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X Marks the Spot—But It's Knowing Where to Put It That Matters

by Lobo Tiggre
Monday, October 28, 02:54pm, UTC, 2019

A reader questioned me on the value of my services, and I thought my answer could be of interest and use to others.


There’s a story of a repairman called in to fix a problem Henry Ford had with a big machine at his plant. Some versions of the story say it was a fellow named Charles Steinmetz from General Electric and that the machine was a generator. Others say it was Nicola Tesla. At any rate, after looking the giant machine over, the expert gets a ladder, climbs up on it, and marks it with an X in chalk. That’s the place to implement a fix. When the bill came in at $10,000, Ford balked and asked for an itemized invoice. The expert sends another invoice, showing:

  • Chalk mark: $1
  • Knowing where to put it: $9,999

Ford paid the bill.

In geology, X often does mark the spot. For instance, when structures in the earth’s crust cross creating good areas for mineral deposits to form, that’s a good place to look. But there are a lot of X marks on geology maps. My expertise is in figuring out which ones can make us money.

That’s why, when someone asks me how much it costs me to fly around, kick rocks, and produce my newsletters, I say that there is a cost, but it doesn’t matter.

The important question is: what’s it worth to get guidance from an expert who has helped many people make a lot of money for many years?

More specifically, our new My Take service is full of warnings about companies that may have put the X in the wrong spot. Some readers dislike this “negativity,” but more see great value in knowing what to avoid. It also includes positive comments on companies I do like. It doesn’t make recommendations, but this guidance can help readers make money.

It’s important that these are not random comments. My takes are the result of many years of experience. It’s often the case that I know the company’s key people and have been on site with them.

As for The Independent Speculator, I do understand that some people see it as being too expensive. I don’t offer “Today Only: 50% Off” sales every day, making the real price something lower. The price is the price, and it’s higher than what many other monthly investment newsletters charge. But the service also includes Alerts and updated company guidance in between editions to help clients make decisions in a timely manner. My former employers used to charge $5,000 a year for a service like this.

The way I see it, it’s a mistake to see The Independent Speculator as a $2,500 magazine. That would indeed be ridiculous. But $2,500 isn’t much to ask for information that can turn $10,000 into $100,000 if we get a 10x winner—which I have delivered in the past. And it’s cheap, compared to the “2 & 20” fund managers typically charge.

It’s not the chalk mark, but the value of knowing where to put it.

I prefer for people to make these decisions themselves rather than try to talk them into something that’s not for them, but I thought I should address this question of value.



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