"Don't love stocks -- they're just pieces of paper."
-- Jim Cramer
I respect Jim Cramer a great deal, and in some ways I agree with his statement. At The Motley Fool, we also recommend that you don't fall so deeply in love with your stocks that you can't objectively evaluate their business fundamentals or sell if those fundamentals begin to deteriorate. Controlling your emotions is often one of the most difficult, and most important, parts of investing.
However, I suggest you seek out investments in companies you like and are proud to own -- companies whose products and services you love, with management you respect and even admire, and whose stock you feel like you just have to own so you can take part in the company's spectacular success.
Investments in these types of businesses can literally change your life. Don't believe me? Let me give you an example.
I have long admired Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). In business school, it seemed like the company set an example for best practices in almost every business function. Apple has an excellent management team, even after the loss of the world's best CEO. As for its products, I love my iPhone and iPad; they're amazing devices. And my wife uses my iPad so often that I think I just may have to buy her one for her birthday (Just don't tell her I said that!).
Let's rewind a few years. In mid-2006, I was out of the market because expenses (also known as my wife's engagement ring) forced me to sell my stock investments. But one day I was watching CNBC and noticed that Apple was near its 52-week low at about $50 per share. I had recently read how Apple had reached a deal to use Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) processors, which gave Apple's computers the capability to operate Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows-based software much more effectively. I knew this would be huge for Apple, and it didn't make sense to me that the company was trading near its lows for the year. So I added the company to my watchlist and began researching the stock.
A few months later, I took the plunge and invested in Apple. I also rated it an "outperform" in Motley Fool CAPS. (At the time, CAPS was a cool little stock-pick tracking service created by The Motley Fool. Now it has more than 75,000 participants.)
Fast-forward a few years to early 2009: The market fell to decade-low levels thanks to the housing crash, credit crisis, Great Recession, and this song. Apple's stock price hovered around $85, and some genius analyst had just downgraded the shares. At the time, my portfolio was taking a beating. Like the rest of the market, it was down more than 50%. I decided to sell the stocks of the weakest businesses in my portfolio and move the money into the companies I felt would perform the best in the long term. (In hindsight, this is what I should have been doing all along!) One of those latter companies was Apple.
Fast-forward a few more years. My family's portfolio is now solidly in the black and has more than tripled from those March 2009 lows. Even better, the gains in our portfolio are going to allow my family to buy a home. Most of those gains came from my position in Apple.
Apple is also one of my best-performing CAPS picks and has helped me earn a top 1% ranking. But here is the really life-changing part: Apple helped me land my dream job by basically bringing me back into investing. Back in 2006, I really didn't have much money to invest in the stock market, but I believed Apple was simply too good an investment to pass up. I had to own the stock. Soon the research I was doing on Apple led to research on dozens of companies, which led me to study economics, accounting, and personal finance. This ultimately led me to complete a degree in finance -- and to a place in The Motley Fool's Analyst Development Program. I have no doubt that my investment experience, countless hours of studying, and CAPS performance helped me get hired by the Fool. (And this truly is a special place.)
I've been a Fool for more than 15 years, and now, in large part thanks to investing in Apple, I'm an analyst on legendary investor David Gardner's flagship service: Supernova.
Not bad, for just a piece of paper.
That's my story, but I'm much more interested to hear your stories. If you'd like to join me and my Supernova teammates as we seek out more life-changing investments, I invite you to learn more about our proven investment approach. Our leader, Motley Fool co-founder and Supernova creator David Gardner, has crushed the market for well over a decade. David specializes in identifying game-changing companies like Apple long before others are keen to their disruptive potential, and he helps like-minded investors profit while Wall Street catches up. I invite you to learn more about how he picks his winners with a free, personal tour of Supernova. Inside, you'll discover the science behind his market-trouncing returns. Just click here now for instant access.
Joe Tenebruso manages a Real-Money Portfolio for The Motley Fool and is an analyst on The Fool's Stock Advisor and Supernova premium service teams. You can connect with him on Twitter @Tier1Investor. Joe Tenebruso has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.