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General Information

Jeb Sturmer
Fool Since:
March 25 2005
jeb5904 (1/17/2014)
Where I Live:
Loja, Ecuador

Investing Basics

Investing Experience:
Risk Tolerance:
Investing Style:
Portfolio Size:
Large (12 or more Stocks)
Types of Investments:
stocks in brokerage and 401(k), gold in a safe
Stocks I Own:
amzn, ayx, crwd, ddog, fsly, meli, nflx, lvgo, lokta, roku, shop, se, ttd, veev, zm

Investing Favorites

SaaS, fintech, tech
for each stock
Misbehaving, Richard Thaler
Fool One
The Atlantic
Ray Kurzweil, George Gilder

Investing Expertise

My Area of Expertise:
not an expert on anything
Greatest Investment:
Worst Investment:
Money I Manage:
mine and my step daughter's

Education And Work Information

School(s) Attended
Kenston Forest High School
Job Title
Sales, TMF Supernaut on Explorer mission
Company / Organization
Former Jobs
RR Donnelley, PBM Graphics, FGI, Mobillity, HaperPrints


My Interests:
Outdoor activities, adventure cycling
Person(s) I'd Like To Meet:
Ray Kurzweil
Favorite Restaurants or Foods:
tomato sandwiches
Favorite Vacation Spots:
Upstate NY
Favorite Sports or Teams:
Duke Basketball
Favorite Movies:
The Big Lebowski, Up, Fight Club, Big Fish, Waking Ned Devine
Favorite Board Games:
Favorite Video Games:
don't play
Favorite Music or Musicians:
Leon Russell, Dr. John, Willie Nelson
Great Books Read Recently:
Where Did You Go, Bernadette?
Book Currently Reading:
The End of the World: Understanding the World's Mass Extinctions.

An Interview with TMFJebbo

Last updated: 6/22/2015
The Fool:
What's your greatest athletic achievement? Little League champ? Ran a marathon? Did 4 consecutive sit-ups?
I ran the Boston Marathon. I had to cut a minute off my pace to qualify. My qualifying time was 27 minutes faster than my previous best. I'll never be ab;e to do that again.
The Fool:
Are we alone in the universe? If not, where is everybody?
Mostly in India and China.
The Fool:
What's your favorite movie, and why?
Current favorite is UP. I like the beginning where they cover the lives up two people with no words, they show aging through the silent changes of necktie styles, they cover grief and opportunity lost and regained all very poignantly.
[Read the full Interview]

My Story

Before you read this you need to get yourself into the proper frame of mind. Have you ever seen the clip of the monkey and the electric shock? In this lab experiment, a monkey is fed every time he presses a lever, but each time he gets fed he also receives an electric shock. Here the food pellet is representative of what I hope to get from my investments, but the electric shock is the actual result. Of course, I am the monkey. [cue song, Shock the Monkey] In 1982 I received an unexpected raise and saved it until I had $2,000. I took the proceeds to Robinson Humphrey American Express and invested it with a man named Russler. He said his name was "pronounced just like a cattle rustler." If I was in that business I would have come up with a different analogy. I was sold high load mutual funds. Later when I wanted to get better returns, he moved me into stock. He had a tip that Federal Express was going to buy Airborne. While I was buying Airborne, Federal Express was buying Flying Tigers. After a couple of years I removed several hundred dollars that was left in that account and took a break from investing. The family was growing and the money was needed elsewhere anyway. By the early 90's I had been through several jobs and finally landed a good one. In addition to my day job, I also established a small business brokering graphic design. With the proceeds from that, I went into a real estate partnership flipping houses. I am not a handy guy, so the third person in our enterprise was a general contractor. He was a sheister and stole most our money. We wound up suing and getting very little of our money back. The cost of this lesson was essentially equal to college tuition. A friend at work recommended the Fool to me in 1997 or 1998. At the time the internet was very new and I ate up the information. This was during the dot com craze and everyone wanted to talk about how much their Lucent was going up. I took my savings and invested in the big names, all tech stocks. One day my whole portfolio went up by 6%, which by itself would have paid for a kitchen rennovation. This was the same time my friend pulled all of his money OUT of the market. He said it was "too frothy." One of my best early investments was Uniphase (UNPH). It was a laser company that started with supermarket scanners in the 1970's. By the late 90s it was into fiber optics. They merged with their biggest competitor, JDS Fitel, becoming JDSUniphase. They became a hot commodity and I thought I couldn't lose. This is when all sorts of kooky metrics were being used. If one company bought another for a ridiculous amount of money the commentators might say "that is just 50 million dollars per engineer." They also said the ticker symbol JDSU stood for Just Don't Sell Us. I thought was set. Then there was the dot com crash. This best early investment then became my worst early investment. At least I don't have to remember alot of ticker symbols to tell the story. I rode it up to huge gains, and all the way back down to a loss. And that is where I sold. This was another couple of college tuitions lost. I was still a Fool however. I participated in a David G online seminar on how to pick biotech stocks. I wrote a couple of Fribbles that were published. I also participated in a stock picking contest. I forget what company was selected as the winner of that contest, but I do know who the loser was. That would be me. I decided to invest in the second place finisher: Lernout & Hauspie. This was (did you catch the verb tense? WAS? That is called "foreshadowing") a Belgian speech recognition company. Think Dragon Speech and Nuance Communications. I think Nuance bought their IP at a yard sale, right next to the acid wash overalls. I had good reasons for the purchase. But the best laid investments of mice and monkeys oft go awry, am I right? The Wall Street Journal reported that L&H was, shall we say, disingenuous in their accounting. It wasn't that the revenue from their South Korean branch was overstated, IT DIDN'T EVEN EXIST!!! They had given a fake address, totally fake numbers, everything! So this investment went to ZERO. ZILCH. BUBKISS. By this point we're looking at Ivy League tuition that I have lost. Is this story dark enough for you? Nah, then came the dark years. I got separated in 2004. Divorced in in mid 2006. Somewhere in here there was a break in my Fool membership. When I re-joined I had a different email and could not get my original screen name because someone else already had it. Me. I bought a house. I quit my job of 17 years in late 2006 and transItioned from customer service into sales. With my new sales job given a "nonrecoverable declining draw" to get started. That meant the new company would pay me a salary for three months, but every month after that first quarter my salary would go down, presumably as my commission went up. After that i would get $0 in salary and commission only. In hindsight I should not have bought that house. Two days before Christmas in 2006 I was delivered a demand letter. It was from my old company. They said that they were entitled to the proceeds from my small business (since closed) because the profit I made should have been theirs. They demanded [put your pinky finger to the corner of your mouth and in your best Dr. Evil voice say:] ONE MILLION DOLLARS. I hired a labor attorney who worked out a basement office nearby. They had a TEAM of lawyers from three different firms, including one of the guys from the Duke Lacrosse seems John Edwards was busy at the time. This is where you can insert any version of knife to a gun fight comparison you like. My atttorney told me that they were trying to make the case into a Class C felony. She asked: do you know what that means? I said "I guess I'll have to get a new driver's license." She told me not to joke during the deposition. We settled out of court. They got my retirement and investment accounts. I guess I got to know I really irritated the shit out of them for a time. The way these things go nobody wins. They didn't get much money, but I lost basically everything . By now I was in my late 40's. I had $8,000 to my name, a salary that was decreasing every month, and a house I could barely afford. Between the money lost to investments, divorce, and the lawsuit I guess I was out about a million dollars. If we're talking opportunity cost, like if I had invested into Walmart instead of that real estate partnership, then it would be many millions of dollars. But believe it or not, I was still optimistic. Call it a character flaw. The first year of my new job was depressing. Customer service was easy and secure. I had the information people needed, so they were always nice and it was a great loop of positive feedback. Sales was exactly the opposite. Sales calls are often an interruption to the customer's routine and you are not treated nearly so warmly. I got a lot of nos. Things broke loose in 2008. I stumbled upon a perfect storm of circumstances at one account and sold a single project that netted me more than a year's gross salary. I was convinced that it was a one-off and I would never see an order like that again. Six months later I sold another project that was twice as big. There is a lag time in actually getting paid for the projects like this. From production to invoice to aging it might take 4 to 6 months. So guess who wound up going into 2009 flush full of cash? There are two thumbs pointing at Jebbo. It was like being an umbrella salesman in Seattle, business was booming. Optimism and persistence have gotten me through.I have since gotten remarried.My new investment account is healthier that it has ever been, even though my story may make me seem like the antithesis of Forrest Gump. This is how I approach my investing now: 1. Know what you don't know. I let the Motley Fool do the heavy lifing for me. I don't read financials, except in the very broadest sense (lotta cash, not much debt). And I don't get to granular on the business (management is the most important thing. I want good numbers going up, bad numbers going down.) 2. Know who you are and work within your limitations. I try to be aware of what personality traits I have, which are good, and which I need to monitor. Optimisim is a problem for me. That is the reason the contractor took advantage of me. That is the reason that I rode JDSU to a loss. Optimism makes me eager to buy and reluctant to sell, but experience makes me vigilant. I always try to reassess. 3. Have buy, sell, and sizing rules for your portfolio. The sizing rules always evolving, but I don't plan to buy more than 6% of a single issue, but I have no rules on positions that grow. So if a company gets to 20% of the portfolio that is fine. So that's me. I hope to see you on the boards.

How I Invest

The Fool is my foundation. I am currently bringing my portfolio in line with Supernova Odyssey but will be holding on to the stocks l like (BRKB, MKL, MA and some others). I buy in partial positions of 1/2% to 1% and am reluctant to buy a company that is declining. I don't sell very often, but I will when either the thesis has changed or the valuation is insane.

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