A Foolish Interview with ziggy29 Add to My Favorite Fools Add to My Penalty Box

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The Fool: If you had to pick an existing song title that best describes your life, what would it be?
ziggy29: "How Do You Like Me Now" by Toby Keith -- for all the girls in high school who thought they were too good for me at the time. I'm not a country music fan, but the title and lyrics fit.
The Fool: What was your first educational exposure to investing?
ziggy29: Believe it or not -- and I did my own due diligence before being suckered into it -- it was a radio show by the late Charles J. Givens around 1989 or 1990. Some of the stuff he said made total sense, but some was pure snake oil. I'm glad I did a pretty good job determining which was which.
The Fool: Your greatest fear? Any neurotic ones (agoraphobia, triskaidekaphobia, etc.)?
ziggy29: I hate spiders. I may have inherited that from my grandma. I like 'em outside, out of the way in areas I won't be going into, eating bugs...but I don't want them blocking my path or in the house! Not sure that's my greatest fear, though. Maybe that's being buried alive. Or being convicted of a crime I didn't commit. Not sure here; so many possibilities...
The Fool: What's your favorite Fool message board?
ziggy29: Probably the Retire Early Home Page. Lots of good people there, if you ignore the trolls and get past the politics.
The Fool: If you could change one thing about your workplace, corporate culture, or family life, what would it be?
ziggy29: I'd change my job so I could telecommute all the time. I'd love to hunker down with a broadband connection in a small town, in a place that I'd like to stay in when I retire. [Update 2007: wait -- as of last summer I'm mostly doing that now! Yeeha!]
The Fool: Have you had a brush with fame, the proverbial '15 minutes'? Tell us about it.
ziggy29: Joey Ramone. My wife and I were working a Lollapalooza show around 1998 or 1999 in San Jose. The Ramones were one of the acts. We could go back stage in our jobs, and at one point while we were shuffling cash from the concession stands to the safe, my wife nudged me and pointed to a tall guy a few feet away. "That looks like Joey Ramone," she said. My reply, simply, "...that's because it IS Joey Ramone."
The Fool: To what extent has your financial success, or lack thereof, been the result of luck versus skill?
ziggy29: Originally I was lucky, just be putting everything into stocks starting in 1989 and continuing for years during a roaring bull. Pure luck. Since then I think I've been more about skill than luck by consciously pursuing an asset allocation strategy that saved my behind from 2000-2002.
The Fool: What lesson do you wish you’d learned ten years ago?
ziggy29: Pursue what makes you want to get up and go to work in the morning, not what makes the most money. There are few folks I envy more than those who truly love their work.
The Fool: What technology do you wish the world had but doesn't yet?
ziggy29: Teleportation. It would be awesome to live wherever you wanted, without worrying about where you can find a job. Then again, if everyone could do that, then the places I'd want to live would probably be ruined... (sigh)
The Fool: As you were growing up (or now, raising children), did your family have any distinctive rituals or practices others might do well to emulate?
ziggy29: Open communication in my household when I was growing up. Don't "mystify" any off-limits subject by refusing to address it; explain why it's off-limits as a kid, don't just say "NO" without discussion of why. "No" is an acceptable answer, but not just "because I said so."
The Fool: Briefly explain how you select stocks.
ziggy29: I don't pick stocks. I use an asset allocation model with index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, rebalancing once a year -- and some Berkshire Hathaway for my taxable accounts. That's all there is to it -- asset allocation with indexes where tax-deferred, and Berkshire Hathaway where taxable. Not sexy or gutsy, but effective.
The Fool: What is your most distressing regret?
ziggy29: That I was too painfully shy and self-conscious in my high school and college years to create fond memories and lasting friendships.
The Fool: How do you define success?
ziggy29: Being happy with who you are, what you have and how you're living your life. Keeping up with the Joneses is way overrated. Let 'em win. When you're financially secure at 55 when they are still working at 65, we'll see if "those who die with the most toys win."
The Fool: What's your biggest pet peeve?
ziggy29: TEXTSPEAK. Arrrrrgh! I mean really -- r u 2 lazy 2 type it out 4 us? (sigh)
The Fool: Tell us about your first date. Who was it with and where did you go? (Remember, this is a family show!) ;)
ziggy29: It was a blind date when I was 19 (yes, 19 -- shut up), and we went to see "The Karate Kid" if I remember correctly. Afterward, I asked the "matchmaker" what my date thought of me. The response? "He's nice, but he drives too slow."
The Fool: Does ethics or 'socially responsible investing' have a place in your investment approach? How so? How not?
ziggy29: Ethics are important -- the problem with SRI is that it means different things to different people. Since I think it's so hard to screen what's "good" and what's "bad" in my personal opinion, I'd rather invest for maximum growth and donate some of the dividends or capital gains to the charities and causes I believe in. SOMEONE is going to profit from ANY business, so it might as well be you so you can help your own causes!
The Fool: Your most heroic moment in life?
ziggy29: When I was in college, as others were standing around, I confronted a guy who was beating his girlfriend and "occupied" him long enough for her to get away. (I didn't exactly kick his butt, but I did the job.)
The Fool: Given a second chance, what financial decision would you like to do over?
ziggy29: I wouldn't have wasted $1100 on a lousy dating service. I fell for the sales pitch -- I was a sucker for a well-dressed pretty face telling me how good and attractive I was and all that, and how so many women are just dying to meet me...ker-barf. A small-f fool and his money, don'tcha know...
The Fool: What's your greatest athletic achievement? Little League champ? Ran a marathon? Did 4 consecutive sit-ups?
ziggy29: In June 1998, after 13 years of playing organized beer league softball, I hit my first-ever legitimate over-the-fence home run anywhere, over the 290 sign in left-center field. Mark McGwire, don't look back -- I'm gaining on you. I LOVE my new bat!
The Fool: Tell us about your greatest personal success, not necessarily finance related.
ziggy29: It had to be "meeting" my wife back in 1992, while we were both subscribed to the Prodigy service. (Any husband who doesn't mention meeting his wife here can go to the doghouse without collecting $200.) We were nearly 3,000 miles apart, but somehow we found each other. And we "met online" before the media even knew what the Internet was. Of course, that was before the Fool made me "Interview of the Day" on 1/19/1999...all right, then...we'll call it a draw. :)
The Fool: What has been your best work experience, and what made it so great?
ziggy29: My most rewarding had to be a volunteer position I had as a day camp counselor during summers in high school in the early '80s. Not only did I get plenty of fresh air and exercise, I also felt like I was looked upon as someone to provide sound guidance and judgment, and it was my first real sense of responsibility. Besides, you're nobody until an 8-year-old girl develops an obsessive crush on you. (Hey, 30 years after that, I'd be 46 and she'd be 38, and then...oh, never mind!)
The Fool: What's the strangest thing you've ever seen?
ziggy29: A blind skier, complete with guide, going down a hill in a Sierra Nevada resort.
The Fool: What on Wall Street today is most suited for reform?
ziggy29: Why do many stocks start selling off without publically identifiable cause BEFORE the major news which cuts a stock in half? It happens so much that it can't be coincidence.
The Fool: Who's the meanest person you've ever met? What was so mean about 'em?
ziggy29: I'll have to cop out here and name about 100 of them -- all the bullies I remember from junior high. If they're pumping gas and cleaning toilets today in their thirties, well...who's laughing NOW, pal? And yes, I WOULD like fries with that.
The Fool: What's been your best investment to date and how did you discover it?
ziggy29: Not my "best investment," more like lucky timing, and timing wasn't intended. (I'm not a market timer). I refined my asset allocation model on September 6, 2001, to include 4% of my portfolio in gold stocks. As of early March 2002, it was up 49%. Believe me, I'd give it all back if it would have prevented what happened five days later. In terms of true "investment," it would have been loading up on Berkshire Hathaway near its early 2000 lows at about 1,400 per B share. There's no way this stock should have been CLOSE to trading at this level in terms of value, so I bought truckloads (small truckloads, since my last name ain't Gates) of Berkshire and slept soundly while the Nasdaq was falling off a cliff in 2000-01.
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