The last time I bought a railroad, I was 7, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the B&O, and by "bought" I certainly mean "swiped when my opponent wasn't watching." Sorry, Grandpa! I went directly to jail afterward, did not pass go, did not collect $200. It was not my finest moment.
Warren Buffett is an icon, and I am not here to dispute that. I have a great respect for his abilities and the admirable way he runs his company. As far as most of us know, he remains upright and honest in an industry that is more corrupting than professional sports. But it is tough relating to an icon who buys actual railroad companies, reads 700 annual reports a year, has spent essentially his whole life dedicated to investing and, well, is a billionaire.
I'm looking for an investing role model who perhaps made mistakes similar to mine but reveled in the process and didn't quit. I need someone who learned from those mistakes to encourage me to keep at it and learn from mine. I need someone who penned a tribute song to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.
I need Joey Ramone.
That's right, Joey Ramone, of the Ramones. Perhaps you've heard of him? He was the front man of the hardest-working band in rock 'n' roll, a band that played more than 2,263 shows over the course of 22 years.
Ramone began investing in 1992, and when the band quit touring in 1996, Joey was able to turn his full attention to his new passion. In the spring of 2000, Ramone gave an interview with SmartMoney and uttered a few words that have really resonated with me:
"What's great about the Internet revolution," Ramone says, "is that it's put the kids on top of the business world. The tables have turned, just like in punk. There's never a dull moment."
The Internet revolution changed the investing game as well. Websites, newsletters, investor relations pages, and online brokerages have all made investing more accessible and opened doors for people to begin investing who might not have given it a second thought before. We may never be the John Paulsons and Warren Buffetts of the world, but we can play, too.
Sheena is a portfolio investor
So what was in Joey Ramone's portfolio? Like most of us, he owned some good stuff, and some stuff that wasn't so hot. He owned Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) , General Electric (NYSE: GE) , Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) , Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) , and Hughes Electronics, a company that was later bought out by Raytheon. But perhaps the most impressive buy was Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) at around $15 in 1997.
I wanna be your broker
Though the Amazon buy is impressive in hindsight, Ramone was by no means a flawless investor -- which is part of his draw. Dud investments included Commerce One and 4Kids Entertainment, both companies that ended up filing for bankruptcy.
But there is a lesson here as well. After an initial hands-off investing experience with an unreliable broker, Ramone decided to take a new approach. He found a broker he could trust and took a more active role managing his investments.
Though Joey ultimately made his own decisions and a few mistakes, he used his broker as a sounding board. Their relationship was crucial to maintaining Ramone's investment theses -- something the Fool preaches as well. Be it writing a CAPS call, or simply a gentle slap upside the head from a loved one, sometimes it helps to have a reminder of why you invested in a particular company.
Or if you read the Fool regularly, perhaps you use lists of WarrenBuffet quotations to keep your investing game sharp. While Joey's investing career was cut tragically short, he had a few gems of his own. Not to be outdone by Buffettisms, I give you my top five Joey Ramone investing-related quotations:
5. "If I have 100 shares of something, I just let it hang out and all of a sudden one day you're surprised by good news."
4. "I watch her every night/She's really out of sight/Maria Bartiromo"
3. "Basically, this broker guy kind of [expletive deleted] me."
2. "Years ago I had Adobe, when it was hot. Then it cooled, and all of a sudden, it started taking off again. I like to let it ride. [But then] sometimes it's better to let it go. My broker tells me I shouldn't get married to my stocks."
1. "You get sober and see a Coca-Cola truck in a different way. One day it's just a truck full of soda. But the next day you see it as something with profit potential."
Joey Ramone died in 2001, but not before reminding us that investing is something that anyone from any walk of life can be a part of.
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