Sep. 28, 2017 1:59 PM ET10 Comments
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Dividend Investing

Contributor Since 2008

Individual value investor with strong penchant for dividend growth.  A former tax and estates attorney who retired in his early 40s and expatriated to Lisbon, Portugal with his family. Now writes about tax law, portfolio strategy and life in sunny Portugal.

Association with SA author Evelyn Trias

Contributor, CNBC

The best idea I ever had: take a few moments every single day to be thankful for something in your life. When I do this (and I do it often... sometimes many times a day) I cannot believe how many things I have to be thankful for.

I was a late bloomer when it comes to reading and writing. Anyone who reads my posts regularly has probably noticed a ton of spelling errors.  The reason for this is because I'm dyslexic. Didn't learn to read or write until I was in third or fourth grade, and limped along for years thereafter struggling with books a that a three year old can read. Even today, I literally misspell my wife's first name at least 50% of the time, and couldn't tell you the difference between right and left if I tried. I mean, I could, but it would be a different hand each time. Reading and writing are not really things that dyslexic people generally gravitate towards. It's a bizarre irony when someone like me ends up with a genuine love of reading and writing. A bizarre irony that I am genuinely grateful for. 

In college, I saw a movie called "Wall Street." I realized right then and there that what wanted to do was to be in that movie. I suspect a lot of people my age had the same reaction. Computers, risk taking, power ties, brilliant suspenders and slicked-back hair. I couldn't get enough. The real reason why I even bothered to go to Yale Law School was because I wanted to be (or at least work for) Gordon Gekko. Somehow I thought that a degree from YLS would land me a Wall Street job.  

Which it did, but very quickly I realized that there was a glaring personality mismatch between who I was hired to be, and who I was. The firm I worked for rents country clubs for lawyer outings. It is compulsory to attend such events, but I can tell you that I am far more at home chilling out at a tattoo parlour than I am sipping G&Ts at a Westchester golf course with men who wear cashmere sweaters draped around their shoulders, and women who have first names like "Taylor" or "Carson" that were picked because they sound more like last names. Wall Street is a place where you need to blend in if you want to play the game, and if you don't play, you're out.  

My 10 year brush with Gordon Gekko's Wall Street was a struggle to fit into a milieu where I would never belong. But in another bizarre twist of fate, I found something better: investing my own money, and writing my own off-kilter version of financial analysis that would get me fired in a New York minute if I was sitting behind a desk at Goldman Sachs. I found a way to play the games I love the most, but that exempted me from having to blend in and play by someone else's rules. I'm inordinately thankful for that. 

Hey, did you know that once I actually did briefly meet two young women named Taylor and Carson? It's embarrassing. I was shopping for contraceptives at a CVS pharmacy, but was forced to linger and skulk off to the side, right around the isle where they keep the cough syrup because there were two blonde, fit-looking women in their thirties wearing tennis outfits, standing right in front of the contraceptives display. I know they were named "Taylor" and "Carson" because they greeted one another by saying "oh hi, Carson!" and "oh hi, Taylor!"  Oh, but I just knew there would be some kind of trouble if I were to have to approach and politely ask them to step aside so I could continue with my somewhat blush-worthy purchase. 

But they stood there gabbing for what felt like hours, until finally, I got impatient. I boldly stepped forward, politely asked them to move just ever so slightly to one side, and I picked up the contraceptive product I had been shopping for... with a feigned sense purpose and unconvincing confidence. 

But you know the whole time, I just knew something like this would happen. The one named "Taylor" had to turn to me and ask "so..... who's the lucky girl?" Carson gasped, looked at Taylor and then burst into hysterics. Taylor lifted her hand in front of her mouth and joined in the mirth.

Even I have a sense of humor, so I replied "oh, well, I guess technically... you should be asking 'who is the lucky sheep?'"

Both of their facial expressions evaporated into blank stares. Time seemed to stand still for a minute, before they simultaneously let out a shriek. "EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

You see, I have just never fit in with these people. I don't even try anymore. It's like spelling or telling my right hand from my left. Can't do it. So, it's better for everyone to keep me well away from the golf courses and country clubs frequented by the likes of Gordon Gekko, and the Taylors and Carsons of the world. And I am more thankful than ever to have found a way to slip out the rear exit, unnoticed.

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