Sir John Templeton - Contrarian | Documentary | Summary and Q&A

November 29, 2020
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Sir John Templeton - Contrarian | Documentary

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This video tells the story of John Templeton, an iconoclast legendary investor who thought differently and sought to explore the big questions in life. From his upbringing in Tennessee to his entrepreneurial ventures, Templeton's curiosity and sense of adventure shaped his unique perspective. He became a successful investor, pioneering global investing and defying conventional wisdom on Wall Street. Alongside his financial career, Templeton embarked on a spiritual journey, seeking answers to questions about religion, science, and the meaning of life. He established the Templeton Prize and dedicated his fortune to advancing spiritual discovery. Templeton's legacy is one of challenging the status quo and encouraging open-mindedness in pursuit of truth.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did John Templeton's adventurous upbringing influence his worldview?

John Templeton's mother, Bella, had an adventurous spirit and often took him and his brother on trips across the country. This exposed Templeton to different cultures and expanded his horizons from an early age. Bella provided them with the means to explore and allowed them to be independent. Their experiences, such as blowing up stumps with dynamite, instilled in Templeton a sense of adventure and curiosity, shaping his mindset to see the world in terms of what was possible rather than what was not.

Q: Who were the influential figures in John Templeton's life?

In addition to his adventurous mother, Templeton's father, Harvey Templeton, was an entrepreneurial figure who taught him the value of hard work and seeking out opportunities. Harvey instilled in Templeton the importance of finding bargains and hunting for deals, which would later shape his investment philosophy. Harvey's encouragement to excel academically also motivated Templeton to pursue education at Yale University. Additionally, Templeton's stepmother, Irene Butler, played a significant role in his life and became his second wife. Irene was supportive and encouraged Templeton to follow his ambitions.

Q: How did John Templeton begin his financial career?

Templeton started his financial career by working at the investment firm of Fener and Bean, which later became Merrill Lynch. His first major stock purchase involved putting $10,000 into 104 penny stocks just before World War II. Although his boss at the time initially thought it was a bad idea, he trusted Templeton and agreed to front the money. Templeton's assessment of underperforming stocks gaining value during the war turned out to be right, and he made a sizeable profit. This early success laid the foundation for his investing career.

Q: How did John Templeton approach investing?

Templeton was a contrarian investor who looked for opportunities in stocks that were out of favor. He believed in buying low and selling high and sought to identify undervalued companies. Templeton's strategy involved taking measured, educated risks and investing for the long term. He had a disciplined approach and was not swayed by market trends or the herd mentality on Wall Street. Templeton's ability to think independently and seek out bargains set him apart from other investors.

Q: What significant move did John Templeton make in his career while in his mid-50s?

In his mid-50s, Templeton decided to move away from the crowd on Wall Street and relocate to the Bahamas. This move was a reflection of his contrarian nature and desire to remove himself from the noise and pressures of the financial industry. By distancing himself from the crowd, Templeton could focus on his investment strategies with a clear mind and unique perspective. He set up the first Templeton office in the Bahamas, starting in a small attic space, and built his business from there.

Q: How did John Templeton's investment philosophy differ from conventional thinking?

Templeton's investment philosophy was rooted in the concept of searching for bargains. He believed in investing in stocks that nobody else was buying, even when the market was going against him. Templeton saw every market downturn as an opportunity and stayed true to his convictions during times of maximum pessimism. His ability to delay gratification and invest for the long term, even when others doubted, set him apart. Templeton's contrarian approach allowed him to capitalize on market inefficiencies and generate significant returns.

Q: How did John Templeton approach the big questions in life?

Templeton's spiritual journey began with his mother's influence, encouraging him to think beyond traditional religious conventions. He was skeptical of conventional theology and sought to explore the intersection between science and religion. Templeton established the Templeton Prize to encourage scientists and theologians to collaborate and address big questions such as the existence of God, the origins of life, and the nature of love and forgiveness. He believed that by bringing together brilliant minds and promoting open-minded exploration, new and valuable insights could be gained.

Q: What was the significance of the Templeton Prize?

The Templeton Prize, established by John Templeton, aimed to honor individuals who made significant contributions to spiritual discovery and advancement. The prize sought to bridge the gap between science and religion, promoting dialogue and exploration of the big questions in life. Templeton saw this prize as an opportunity to encourage brilliant minds from various disciplines to address topics that were often overlooked or deemed unimportant. It became a prestigious award, larger than the Nobel Prizes, and recognized individuals who dedicated their lives to exploring the intersection of science and spirituality.

Q: How did John Templeton's values and principles shape his lifestyle?

Templeton was known for his thrift and discipline, qualities that influenced his personal and professional life. He lived a humble and simple lifestyle, preferring to save and invest rather than indulge in luxury. Templeton's thrift allowed him to take advantage of market opportunities and have the financial means to support his endeavors. He was punctual, organized, and intentional with his time, always adhering to a strict schedule. Templeton believed in delayed gratification and was patient in his investments, holding stocks for the long term.

Q: What was John Templeton's approach to philanthropy?

Templeton dedicated a significant portion of his fortune to philanthropic efforts. He believed in giving back and using his wealth to make a positive impact in the world. Through the Templeton Prize, he supported research and exploration of the big questions in life. Templeton's philanthropy extended beyond financial contributions; he actively engaged with the recipients of his support and sought to encourage collaboration and dialogue among scientists and theologians. His philanthropic efforts aimed to advance spiritual discovery and promote the understanding of the human condition.

Q: What is John Templeton's legacy?

John Templeton's legacy is multifaceted. As an investor, he challenged conventional wisdom and pioneered global investing. Templeton's contrarian approach and dedication to seeking bargains had a significant impact on the investment industry. He established the Templeton Prize, encouraging scientific and theological exploration of the big questions in life. Templeton's open-mindedness and commitment to seeking truth and knowledge made him a renowned figure in the fields of finance and spirituality. His legacy serves as an inspiration for independent thinking, discipline, and the pursuit of meaningful answers.


John Templeton's life and career embody the values of curiosity, contrarian thinking, discipline, and philanthropy. From his humble beginnings in Tennessee to becoming a renowned investor, Templeton made a significant impact on the financial industry with his unique investment philosophy and commitment to long-term value. His spiritual journey led him to explore the big questions in life, bridging the gap between science and religion through the Templeton Prize. Templeton's legacy serves as a reminder to think independently, challenge conventional wisdom, and seek meaningful answers to life's most profound questions.

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