April 3

The #1 Mistake Investors Make

Challenge Investment Paradigms


Every investor makes this devastating mistake at some point (usually early) in their investing lives. Not only can it be difficult to recover from, for most, it results in a scarring conclusion to their adventure into the otherwise potentially-lucrative world of investing.

How I Learned My Lesson

On January 1st, 2016, I went off on my own. I was officially investing full time. Before that point, when there was no pressure, when stock research was just something I would do in my spare time, I’d been successful at identifying high-quality, undervalued stocks in which to invest.

But once that was my full-time gig, I felt like I needed to do more, like I needed to identify more opportunities than the 4 or 5 stocks I was finding each month. So, I sought help from others. I paid for several monthly stock selection subscriptions. I constantly had CNBC playing in the background. I started listening to others to find and implement ideas.

Sometimes these ideas played out as expected. Sometimes, of course, they didn’t. And then there was that one time—and this is what set me straight—one time the trade went horribly wrong. My position was crashing. I was bleeding money. I didn’t know what to do...

It was stressful and scary; I felt like a failure. The experience taught me an important lesson, but it was extremely difficult to live through.

Well, you don’t have to.

So What Happened?

[Don't forget to check out the video version of this post on YouTube. It's much more entertaining... see for yourself!]

What was the difference between my pre- (and post-) 2016 success and that brief stint where I experienced several overwhelmingly stressful trades?

I stopped relying on myself and my own research and conclusions. I stopped playing out every possible scenario in my head before entering a trade. I started:

Relying. On. Others.

And that was my crucial mistake. I have since repented and recovered. But this is a lesson that almost every investor learns the hard way at some point:

It is dangerous to rely exclusively on others investment ideas!

Why Does This Happen?

How do investors find themselves in positions they don’t fully understand and an emotional wreck when those bets don’t play out exactly as expected?

It starts with the fact that we’re surrounded by so. many. “Experts.” Professionals (or not) who are more than happy to share with you the next hot thing.

You have the screaming heads on TV, the well-spoken “experienced” or professional trader, and the wise, successful friend or associate. They're all trying to pitch you on and convince you of something...

The Main Lesson:

It’s okay to have someone you trust give you ideas, but it is dangerous to invest in those ideas without any further consideration or access to information.


It is a viable strategy to hear them out and then—and this is the essential part—do your own research to supplement their investment thesis and come to your own educated conclusion.

I get it: there are countless investment opportunities in the world, and if it’s not what you do professionally and it’s not your passion, that can be an impossible mountain to sift through. But the ideas you hear from others, need to be the start of your investment process, not the end.

Access to Information

Alternatively, if you have full access to when and why that person-you-trust makes each and every trade—so you know when they’re entering, exiting, increasing, or decreasing their own positions—that too, could be a viable strategy for you.

The Young Pro...

I’m reminded of a young professional investor who, while stranded in an airport, had a brief chance encounter with his life-long investment role model. They began discussing their current theses on different markets. One in particular stood out to the novice investor. It was a trade made by the veteran that was the exact opposite of his own. Before he could ask for more information, the seasoned trader was boarding his flight.

This weighed heavily on the young pro. He didn’t like betting against his investment hero. He decided that he, the young one, must have missed something, so he reluctantly flipped his position. He trusted the veteran’s opinion.

The next day he suffered a significant loss in that position before pulling out. Turns out the young professional had been right. It’s too bad he had doubted his own research. It appeared the old pro had lost his touch.

Later that week he received a call from the veteran, asking how he was doing. The young trader explained that he was a little upset after the loss and expressed concern for the veteran, because he knew that the veteran’s bet had been much more significant.

The old professional was confused. He told him that he had made money on that position every step of the way. In the few hours after they had spoken in the airport, the market moved exactly as he had anticipated. Then, his research suggested that it was about to go the other way. So, unbeknownst to the young investor, he profitably switched his thesis, and consequently, his position.

The young professional was trading with an entirely different time horizon than the veteran. He didn’t have access to all the information, and his portfolio suffered for it.

My Friend...

One of my best friends is this way: constantly wanting to know the specific stocks I have identified as having 100% or more potential return. I’ve always been hesitant to share. Not because I don’t want him to profit from them, but rather because he doesn’t know exactly when my research might indicate that I make a change to that position (it could be a couple years from now, it could be hours from now).

That’s why I cringe when I see people investing their own hard-earned cash without any more than a hot (at least for now) tip to guide them. What should they do next? Knowing that is an important part of a successful investment strategy.

My Personal Solution for You

That’s actually one of the reasons I started my Patreon account, so that I could provide that friend and anyone interested with real-time updates, so you know exactly when and why I make every single move.


So whenever you hear that next good idea—and inevitably you will—whether it comes from me, Jim Cramer, or your best friend—I don’t care how amazing and urgent it sounds—do not invest while relying exclusively on someone else’s tip!

Do your-future-self a favor and either

  1. dedicate the time necessary to research and come to your own educated conclusion, or 
  2. make sure you have open ongoing access to all the information.

What's Your Story?

  • Do you have a story like this?
  • Where you or someone you know followed blindly someone else’s advice?
  • If so, I hope you didn’t lose too much. I’d love to hear about it, let me know in the comments.

My goal with Spicer Capital is to help you build your rapidly-growing, highly-diversified net worth. I hope you'll stick around and explore the many resources we've created for you, get your free copy of my book, download the free audiobook version (while my publisher still lets me give it away for free...), subscribe to our YouTube channel... whatever avenues would be most helpful for you!

I sincerely look forward to spending more time with you in the future (...maybe in the comments? I hope to see you there).

Take care.

About the author 

Stephen Spicer

Stephen Spicer, CFP®, AEP®, CLU® is the founder and managing director of Spicer Capital, LLC. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and they have three amazing boys.

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