“I read this great book…” is a popular refrain in the Burgundy office. If you eavesdrop in the kitchen, impassioned literary pitches often overwhelm the drone of the coffee machine. Linger by the elevator bank, and you’ll extend your reading list by a few pages.
This affinity for reading has been around since inception, encouraged early on by our Co-Founders Tony Arrell and Richard Rooney. (Peek into Richard’s office, where stacks of non-fiction and fiction climb the walls, and you’ll see why Burgundy’s library was named after him.) Our investment team even dedicates an annual meeting to discuss book recommendations, sharing their top picks from the past 12 months.
As we bask in these extended summer evenings, there’s no better time to crack open a new book. So, taking our investment team’s recommendations, we thought we’d offer some suggestions from Burgundy’s bookshelf. Beyond their entertainment value, these business and non-business picks illuminate some of Burgundy’s fundamental preoccupations, exploring topics like phenomenal leadership, audacious ambitions, humbling setbacks, and unstoppable tenacity. We hope you find one worth adding to your list.
Overarching themes include:
- Recognizing the dangers of hubris
- Appreciating the importance of ownership
- Gaining insight from diverse perspectives
- Understanding the significance of effective leadership
Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation
Recommended by: Richard Rooney, Vice Chair and Co-Founder
“Divided by a beautiful valley and 150 years of racism, the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo Indian reserve have been neighbours nearly as long as Canada has been a country.” Through a mix of vibrant storytelling and deep historical research, authors Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson follow the lives of two families living across the Birdtail River in Manitoba, one white and one Indigenous. Valley of the Birdtail explores how despite their proximity, the experiences of these communities are worlds apart.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: Through its portrayal of these communities and people, Valley of the Birdtail tells a much larger story about Canada’s history. The significance of the subject is vast, touching Canadian business and politics in many ways. At Burgundy, we believe that knowledge and research come first. To carve out a better future, it is important that we understand the Indigenous experience in Canada.
Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury
Recommended by: Ching Chang, Portfolio Manager
After a decade abroad, Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer Evan Osnos returns home to America. Following the lives of everyday Americans, he uses his former residences as his entry point, exploring Greenwich, Connecticut, Clarksburg, West Virginia, and Chicago, Illinois. Through Osnos’s vantage point as both native son and outsider observer, this expansive tale attempts to understand the country’s evolution over the past two decades.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: A non-business book chock-full of business insight, this memoir delves deep into the effects of changing industry. Wildland is a captivating exploration into the rise of financiers in the hedge fund world and the influence of wealth, class, and culture. Through personal anecdotes and stories, this book seeks to deepen our understanding and enhance our perspective – something we strive to accomplish at Burgundy.
The Caesars Palace Coup: How a Billionaire Brawl Over the Famous Casino Exposed the Power and Greed of Wall Street
Recommended by: James Arnold, Portfolio Manager
This engaging true story explores how private equity firm Apollo Global Management’s $30 billion buyout of Caesars Entertainment bankrupted the gaming empire. If you’re curious about the more complex side of the distressed debt world or looking to learn more about what to avoid in high yield, check this one out.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: When we say we don’t want to get involved in high-yield deals that have certain private-equity sponsors behind them, this story explains why. Fixed Income Portfolio Manager James Arnold believes this cautionary tale highlights a lot of the areas Burgundy tries to avoid while also showcasing many tactics that large private-equity sponsors tend to use when stripping value away from creditors.
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
Recommended by: Christian Sisak, Investment Analyst
Written by two-time Pulitzer-Prize Winner David McCullough, The Great Bridge tells the story of the building of what at the time was the world’s longest suspension bridge. McCullough weaves a story that combines optimism and tenacity with greed and corruption.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: Back when the Brooklyn Bridge was being contemplated, such architectural efforts were often falling into the water after a few years. The confidence, the goal, and the audacity
to even attempt to build such a bridge is almost unfathomable. At Burgundy, we hold such immense vision and determination in high regard.
Capital Returns: Investing Through the Capital Cycle
Recommended by: Andrew Iu, Portfolio Manager
Edited by Edward Chancellor, this book provides insight into capital-cycle strategy through a collection of real-life examples and insightful reports from Marathon Asset Management.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: This book is all about how capital and competition come in and out of industries. At Burgundy, we believe it’s critical that we pay careful attention to all the fundamental components of our companies, including where they are in an industry’s cycle – something this book covers well.
Play Nice But Win: A CEO’s Journey from Founder to Leader
Recommended by: Steve Boutin, Portfolio Manager
Written by Michael Dell, this insightful account of Dell Technologies shares the ups and downs of the company’s evolution. This book reveals how some people are simply born entrepreneurs. Dell’s leadership and drive allowed him to build something great, even amid the many challenges of a changing industry landscape.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: At Burgundy, we are captivated by the entrepreneurial spirit and seek out passionate founders and management teams that are also strategic and adaptive thinkers. Stories like this remind us of the kind of long-term vision and tenacity we are looking for.
Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy
Recommended by: David Vanderwood, Portfolio Manager
In this thoughtful and compelling analysis, diplomat and statesman Henry Kissinger reviews the lives of a handful of political leaders. As he meditates on leadership and world order today, Kissinger combines a historical perspective with his own personal insight, applying both lenses to each of these six explorations.
Bringing it Back to Burgundy: Understanding leadership is a tenet of Burgundy’s research. We look for companies that are run by capable management teams. The way these leaders approach decision-making and their commitment to strategic focus can have a huge difference in a company’s long-term outcome. As investors, knowing how to spot a strong leader is an important tool to have in our toolkit.
Closing This Chapter
At Burgundy, we believe that reading allows us to better relate to each other and make sense of our world, both the everyday world and the investment world. Though reading is a solitary experience, books are meant to be shared. We hope these stories of hubris, excess, success, and failure have piqued your interest and inspired you to take a little time for yourself before summer’s end.
This post is presented for illustrative and discussion purposes only. It is not intended to provide investment advice and does not consider unique objectives, constraints or financial needs. Under no circumstances does this post suggest that you should time the market in any way or make investment decisions based on the content. Select securities may be used as examples to illustrate Burgundy’s investment philosophy. Burgundy funds or portfolios may or may not hold such securities for the whole demonstrated period. Investors are advised that their investments are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. This post is not intended as an offer to invest in any investment strategy presented by Burgundy. The information contained in this post is the opinion of Burgundy Asset Management and/or its employees as of the date of the post and is subject to change without notice. Please refer to the Legal section of this website for additional information.