I’ve always been fortunate to do something I love professionally—grapple with capital markets—and also engage seriously in my two favorite hobbies: writing and redwoods. And when the professional day is over or on the weekends, when it’s too dark to tramp around the woods, I enjoy turning to my typewriter. (Which has been, for a very long time now, the computer.)
This is my seventh book—and a fun one to write. Easy, too! My editor won’t like me saying this—thinking “easy” means maybe I didn’t put in much effort, so you won’t get much benefit. Not true! Hopefully you will get huge benefit. What I mean by “easy” is these are all short lessons that are near and dear to my heart. Many are ones I’ve even written on before—in different ways and formats and venues—some of which have been previously published and many of which haven’t. A lot are ones I’ve written about before in short pieces for use by my firm. Some I haven’t written on but are things I’ve said repeatedly to clients, in client seminars, in media interviews, etc. Others are newer but still vital core lessons I think about or apply near constantly—or advise others to think about and apply.
There were many topics I considered, but 2010 seemed a particularly good time to attack common investing myths and misperceptions—and how to debunk them. The bad 2008 bear market is still fresh for most investors. And bear markets make people’s brains go haywire like nothing but an extreme bull market. Bear markets are emotionally trying and can make folks seek to reduce the near-term pain. That can mean making a radical change to investing strategy; one that may feel better now, but may not be appropriate long term. Ironcially, it can end up hurting folks far worse than the pain they feel now—but far down the road when it’s too late (or almost too late) to do anything about it. Or, folks seek the safety and comfort of crowds—following “rules of thumb” or those things that “everyone knows”—and that’s when you can get into real, lasting trouble (as you’ll see in the book). So I decided a book that directly counters common, widely held myths and misperceptions that rob folks of better long-term results was especially relevant now.
And though writing this book was “easy”—it’s never really easy. Which is why I’m fortunate to be graced with a huge supporting cast. Not many authors have vast amounts of smart, talented people chasing down data, confirming facts, and otherwise making sure what I say is what I mean—making my job easier still. (There’s that word again.) Lara Hoffmans was again pulled from her normal duties writing for my firm’s website MarketMinder and overseeing my firm’s imprint with John Wiley & Sons, Fisher Investments Press, to assist me in drafting chapters, checking my edits, and running interference with the research folks to make sure all our statements were supported and factually accurate. So all I had to do was the fun part, writing.
And, as will become quickly apparent, this book is littered with data and analysis. For that, I must thank my firm’s tireless research team, headed by Andrew Teufel—one of the brightest people you can ever meet—and his fearless admirals, Bill Glaser and Mike Hanson. Contributing analysis to the book were Austin Fraser, Akash Patel, Charles Thies, and Jarred Kriz.
And then there are all those graphs—nearly every chapter has one if not more. All that data had to be pulled and checked, then the chart created and formatted. Then checked and re-checked and re-checked again and reformatted again. That takes attention to detail, time, and patience—vast amounts of patience. Leading the charge was the Team Leader of my firm’s Research Analytics and Production team, Matt Schrader, along with analyst Jessica Wolfe. Jessica did the lion’s share of the graph grunt work, has a great eye for detail, and had a terrific attitude throughout—for that I thank her heartily. Also contributing heavily were Brad Rotolo, Jason Belsky, Andrew Bates, Scott Botterman, Lindsey Skopal, Tom Holmes, and Karl Wonstolen.
Not all the graphs were data-driven—we had some hypothetical drawings done by our in-house graphic designer, Leila Amiri. Leila also designed the cover (which I think is pretty cool), and in general is great at putting a creative spin on abstract concepts. Also helping develop cover concepts (for this and my last few books, as well as the Fisher Investments Press books) was Molly Lienesch, who heads up Branding for my firm. She has a terrific eye for detail and understands the consumer experience better than anyone I know. Maybe she’s tied with Marc Haberman, my firm’s Chief Innovation Officer. I don’t know of any other investment firm that has an Innovation department—at least not one as deep as ours, or as sure. Marc was instrumental in helping our folks kick around titles and book concepts. And as always, Fab Ornani, our Web guru, and Tommy Romero, our head of Marketing, help get the books noticed. If the book doesn’t sell, you don’t have a book.
Helping pick up the slack in writing client-facing content while Lara was otherwise occupied were Aaron Anderson, Elizabeth Anathan, Jason Dorrier, Carolyn Feng, and Todd Bliman. And backing up Lara in doing fact-checking, citations, and copyediting was Evelyn Chea—who always does a top-notch job catching our goofy typos. Giving the book the legal “look-over” (and providing me with some good editorial feedback as well) were Fred Harring, Nicole Gerrard, and Tom Fishel.
Thanks also, as always, to my agent Jeff Herman. And I must thank the crew at John Wiley & Sons—David Pugh, who shepherded me through my first three books with Wiley (my fourth, fifth, and sixth books)—The Only Three Questions That Count (2006), The Ten Roads to Riches (2008), and How to Smell a Rat (2009). These were all New York Times best sellers (as well as hitting other best seller lists—the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, USA Today, and various smaller lists) thanks in no small part to David’s fine work, and the fine work of the Wiley team. Laura Walsh has since replaced David, and working with her has been a pleasure. I must also thank Kelly O’Connor and Adriana Johnson, as well as Joan O’Neil, executive publisher at Wiley, who kindly lets me say whatever I want to say.
I must also thank my firm’s senior managers—Andrew Teufel (again), Steve Triplett, and Damian Ornani—three of the brightest, most diligent young men (they are younger than me, and therefore will always be “young men”) anyone could have the pleasure of working with. They didn’t contribute directly to the book, because they were busy running the moment-to-moment management of my firm, but their contribution is vital to the firm’s success—and without my firm’s success, I doubt people would want to read what I have to say. Also, many thanks to Jeff Silk, Vice Chairman, whose introspection and insight make the firm—which is my core responsibility—what it is.
Finally, all my gratitude goes to my wife Sherrilyn. Time I spend writing is time spent away from her. The redwoods don’t mind when I spend time away from them on weekends. Hopefully she does forever. This book was a blast to work on, and I hope you have a blast reading it.
Ken Fisher
Woodside, CA
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