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An Interview With Author Mariusz Skonieczny

Just the other day we did a book review of  “Why Are We So Clueless About The Stock Market?” by Author, and President of Classic Value Investors, Mariusz Skonieczny.  We had a chance to catch up with him and do a little interview about his book, his past, and his investment philosophies.  Let’s begin:

Question #1: What Got You Started?

Hello Mariusz, we’ve finished reading your book and loved it. You presented the topic in an entertaining and easy-to-read manner. You clearly enjoy this subject, and we wanted to know what influenced you to go into finance.

Answer:

“As a child, I was always interested in money. I liked saving it and accumulating it. I was always coming up with different ways to make money. I would collect used bottles and sell them to grocery stores. I would buy old bicycles, fix them and sell them to bicycle stores or to the general public.

When I went to college, I majored in accounting and finance because these were the only majors that interested me.  After college, I always gravitated towards jobs that involved some type of investing or entrepreneurial activity. Then, right in the middle of the financial crisis about two years ago, I decided to open my own investing firm, Classic Value Investors.”

Question #2: What Inspired You?

What inspired you to write “Why Are We So Clueless About The Stock Market?”

Answer:

“During this time, I kept telling people that this was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a lot of money in the stock market because everybody was terrified. However, few people were listening. They just kept doing what everyone else was doing, which was getting out of the stock market – exactly the opposite of what they should have been doing. Their behavior inspired me to title my book, Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market?”

Question #3: Did You See A Void In The Financial Book Market?

Did you see a void in the financial book market that needed to be filled?

Answer:

“Before I wrote my book, I had read more than 300 books on investing and related topics. I had to go to so many different sources because there was no single book that had everything I wanted to know. Eventually, I came to a point where I wanted to write the kind of book that I wished I had when I started investing. I wanted to create something that pulled together concepts and ideas that would be the most helpful to a beginner to intermediate investor.”

Question #4: How Did Warren Buffet Influence You?

Mr. Buffet is a titan of investing, and this can be seen throughout many of the examples in your book. How has Mr. Buffet influenced you, and how does it resonate through your work?

Answer:

“Investing is similar to building a house. You have to have a strong foundation in order to build a beautiful and stable house. By studying Warren Buffett, I was able to build a strong investing foundation upon the knowledge that he acquired and tested over decades of trial and error. Throughout my book, I offer readers the same foundation and add explanations that benefit beginning and intermediate investors.”

Question #5: Was Consolidating The Information Difficult?

We believe that anyone could pick up this book, read it, and understand it. Was it difficult to consolidate all of the covered topics into such an easy-to-read, compact book?

Answer:

“When I wrote my book, this was my goal. I wanted to be able to give it to someone with no financial background and have them be able to understand it. However, it is always a challenge to explain specialized information to someone who knows less than you about a subject. In my experience, I have found that experts tend to forget what it was like not to know the information they know so well. I had many people with various backgrounds read the original manuscript and share feedback, which allowed me to rework it until it was crystal clear.”

Question #6: What Do You Want Readers To Walk Away With?

If there was one thing that you hope your readers walk away with after reading your book, what would it be?

Answer:

“Investing is not as difficult as you might think. You can teach yourself, but first you need to learn what to look for. As an investor, you don’t have to create anything. Instead, you can learn how to identify good companies and only buy them when they are selling for reasonable prices. It is similar to selecting cars. You don’t have to be an engineer to know that a new BMW is a better car than a five-year-old Chevrolet.”

Question #7: Do You Recommend Any Sectors Right Now?

What sector of the markets do you find yourself glancing at most as of recent?

Answer:

“I don’t particularly focus on certain sectors. I go where I can find good deals. Currently, the oil and gas industry offers interesting opportunities. When BP created the mess with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the prices of many oil and gas service companies were severely punished as a result. I believe it was overdone. In the end, we are still pumping gas into our cars, and therefore, the oil and gas industry has to keep replenishing these resources.”

Question #8: What Would You Tell A Person Considering Investing Right Now?

What is one of the most important pieces of advice that you would give a reader considering jumping into the markets right now?

Answer:

“I would tell him or her to think of the financial markets as big auction houses. Buyers and sellers go there to exchange ownership interests in various assets. If you are in the market to buy stocks, you want the fewest number of buyers possible so that they don’t bid prices up. This allows you to get good deals. One thing that keeps buyers away is fear, and the current recession is doing a wonderful job at providing this. People are terrified of stocks. What are you waiting for? Buy them now because people will not be terrified forever.”

Question #9: Are You Sitting On The Sidelines With All Of The Current Volatility?

With a lot of the current market volatility, do you find that you’re sitting on the sidelines often, or does your “Value” approach to investing provide a good enough buffer to cushion you from potential losses?

Answer:

“I am not sitting on the sidelines at all. Most of the investors fear market volatility. I embrace it because market volatility creates opportunities to pick up shares of excellent companies at cheap prices. The “Value” approach always works over the long-term. However, in the short-term, it can create a lot of pain.”

Question #10: What Kind Of Pizza Does A Financial Expert Like Yourself Enjoy?

And, we would like to wrap up with a fun question: What kind of pizza does a financial expert like yourself enjoy?

Answer:

“Always pepperoni. As a matter of fact, I had some yesterday.”

And there you have it, an interview with the author of “Why Are We So Clueless About The Stock Market?”

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