For Christmas, 1963, when I was 13 years old, my father bought me 5 shares of an oil stock for a present.
I had developed an interest in the stock market after he began bringing home the Wall Street Journal. We'd moved from Topeka, Kansas to Teaneck, New Jersey and he was working on a Philosophy of Law degree at NYU. I had never seen a Wall Street Journal before and I kept asking him about all of the listings and what they meant.
Identifying a possible interest, he gave me the gift of actual ownership of stocks -- and planted a seed. Good parent. I still have that stock certificate, framed, on my wall.
That seed took awhile to take root though.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina, I launched a radio career that took me to Charlotte, Denver and Las Vegas -- where I worked for Doubleday Broadcasting, General Electric Broadcasting, Jones Radio Network and the Westwood One Radio Network. During my stay in Las Vegas (on the KLUC-FM morning show), I learned to count cards at the blackjack tables (if you've seen the movie 21 you know about this) and with that skill, developed careful money management discipline -- an absolute requirement for that type of card play.
Later, I entered the broker training program at Dean Witter in New York and studied Benjamin Graham style stock selection. So, my first serious work analyzing stocks consisted of identifying stocks with low price/earnings ratios, selling below book value, with current assets greater than current liabilities, long-term debt no greater than 20% of capitalization, with earnings and paying a dividend.
Later, I discovered and developed a passion for technical analysis -- the study of price patterns on charts. Although I use the old school basics, such as moving averages and relative strength, the core of my work relies on the application of Fibonacci mathematics to price and volume characteristics. To put it simply, I'm a pattern recognition investor/trader.
Putting it all together, I learned about quantifying probability when I practiced the discipline of blackjack card counting. From my studies of Benjamin Graham, I learned the importance of fundamental valuation of companies. And from technical analysis, I developed a strong sense of when to time my buys and sells.
Marketocracy gave me the opportunity to put to use what I had learned throughout my life and to demonstrate my skills at stock selection and money management. Two years ago, I became a hedge fund manager.