Have you ever cast an envious glance at someone with a plum performer in her portfolio and wondered how she stumbled upon the stock, wishing you could find some similar gems? I've done such wondering myself, and found lots of interesting answers among the interviews in our Fool Community.

Everyone you run into on our discussion boards has a profile, even if they haven't filled out much information on it. (Here's mine.) And within each profile, you can click on the member's "interview," to read more from and learn more about the member -- as long as they've gone through the simple interview process, where you choose which questions you wish to answer. (As another example, here's mine.)

The responses
So to our question, "What's been your best investment to date, and how did you discover it?," here are a bunch of answers, along with some commentary from me. Our community features thousands of Fools, so these are by no means comprehensive; they're just the result of my latest fishing trip. (Try our Fool Community for free for 30 days and go fishing yourself -- you may find a lot more than you expected.)

Community member azurefox reported: "In dollar terms, Berkshire Hathaway. Through reading about [its chairman] Warren Buffett. In percentage terms, Claire's Stores (NYSE:CLE) back in 1988-89. Found that one in Value Line." For those who enjoy digging through stock listings, Value Line and other stock research resources can lead you to many contenders.

Another excellent way to find promising stocks is simply by looking around. Diablo2Queen, for example, reported that her best investment was: "Home Depot (NYSE:HD). I saw how often people where I worked ran over to the Depot to get stuff and realized how much money my department was spending there. Also, all the homeowners at work seemed very familiar with the place."

Trick said: "Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), no question. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so Starbucks is nothing new to me. But in 1992, I was in downtown Chicago when I saw people lined up around the corner at 9 am, waiting for Starbucks coffee. I thought, 'It's 9 am, these people are late for work, and they are still in line!' I can spot addiction."

Here are a few more examples of how Fools have spotted intriguing buying opportunities by just keeping their eyes and minds open:

  • apacherose: "Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) -- a friend was receiving Epogen injections ... ironically, one year later, my only sis received Neupogen injections while fighting the ravages of chemo treatment for leukemia."

  • fullowind : "Probably Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN). They make a novel bead chip for gene expression and genotyping. I'm a molecular biologist, so I work with this technology. This stock has been a multi-bagger for me."

  • MonksterFool: AltriaGroup (NYSE:MO) "I was looking for stocks with a high dividend yield and although I don't smoke, almost all of my girlfriends smoke Marlboro Lights, so I figured they must do pretty well. Buy what you know."

  • xerohype: "Apple. I love their products and had to own their stock when I started investing. It didn't hurt that their turn around hadn't started yet."

That last sentence is critical. It's great to look for investments among companies you're familiar with and whose products or services you (or many people) like. But that's not enough. The price at which you buy a stock is what's going to ultimately determine your eventual payoff. You want a great company and a great price, ideally.

Non-stock investments
Of course, not every terrific investment involves stocks:

  • DeliLama: "My 20 years of experience in business."

  • WEBstudent: "Self investment."

  • abbagirl : "My family ... no contest."

  • ajaskey : "Education. I discovered it one day in 1979 while stacking hay in a barn and wondering if breathing pure dust was as bad for my lungs as the taste was for my appetite. Upon further review, my analysis was summed up with the following revelation: 'this sucks, I'm going to college.'"
Successful mistakes
Some stories of how Fools found their best investments are particularly amusing.

As CrestlineKathy described, "My best investment so far has been Inter Tel Communications, I was trying to buy Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and typed INTL (makes sense) in the purchase field of sharebuilder.com. It was three weeks before I noticed my error, but they were doing so well, I kept it! I still bought some Intel, though."

shayeg explained: "My best investment has been U.S. Steel (NYSE:X). I bought it based on misinformation, but I kept it because it paid dividends and it seemed to be unnecessarily beaten down."

Don't forget research
To help you determine whether the attractive company you found is trading at an attractive price, you'll need to do some research. You'll find some kindred spirits doing the same thing for many companies on our discussion boards -- we've got dedicated boards for hundreds of individual companies. And you can learn more about how to study companies in our How-to Guides, which feature money-back guarantees.

Your research might include crunching numbers from financial statements, and also just reading broadly. Community member jawbox did so when he found his best investment: "eBay. What's not to love? I don't believe everything I read, but I did read that one in three U.S. online purchasers has a PayPal account. So, basically, one in three U.S. online shoppers have bought at eBay."

Once you start studying companies, you may find yourself hooked. As MakePigsFly lamented, "I have been sufficiently burdened by [the Fool] that I actually have to look at the fundamentals and decide if I think the company is solid and on a growth path. I really miss those halcyon days of hoping that the hot tip I heard on the bus was really a good one."

Ideas from the Fool
In closing, another good place to find great stocks (and mutual funds), if I do say so myself, is right here! I have discovered many a multibagger here, and so have many others. Here are some more best investments:

  • patthetiger: "Starbucks -- thanks to you guys"

  • breemy: "[Starbucks]. Thanks, Fools."

  • MadraghRua: "Marvel, through the Fool actually. Thanks!

  • awesam cited Quality Systems (NASDAQ:QSII) and noted that he got the idea from one of our newsletters. The stock has advanced more than 400% since we recommended it, at least twice.

  • New Fool JohnnyGumshoe noted, "Well, since I only started directly investing in the stock market on my own a couple of months ago ... Intuitive Surgical is at the head of the class for now ... thanks to my Rule Breakers newsletter." Ncohrnt cited a different stock, Archipelago Holdings -- "thanks to [Rule Breakers]" Last time I checked, these stocks were up more than 55% and 95% since being recommended less than a year ago.

Home Depot is anInside Valuepick; Marvel, eBay, and Quality Systems have been recommended inStock Advisor; and Intuitive Surgical and Archipelago Holdings areRule Breakersselections.

SelenaMaranjian'sfavorite discussion boards include Book Club, The Eclectic Library, and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of Home Depot, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and eBay. For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.