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TMWTFS’ First Anniversary:

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” — Albert Einstein

Today marks twelve months since my very first post on this blog. When I initially started out I wanted a simple method of documenting my thoughts privately on various investment ideas, approaches and topics of value. What I didn’t expect was that nearly 9,000 people would happen to come across this site through various Google searches, mentioned links or by word of mouth. I’m both grateful and humbled by the support of family, friends, mentors and financial peers whose kind words of encouragement have provided an incentive for me to share ideas and analysis that in the past would have been kept entirely to myself. I don’t always invest by the book and my style certainly steers me in different directions than many other value or contrarian investors.

The quote above is something I referenced a few months ago in an earlier post. At twenty-seven my hope and intention has always been to not focus simply on my successes, but instead provide something of value for those who take the time to read my thoughts. Developing a clear objective for this blog has been the most difficult task and deciding a clear purpose of what I want to accomplish adds to this difficulty. Whether this site grows beyond a hobby into something more sustainable I can’t be completely sure of, but I will likely donate the proceeds of the recent earnings provided by my membership to the Forbes Business & Financial Network to a worthwhile charity that promotes financial support or education to those less privileged than me.

In an online community filled with personal finance blogs I’m not sure I offer anything drastically different or unique, but my focus remains on quality in contrast to the vast quantity that is found on the web. As a value investor I recognize the value in helping others and know from experience the struggles that an individual faces when choosing to go out on their own. There are positives and negatives of investing via an advisor or institution and investors who choose to take control of their own financial future should be commended for doing so; it most certainly isn’t easy. It takes time, patience, discipline and a focus on fundamentals to gain consistency in your returns. The one clear objective I have at this time is to continue my pursuit in helping others to understand that investing doesn’t have to be complicated, difficult or expensive whether you choose to invest with an advisor, independently in mutual funds or pursue a 100% DIY strategy for your portfolio. A common sense approach to investing is entirely about helping money and debt work for an individuals’ benefit rather than the benefit others. At times you may need to pay for that advice, but you should receive value from a professional in return for any financial compensation and understand where your money is being placed. Becoming debt-free is an exhilarating feeling that many discount until they achieve that milestone late in their life and is something I strive to help others in my personal life accomplish.

There are a number of authors I need to thank who have enjoyed abundant successes over a short period of time and I congratulate them on it. Those listed on the Peer Blogs section have encouraged or supported me over the past year and without their help the content on this blog would not be what it is today. I thank especially the authors of The Moneygardener, Quest for Four Pillars, Financial Jungle, Canadian Capitalist & Middle Class Millionaire.

Since not every new or old reader will have the time to read through the 100+ posts I’ve written over the past year, I thought I would take some time to summarize what I felt were the most important and place them in groups if you missed a few.

There were five detailed analyses I did on Stocks I own in my Taking Stock in series. These included components of my situational analyses on Loblaw, Thomson-Reuters (I & II), Johnson & Johnson, Bank of Nova Scotia and Tibco.

On the topic of Healthcare I posted my portfolio strategy, rules and issues with healthcare mutual funds & ETF’s (I & II) offered by financial markets.

I welcomed three of my investing mentors to publish Guest Posts on the blog:
Prof B wrote Only Cry When It’s Over; a perspective of the current credit market troubles in historical context and significance of Ben Bernanke’s appointment to US Federal Reserve Chairman
– Scott (Scomac) wrote The Impact of Intellectual Capital; discussing investor returns and the what ability individual investors had to add value to their returns
Charles used some nifty software to present A Letter to Investors; a passive-reflective article on current market turbulence and outlook from a value investor who’s experience spans nearly fifty years.
If it don’t make dollars, it won’t make cents; a post outlining one of my initial discussions with Charles a few years ago where I gained insight into his overall investing approach.

I wrote some posts for Mutual Fund investors on Wrap Accounts, Finding a Financial Advisor and how to go about making Decisions on Mutual Funds.

I discussed the importance of Mission Statements in evaluating corporate cultures, provided a metaphor for investor consistency in The Art of Hitting the Long Ball, dangers of the subprime mortgage market in Subprime Fire, offered insight into the power of compound interest with The Rule of 72, outlined a new joint Interac incentive with BMO & Air Miles, used some insight from Claire in Shop Stocks Like a Woman and gave some insight into my application of strategic management with some lessons from The Prince.

There was a four-part series written on Building an Investment Portfolio (I, II, III, IV) and I outlined some of the dangers in The Foster Effect in reference to Derek Foster’s books marketed to new investors.

The true gems found in this blog have been the insights I’ve provided into a dozen or so of my cherished Value Rules. These start off with the process of how I Come Across Stocks, Evaluate Stocks and use my Triage Format to examine corporations from a unique perspective. I always utilize a Situational Analysis on companies I own or monitor and focus on stocks that create, develop and protect sustainable competitive advantages (I & II). Some of these value beliefs include that a company should Never Compete on Price, strive to Attract $1 Customers, achieve sales, revenue and profit targets using the 5% Rule, focus on doing what they do best (I & II), realize that Management is Key, Cash Flow is King and concentrate their focus on the importance of brands (I, II, III).

I would also like to encourage all new and old readers to sign my Guest Book so I have a better understanding of who is visiting and reading content on the site. The difficulty I’ve had of late is that I’m uncertain if the content being published is informative, useful or interesting to readers due to the minimal amount of comments I receive in response to some posts. I do understand that many read this blog for educational purposes, but questions and comments are always well received by me and helps me to gain a better understanding of what readers are interested in and looking for in terms of content. I recently wrote and published the first of two posts in response to Susan’s comments on my Guest Book and enjoy researching new topics of interest in response to emails I receive. I have recently added a RSS feature on this blog that allows frequent visitors to download posts via email (such as MS Outlook) or online-readers such as Google Reader or My Yahoo.

This experience has been time well spent and worthwhile when I hear from friends, peers and readers of how the information I’ve shared helps to bring some clarity to their investing process. I remember back to a time when I was naïve, intimidated and unsure of my own path, but had the fortunate opportunity to be guided along and supported by key individuals in my life. I thank them each in private, but wish to do so again publicly. I know that I would not have the competencies, insight or success I have today without their guidance both on financial matters and life. Venturing out on your own can be a difficult task and we each at times need to take a step backwards in order to take two more forward. “Wealth is what you define your life by,” and those words are the most valuable lesson I can give.

Thanks for reading.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Four Pillars May 19, 2008, 6:59 pm

    Congrats on the 1 year – keep it up!

    Mike

  • Canadian Capitalist May 21, 2008, 5:57 am

    Congratulations! Keep it up! And thanks for the link.

  • Nurse B, 911 May 21, 2008, 8:15 am

    Thanks you two. I also added you both to this “Blogged” widget I’m trying on the sidebar to attract my visitors to visit peer blogs more often now they can get a sneak preview of what the blog looks like in the display.

  • MG (moneygardener) May 21, 2008, 10:08 am

    Hey Brad, Congrats on TMWTFS turning 1!

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