We sat down with Edward Ryan, author of The World’s Simplest Stock Picking Strategy to ask him a few questions about his book and the process of writing it.
What is the most unexpected thing you learned when writing your book?
This isn’t exactly unexpected, but I am learning firsthand how powerful social media is. I was not particularly active on these platforms before the launch of my book, but I am now witnessing how incredible their reach is. From day one of publication, I have had people from India, Belgium, and other countries around the world commenting to me directly about the book. That just wouldn’t be possible without these platforms.
What is the biggest pain point your book helps readers overcome?
How to invest in individual stocks. There are many people with an interest in stocks who would like to try investing in the companies they are familiar with, but they have no game plan for how to do it. That’s what this book helps with. It provides a realistic strategy for investing in individual stocks in a structured, disciplined way.
What’s your best investment of all time, and your worst? (Doesn’t have to be the stock market)
My best investment, though not a traditional one, was an investment I made to get my wife interested in hiking. Many years ago, I wanted to start taking hiking trips, but my wife wasn’t into it. I had this idea that if I could get her to visit the Canadian Rockies and see the breathtaking mountains, she might start agreeing to these types of trips. But I had to make the first trip a luxury one, not a camping trip (as we’d eventually do).
To get her to agree to a week-long hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies, I invested in the nicest hotel in the area; it was a big splurge, but I knew I would have to entice her with a fancy hotel. Whether it was the snow-capped mountain views or the warm jacuzzi that did it, she was hooked on hiking after that trip.
The initial investment has paid its dividends, as since then, our hiking trip accommodations have been mostly campgrounds. My wife now shares my love for the outdoors, and we have done countless hiking and backpacking trips to many of the most beautiful places in North America.
My worst investment was shortly after I graduated from college. A friend of mine was convinced the Iraqi currency (the dinar) was going to be revalued by the government. I was skeptical, but he was insistent, so I said okay and told him I would take a couple hundred dollars’ worth of it when he placed his order. The revaluation never happened, and the Iraqi dollars are buried somewhere in my attack. I’m sure my friend will have a good laugh if he reads this.
I did, however, learn a valuable lesson from this: to not trade or invest in something you’re not familiar with, based on other peoples’ tips.
If you could only read one author for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Ralph Waldo Emerson. His essays resonate with me, and I find them inspiring. He is one of very few authors whose work I have re-read multiple times. When I sit down in a quiet place and read Emerson slowly, I feel as though I’m conversing with an old friend who voices some of my most intimate sentiments. That, to me, marks the highest standard of writing.
Name five fantasy guests you would invite to your book launch if you could, and why?
I’ve never been very star-struck, so I think I’d rather have a close-knit launch party with the individuals who inspired my book: my brother, my two sisters, my godson, and my longtime friend from high school. They are the people I had in mind when I decided to write this book. They do not work in finance, but they have an interest in companies and investing in individual stocks.
How would you describe your book to someone in 30 seconds?
My book provides a simple and fun process that anyone can use to invest thoughtfully in the companies they know and use in their own lives.
What is the best financial advice you have ever received?
To be wary of inflation. I am naturally risk averse and would probably be inclined to hoard cash if I didn’t know better, but I learned early on that there is long-term risk to your purchasing power if you keep all your savings in cash and bonds. That, in part, has led to my fascination with equities.
Do you have any mentors or role models in your industry, or outside of your industry?
I have been fortunate to have worked with many smart and talented people in my industry, but I would say that the person who had the greatest impact on me was my grandfather. He held a degree in agriculture and was a knife sharpener by trade. He didn’t know much about stocks from a financial-analysis perspective, but he actually did quite well by owning some companies that he was familiar with, like General Electric (GE). But he was the truest role model for me in the sense that he led by example. He showed me how to be a good person and how to be kind to everyone who crosses your path.