Q: What's more tiresome than hearing how the Wizard of Wherever earned 17.6% over the past 25 years?

A: That same fellow explaining for the 357th time why we'd be fools to expect such blowout results going forward!

So, could we lighten up a tad, Grumpy?
That's why hanging out with Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner is such a blast. Unlike his brother, Tom -- who's a blast to hang out with for other reasons, mostly involving beer -- David seems to have learned nothing from the turn-of-the-century tech meltdown. Zip! Zero! Nada!

Of course, that's an exaggeration -- but with a grain of truth. After all, when looking to recommend the "next big thing" to his loyal subscribers, David still doesn't focus on traditional valuation metrics. And he doesn't seem altogether focused on eking out a tenth of a percent or two of alpha, either.

Which is why, when you chat with David about stocks, the talk rarely turns to discounted cash flows -- much less DCF. More likely, you talk products or apps or customer loyalty or competitive advantage. Example: Two years ago, a discussion about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) would have been all iPod, iTunes, and network effects. It would most definitely not have revolved around prior-year cash flow statements.

Are you a Rule Breaker?
And that's why I was stoked to see David dust off the name Rule Breakers for his new growth-stock newsletter. After all, the tiger who'd gotten thousands of Fools mixed up in AOL in 1994 before it joined Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), as well as in Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), wasn't about to change his stripes.

But I knew this, too. We Fools who followed David's advice during the great bull market learned a valuable lesson. And it wasn't that the stocks of maverick, highflying companies like these can be volatile. We already knew that. We learned that if you stick with them, these stocks can make you rich.

And we learned something else besides, which I'll get to in a moment. But first, here's a little something that may surprise you by way of evidence: Take a look at what would have happened to your net worth had you bought those three volatile stocks when David first recommended them.

Rule Breaker

Feb. 18, 2003*

March 1, 2006

AOL (Aug. 1994)



Amazon (Sept. 1997)



Amgen (Dec. 1998)



*In February 2003, The Motley Fool officially "shuttered" the original Rule Breaker portfolio. However, David Gardner continues to hold all three stocks.

Now, for the million-dollar lesson
Surprised? I have to admit I was when I first ran those numbers. After all, didn't investors get creamed holding new-economy stocks like those? Well, I suppose some did -- but not the ones who bought when David Gardner did and held tight. But here's the real lesson.

If you can manage to turn up one of these world-changing companies -- just one -- and have the guts to buy the stock and hold on, you don't have to "beat the market" by 2.7 percentage points with every stock you own. That's because big winners like these can hide a multitude of sins. And believe me when I tell you they are out there.

Sure, everybody knows that Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) packed on more than 1,000% in market cap during the '90s -- way more. But it wasn't just Dell. Nor was it just a tech thing, or even the "direct-to-consumer" revolution. No. Even an old-fashioned retailer like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), which changed the way to do business by focusing on costs and closely managing inventory, has rewarded investors with 700% gains over the past 15 or so years.

Of course, TASER International (NASDAQ:TASR) also rewarded recent investors -- for a while, that is. Unfortunately, if you'd bought TASER when David recommended it to his new Rule Breakers subscribers, you'd be down roughly 70% right now. As I said, it's no secret that these stocks can be volatile, and a paper loss like that is no laughing matter.

But if you're prepared to take a few lumps, the math is compelling. Already, 10 of the stocks David and his team have recommended are up more than 50%, including five that have doubled or more. Again, if you can manage to dig up one elusive "10-bagger" for every 20 or so investments you make -- you can lose half your money on every other stock you own and still come out ahead. Sounds nutty, but it's true.

I tell you what -- just hammering this out has me itching to ring up one of my old pals in the business for a hot stock tip. But let's be reasonable. I swear the math is sound, and I truly like my odds, but even I don't have guts to roll the dice like this with my entire portfolio. My retirement, for instance, stays locked away in dividend-payers, while even 50% of my brokerage account grinds it out in index funds. As for the rest ...

Why not swing for the fences?
I've heard David Gardner make the case for investing heavily in these Rule Breakers. It flies in the face of convention, but dang it if he doesn't keep backing it up. After all, over a decade that spanned both the tech meltdown and the entire bear market, his original real-money Rule Breaker portfolio more than doubled the return on the S&P on an annualized basis.

Even better, since David launched his new Rule Breakers service in October 2004, the picks are up on average 31.2%, while the S&P 500 has gained less than 8.5%. And, yes, that's despite the TASER debacle. (I'd also note that I've lost to David in stock-picking contests before. I'm losing one right now, come to think of it. Blast!) It may sound unscientific, but I'm telling you, the guy has a knack.

Fortunately, you don't have to compete with David Gardner. You can try his entire Rule Breakers service for 30 days free. That way, you can buy his favorite stocks and ride his coattails. Because if my past experience with the fellow is any indication, a life-changing company likely will turn up on his scorecard -- if it's not already there. If you want to have a look for yourself, click here.

Amazon.com, Time Warner, and Dell are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. TASER is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Dell is also a Motley Fool Inside Value pick.

Fool writer Paul Elliott doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.