I was recently a guest on Fred Rockwell's Bulldog Investor podcast. We talked about a number of things including risk, small stocks and bank stocks.
A Short Essay On Why I Write and Why I Share For Free
You might be wondering why I give interviews like this, or why I give 'secrets' away on the blog freely. This is a subject I'm not sure I've ever discussed on here and because I love to talk I can't fathom leaving a post as two sentences with a link. So without further ado..
I grew up in the pre-Internet era. If there was a song I heard on the radio and I wanted a copy I had two choices, I could put a blank cassette in my boom box and when I heard the song run across the room and quickly press record. Or I could go to the local music store and hope they had a copy in stock. If I didn't know the name of the song I'd have to call the radio station and ask, or ask friends to try to identify it. It sounds clumsy now, but that's all that existed.
The way to find new music was from the radio or friends. The radio was the traditional mainstream stuff. I had a few friends who were a bit more out there and they somehow had this connection to local bands and the weirder music. If someone had an album that they wanted everyone to hear they'd make cassettes and give out copies. Outside of spending money at random to find a new band the only way I found something was if a friend gave away music to me for free. Many times I went on to purchase other albums, or even the album I had the cassette of. But I needed the introduction first.
I loved the idea that music could be shared freely. I liked the idea even more that the Grateful Dead and Phish built enormous followings by encouraging fans to give away their music. Instead of cutting into their revenue the Dead and Phish saw the free sharing increase their revenues.
When I started to write Oddball Stocks I had no goals or ambition about what this site might turn into. It was a dumping ground for my thoughts as I researched stocks. An online blog was a place I could access from anywhere so I could recover my thoughts. This might sound strange, but if you've ever seen me hunt around the house for 30m trying to find my keys it might make sense. It's not uncommon for me to walk out of one room with a screwdriver in my hand and into the next with nothing and no idea where the screwdriver went. A blog was a way to make sure I didn't forget what I'd read or researched. A byproduct of writing is that it helps to clarify thoughts. The more I wrote the more I realized I was the one benefiting the most from writing. It helped me form my ideas and remember them. And if I did by chance forget them I could always re-read them online.
I had the option of keeping my blog private when I started but thought back to my experience with music sharing. I thought that maybe if someone could benefit from my thoughts then it might be worth it.
A funny thing happened when I gave away my thoughts and ideas, it became like the Phish tapes. The blog went crazy. You, my readers started showing up from all corners of the world. It's humbling to think that while I sleep or take a walk that someone in Mongolia or South Africa is reading something I wrote. And while the sharing has helped a number of you it's also helped me. I've made some incredibly meaningful connections through this blog, connections and friendships I wouldn't have otherwise.
With success comes detractors. I've had a few readers accuse me of giving away too many secrets about small stocks. My advice to them is if I can find this information out then someone else can as well, and not everyone is bound to some secret pink sheet honor code of conduct if there even is such a thing. When looking at a small stock there is a natural inclination to think to oneself that you've discovered something new that no one else knows about. What I've found is the longer I write on here the less I have that feeling. I can write about the most obscure company in the world and a few readers come out of the woodwork letting me know they and others have been following it for years.
The problem is I'm not selling a magic bullet. My approach is hard work. Look at hundreds or thousands of stocks and find the best to research further. From those whittle it down to a few worth investing in. There is no magic formula, just time and effort. It's like dieting, you can tell people to eat less and exercise but not many people follow through with it. The formula for losing weight is simple, but hard to follow.
What I intended to be a few short paragraphs turned into something a bit longer. In the end I don't have the slightest bit of regret in sharing with others how to find hidden value stocks. The rewards to both you and myself have been too great to stop. So I'll continue writing here and writing about these little names in the Oddball Stocks Newsletter....