Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for one of my columns at the Value Walk site:
This might just be a crazy thought, but don’t you think you need to have a track record of success if you want to have any credibility?
You know…….how does it sound when you say, “Hi, I am Rob Bennett. My retirement plan was a horrible failure, but you need to listen to me about how to retire successfully.” Or, “Hi, I am Rob Bennett. My investment strategy has greatly underformed most everyone else, but I will lie to you anyways about the results and then you should follow me down the path of fantasy”.
It depends on how you define success, Sammy. I have had thousands of my fellow community members tell me that they learned more about how stock investing works from me than from anyone else they have ever known. I have had some of the biggest names in this field tell me that they view my site as the best investing site on the internet. I have my name on a research paper that was published in a peer-reviewed journal and that says things that, if true, make it the most important piece of research published in this field in my lifetime.
That’s success in my eyes. I am humbled by the great successes that I have achieved over the past 15 years. I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone on the substance side. I set out to make a small contribution and the cards fell in such a way that I was able to make a very big contribution. It is certainly not something that I expected to see happen when I was a younger man, you know? It’s got to be a pretty darn great country that we live in that such things can even happen. Holy moly!
You are focused on something else. We didn’t always know how stock investing worked. Shiller published his “revolutionary” (his word) research in 1981. That research supplied the missing piece (valuations) to the stock investing puzzle. Before then, we just didn’t know. So we got it wrong. We wrote lots of textbooks that got things wrong. It’s hard for people to admit mistakes. So those textbooks still get passed around today. There’s a lot of resistance to the new and better ideas. So it has been possible for you Goons to block my efforts to spread the word.
I could go up to my room and cry into my pillow re the unfairness of it all. i guess I’ve earned the right to do that. But would it do any good? That’s what I wonder. That’s what holds me back.
I’ve been successful in the ways that I most want to be successful. Many good people have thanked my effusively for helping them out. That matters to me. I am happy to have been able to do some good. Bob Dylan once wrote: “There’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all.” I couldn’t have done 90 percent of what I have done if I had not been wiling to take the abuse dished out by you Goons. So missing out on success in the crass terms in which you define it is part of the deal here. I don’t like it. But I guess it would be fair to say that missing out on that kind of success is a price that I have determined I am willing to pay for obtaining the other kind of success that means so much more to me.
My personal hunch is that I am going to obtain the crass form for success too before all the sand runs through the hourglass. I can live with that! I can go with crass so long as the price is not too high. I’ll take a crass trip to crass Disney World when that happens, you know? So long as I have the deeper form of success in the bag as well, I can enjoy a ride on Space Mountain. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.
Can you wish me luck, my old friend?