What's Changed Since I was 12
Even though investing isn't the core interest I had during my early teens, I have recently returned to the love of discussing, analyzing, and exploring businesses that flourished so naturally through the Fool and this community.
Reflecting on the past eight years, and in particular the Fool years, is a remarkable thing. A lot of it seems like it just happened, and in many ways it strikes me as a bizarre but highly entertaining dream. I actually went to Fool headquarters and met Tom and David G, Bill Mann, and a host of other Fool analysts.When I was 15. For the life of me I can't remember what we talked about. Michael Read really nominated for the Feste Award six years ago?! At one point, I think in my junior year of high school, I talked over the phone with a group of HQ Fools, and all but had a job guaranteed at the Fool upon high school graduation. It's incredible for me to think that these experiences were just a few years ago.
My father, Tim, who is responsible for supporting and cultivating my interest in stocks and the Fool, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on August 6, 2012, after less than a year of experiencing the symptoms and being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was just 61 years old - even more shocking considering I can count on one hand the times I remember him being sick when I was growing up. This pencils2 account and moniker, that at one point I began infamously using to give (well-received) investing advice despite being 13 years old, was the one that my Dad started around 2004.
My dear father's passing has given me the opportunity to help manage his IRA, as well as my mother's. This year I also had to transfer my account from being a custodial account with my Dad, to my sole individual account. This year, for whatever reason, has led me to the direction of resuming my interest in investments, and it has led me back to the Fool community. Part of me feels like I cut the ties that I did have to the Fool, but perhaps a portion of me hopes that people will understand that teenage boys can be unpredictable and sporadic. (Sorry, should have braced you for that revelation.)
Aside from resuming my passion and interest in investments, I am still enrolled at Berea College in Kentucky - currently in my third year as a Business Administration major (concentration in Marketing). One more year to figure out where to head next. I am Student Government President at Berea, which has been a blast. I'm heavily involved with a multi-year program at the College as well, Entrepreneurship for the Public Good, which has helped me cultivate skills related to entrepreneurship, community development, and other ground-up endeavors.
Enough about me. My investing mannerisms are largely what they were when I was 12 and 13, albeit a bit more refined and grounded. With my personal portfolio, I will not invest in any company I am not familiar with. I don't care who endorses the stock - I simply can't risk my own money investing in a company I either don't know about or don't care about. If I don't use the product or like the product, how can I expect others to use the product? The best investments are not obscure companies waiting to be found in a rare vortex of formulas - the best investments are companies whose products and services we use, enjoy, and recommend.
Thus, I am comfortable investing in Netflix, Chipotle, Starbucks, and other such businesses. Companies who I am confident investing in for the next 5-10 years minimum. I've found that companies who I don't fully understand tend to be lousy or very volatile investments, which would lead me to make buy/sell decisions based on emotional frenzies rather than through a calm, grounded approach. I'm a firm believer that we don't have to actually look all that far for great investments. Start by analyzing the products and services you utilize on a regular basis - chances are there is a solid company (and potential investment) behind those offerings. Start there and expand the scope of your research based on what products/services you, your friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. are excited about. Remember, successful investments can't be all that obscure because successful companies need either A) lots of customers, or B) high-level clients. People will know who these companies are and utilize their services.
"Snorefest! Can this kid just leave again alrighty?" Okay, okay, I know this has been a bit much. I hope this post finds you all well, and perhaps willing to rekindle the community that I remember from a few years back with old and new friends alike. I'll be here, at Pencils Palace, posting my investment musings and questions as time allows. I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and developing relationships with new Fools.