Podcast Replay: Will Thorndike
“How Skilled Capital Allocators Compound Capital”

Categories Business, Interview, Investing

  In this interview,1 the first part discusses Will’s 8-year research project studying CEOs who were master capital allocators, which is the basis for his book The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success.2 The second part of the interview discusses Will’s career in private equity.

Before acting on any of the ideas or advice contained on this recording, please read this important disclaimer.

Topics covered include:

(Listed in consecutive order.)

  1. When was the first moment Will realized he was interested in investing as a job?
  2. Will’s book The Outsiders
  3. What was the journey like that led Will into the private equity space?
  4. How did the book start as research projects?
  5. What are the ways to spend capital?
  6. How The Outsiders CEOs view dividends and how best to use them?
  7. What is Will’s outlook for the future of dividends?
  8. Moving to buybacks as a strategy.
  9. What did the 8 CEOs think of capex and reinvesting in the business as a strategy?
  10. Why is it so important to set “hurdle rates” and then stick with them?
  11. How does a CEO with a grand vision (e.g., an Elon Musk) differ from the flexible and opportunistic CEOs in The Outsiders?
  12. How did the CEOs use acquisitions as a strategy?
  13. Bob Fifer’s book Double Your Profits in Six Months or Less
  14. The importance of rationalizing your expenditures.
  15. The right way and wrong way to use debt as a public company.
  16. Who is Will’s pick of the 8 outsider CEOs, and which business would he choose?
  17. The importance of partnerships to make sure the cash flows are coming and allocated in a productive way.
  18. Will’s experience of this book and what it’s like to see it grow into a best seller.
  19. If Will had to write another book, what would it be about?
  20. Will’s day job in private equity, and how he got involved in search funds.
  21. Any new investing categories on the horizon that are worth exploring?
  22. Are recaps and buyouts used as strategies today?
  23. Are there particular industries with economic characteristics that Will screens for, or ignores?
  24. Will’s most memorable day.
  25. The strength of an investment firm is often found in the quality of their investors.
  26. What is Will’s process for evaluating a business?
  27. What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for Will?

Not yet subscribed to the OSAM Research Team blog?
Sign up and you’ll get an email alert every time we post a new article…

Most opinions expressed by Patrick O’Shaughnessy are Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s opinions generally and may or may not reflect the opinions of the firm.

  • Past performance is not indicative of future results.
  • You should not treat any opinion expressed by Mr. O’Shaughnessy as a specific recommendation to make a particular investment or follow a particular strategy, but only as an expression of his opinion.
  • Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s opinions are based upon information he considers reliable, but neither he nor his firm, warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.
  • Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s statements and opinions are subject to change without notice.
  • Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, this content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.
  • Mr. O’Shaughnessy does not guarantee any specific outcome or profit.
  • You should be aware of the real risk of loss in following any strategy or investment discussed in this recording.
  • Strategies or investments discussed may change in price or value.
  • Investments or strategies mentioned on this recording may not be suitable for you.
  • This recording does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs and is not intended as recommendations appropriate for you.
  • You must make an independent decision regarding investments or strategies mentioned on this recording.
  • The information on this recording is not to be construed as individualized investment advice.
  • Before acting on information on this recording, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and strongly consider seeking advice from your own financial or investment advisor of your choice.
  • At any time, Mr. O’Shaughnessy may own securities mentioned through the firm or in personal accounts.


  1. Originally aired on May 9, 2017. See investorfieldguide.com for this and 30+ other “Invest Like the Best” interviews that Patrick has conducted.
  2. The following is Patrick’s review of The Outsiders:
    This book focuses on stories of successful CEOs and their key people who have created huge amounts of shareholder value. The Outsiders contains great lessons for investors because it highlights the importance of capital allocation. CEOs get famous mostly for their ability to build great businesses with revolutionary products and services — but that is only half of their job. The other half is to use their capital wisely. Many don’t. The ones that do are legends in their own right. Pick this up, and then consider buying companies that allocate capital well.