Today we celebrate the release of The Nature of Investing: Resilient Investment Strategies Through Biomimicry by Katherine Collins. The book reunites investing with the real world through natural principles, transforming the investment process from the roots up. Readers will discover the recent shortcomings (and successes) in our financial system. Below, Katherine shares her influence and inspiration for the book!
What inspired you to write The Nature of Investing?
On a personal level, my career was “saved by the bee”: I was reminded at a critical juncture of the wisdom that nature holds for us, which led to me reconnecting my work with the actual world (rather than the world on the screen). This benefitted my shareholders, and ultimately led me on a path to Harvard Divinity School and the study of biomimicry. I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others.
On a systemic level, the investing world has changed a lot in the last twenty years, and much of that change has been undertaken with an engineering mindset – focused on “faster, more, cheaper”. This follows along the lines of the factory model for manufacturing; there are certain advantages that come with that approach, but it also introduces different risks and fragility into the system. The core of investing is actually much more like a natural ecosystem than a factory, and the book explains why natural principles provide a great – and overlooked – framework for investing.
What was your favorite part of the writing and publishing process?
This might sound crazy, but my favorite part was when I was most lost. About halfway through the writing process, I was really stuck on the details of one particular example. I kept researching, writing, re-writing… going around in circles. Instead of delving even deeper into that wilderness on the page, first I went for a long walk, out in the real live natural wilderness. Then I came back and drew a giant map of the book. I had big sheets of paper hung all around the room with post-it notes and arrows all over the place. All of the ideas, all of the examples, all of the structure were suddenly much more clear than in my earlier planning process. Once that map was finished, I felt free to explore – because I knew where I was going.
I hope individual investors will read this book and realize that investing is part of our broader social ecosystem, not something “over there” that is disconnected and separate from our lives and communities.
I hope professional investors will read this book and be reminded that the true nature of investing is creative and connected, in service to our world – optimized, not maximized. Regenerative, not extractive.
Who was your #1 influencer for your work?
Janine Benyus, founder of Biomimicry 3.8, and Hazel Henderson, founder of Ethical Markets Media directly inspired this book. Both have been tremendous mentors, models, and measures – just like nature.
What are you reading right now?
- The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
- Flash Boys, Michael Lewis
- Evolution of a Corporate Idealist, Christine Bader
- Book of Hours, Rainer Maria Rilke