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One of my online colleagues at TheStreet.com's Real Money is James "RevShark" DePorre. Jim and I both started writing for Real Money in 2002. But while I am a fundamental analyst, Jim is a technical analyst; he studies zig-zagging lines on charts to find the best reward-risk stocks. He has beaten the tocsin since at least the beginning of the year that the S&P “looked bad.” It was a great call, as all the indices are down hard since.

Anyway, perhaps you will find something useful in Jim’s story.



Hewitt



“Although we are dealing with the worst stock market and economy since the Great Depression, it is particularly important this time of the year to take the word "thanksgiving" literally and reflect a bit on the positive things in our lives. Most everyone who is reading this is touched in some way by new problems, issues or stresses caused by this economic meltdown. It is something truly historic, and it is so easy to focus on all the negatives that we lose sight of the positives.

“Once again, I'm going to share my story. I've done so every year since I started writing for RealMoney back in 2002, so forgive me if you have read it before, but writing about it is one of my ways of reflecting on my many blessings. I'm hopeful that the story of what I went through may be helpful to others who are facing adversity. We all have challenges in our life, and they can beat us down or make us better. The key is to never give up.

"Back in the early 1990s, I was feeling pretty optimistic about my life. I was a CPA, I had business and law degrees from the University of Michigan and was anxious to start building my career as a corporate attorney. It wasn't easy, but I was making progress and even had started my own law practice when I started having an annoying problem with my ability to hear.

“There was a history of hearing loss in my family, and had some minor problems with it as I grew up, but it suddenly was becoming much worse. I started to worry that I might be in an important meeting or a courtroom and would not be able to hear. I tried hearing aids and various things, but eventually it progressed to the point where I was no longer able to talk on a telephone or have a normal conversation.

“My hearing continued to rapidly decline, and before I could even process what was happening to me I was at a point where all I could do was try to lip-read and rely on handwritten notes. It became impossible for me to continue to practice law, and I soon lost the few assets I owned as I struggled to find a way to survive.

“I was deeply depressed, isolated and lonely. I was recently divorced and had absolutely no idea what I might do with my life. I couldn't interact with people and couldn't find a job as menial as serving fast food because I couldn't hear a thing.

“One day I stumbled across this new computer service called Prodigy, which to my delight allowed people to interact online without having to hear. I started exploring what was available and eventually discovered some stock market message boards. I had some general knowledge about the stock market from some classes in business school, but this was much different from the theoretical discussions of Modern Portfolio Theory, and apparently some of these people actually made some money now and then by actively trading little-known stocks.

“I was living on disability insurance and had pulled together a small stake from an old IRA and a couple other places, but there was no way I could afford to lose this money. My financial security was extremely precarious, and if I could find a way to make any extra money it would help tremendously.

“I opened an account at a broker who I could visit in person and communicate with via notes, and I immersed myself in the online stock market discussions. At first, I had some very poor trades, especially when I was focused on some crazy stories and didn't pay attention to the stock price. Very slowly I started to learn that this was all about psychology, emotions and being disciplined. Balance sheets and fundamentals didn't matter in the short term. I had to trade the other investors and traders and their emotions.

“I gradually began to develop an approach and style that made me a little money. I continued to read and study everything I could find on the stock market and attacked it daily with great energy and a positive attitude. My small stake soon doubled, tripled and continued to compound. In the late 1990s, the momentum style that I had taught myself worked extremely well, and I soon had surpassed my goal of making over a million dollars from my investing.

“Not only was I enjoying tremendous financial success, I loved what I was doing. I wanted to know everything I could about the market. I was always looking for ideas and new stocks, but it was the methodology that was the most important. During the collapse of the Nasdaq in 2000, my discipline prevented me from losing any significant money, and over time I continued to grow my financial stake to levels I never dreamed of.

“Not only was the financial success satisfying, I greatly enjoyed sharing the knowledge I had gained in my struggles. I started posted on message boards owned by the Motley Fool and eventually started my own Web site at SharkInvesting.com, and that led to the great honor of being asked to write for Jim Cramer's RealMoney.com.

“A couple years ago, an editor from FT Press read one of my prior Thanksgiving columns and asked me to write a book. Shark Investing. How a Deaf Guy with No Job and Limited Capital Made a Fortune Investing in the Stock Market was named the second-best investing book of 2007 by Amazon.com.

“So here I am, a guy who not so long ago was completely lost, terribly depressed, alone and couldn't even find a job. Now, not only have I made a lot of money doing something I love, I am able to help other people do so as well.

“Not only was my financial life doing well but my personal life greatly improved also. After a few painful failed romances, I finally met a woman who learned rudimentary sign language who could talk with me. Thirteen years ago yesterday we were married, and we now have the greatest loves of my life: our children -- Anneliese who is 7, James III who is 3, and little Samuel, who has his first birthday on Friday.

“Medical science also came to my rescue. A number of years ago I received a cochlear implant, which has greatly restored my hearing. Although it is not perfect, I can now carry on conversations without too much trouble.

“I never dreamed that losing my hearing and everything I owned would turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. If it hadn't happened, I'm sure I would not be where I am today.

“I share this story with you not to brag but so that you too can be confident that no matter how bad your life may seem, amazing things can happen if you don't give up. Every one of us has obstacles and challenges, and if I can overcome what was facing me, I'm sure you can do so as well.

“God bless, and happy Thanksgiving.
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