“When you first start to study a field, it seems like you have to memorize a zillion things. You don’t. What you need is to identify the core principles — generally three to twelve of them — that govern the field. The million things you thought you had to memorize are simply various combinations of the core principles.” — John Reed
Rising from the Dotcom Ashes
My first foray into the world of investing started when I was 22 years old, during the dot-com bubble of the late 90s. These were the days of “growth over profits”, pets.com, and “prefix investing”(1) where companies looking to boost their stock prices added “.com” to the end of their name, a practice even my local dry cleaner followed to boost its brand appeal with trendy consumers. Investors jumped in to the Internet gold rush with both feet, hoping to make a quick buck. I can remember the day I became addicted to fast money – sitting in a boardroom listening to the Chairman of an Internet start-up I was working at tell us the company’s stock was poised to double from $30 to $60, this was after a spectacular 12-24 month run in which the stock rose from $2 per share to $30. Plain and simple it was inexperience and youthful bravado that caused me to buy into what this charismatic chairman was selling and hold on to the stock rather than cashing out and walking away with a $84,000 capital gain at 22, made in under two years. If I had sold my shares in this dotcom darling, paid my taxes (assume 40%) and invested my net gain of $50,00 into the S&P/TSX Composite index which has delivered an annualized return of 6.56% over the last 16 years I would have seen that capital almost triple to $140,000. Yes, it does pain me to write that. Now, if I could only go back in time and give this younger version of myself some sage advice. I would tell my younger self:
“This is a BUBBLE, pure and simple, SELL AND BE HAPPY for this once in a lifetime economic opportunity”
Sadly, rather than taking my unbelievable gains for any 22 year old and investing in more stable investment options, I watched the stock go lower and lower, holding steadfast to the now seemingly hollow words of that Chairman, and to be fair the overall sentiment of the times, that Internet stocks are poised for a rebound. There was no sound economic basis for the out of this solar system valuation attached to the company I was working for.
Now, I did eventually sell at $12 but I was living in a distorted reality that suggested traditional valuation methods no longer applied in “Business 2.0” and I continued my risky investing approach that was NOT grounded in any logical nor tested methodology. I took my winnings from this $10 of profit per share transaction and started investing in some pretty suspect companies – one company “Visual Bible” is THE example of my haphazard investment style at that time. This company’s mission was to create the first ever word-for-word dramatized DVD Bible for children and adults. A seemingly noble mission, but not one that was going to turn me into a born again investor. It got worse, as a member of a stock discussion board with some of my colleagues at work, I reached my personal investing low point by investing in a company based simply on a tip and three letters making up the unknown companies’ stock symbol. The good news is I’m a recovering uninformed investor and I was able to avoid negative economic impact to my financial future by learning this valuable lesson early in my investing lifespan.
Take control of your economic future by starting early in life to save and invest in a diversified portfolio of investment assets that properly balances:
The compounding power of investment income;
Significant capital appreciation upside that only comes with intelligent, well-researched and seldom made bets; and
Avoiding the dangerous risk of ignorant investing and investing for the long-term in financially sound, blue chip, steady dividend paying companies that you envision holding over a longer period of time
My journey to recovery involved reading many, many volumes of books on investing, some incredibly helpful while others offered overly elementary advice that wouldn’t deliver the market beating returns that I wanted to secure my financial freedom. I grew frustrated with the dearth of books that either treated their readers as a Math PHD or talked down to their readers. I didn’t have the patience to learn complex formulas and algorithms, nor did I want to read through pages of a rather lame fictional story created as an attempt to make the financial advice embedded throughout the book more digestible for the average Joe. I also found most personal finance books had a rather narrow focus on just one of the many important principals necessary to plan and execute a successful personal wealth creation strategy that delivers market beating returns. Sure, I understand automatic saving is important but why should I read an entire book to learn about one pretty straight forward investing concept.
Real personal wealth creation, the type that offers us the financial freedom to pursue what really inspires us in life, requires a comprehensive investing approach that considers a number of interrelated concepts that deliver the occasional home run, fixed income to protect your capital, a steady income stream and solid blue-chip, dividend paying companies with a track record of delivering solid gains over the long run.
Nanotech Excitement Boosts Wrong Stock, The Market by Mike Maznick, Techdirt.com, 4 December 2003
I want to help fill a niche in the personal finance and investing space I see by providing a comprehensive, no nonsense and accessible blog all about wealth creation.
My mission is to share the learnings, thoughts and insights I wish I had known when I was 22 and got lucky from the Internet boom.
This blog is for people who want to take control of their financial freedom and are willing to take a more disciplined and long-term approach. It is for people who understand that outside of the lottery there is no legal get rich quick formula, but it is very possible for you to create wealth and financial security for yourself and family by implementing a straight forward and proven approach to investing.
I’ve seen far too many people not give their financial future any thought or any investment of time. I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made early in my investing journey.