth?

Meet our guests: Leland Faust and Richard Conn, Jr., co-founders of the nonprofit, Agents for Critical-Thinking

Today’s topic: How to Become an Agent for Critical Thinking

Pete asks: 

  • What is “critical thinking”?
  • How does it differ from “wishful thinking” and “magical thinking”
  • What about “group thinking”? How can one guard against “groupthink” but at the same time get the benefits of others’ perspectives?
  • What do you recommend people do to get better at critical thinking?

About Leland Faust: Leland Faust founded CSI Capital Management. He was chief investment officer from 1978 through 2011, managed over $1.5 billion for the company, and was chief investment officer of a highly rated mutual fund. Since 1978 he and his firm have represented over one hundred NFL, NBA, and MLB all-stars, as well as many Grammy and Academy award winners.

He was born in Los Angeles, California in 1946. In 1968, he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor of arts degree. He completed an Economics major with distinction in the honors program and great distinction in general scholarship. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1967. He was a member of both the varsity swimming and water polo teams. In recognition of his success in academics and athletic competitions, he received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. In 1971 he graduated cum laude from the Harvard Law School with a JD degree. While at Harvard, he instructed a class in United States income taxation as part of the International Tax Program.

Faust began his career as a tax attorney and later became certified as a tax specialist by the California State Board of Legal Specialization. In 1978 he founded CSI Capital Management, a registered investment advisor. He served as the head of the investment committee for 33 years (1978 – 2011) and managed portfolios for high-net-worth businessmen, athletes, entertainers, foundations, family trusts, and retirement plans. His clients included more than 100 Academy, Tony, and Grammy award winners, NBA and Major League Baseball All-Stars, and NFL Pro Bowl players.

For his work in the financial services industry, Barron’s named him from 2007 through 2010 (every year he was eligible for selection) to its annual list of the Top 100 Independent Investment Advisors in the US. For his work with professional athletes, he was named by The Sporting News to its annual list of The 100 Most Powerful People in the Sports Industry (one of only two investment advisors ever selected for that list). In 2011 CSI Capital Management sold its business and responsibility for managing approximately $1.7 billion to SunTrust Bank.

At CSI Capital Management, Faust was the senior portfolio manager for the publicly traded CSI Equity Fund. This fund was recognized as a top-performing equity fund. As soon as this fund was eligible, MorningStar awarded it five stars. It maintained either a four-star or a five-star rating throughout the rest of his life (1998 – 2010). For his work in managing this fund, Faust was named by Barron’s to its list of the Top 100 Mutual Fund Managers. Over the 13-year life of this fund, it outperformed the S&P 500 index by approximately 30%.

Throughout his career, Faust has published materials relating to his legal, investment counseling, and sports businesses. Early in his career, he lectured frequently for the California Continuing Education of the Bar, a division of the State Bar of California. He has also spoken extensively on financial and investment topics. He has taught or lectured at the University of California Berkeley, the University of San Francisco, the Commonwealth Club of California, the Harvard Law School (as part of its distinguished alumni speakers program), and numerous other venues. His current book is A Capitalist’s Lament: How Wall Street is Fleecing you and Ruining America.

Faust is co-author of Personal Tax Planning for Professionals and Owners of Small Businesses (Continuing Education of the Bar – California, Publisher). He has also contributed to opinion pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle and The Huffington Post, among others. He has been featured in articles and interviews with The San Francisco Chronicle, Barron’s, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He has been a frequent contributor on radio and television to NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and Bloomberg.

Leland is a lifetime competitive athlete. At the University of California, Berkeley, he was a nationally ranked water polo and swimming team member, where he was captain and a school record holder. He set a record for the Golden Gate Swim as an open-water swimmer. He was also a two-time age group winner in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Twice USA Triathlon named him to its All-American teams. Click here to learn more:

About Richard Conn Jr.: Richard is the Managing Partner of Eurasia Advisors. He also serves as Managing Partner of Innovate Partners, an emerging company private investment fund, as an affiliate partner in Stonehaven, a global capital raising platform, and as an Independent Trustee of a publicly traded mutual fund.

Before founding Eurasia Advisors in 2003, Richard practiced international corporate law for nearly twenty years as an equity partner with the international law firm Latham & Watkins. He founded the firm’s Moscow office in 1992. He served as a key advisor to the Presidential Administration of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and as President of the Moscow-based Foreign Bar Association. A longstanding past member of the Board of Directors of the U.S.-Russia Business Council and of the International Crisis Group’s International Board of Advisors, he regularly consults with the World Bank, Members of Congress, and the Administration regarding C.I.S.-related issues. He Co-Chaired the U.S.-Russia Business Council and American Chamber of Commerce (Moscow) joint initiative to facilitate Russian accession to WTO.

Richard delivered the keynote address at the United Nations to open the U.N. conference addressing establishing a worldwide Sovereign Debt Restructuring framework. He frequently publishes on these subjects and recently authored “Towards a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Framework: Less is More,” which appears in Joe Stiglitz’s book Too Little, Too Late: The Quest of Resolving Sovereign Debt Crises, Columbia University Press, New York, 2016. He periodically lectures at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute of Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies and the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Economic Governance.

Richard ran in 2010 for the Deputy Presidency of the World Chess Federation on an international ticket headed by the Twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov with the support of the Thirteenth World Champion Garry Kasparov and is an avid chess player. He сhairs the Advisory Committee of a non-profit organization that has already taught chess to over 4 million public school second and third graders in the U.S.

A Dartmouth College and Fordham University Law School graduate, Richard clerked for the Honorable Gordon Thompson, Jr., Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. He is the co-author of Collier Labor Law and the Bankruptcy Code, M. Bender (1989).

He is also the author of The Earthbound Parent: How (and Why) to Raise Your Little Angels Without Religion, Pitchstone Publishing (2018) , a book that encourages critical thinking and enhanced ethical standards. Richard is fluent in Russian and Spanish. Click here to learn more:

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