The winner of the 2009 Feste Award is ... WendyBG!
We asked all the nominees to share a bit about themselves, and the following is in their own words:
Winner -- WendyBG
Watching the financial crisis unfold from a ringside seat at the Macro Economic Trends and Risks Board (METAR) is like a combination of the Demolition Derby and a treasure hunt. We jump over the fence and run between the crashing cars to pick up scattered pieces that might be treasures or might be junk - all the while trying to keep from getting run over!
"Green shoots" blossomed into a soaring stock and bond market run in 2009, even while unemployment remained at a multi-decade high.
Will the "Great Recession" of 2007-201? power out to a strong, lasting recovery? Or will the recovery fail, as it did in 1933 and 1937...and Japan in 1990-201?...and the aftermath of many another financial crisis?
After a career in the chemical industry (research, sales, marketing, and project management), I retired. LBYM is a lifelong lifestyle. The BMW Board provides valuable data for stock investing in the conservative style I prefer. The Bonds and Fixed Income Board provides much valuable information.
Only time will tell where the opportunities and risks really lie. I will continue to enjoy sharing analysis and opinions with friends at the Motley Fool boards.
First Runner-Up -- Swizzled
I'm a Chartered Accountant, working in Finance in the Banking industry. I invest a portfolio for my extended family, and I've been investing for 15 years.
Second Runner-Up -- Windowseat
I was born in a galaxy far, far away. Or over a rainbow, or somewhere in the Shire or . . .
I gather you don't buy that. Oh, well. At least I tried.
I'll begin again. I had a reasonably dull and normal upbringing. (Except, did I ever tell you about the time I stood on the head of a giant Buddha in Afghanistan? No? Remind me to tell you sometime).
In the course of a dull job that paid the rent and some extras and not much else, my boss was pleased to hear that I had saved up enough money for a new computer. "Hey, if you're going to be on the Internet there's this site called the Motley Fool. You should take a look at it. It's all about investments and stuff."
Investments? Only rich people can afford investments. And how could investments be interesting? But I took a look anyway.
That was the beginning of a new education. Not just in how to pick stocks, and how to save, but a crash course in meeting people I would normally never have the chance to meet. The site gave me insight into people I might otherwise have never paid attention to. I learned a tremendous amount, and if I've been able to pass on some of what I've learned, then I'm happy that I've been able to help someone, just as I was helped.
The Motley Fool has turned into the place where I meet friends, where I learn, where I'm at home. The Fools have seen me through cancer and unemployment, through a new job, and a brighter future.
(Did I ever tell you about the time I was on the Great Wall of China, and had to help someone with acrophobia? It's not as interesting as the Buddha, but it's still a pretty good story).
Other Honored Nominees:
To all who were kind enough to place a vote for me for in support for the Feste award, I have to say how humbled I am to have been given consideration a second time (the first was in 2004). The reason it has so much meaning for me is that the nomination came out of an activity I undertake without a second thought: I hope to be helpful and measured in my posts.
So many things have come to pass since 2004. Personally, I initially came to the Fool to find ways of managing my monolithic student loan debt, at least as high as a mortgage. And I received incomparable help with how to ultimately pay it off (which, after 12 years, in 2006, I did!). I would like to say that I have gone on to learn to become a savvy investor, but that would be an overcall, though I am quite aware that the Fool would certainly support that effort, if and when I ever actually take those steps.
The real reason I have stayed at the Fool is that after almost 11 years, I have been privileged to share the lives of many posters, in all of our most heartfelt moments. Some might say that posting is a solitary activity, maybe even lonely (just you and the monitor and keyboard) but I have found it to be among the richest hours I spend, and some of the most connected ones. I cannot imagine a bigger blessing than to have the opportunity to post a supportive comment, and I can personally speak for how tremendously powerful it is to receive post after post in support in turn when I had my own hour of need in 2008. (Spinal surgery is long since behind me and I am considered cured!)
The Motley Fool has for years aimed to be a source for education, amusement and enrichment. I believe that its most striking success has been in creating a small society of posters who over the years have made each others' days far richer than they may have otherwise been, just for participating. It may not have been exactly what the Fool management planned for, but the boards have taken on a life of their own and being able to offer any words of encouragement, assistance and empathy seems at least as worthy a mission as was the original intended mission. I say again with humility how grateful I am to contribute and to learn that it matters to the posters I hold dear, year after year.
I arrived at the Credit Cards and Consumer Debt board in 2006 seeking a forum to discuss my getting out of debt project. As I arrived here, my husband and I had managed to acquire substantial consumer debt through a combination of bad decisions and some bad luck. While we were managing it and keeping up a good credit rating throughout, I was nonetheless determined for us to rid ourselves of that particular albatross. Over the next 3 1/2 years I posted regularly about our progress and tried to help others where I could. After 3 1/2 years, we finally ended up having paid off all of our consumer debt.
Having the support and help of the Credit Cards and Consumer Debt board was a key to our success. During all of this I was working as an attorney thereby proving that knowledge doesn't necessarily equate to making good financial decisions. I am also a mom of three teenagers (hence my need to be particularly a determined mom at times.)
Originally from Wisconsin, I moved out to Los Angeles in the mid-1990's to work in the visual effects industry. It's been an amazing experience, as not only have I been able to participate in some great projects with some wonderful people, but I've also been able to see both the technology and business of visual effects change substantially over the years. Growing up with stop motion, models, and film, my tools now are chiefly digital, though much of the theory behind what makes a visual effect work traces its way all the way back to the early King Kong stop motion work of the 1930's. The best part is that most of the time, the job doesn't feel like work.
When I first happened upon The Fool I didn't know all that much about investing. I asked a lot of questions on the message boards and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for answering them; you helped me get this nomination! Though I'm still asking questions, I'm glad I can now give back by answering questions other members have, and let's face it: formulating a response to a question is the best way to prove to yourself that you really understand what you are talking about.
Although you can learn a lot passively by reading the newsletters and posts, I'd encourage everybody to try posting your questions and ideas. The people who inhabit The Motley Fool boards are patient, knowledgeable, and willing to teach. Far better to get an idea criticized here on the boards than to lose money on a bad idea!
Inspired by my grandfather's multi-decade success in investing, I've been investing since I was 14. Through his example, I saw pretty quickly how powerful passive income can be in improving the quality of your life, and, to be honest, I thought investing looked like fun (I was right!). He bought low during the throes of the Great Depression and sold ... well, for the most part, never. By the time he was ready for retirement, he was able to live a relatively worry-free existence.
Growing up in a family business, I've always been curious about how other businesses work and had the opportunity to get to know many small businesses owners when I was young. Investing and Business have always seemed like a natural fit to me. Today I help run that business with other members of my family.
The first thing my father taught me about business was that no business succeeds without people. You need great employees and great relationships with your customers and community. John Donne once said "No man is an Island," and I find that to be doubly true in business. You only have the business that another person is willing to give you, and only as long as she is willing to give it to you. It's not a stretch to say that your business exists as much for others as it does yourself. Being likable is important, but being helpful and knowledgeable is even more valuable.
Embracing that philosophy, I've always tried to give back to my community whenever I can. My livelihood is possible because the community chooses to give it to me, and I truly am grateful to the people in my community.
That sense of community is what attracted me to the Motley Fool. I saw the CAPS game phrase, "Investors helping Investors," and knew right away I had a found a place I wanted to be. In my experience, most of Wall Street is aligned against retail investors. Whether it's bad advice, accounting shenanigans, brokers enabling destructive behaviors or the latest "financial innovation" products, we are really on our own out there. That's what makes the Fool so special. It's one of the very few places where you can get honest and helpful advice from your peers, and give advice in return, all in a civil environment. From the treasure troves of the information that are the message boards (such as the Kua`aina Partners board and a whole host of others), to the brand new investing wiki Foolsaurus, to the idea factory CAPS game, the Fool really is a unique place in the investing world.
binve is a Mechanical Engineer working in the Aerospace industry, performing thermal and structural analysis. He has a love of analyzing physical systems and applying that insight where applicable to economic systems (you can see many examples of this in binve's Caps blog. He is very much interested in macroeconomics and both fundamental and technical analysis. binve also runs the blog Market Thoughts and Analysis, which focuses on technical analysis.
I live in Texas and work as a control systems designer. Yes, my work is in the oil industry, and no, we don't all ride horses here.
I enjoy researching and writing about stocks, and one day realized that I was spending a lot of time inputting information into various spreadsheets in order to determine one financial metric or another. So I took a step back and looked at all of the financial metrics I was generating, through them all out, and started over.
Today, I have the Raw Value Worksheet. The financial data I want is on one side and the metrics I want are on the other. And it prints out on a single sheet of paper! The worksheet forms the starting point for my stock research, much of which I post on my CAPS blog and on Wax Ink, a blog site myself and several family members started several years ago.
Having hung around Fooldom for a pretty long time, I have been fortunate enough to learn both the art and science of stock research and investing from some of the early TMF staffers. In a note some months back from one, I realized he has been a TMF staffer almost as long as I have been TMF member, more than 13 years. I'm fond of saying you get out of something what you put into it, which in a nutshell, is what Fooldom is all about.
I grew up in a lower income household in Appalachia and it shaped my views on all things in life, including investing. I originally wanted to be a lawyer, but decided it wasn't for me after a brief stint in law school. After that, I wanted to get into business and saw accounting as a sort of "gateway career"; I applied to one of the nation's top Master of Accounting programs and was accepted.
One morning, while listening to the radio, Bill O'Reilly was badmouthing George Soros, calling him everything short of the Anti-Christ. I started reading about Soros after that and ordered many of his finance and economic works, finding that I largely agreed with his views on finance and economics. After reading his works, I also became interested in investing. I bought stock for the first time in my life in March '08, knowing full well that there was a good chance I'd lose money. My thought was that the only way I'd learn to be a great investor was by dedicating myself to understanding valuation and being willing to make a few mistakes along the way.
While I struggled at first, it did not take me long to succeed. Six months after that first stock purchase, I developed a quick valuation system in order to efficiently identify deep value stocks. Since that time, I have generated a return on my simulated portfolio (at KaChing) of over 120%. My CAPS profile is now ranked among the top players in the game, and I regularly contribute in-depth blogs analyzing REITs and small commercial banks.
I am now pursuing my MBA and I am preparing for Level I of the CFA exam. My long-term career interests are in investment management and real estate development. Hobbies/interests include basketball, strategy games, energy efficiency, and mixed-use urban development.
[Two nominees requested their names be removed from consideration.]
Congrats to all the nominees!