My Epiphany and Horrid Health, Having A Baby, Writing An Investment Book, And I Started A Business

As you probably know if you have been following this blog for any amount of time I have been trying to find enough funding to open up my own investment firm and I have also been sending out my information and stock analysis articles to a bunch of value investing firms to try and land a job at one of these firms in the meantime while I try to raise capital to open up my own firm.  I figure that I would need around $5 million in assets under management to be able to comply with all regulations, have my results audited, pay accountants and lawyers to make sure I stay in compliance with everything, and still have enough left over to make some money for myself.

Since I do not have a lot of rich friends, know a lot of rich people, and myself do not have anywhere near that amount of money, I had to put this goal to the side for the time being and will explain why below.

As you also know if you have been following this blog for any amount of time, I have alluded multiple times to some pretty serious health issues that I have not fully explained to you and will do so later in this post.  Over the past several months I have been pushing myself extremely hard, too hard as it turns out, to try to get as good as possible as fast as possible at evaluating, valuing, and analyzing companies to determine if they are a good investment, in the hopes of either opening my own firm, or getting noticed by a value investing firm and paid for my research.

Since the summer of 2004, the year before my senior year of high school, up until today I have been, and still on a daily basis deal with extreme dizziness to the point where I have not been able to have a “normal” job since shortly after I graduated high school.  Due to this I have also not been able to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree which I have found out is apparently a MINIMUM requirement to even being considered for being hired at most investment related firms so I have also had zero luck in finding an investment related job up to this point.  My dizziness has gotten quite a bit better over the years (Finally making some progress after almost 9 years of dealing with this) as I have found a couple wonderful doctors who have helped me out quite a bit, but I still need to get over a few humps to get more towards “normal” or at least for me normal health, whatever that may end up being.

Due to me pushing myself to learn as much as possible as fast as possible relating to investing over the last several months I appear to be pushing myself too hard as I have gotten sick/flu/sinus infection/etc 5 or 6 times in the past 5 months or so.  These colds/infections  exacerbate my dizziness while I am sick and makes my dizziness worse than normal for at least a week or two AFTER I get over whatever sickness I have had, so for the past 5 months or so I have felt pretty miserable almost the entire 5 months.  This is one reason why you have seen a slowdown in my blog postings and stock analysis articles over this time period.

A different doctor that I saw has not found any reason why I keep getting sick so I figure it must be because I have been pushing myself so hard lately.  At the recommendation of ValuePrax for something investing related, and completely unrelated to the sickness situation, I read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, which I highly recommend especially for those who are skeptical like I was about pulling this kind of thing off and who wants to be an entrepreneur.  The book is amazing and I highly recommend everyone read it but the main part of the book that I want to talk about here that relates to my health issues is a part of the book where he says you should evaluate how you spend your time to see what you can cut out to become more efficient.  After looking over how I have been spending my time over the past several months I believe I have found the main reason why I keep getting sick, I have been pushing myself WAY too hard.

It turns out that since I dedicated myself to learning and becoming a true value investor in February of 2012 that between taking care of my now 2+ year old daughter full time and learning about investing, evaluating, analyzing, valuing, and writing about companies, I have been working around 100 hours a week for almost a year straight now, or the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs!  Since I cut out free/relaxing/video game/watching sports, etc time to learn as much as possible as fast as possible literally the only free time I had where I wasn’t trying to learn something, take care of my daughter, or recovering from being dizzy was when I was sleeping.  Not exactly a healthy lifestyle apparently.

The last time I pushed myself like this was shortly after the dizziness started.  I kept trying to do the normal things I used to do at the time: Finishing high school, hanging out with friends, running track, working out, and combined with working a full time job at the time and having a girlfriend who is now my wife.  After having to go to the ER because I was so dizzy I fell down when I was at work and couldn’t walk without falling, I realized that I pushed myself too hard.  I ended up making my dizziness so bad that for a period of literally 2 or 3 straight years I could do literally nothing except lay around and watch TV because I felt so horrible all the time.  Since I do not want to feel that horrible again and set myself back like that, especially considering how much better my dizziness has gotten since then, I realized I needed to change course before I did that to myself again.

Using some of the techniques in the Four Hour Work Week I started to brainstorm business ideas and ways to start making money for my family but also lowering my hours worked dramatically in the hopes to stop getting sick all the time and putting off any kind of massive deterioration in my dizziness like what happened before.  The first idea was to write an investment book.  I have already shared the idea with a couple investors who have had investing related books published, gotten some feedback, changed some of my original thoughts, and they think that if I can write the book properly that the idea is good enough and unique enough to potentially be picked up by a publisher and fully published, not just self published by me!  Up to this point I have written the outline that still needs to be tweaked a bit, the introduction, and five full chapters.  I do not know when this will be done because of the business my brother and I have started which I will talk about below but I think that I can help a lot of newer and intermediate level investors and hope to have the transcript finished as soon as possible.

The second idea was something my brother and I have been kicking around for a while now and we decided to go for it.  My brother and I have started what is called a managed service provider, MSP, computer business to monitor local small businesses computers; do data back-ups, eliminate viruses, spyware, and malware, etc.  Make sure their servers, computers, and computer networks are working properly and keep them working properly and to help the particular businesses become more profitable due to saving them a lot of money, enabling them to have less or no down time, and having a lot less computer related headaches they have to deal with.  Our company is called Black Hills Tech Solutions.  If anyone is interested in this business please visit our website which I have linked.  We do not have any clients as of this time but once we start getting clients we will be making pretty good money and helping companies out by saving them a lot of money, time, and frustration.  If we do things right this will also enable me to work less once we get things rolling due to automation.  My brother is handling the computer and tech side of things and I am handling the business/marketing/sales side of things at this point.

The main reason I had to make a change in what I was doing on a daily basis was because of my horrid health.  The other major reason I had to change course was because frankly I am tired of not being able to make money for my family and I needed a way to make money sooner rather than later.  Why do I need to make money sooner rather than later?  Well besides the fact that I just want to start making my family money and not being able to due to my health reasons up to this point, we have another baby on the way which is very exciting but also expensive, and I want to contribute monetarily to my family.

Due to everything above I will probably post only every once and a while on this blog for the foreseeable future.  My hope is that once we start getting clients at our business and automate things properly is that I will be able to resume this blog on a more regular basis and start researching companies again as this is still my passion.  I also hope that writing this book and starting this business will make me enough money and gain me enough contacts that I will be able to open up my own investment firm sooner rather than later and resume my passion of searching for undervalued companies to buy into on a full time basis.

You all know that I am not a macro guy at all, but another reason I thought this was a good time to change course for a while was because how crazy the market is getting.  It seems to keep going up for absolutely no reason at all and I fear that there will be a major crash at some time in the near future.  Due to the starting of the business, saving up for baby, and my fear of an impending market crash, I have sold all of the stocks in my personal portfolio to help fund me and my brothers business start up and to put some money in savings in preparation for the baby that is due in late October.  The people that I manage portfolios for are sitting around 40% cash right now. Again my hopes are that I will start making some pretty good money relatively soon from the book and business that I will be able to open up my own investment firm relatively soon.

At this time I will urge anyone who is interested in contributing to this blog to please let me know as I am still very interested in having people write while I am working on some of the above things and if possible would like to keep the blog active until I can start writing on a more regular basis again.

I apologize that I have to take some time off from this blog due to my health issues but I do not want to go back to where I could literally do nothing for 2 or 3 years because I felt so horrible all the time. I am deeply saddened by this necessary step away from my passion of value investing but also excited at the same time for the ventures I will be concentrating on for the foreseeable future.

I want to thank you all so much for reading, I appreciate it so much and I hope you continue to read while I concentrate on these other ventures.  I hope to continue writing and researching companies as soon as physically possible.

Again, I would really love to keep content flowing on a somewhat regular basis so if you personally or you know anyone who would want to contribute to the blog it would be very much appreciated and please let me know.

An Update, New Translation Page, and Links

As you might have noticed at the top of the page is now a translation page where you can translate the entire blog into many different languages.  I found something similar to this a few days ago but could not get it to work on the blog so I enlisted the help of my brother and he got the translation page working, thanks a lot Kev.  This also means that the short-lived Mandarin Value Investing Journey is also not now needed and will be going away.  I am sure the 20 of you who visited the mostly untranslated site will miss it dearly :).

A quick update on where I am at with the process of my article series.  I have now finished up the first two articles of the series and as you know I had planned to write articles on one or two more companies and then do a conclusion article.  Two of the companies I was planning on writing articles on I have been asked not to by the person who recommended them to me because he is planning on writing articles about them.  I am still going to read those companies annual reports and other filings but will not be writing articles about them so this has turned into a three-part series covering the two companies I have already written articles about and the conclusion article where I decide which of them to buy.  I will hopefully have the whole series posted as soon as possible.

“Things do not happen–they are brought about by careful planning, diligence, application, and direction.”George Mecherle, Founder of State Farm Insurance.

Valueprax-This One Is Personal.

25iq.com-Charlie Munger On The Importance Of Worldly Wisdom And Consistently Not Being Stupid.

CP-Africa.com-Meet 31 Year Old Ashish Thakkar-Africa’s Youngest Billionaire.

OTC Adventures-International Wire Group Is Cheap, But Is It Safe (ITWG)

Valuewalk-Baupost Group’s Seth Klarman Sees “50 Shades Of Value” In The Market.

Valueinvestingblog.net-CASA Holdings and Fiamma Holdings.

CSinvesting-A Reader’s Question On Case Studies.

Santangel’s Review-Benjamin Graham On Staying Small.

Motley Fool-Charlie Munger Info From A Board Poster.

Valueprax-Notes-Nintendo Back In The Saddle?

CSInvesting-Valuation Case Study HVAC.

OTC Adventures-Value Investing Strategy and Unlisted Securities Part 2.

CSInvesting-ValueUncovered Philosophy; Treat Everything As A Case Study.

Wexboy-2013: The Great Irish Share Valuation Project Part 2.

Credit Bubble Stocks-Horizon Kinetics, Owner Operators, and the Predictability Arb.

Fantastic Idea From Valueprax: Mandarin Value Investing Journey. 从Valueprax国语价值投资之旅的奇妙的想法。

As you know I have been learning Mandarin for the past several months and yesterday Valueprax and I were talking on Twitter yesterday and after telling him that I am learning Mandarin he came up with a fantastic idea.  He said that I should translate my blog into Mandarin to get myself out there further.  Up to this point I have not been able to find any Mandarin language value investing blogs so this is another way to get myself out there.  This will also help me learn Mandarin faster, get myself out there to potential value firms in Asia which may lead to potentially getting hired or at the very minimum hopefully gaining a new audience in Asia.

The new Mandarin language version of Value Investing Journey is below and I am currently undertaking the process of translating the entire blog into Mandarin so if you are curious what the blog would look like in Mandarin feel free to take a look.  If you know anyone who reads Mandarin and is interested in investing I would really appreciate if you could pass this link on.  Thank you and I hope you enjoy.

http://mandarinvijourney.wordpress.com/

你知道我一直在学习普通话在过去的数个月,昨天Valueprax和我聊天昨天在Twitter上后,告诉他,我学习普通话,他想出了一个绝妙的想法。他说,我要我的博客翻译成普通话,没想到却在那里进一步。这点我一直没能找到任何的普通话价值投资博客,所以这是另一种方式来让自己有。这也将帮助我更快地学习普通话,让自己有潜在价值,公司在亚洲,这可能会导致潜在的被聘用,或最起码希望在亚洲获得了新的观众。

新的普通话语言版本,以下是价值投资之旅,我目前正在进行的过程中,整个博客翻译成普通话,所以如果你是好奇,到底是什么东西的博客看起来像普通话随时来看看。如果你知道谁读普通话及有兴趣投资,我会很感激,如果你可以通过这个链接上。谢谢你,我希望你能喜欢。

Weekend Reading Links

With all the research I have been going lately I have gotten way behind on posting links so here are a bunch that I think are very good.

Atul Gawande: Excellence Is Recognizing Details, Failures

The Price Of Paying Attention

How Not To Run A Hedge Fund: Geoff Grant Edition

Advice From Jeff Bezos

How Did R.A. Dickey Master The Knuckleball

Jason Zweig Interviews Seth Klarman

How Did I Come Up With My 16 JNets

What Drives Operating Metrics?

Free Ebook: 115 Profitable Investing Ideas

How Buffett Made Money In Bad and Volatile Markets

Weekend Reading Links: Klarman, Munger, Buffett, Valuation, and Learning

The new company I was researhing turned out to be another bust after valuation.  I found the Australian company to be in a range from fairly valued at the high end of my intrinsic value estimate to overvalued by as much as 70% from my low estimates of value and have decided to not do any further research on it at this time, especially since its margins were not very good either.

For now I am going to be reading some books over the coming days and then its back to searching for more companies to research.

Seth Klarman On Leadership.  This video is from ValuePrax and contains some very valuable insights from the reclusive Klarman.

Charlie Munger Lecture at the Harvard-Westlake School.  This interview is from Santangel’s Review and contains Mungers thoughts on the recent financial crisis.

Alice Schroeder On How Buffett Values a Business and Invests.  This is yet another article from Greg Speicher that contain Ms. Schroeder’s thoughts on how Warren Buffett looks at business.

Valuation: Valuing Growth and the Petersburg Paradox.  This is from Csinvesting and the page also has some links to papers that talk about different things valuation related.

I Learned To Speak Four Languages In a Few Years: Here’s how.  This is a write up from LifeHacker about the techniques that helped the author learn four languages in a relatively short amount of time.  This is fascinating to me because I have always wanted to learn a new language and have recently started learning a bit of Spanish.