My secret identity

As Whitman said, I contain multitudes. We all do. But there are parts of my identity that remain mostly hidden. I’m an avid motorcyclist, but I don’t share that with my students because I dread the “creepy biker teacher” persona that may very well only exist in my own head. There’s another identity that I’ve been struggling with bringing into the world. I’m an investor.

I’ve been investing in equities (stocks of publicly traded companies) for about 20 years now. And my only thought partner in this part of my identity has been my mom. I don’t discuss it much with my colleagues because we don’t talk about money “in polite company,” as the saying goes.

In recent years, three things have happened that have led me to be more open about this part of my identity. First, I’ve been chatting with a young colleague that has been interested in but fearful of getting started with investing. The market histrionics of late 2018 and early 2020 only compounded his fear that he’s not up to the task. I have been coaching him through his fear and how to learn to analyze companies.

Second, I began working with the Atlanta Student Investor Club of Georgia State University. I delivered a few presentations, hosted a panel discussion and coached a few students on the mechanics and psychology of the market. And Bitcoin. I non-answered a lot of questions about Bitcoin.

Finally, at student request, I sponsored an investing club at my own school. I worked with 10 8th grade boys on the basics of equity investing. They got started in the heady days of late 2019 and early 2020. They were convinced that stocks only go up. Then COVID happened and they got a front row seat to a bona fide market panic. And they got to process it with the guidance of a steady hand in the person of yours truly. If you ask me, these kids learned the very best lesson at the very right time in their lives: when it cost them nothing. It wouldn’t surprise me if each one of them went on to become successful individual investors because of the timing of that event in their lives.

And so, after maintaining this sparsely populated blog since 2008 and writing about travel, books, and education, here I am writing my first post about one of my greatest passions: investing.

My motivation for investing has nothing to do riches and everything to do with increasing the odds of financial independence for my family. My passion for investing, on the other hand, has little to do with money at all. It has to do with hope and agency. You see, my investing journey has its roots in the story of my mom’s life and my dad’s death. I think that’s where I’ll start my next post.

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