About The Skeptical Capitalist

Meet Vad Yazvinski, winner of Strategy Lab Open, Round 1. Trading under the pseudonym “dishwasher,” the Skeptical Capitalist certainly cleaned up in the first round of this stock picking competition.

His fresh outlook on the stock market and “take-no-prisoners” approach to putting the current market situation into perspective has made Vad one of the most popular InvestorPlace Blogs community bloggers.

Find out what made Vad the “Skeptical Capitalist” that he has become, and how it (eventually) served him and his investments so well.

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." ~Carl Bard

My guess is that many of the people who read my blog have never even heard of the country where I was born, Belarus. As you might have guessed, my story is thus quite a bit different from that of the "typical" portfolio manager. I did not graduate from an Ivy League school or spend time in a top-tier investment bank.

It's not that I couldn't do it. Bragging aside, I probably fit the profile quite well -- always at the top of my class in school, almost perfect GPA, and history of promotions that made most of my colleagues believe that I was related to the CEO! I also passed all three Chartered Financial Analyst exams on the first try, took prizes in both national and regional contests in numerous subjects and even recently won a full-tuition MBA scholarship to one of the top-rated finance schools in the world…

But as I learned during the last several years, it takes a lot more than an Ivy League degree to become a successful investor. It takes passion, determination, the desire to learn continuously and a lot of hard work. The stock market is by definition a giant discounting mechanism, and thus whenever someone seems to get ahead for a short while, that edge simply gets arbitraged away.

My investing experience started when I plunged all the money I had earned into a freshly opened brokerage account. I knew very little about investing; in the beginning I only bought stocks I heard about on TV. After probably two months or so, 80% of my portfolio disappeared into bottomless holes with names like "Calpine" and "Mirant"…

But I wasn't discouraged, and decided to fix the problem. I started reading investment and economic books by the ton, and the more I read them, the more I liked the investing world…. So I switched my major in school from management to finance and never looked back. Then I discovered Marketocracy a place where I could put all my newly found investing ideas to work without risking more of my limited savings. The performance of my model portfolios at Marketocracy gave me the confidence that I was good at managing money and it was something I loved to do.

I often think that these initial losses might have simply been the best "worst" investment I made in my life. But that wasn't the only tough experience I had to overcome to get where I am as an investor today.

Being a 20-year-old in a foreign country with no money, no friends and limited English wasn't a walk in the park. I routinely worked 80-hour weeks and did everything there was to do in the hospitality industry (including dishwasher)... But I never regretted the struggle, and I doubt I ever will.

Being born in a communist country where the concept of capitalism did not exist has also given me a rare opportunity to understand why socialist principles do not work. Yes, capitalism can be harder on some people than on others. But as my personal story shows, America is truly a land of opportunity, and that the only requirement is that you work hard and keep an open mind by looking at every challenge as an opportunity.

So to cut my long story short, I am now a VP of Finance (big fish in a small pond) in small private equity firm, so I guess I now value companies "for a living".

I am also a permanent student of economics and the investing world. Not only am I not afraid of challenges, I actually spend my free time looking for them.

And what’s more I intend to stay that way, because, as the quote I cited above says, I know that while I might not be able to change my past, it is certainly within my powers to make a brand new ending…

So if you have any questions—please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

Contact Us | Advertise With Us
Creative Commons License Please feel free to re use any content assuming you mention where you got in the first place :) www.SkepticalCapitalist.com Enjoy !.