Chautauqua sits out 2020

Last week we sent the following message to our Chautauqua mailing list. I also wanted to share it with you:

Sometimes it just feels like the Universe is speaking to you. If you are like me and it is telling you something you don’t want to hear, you can be slow to listen.

Since moving Chautauqua to Europe, we have had a policy of “laying eyes” in person on any venue we consider. The venues we chose for Chautauqua are a critical part of the mix and just looking at slick websites is not enough. 

We send at least a couple members of our team to not only visit potential sites in person, but to stay for a couple of days and experience them first hand. 

This takes time, costs money and may seem excessive, but it is one of the reasons each Euro venue has been so spectacular. And, at least once, it has saved us from booking a place that would have been a disaster.

Last year and so far this year, we have been unable to make the time to vet our potential sites for Croatia. So recently we decided to return to one of our proven favorites. Unfortunately, only one of those could accommodate us at our preferred times and then only for one week. 

This was disappointing as we prefer hosting at least two Chautauquas each year. But, still, one week was cool and certainly worth doing.

Just as we were finalizing that week and venue, one of our team members received some terrible news. A close family member was taken seriously ill. This, of course, made difficult their long range planning. So we worked out a plan to find another great speaker to fill their role if needed.

And then, well then this little old Coronavirus burst upon the scene.

To be clear, my bet is come September, we’ll have trouble remembering the name “Coronavirus” but for now it is capturing all the headlines. And now is when people will have to make their Chautauqua travel decisions.

Still, the fact that we were only planning one week and demand is so high for these events, filling it really wasn’t a concern. The kind of people Chautauqua attracts are not easily cowed by headlines.

However, while I am pretty damn sure this virus will be yesterday’s news come fall, I have been wrong before. 

The chance may be small, but there is a chance that it will still be around and possibly worse. Then we are in the situation of having to cancel the event, refund attendees money and be out-of-pocket for costs to that point. That’s real money lost and we hate losing money!

Finally, the Universe was talking my money language and it sunk in. Chautauqua, and our Chautauqua team, needed to take the year off and let all these events run their course.

Doing otherwise just feels irresponsible. 

We know this is going to seriously disappoint many of you, and we hate to do that. We also very much appreciate your enthusiastic support and your inquires as to when the dates and tickets would be released. We’ll miss doing it every bit as much as you’ll miss joining us. 

But we’ll be back in 2021 with everything fully vetted. Hope to see you then!

Meanwhile stay healthy and grow prosperous!




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  1. Roelf says

    Sad to see Chautauqua is being postponed. I’m sure everything will be allright, and there’ll be many more great gatherings to come. With regards to the virus being yesterdays news soon, I’ll share my personal account of the situation:
    My normal life has changed rapidly over the last few weeks. All group meetings have been cancelled. Many people including me and my wife are working from home fulltime. Restaurants and clubs have been closed. It’s much quieter outside. Agenda’s are emptied. Life as we know it is slowing down drastically. I have never experienced anything like this before in my life (37 now), and neither have my parents. Personally I’m not afraid of this virus at all, since I’m young and healthy. But the drastic measures taken to stop the spread and mitigate impact on the healthcare system are extremely impactful. I’m sure this will be a period not to be forgotten. Good luck to anyone!

  2. Lane Beck says

    Sad, but understandable. Croatia would have provided an excellent venue. It is one of our favorite places. I hope you will consider it for 2021. Chins up everybody! We have work to do!

  3. Melanie says

    It’s amazing how quickly things are changing. One week ago, it was you reasonable to think we’d forget about this by Sept. Now we’re battened down for war. I will be spending my time rereading your “market always goes up” post and not looking at my 401k. Stay safe!

  4. vorlic says

    Fair enough.

    And here’s one fool who agrees entirely with your assessment of coronavirus.

    Steady away, I shan’t stop buying the market.

    “If you can keep your head while all about are losing theirs…”


    • jlcollinsnh says

      It was a tough call when we were deciding last week.

      Now, not so much. 🙂

      Stay safe, Debbie…

      …and thank you for your service!

  5. Mo says

    Hi Jim,
    Just wondering if are you all in 100% stocks now? Are you buying more? I’m a teacher and it takes me about a month to change anything with my retirement account at school which is 100% in stocks.I can make a change to my account every two months . It’s down 30% down but I’m still dollar cost averaging every month. I have feeling we can go down 50 to 60 percent from the top and this virus will be remembered for a lomg time. I had a friend calling me last night about not having cleaning supplies and might need to close his practice. I hoping everything gets better soon, it’s starting to get scary!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Not yet, Mo.

      I lightened up on bonds and moved into stocks a bit when it was ~15% down as described at the end of this post:

      Yesterday, with the market down ~29%, we got close to 2016 levels (~2200) which is a mental target for me. If we get there, I’ll move more.

      But, frustratingly and of course, it is back up today. 🙂

      Unlike everybody else it seems at the moment, I don’t have a crystal ball. Could we go down 60%? Sure. Something greater? Sure. Something less? Sure. Could today’s rise mark the end of the Bear? Sure.

      Do I know? Surely not. 🙂

      • Mo says

        Thanks Jim for your input, I was asking because we have college accounts for our kids that are in cash and I’m waiting to see if I should buy some VOO ETF. This morning they were talking about limiting market hours . I think people are upset about losing so much and asking for market to stay close for a while. I have lost a lot but I think that will make everything worse. People might panic more if they can’t access their money and need to sell to pay bills.

      • Papa Jaypes says

        Hey Jim, on a related note regarding stocks/bonds allocation, you mentioned in your book, “there are studies that indicate holding a 10-25% position in bonds with 75-90% stocks will actually very slightly outperform a position holding 100% stocks”. What studies were you referring to? I didn’t see any links/sources in the endnotes. Would love to dig into these studies/sources a bit more. Thanks!

        • jlcollinsnh says

          I wrote the book between 2013-16 and my notes and source materials are long gone. And I’m afraid my menory isn’t up to the task either.

          That said, Google can very likely steer you to similiar if not identical studies. I recall them being rather common.

          If you find something, please feel free to post a link.

  6. Chad Hill says

    Well, the glass is half full view.

    Travel industry and hotels will be looking to get people there next year, should be some great deals. Also, for our geo-arbitrage family out there I hope they are getting good deals and well taken care of on the road less traveled.

    Stay safe and healthy,
    This too shall pass


  7. Financial Freedom Countdown says

    Jim, do you still believe that “come September, we’ll have trouble remembering the name Coronavirus”? You are more optimistic than me or all my medical friends.

    I guess this is the one rare instance I hope I am wrong. Time will tell.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi FFC…

      While I remain more optimistic about this than most commentators I see, and certain more so than my medical friends, five days after this post I published my interview with DocG and said this in my intro…

      “Other than I am pretty sure I was wrong when I said come September we won’t remember it. We’ll remember this for a long time.”

      Amazing what a difference five days can make, and a reminder of the perils of predictions. 😉

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