Want to be like Warren Buffett? Not so fast …
One of the greatest lines in all of literature is Shakespeare's: "This above all, to thine own self be true." From an investing standpoint it is also the most important. Just as Nike spent a decade trying to convince us to "Be like Mike," investors are often told to invest like Warren Buffett.
Obviously, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by studying Buffett and his investment strategies, but it is a mistake to take this too far. Not only does Buffett have information and access the average individual lacks, he also has an exceptional alignment between his investment strategy and his basic nature. This is a man who prefers to eat the same simple hamburger day in and day out. He successfully invests in companies that sell products like candy, furniture, and insurance because these companies are true to his nature. Put tech-loving billionaires like Steve Jobs or Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page in charge of Berkshire Hathaway, and you have the makings of disaster.
As an investor with limited math skills, I lean heavily on the advice of others. The first thing I look for when taking advice on a stock is an alignment with the advisor, the stock pick, and my own temperament and style. In the last five years I have experienced one gruesome loss. It was on a financial stock that dropped a harrowing 97%. I know nothing about finance and had no interest in the stock. On the bright side, I have had one big home run, a gain of more than 500% on my personal favorite stock, Netflix. I have worked in Hollywood, live in Los Angeles, write and draw for a living and am a movie buff. I also enjoy owning stocks in companies that challenge the status quo. For all of these reasons, Netflix was the perfect investment for my portfolio.
If you're just starting out as investor it is critical to take some time to think about your risk tolerance, circle of competence, and the industries you have a genuine passion for following. This knowledge will make the difference between building a fortune and losing one.
Fool contributor Daniel Joshua Rubin does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. Berkshire Hathaway and Google are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Berkshire Hathaway, Netflix, and Nike are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Google. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.