Covid-19 and virtual meetings.


Greeting on computer screen with a Zoom invitation

This is about how modern technology kept a long-standing group together. But how did we get here?

In 1970, a few friends started an investment club. All were beginning careers and starting their families. Our goals were to get to know each other better (the wives were all good friends) and to learn about investing and maybe make some money. That original group, called The Market Study Club, has been active for 50 years meeting every other month.

The number of members has varied over the years from as many as ten to the present five. In the beginning we met in a member’s home where we would conduct a “men only” business meeting followed by a sit-down dinner prepared by the host. Spouses prepared the meal and kept track of who would host the next meeting. After 40 years, we decided to meet in a restaurant.

This was welcomed by our wives but made it difficult to conduct the business meeting, so the men decided to meet occasionally for lunch to discuss business while we continued our restaurant meals that were mostly social. We each put in $50 when we met, and the amount was increased to $100 until ten years ago when we stopped adding money. After about 15 years, our wives suggested each couple take out $4,000 for what turned out to be a spectacular 10-day Mediterranean cruise. A few years later each member took out $4,000 for no particular reason.

In the half century the club has been active, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gone from less than 1,000 to more than 27,000. Our club made some money over the years, but our goal certainly was not speculation. More to the point was fellowship and learning something about price earnings, dividends, growth potential, risk management, and more.

After 50 years, the five surviving members are all in their 80s. Then we were hit, as was everyone, by COVID-19 with its many threats to the older and most vulnerable. How would we meet? There was a smart phone with Face Time or a computer with Skype, but the logistics were not great especially when groups were involved, and participants were widely scattered so we decided to use Zoom.

One of the members, who had participated in Zoom sessions, volunteered to host the first meeting. Using this way of connecting our group was able to continue our regular meeting schedule. The group’s secretary called members to arrange date and time and obtained email addresses.

Minutes before the meeting time the host sent an email to each member with an invitation to join and that’s when the fun started. The invitation consists of a twelve-digit link that says nothing about attending a Zoom meeting. It is one of those things the savvy computer user just “knows”. Once this is accomplished, it is necessary to agree to participate with video and audio. After this is done successfully, each of the participants sees his image in a box on the screen along with the other members. When he or anyone speaks all can hear and the speakers boxed image is bordered in yellow.

Once the meetings start, members look at the computer screen and remain relatively still. They have learned that excess movement or inadvertent extreme close-ups are distracting.

Well, we did it! We scheduled our fifth meeting. Old dogs can learn new tricks. If you have had a similar experience, we would appreciate hearing from you.

By Savvy Senior

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1 thought on “Old Dogs, New Tricks

  1. Very nice story of friendship over so many years. Thanks for sharing.
    I have used zoom to hold discussion sessions with my grandchild who is 13 years old and is interested in many subjects (biology, social sciences and more.) Zoom is much better than telephone, even with Face Time. We did that before the classes restarted and because during this pandemic we were unable to visit in person in Bloomington. My wife did something similar with the younger grandchild who is 9 years old. They worked together doing some artwork and teaching some Spanish. The best part in both cases was the communication and intimacy of the conversations.
    Of course, here in Marquette we are participating in Barbara Furlow’s Contemporary Issues the second Monday of each month. Randy Towbridge is the technical person in charge of getting all of us organized with zoom. Those sessions work very well also. and they allow for interesting exchange of opinions and good discussion.
    You are right: we are capable of learning some new tricks at our advanced years.

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