A Foolish Interview with josephpporter Add to My Favorite Fools Add to My Penalty Box

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The Fool: What is your most distressing regret?
josephpporter: I regret most the fact that I have so many things to regret.
The Fool: If you could be the CEO of any public company, which one and why?
josephpporter: Hewlett-Packard. If ever a company needed someone to kick butt and get the company back on track it's HP. They have the where-with-all to be a major player, but it seems they got myopic in the past 10 years or so - a focus on software and enterprise that has let their hardware capabilities atrophy. It could have been a contender.
The Fool: What is your favorite techno gadget?
josephpporter: My Kindle Touch is my BFF. E-readers are pretty much the coolest thing I can imagine. Tons of books inside something smaller than a trade paperback, weighing less than 1/2 pound. If only publishers would get their acts together, and get their minds around the extreme potential of e-books! I go nowhere without my Kindle.
The Fool: Briefly explain how you select stocks.
josephpporter: I put a bunch of Scrabble letters in a bag and draw four out. I find out if there is a company with those four letters in their ticker (a blank letter means a 3-letter ticker,two blanks means a two-letter ticker). The ticker must have the letters in the same order as they were drawn from the bag.<br /><br />(I'm just kidding, here. But only half kidding.)
The Fool: Make a confession.
josephpporter: I tried that - I sort of gave up on confession when the priest kicked me out of the confessional.<br /><br />True! He really did. Yelled at me in the confessional while there were people waiting to confess their sins. A couple of kids commented that I must have done something really bad to have a priest kick me out like that. I was 10 at the time. Very traumatic. Now the story is just a hoot. I am no longer Catholic.
The Fool: What do you fear most?
josephpporter: I'm afraid of just about everything, so I've learned how to be afraid of nothing - what happens, happens. If it is good, that's cool. If it's bad, just get over it. If I make a mistake, learn from it. Injuries heal, financial losses can be the opportunity to make a financial gain. Adversity is just another name for opportunity.
The Fool: Are there any local companies in your area that Fools should consider for investment?
josephpporter: Emerson Electric. It is one of the central businesses in St. Louis, and is one of the finest companies in operation.
The Fool: What seemingly insurmountable challenge did you meet and defeat?
josephpporter: I have Attention Deficit Disorder. As a student through High School I rarely studied, and could hardly pay attention in class for more than 10 minutes at a time. My social life was a mess. I graduated from High School exactly in the middle of my class, with a C- average. I went into the service (Air Force), grew up a little; got married, grew up a lot.<br /><br />I went to college after my service commitment, majored in Philosophy, and graduated Summa cum Laude, with a cum of 3.97, also nominated to Phi Beta Kappa. Went to graduate school, got my Master's degree, and managed to go all the way to the fifth chapter of my dissertation. I was 3 - 4 months away from my Ph.D. when my son was born, and the ol' ADD entered the picture again. <br /><br />It wasn't until much later that I was actually diagnosed with ADD - when I was a kid, I was just "lazy." Understanding why things had been the way they were made me realize that I could still accomplish things, that I wasn't "lazy," but just had a burden that I had to learn to bear appropriately. <br /><br />Hey, wanna watch some cartoons?
The Fool: Does ethics or 'socially responsible investing' have a place in your investment approach? How so? How not?
josephpporter: Absolutely. By profession (before I retired) I taught philosophy, and spent six years teaching about business ethics. Investing with an eye to social responsibility and ethics in general is soon to be the focus of a series of articles I'm working on. An investor may not have much power in directing how a company does its business, but an investor does have to assume the proper ethical position with respect to his or her investments. There are companies I will not invest in because of practices with which they have been associated, or because of products they produce (that I do not approve of), or simply the kind of business they are involved in.
The Fool: If you could change one thing about your workplace, corporate culture, or family life, what would it be?
josephpporter: I'm retired, so my workplace and my corporate culture and my family life are all one and the same. What would I change? My spouse would smack me one if I said anything about changes.
The Fool: How'd you find out about the Fool? (Make your answer as colorful and truthful as possible.)
josephpporter: I've heard about The Motley Fool for years - even before I began investing. Six years ago I finally decided to look into the company more deeply, and I liked what I saw. I've tried a few of their premium services, but really, it is the attitude of the staff and the writers that really make this a good investment site.
The Fool: Tell us about Your Dumbest Investment... and the lesson you learned from it.
josephpporter: Atlantic Power (AT). I was researching an article on companies paying dividends with yields over 10%, and Atlantic showed up on my screen. All numbers looked very nice, with a very handsome monthly dividend. It was late at night, so I went online to my broker and put in a buy order. The next day I discovered that had I checked recent news I'd have found out that the company had just cut their dividend by over 60% (from a 21% yield to a 7%), and that they were being investigated by three law firms for improper practices (the executives of the company had recently voted themselves a lucrative golden parachute - the company was no longer their foremost concern). I sold as soon as I made back the transaction costs.<br /><br />I'm always advising readers to be sure to do due diligence before investing, and here I was, jumping in with both feet before even looking at the news.
The Fool: How do you define success?
josephpporter: Being able to do what you like best to do, and being good enough at it to make your living from it.
The Fool: What's your favorite movie, and why?
josephpporter: Magnolia. The cast is an ensemble, with some of the best actors currently working: Julianne Moore (who gives a master class in acting in this film), Tom Cruise (the best role he's ever done), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (one of the movies that displays the range of this guy's talent), John C. Reilly (perhaps the best ensemble actor currently working - may not have solo star power, but he can play off other actors brilliantly) and William Macy ( who may be one of the most underrated actors working today).
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