Introducing: The Blind Squirrel and his Traveling Show of Nuts

Tales from the Diary of The Blind Squirrel

By theblindsquirrel, January 13, 2014

[ed. note: Today we have another member of the Gumshoe fraternity of special columnists to introduce — to a select group that includes Myron Martin writing about junior mining stocks and Michael Jorrin sharing his “Doc Gumshoe” thoughts about health and medicine, we’re adding a blind squirrel. Jim Skelton, who modestly notes that “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and again,” will bring a valuable perspective to the group — he won’t necessarily be a “stock picker,” but he knows this business in a way most of us never will. His first column will come up over the next week or two sometime, and we’re not sure yet whether his pieces will be free for all or restricted to the Irregulars… but without further ado, I’ll let him introduce himself to you here today]

This months adventure: “What’s Old May Become New Again”

Hello and greetings to all residents of Gumshoeland! My name is Jim Skelton, a/k/a “The Blind Squirrel”. I am coming to you from the beautiful Palm Beaches of South Florida, my home for the past 40 years. My purpose here? I will be writing from time to time with an eye toward providing you, the Gumshoe reader, some insight into aspects of the investment process itself, the investment firms that provide the platforms for your use, the products they put out, and the way Financial Advisors and clients interact for mutual benefit. Hopefully a mutual benefit, of course. I can promise you that much of what you’ll see and learn is going to be material that isn’t found anywhere else. Why be just another voice crying out in the wilderness, extolling the virtues or vices of yet another equity when there are already thousands of such cries for you to pick and choose among? No, there will be little if any of that. We’re going on a trip that will take,some very different roads. Roads that may lead you to a greater understanding of how all this works, either for or against you. But being another stock “guru?” Not this Blind Squirrel!

After following a Blog I got up and running on the Gumshoe site last August entitled “Stellar Biotechnologies – The Real Deal or Just More Tulips?”, Travis thought it might be a good idea to bring me onboard for a trial run to see if my experience in the financial world could be something of a value-added nature to have around. So here I am – and yes, I am pretty much as amazed as you might be to find this happening. Thanks, Travis – I appreciate your confidence. I’ll do my best not to disappoint!

To get this party started I need to tell you something of my life experience, qualifications, and how I wound up on these pages. These past 65 years have seen me wander down many and varied roads, the most signifigant of which was the 20 years I spent working as a Registered Financial Consultant with four of Wall Streets largest and most respected firms: Merrill Lynch (1984 – 1991), UBS PaineWebber (1991 – 1998), Prudential Securities (1998 – 2000), and Edward Jones & Co (2000 – 2003).

Prior to that career I was the CEO of my own small retail business dealing in ladies swim and resortwear. That got underway in 1972 and by 1978 I had five shops up and running – and me running to keep up. Many valuable lessons learned over the 12 years spent doing that. Starting a small business from scratch and working to make it successful is no small thing. And since I was truly a “small business”, that is code for saying the CEO also sweeps floors and cleans bathrooms when necessary.

Well, as I said, I did this from 1972 until 1984 when I found a new opportunity in the financial services sector. I was vetted by the good folks at Merrill Lynch, hired into their training program, and in June of ’84 took a seat at a bullpen desk in the downtown Ft. Lauderdale office, new series 8 license in hand and a ton of optimistic thoughts filing my head. Not a single doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t become a million doliar producer before the end of 1987, if not sooner. I picked up the phone and got busy “dialing for dollars” off a list of supposedly qualified investors I had bought for that purpose. And my real world education began.

There is no reason to get down into the weeds about my experiences and education with those firms at this point. There will be time and place for those “war stories” later. Just understand that I worked with hundreds of clients, helped manage tens of millions of dollars of portfolio assets, and went through some of the best of times in the market – the Great Bull of ’82 – ’99 for example, and the absolute worst – the Crash of October 1987.

In late 2002 I decided I needed to conclude this chapter of my life. Get out there while I was still (barely) young enough to interest an employer and find out what else I might be interested in and good at. So, I closed my Edward Jones office and on January 2nd, 2003, found myself intentionally unemployed and seeking new adventure. It was a career of exactly 20 years to the very day.

My first step was to get trained and licensed to become an industry-side Arbitrator for the SEC. You know – one of those people that sit as judge and jury when an individual investor brings suit against a (usually former) broker and/or his/her firm for some form of malfeasance, real or imagined. I served on a few cases over the next three years and got an entirely new view of what can and does go on between clients and their brokers. Sometimes the broker has been a very, very bad boy. And sometimes the client is just whining about things lost when they knew very well the possibility of that and the risks they took. Hearing their stories was an education that cannot be purchased.

But that role is just piecemeal, occasional work. I began to cast about, finding new opportunity as I went, adding to my experiences (and licenses) in the financial world. And some off-the-wall things mixed in just to keep things interesting. I went to work with an insurance agency that represented Blue Cross – Blue Shield and discovered the world of health insurance. Didn’t care for it. I moved on to Humana just as they, and others, were preparing to roll out that then-new government program we all know as the Part D Prescription Drug plan. And I was able to work with the annuity and supplemental health insurance plans they offered in the Senior markets as well. Interesting work, but not for me for various reasons. By then it was 2005 and I decided that Real Estate was my next stop, so I got licensed as a R/E agent and signed on as an independant contractor with a small regional firm. Bad timing, Within six months the bubble began to deflate and home sales dry up. So I leveraged that experience and came onboard with a Mortgage Brokerage firm in my area – another license in hand. And that, too, began its own implosion as refi apps and new home sales shrunk. It became harder and harder to find qualified applicants.

I even went to work for about 3 months as a sales rep for a large auto dealership, selling a new and exciting product just being introduced to the market – Hummers! That was actually my first venture away from financial firms, the Spring of 2003.That was a TON of fun but things changed rapidly at the dealership. Promises that had been made getting broken, changes in commission schedules seemingly on a daily basis, and the realization that a lot more people liked the idea of owing one of those beasts than could afford one. And the work hours. Geez, Louise .. I hardly got to see my wife at all. So I cut that loose, but never regretted it.

After all of this, in the summer of 2007 a personal event occured that took me totally out of the game for some four years.It was health related, and I would up losing my left leg and most of the use of my right. It cut short my ability to work, which led to other unhappy things unfolding in my life. All came to a head in 2011 and I began to recover that which had been lost and rebuild a life. And that is where I am today. I’ve seen great success, been brought low by unfortunate circumstance, and found a way out of the situations with a boatload of knowledge that I am pleased to share when appropriate. That’s what I plan to deliver to you over time so that you may learn a thing or two that will probably never be spoken of elsewhere. I hope you enjoy and benefit from it.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that all I write, as well as that of other contributors on Stock Gumshoe, is never to be construed as financial advice or recommendation of any particular idea, investment, or strategy. We are JOURNALISTS, not ADVISORS. There is a huge difference – just ask the regulators at the SEC. I will always disclose if I am long or short any stock I might mention and not trade in them for at least 72 hours after publication. I urge all readers to seek professional assistance from a registered Financial Advisor or CPA before taking action on any ideas you might find interesting as they could relate to your personal situation.

So, I’ll be back atcha soon with the first real edition of the Blind Squirrel Diaries. Until then, may all the acorns you uncover be free of wormholes.

Jim Skelton
The Blind Squirrel

DISCLAIMER: I am long Stellar Biotechnologies (SBOTF). I will not transact any trades in that position until this article has been released for at least 72 hours.


Leave a Reply

59 Comments on " Introducing: The Blind Squirrel and his Traveling Show of Nuts"

avatar

vivian lewis
Guest
0
January 13, 2014 1:18 pm

welcome. It is nice to see another senior contributor rather than another whippersnapper. I hope we will learn from your multifaceted business experience.

Alan Harris
Guest
0
Alan Harris
January 13, 2014 1:23 pm

Jez BS, I hope youre not going to offer us employment advice 🙂
Welcome aboard and may you be bright eyed and bushy tailed.

bobbill
Member
21
bobbill
January 13, 2014 1:57 pm

Welcome and I look forward to reading about your life experiences!

jolakowski
Member
0
January 13, 2014 2:26 pm

I look forward to your insights and wisdom.

Ron Homan
Guest
0
Ron Homan
January 13, 2014 2:26 pm

Welcome Blind Squirrel. In my part of the mountains it was the blind pig who found the acorn now and again, but the principal is the same. I look forward to your articles.

tedlizclark
Irregular
0
tedlizclark
January 13, 2014 3:15 pm

BS, any relation to “Red”? Looking forward to your “tales from the inside”. Once read a humorous book on the advertising business called “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor”. The title, it turns out, was a idea suggested in a brainstorming session for a slogan for Panasonic, which was discarded in favor of “Just slightly ahead of our time…” I’m sure in the financial services markets, it’s similar; (i.e. you wouldn’t believe it!)

William Brown
Guest
0
William Brown
January 13, 2014 3:47 pm

As an oldersnapper I enjoy any such tales.
[Glad there’s another squirrel for the SBOTF nut. Not sure if to bury and forget or crack open for current food.]

Judy Appleton
Guest
0
January 13, 2014 5:40 pm

I have Vertigo. I have been to the doctor many times with prescriptions for antibiotics, Antivert, and steroid. After it go so bad, I started looking around for a solution. I now take Potassium and Fenugreek and Thyme (Fenuthyme) from Whole Foods. It is the best thing to striaghten it out. I do believe in some homeopathic medicines. I have in the past signed peititions to keep supplements, etc.

gm171
Member
0
gm171
January 13, 2014 6:22 pm

So, you got out of financial services in early 2003, just when the market started to come back. And, you got into real estate in 2005, just when the real estate bubble was busting. Hmm, I hope you’re not going to give market timing advice. LOL. Welcome to Gumshoe land!

hipockets
Irregular
1001
January 13, 2014 6:23 pm

Welcome to the writer’s section, Blind Squirrel. I’ll keep an eye open for your first article!

GR Miller
Guest
0
GR Miller
January 13, 2014 6:24 pm

Looking forward to reading more of your adventures, experiences and financial knowledge. Thanks for sharing this.

kuczynski
Irregular
56
kuczynski
January 13, 2014 7:59 pm

loved your SBOTF articles … will miss those
but am looking forward to your new adventure, and cometary, can’t wait
henry

vicking
Member
0
vicking
January 14, 2014 3:44 am

welcome, interesting career and nice to hear how you handle your misfortunes. I know how brokers work, I have been an institutional advisory in the Netherlands for more than 25 years and always wondered why the US brokers were more profitable than the nest boutique in Holland Kempen & Co, than i found out the huge business in MBA’s etc 😉
I do my own investments and have a model which I am testing and have good initial results. I use it on the stocks mentioned here do sort quality from presumed quality.
Good luck
Victor

vicking
Member
0
vicking
January 14, 2014 3:45 am

nest=best
do=to sort out quality

tveach52
Irregular
7
tveach52
January 14, 2014 7:18 am
My firm, Falls & Veach, has represented investors who have been taken advantage of by brokers, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies, scam artists, etc. for the last 15 years. The arbitration process that Blind Squirrel mentions is totally skewed in favor of the investment industry. So do seek help from a financial advisor as suggested, BUT be very, very careful in your selection. Do not hesitate to ask lots of questions, and don’t be embarrassed to ask another question if you don’t understand something the advisor has said. ALL good advisors want their clients to understand every investment and why… Read more »
herbalix
Irregular
101
January 14, 2014 8:23 am
Hi Jim, great to have you back and looking forward to hearing more from you. Loved your writings on the Stellar Blog and am glad that you want to share further experiences and adventures on the Gumshoe platform. The Stellar Blog will continue no doubt, but it is clear that it takes more time than some of us thought might have hoped for at first. After the last conference call it became clear to me that there is at least a three year time frame in order to see significant positive developments that could bring real money to the company… Read more »
sassykind
Member
27
sassykind
January 14, 2014 1:10 pm
Hi Jim, Welcome. Interesting history there… you’ve certainly lived. I absolutely love Stellar – in fact for a while when I was trying to find a broker who wasn’t too expensive, I had this running conversation with my self about how much I was losing & so on……..By the time I managed get some it was about $1.90 and I could have screamed!!!!!! When I can, I think I’ll get some more . Like Herbalix, don’t mind waiting – especially in view of deal with Amaran. Same thing happened with ALNY but now can’t afford it , ,But now, at… Read more »
Deb
Guest
0
Deb
January 14, 2014 9:04 pm

Welcome Jim,
You and many of the people who respond to Gumshoe’s articles sure could use a proof reader. I am amazed at the prevalence of incorrect spelling, punctuation and grammar in so many online articles, blogs and replies. The apparent confusion about when to use there, their or they’re is particularly aggravating. That said, I do enjoy all of the Stock Gumshoe’s very informative columns and am looking forward to reading yours as well. I even learn from the comments, provided I can figure out what the writer is attempting to say.

Skip
Guest
0
Skip
January 21, 2014 6:51 pm
Well said Deb….not to mention the your and you’re errors…. or the I vs me, he vs him, etc. errors one observes too often among journalists. Thanks for pointing out the disruption in thought flow caused when these kinds of errors surface. While the journalist moves ahead with his/her thought process, the listener/reader is forced to pause and think: “what was the writer attempting to say”. Thus the coherence of thought processes diverge: Writer/Speaker speeds on with their exposition, while the rest of us lose track (or worse, lose train of thought). Thanks
Myron Martin
Guest
0
January 14, 2014 11:07 pm

Welcome aboard Jim, sounds like you have had a very interesting life and all of us can learn something from you. Interesting handle you adopted and I can not now remember whether your name stood out for me on Gumshoe itself or you also blogged on Pinnacle Digest at one point. I blog there as thinker70 and fins it an interesting website as well. Looking forward to reading your columns.

arch1
Irregular
5282
January 15, 2014 6:42 am

I greatly look forward to your thinking on things. Old German proverb is” why are we so soon old and so late smart? Truth is, experience takes time & is extremely valuable.
Agree that nearly everything can be expressed in four letter words if true & finding that Some Highly Improbable Things happen (Mostly known by the acronym) should be a guiding principle. Sounds like a lot has happened to you & you are still on the green side of the sod is encouraging to someone who lost the ‘Whup’ from his schnapper long ago.

marise
Guest
0
marise
January 15, 2014 9:54 am

What? You didn’t think of BS and it’s meaning years ago? tell me again how much you’ve learned over the years ! ok , just pulling your fuzzy little tail.

ytse
Irregular
12
ytse
January 16, 2014 9:37 pm
Mr. Skelton, I am just like you, except that after I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, School of Pharmacy, worked for HCA hospital for 3 years and the rest of the 33 years, I was a PJc, president and janitor and CPA of a small independent pharmacy. I had good 33 years be my own boss. Making good money, working 12 to 14 hours a day. I am 63 years old, I sold my business because of my legs. ( occupational disease ). I am selling NeriumAD age-defying creams, an independent brand partner for Neerium International.I enjoy… Read more »
seacali
Irregular
0
seacali
January 16, 2014 11:47 pm

Jack/Travis and fellow Gum Shoes,

I’m very new to investing. I was wondering if you have a preferred method and formula for finding out the intrinsic value of a company. I understand that it is arbitrary especially when it comes to the guesstimate of a company growth rates but I was hoping you can provide your insights. Thanks!

interlocutor
Irregular
18
interlocutor
January 20, 2014 6:31 pm

Yo Blind Squirrel
Sounds good man. Cool background. I will look forward to your… hmmm… postulations and associated interlocution.
Warm Regards
George B aka “Interlocutor”

Myron Martin
Author
208
January 20, 2014 6:44 pm
JIM: Sage advice; “you need to be constantly READING.” all the wisdom of the ages is recorded in books. I developed a passion for knowledge, gleaned from books early as a child, and it has never diminished. What I have found however, is that listening to the common media, or what I call the “establishment” (TV and newspapers) will frequently mislead you because it is designed by government to influence public opinion to bring it into line with government control of your life. The one thing not taught in government schools at any level is the ability to be a… Read more »
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