Thursday, April 19, 2012

Not the smartest person in the room

As a teenager you see the world differently than you did when you were younger.  You are definitely smarter than your parents (thank goodness).  In fact, probably once you hit 19 you practically know everything...so when I turned 20, and was sent to South Korea in the Army I hit the pinnacle of knowledge.  No longer a teenager...I just hit genius level.  Although, genius or not...young people lack experience/wisdom.  The year 2000 was when I first started investing in stocks. 


Since I already knew everything, picking stocks had to be quite easy.  Besides if some old guy with like 20 years of experience can lose money running a mutual fund, I cannot do as bad as him right?  After all...I was powered by E*Trade!  

I did some research by reading Smart Money magazine.  I read what the articles were recommending, and picked all of the high yield stocks that I felt had the most potential.  After about 2 or 3 months all of my stocks went up by like 50%.  I purchased odd lot shares and was paying $20 per transaction fees using E*Trade.  My roommate Jared was like...dude you need to sell.


I only invested $1000 at the time, and I'm pretty sure after the year was up my returns was about $1,000-$2000.  I wish I had my old tax returns, but I can only find my returns from 2004.  So, when my roommate Jared told me I should read "Rich Dad Poor Dad" I thought to myself...I don't need to read a book.  After all, I already knew everything.  I soon realized that I was spending a lot of money on commissions.  These fees ate away a lot of my profits.


When you invest with only $1000 and purchase 6 different stocks...that is a lot of money in commissions.  $240 in trading fees or 24%.  I was always taught that you want to be diversified when investing in stocks.  This diversification cost me a lot of money.  How come I was able to double my money in a year?  Simple...I got very lucky.  Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

When I was 21 or 22 years old and staying in one of the hotels in Maryland before going into surgery at Walter Reed Medical Center I was watching TV.  I remember China (the woman wrestler) was on Letterman or something.  She talked about how WWE stock had gone down by half.  She said she wasn't concerned because the company was solid.  As soon as I had my surgery and got back to Fort Drum I placed a trade on WWE.  The company was paying some pretty good dividends.  It was a solid trade at the time.  However, again...I got lucky.


Something I found out as I got older is that being the smartest person in the room doesn't matter.  Besides...having a lot brains puts a lot of pressure and expectations on you.  Unlike in school where you have to do pretty much everything on your own (unless you cheat), in life you can have others help you (like your parents...although kids seem to push them away).  In fact...if you don't have other people help you, then you will have a difficult time in this world.


At my workplace they encourage you to know a little about a lot of different areas.   This should be your quest in life.  I know a little bit about a lot of areas.  I command elementary knowledge of plumbing, auto repair, electricity, home repair, sewing, and farming to name a few.  Knowing these skills has enabled me to save a lot of money, and has allowed me to carry on decent conversations with all sorts of people.  Plus being able to communicate with people who are experts goes a long way.  It's all about knowing your limitations and asking for help.  You don't want to be that guy that all they talk about is sports and beer.  Or the gal who all they talk about is shoes and celebrities.


Off topic...you know of people who put up pictures of celebrities in their room?  What if you went to that celebrity's house and you saw a picture of you in their room?  Creepy huh?  I hope you get the point.


Being the smartest person in the room may stroke your ego, but it might not be the best thing for you.  It might be more comfortable to hang out with like minded people, or people that are on the same intelligence level as you...but becoming a Military Millionaire is about challenging yourself to do more.  I have already realized that I am maxed out as far as my circle of knowledge.  I need to find a new mentor to help lead me to the next stage of wealth.

Life doesn't stand still, and the quickest way to learn is through doing and simulation.  It helps to have a good mentor or someone who will help you along the way.  Be sure to seek out those people who are smarter than you on a specific subject you may be interested in.  It could change your life.

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