Commodities Mentors Recollected

Montreal, Canada

As I enter my 20th year in this business, I’m still learning new things about the markets and investing almost every day. And for better or for worse, I’ve tried my best to be a good investor while always preoccupied with minimizing capital loss.

The last three years have been anything but normal; I’ve amassed more grey hair since 2008 than I plan on growing over the next ten years; and I’m afraid I’ll have much more grey hair from now until 2015 as another Black Swan, or unforeseen market, event smashes the financial system.

I’ve always believed nobody gets very far in life, especially in business, without a big boost or several boosts early on from a key family member or associates. There’s always that someone who believed in you, a special person that saw beyond the skeptics and said “Go for it.”

I’ve been darn lucky to have a great publisher and a superb team in Florida, the best investors and, of course, an amazing family. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to have been mentored at a young age by three very influential people: My step-father (also my best friend), the late-great Robert Kephart and Jimmy Rogers.

Now in its eighth year, my Commodity Trend Alert (CTA) VIP service was greatly influenced by my mentors. My step-father always insisted on owning gold and oil and to this day can’t believe the economy hasn’t crashed; Bob Kephart, who founded The Sovereign Society, abhorred the dollar and loved anything that hedged its long-term decline. And Jim Rogers shed light on the powers of contrarian investing, why the government isn’t your friend and how to read between the lines in the financial press so you can make a buck.

When it comes to commodities and global investing, nobody matters more to me than Jim Rogers – publisher, investor extraordinaire and libertarian.

Rogers shaped my thinking when I was just 23 years old and it’s stuck with me all of these years.

Most, though not all, television is a waste of my time. My late uncle Dave called it the “Idiot Box.” But when Jim is on TV, I stop to listen.

Most advisors lack a deep understanding of the financial markets, systemic risk and what portfolio diversification really means. Not Jim. He’s been around since the mid-60s investing, and knows just about everything worth knowing in the markets.

I’ve also read every book he’s written and like him, I’m an ambitious 44-year old bachelor looking to have my first child in my later years. He did, and says everyone should do the same because children are the greatest gift in the world.

My first interview with Jim Rogers was back in the summer of 1995 when I was publishing Global Mutual Fund Investor with Agora. It was that interview that changed the way I saw things in the markets. Rogers opened up the way I looked at the big picture.

The interview lasted more than 60 minutes and the biggest tips my subscribers got in that Q&A session was to buy the large-cap European oil companies; the U.S. State Department had just banned oil exploration for U.S. companies in what they coined “rogue” states like Libya, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq etc. Rogers saw an opportunity.

“So literally, on a silver platter,” he lamented, “the United States is giving a free hand to the French and the Italians to drill for oil in the Middle East and North Africa. The British and the Dutch will adhere to the U.S. ban, but not the French and the Italians. I’d be buying Elf Aquitaine SA (now Total-Fina SA) and ENI of Italy. These guys are going to make a killing.”

What a score! My subscribers made several-fold on those recommendations years later. My CTA subscribers made about 200% in seven years investing in ENI SpA.

By the way, a few weeks later Mr. Rogers was thoughtful enough to send me an Investment Biker-inspired postcard thanking me for the interview. Now that’s class.

Everyone has a story. And everyone probably should have a mentor. I’m glad I did.

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