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Learning From the Legends

You Can Learn A Lot from the Legends

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If you’re serious about investing, chances are you’ve followed a Wall Street whale or two. That’s Street slang for monitoring the buys and sells made by billionaire investors (aka Wall Street Whales) as they disclose quarterly 13F filings.But in addition to tracking stocks or sectors, pro trader Stephen Weiss believes that there’s also something worthwhile to learn from tracking themes and big picture ideas that made these pros, the whales that they are today.For his new book, “The Big Win” Weis
CNBC.com

If you’re serious about investing, chances are you’ve followed a Wall Street whale or two. That’s Street slang for monitoring the buys and sells made by billionaire investors (aka Wall Street Whales) as they disclose quarterly 13F filings.

But in addition to tracking stocks or sectors, pro trader Stephen Weiss believes that there’s also something worthwhile to learn from tracking themes and big picture ideas that made these pros the whales that they are today.

For his new book “The Big Win,” Weiss commenced what would become years of research analyzing the habits of his Wall Street idols, a list of mega-successful investors ranging from famed money manager Jim Rogers to more private pros including Renee Haugerud, Lee Ainslee and more.

”If you want to create wealth, understand how the smartest investors in the world do it,” said CNBC’s Larry Kudlow after reading his book. We read it too.

As a student of the very best investors, Weiss identified nearly 50 takeaways behind their supersized successes. Click ahead to find a handful of those lessons.

By Lee Brodie
Posted 4 June 2012

A. Alfred Taubman

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One of the most successful developers in US history, Alfred Taubman virtually invented a fixture of the suburban landscape, the enclosed shopping mall. During the mid-20th century, when most stores were stand alone, Taubman embraced new ideas about design – ideas that he thought made sense but were, at the time, on the fringe. Most of the malls developed by Taubman featured an upscale, bright white color scheme with contemporary, geometric ceiling designs and skylights. Shoppers flocked to them.
Dimitrios Kambouris | WireImage

One of the most successful real estate developers in U.S. history, Alfred Taubman virtually invented a fixture of the suburban landscape, the enclosed shopping mall. During the mid-20th century, when most stores were stand-alone, Taubman embraced new ideas about design — ideas that he thought made sense but were, at the time, on the fringe. Most of the malls developed by Taubman featured a bright white color scheme with contemporary, geometric ceiling designs and skylights. Shoppers flocked to them. Today Taubman trades on the NYSE, has a market cap around $4.5 billion.

What’s the lesson? Click ahead for the takeaway.

A. Alfred Taubman

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Lesson: Embrace unconventional research, even if it seems far-fetched at firstTaubman might never have become as massively successful as he is today had he not entertained the idea of building shopping malls instead of shopping centers. Only by giving attention to unconventional analysis and ‘out of the box’ ideas did he achieve his success.Although you may not be able to operate on the same scale as Taubman, the takeaway is the same. Don’t dismiss unconventional research until you’ve examined i
Ryan McVay | Stone | Getty Images

Lesson: Embrace unconventional research, even if it seems far-fetched at first

Taubman might never have become as massively successful as he is today had he not entertained the idea of building shopping malls instead of shopping centers. Only by giving attention to unconventional analysis and out of the box ideas did he achieve his success.
Although you may not be able to operate on the same scale as Taubman, the takeaway is the same. Don’t dismiss unconventional research until you’ve examined it thoroughly. Occasionally, what appears to be far-fetched at first may in fact be the genesis of a new way of thinking.

James Beeland Rogers, Jr.

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Among the more familiar names on this list, Jim Rogers shot to fame in 1973 as co-founder of the Quantum Fund with George Soros. During the following 10 years, the portfolio gained 4200%. If there was one word to best describe his formula for success it would be explore. Rogers is something of a modern day Magellan, travelling the world on motor cycle for two years in the 90’s and then again in a custom Mercedes from 1999-2002. After visiting more than 100 countries, he sold his NYC home in 2007
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Among the more familiar names on this list, Jim Rogers shot to fame in 1973 as co-founder, along with George Soros, of the Quantum Fund. During the following 10 years, the portfolio gained 4,200%. If there is one word to describe his formula for success it would be explore. Rogers is something of a modern-day Magellan, travelling the world on a motorcycle for two years in the 90s and then again in a custom Mercedes from 1999-2002. After visiting more than 100 countries, he sold his NYC home in 2007 and moved to Asia, convinced that the 21st century belonged to China.

What’s the lesson? Click ahead for the takeaway.

James Beeland Rogers, Jr.

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Lesson: Explore, examine and experience. Seeing is believing.Jim Rogers moved to Asia because he saw, with his own eyes, signs that Asia was experiencing a financial revolution similar to what the US experienced at the turn of the 20th century. But you don’t have to move to Asia to learn from this legend. The takeaway is the same anywhere on the planet. See for yourself. For an individual investor, who may be putting money into a company long-term, that means looking at more than financial metri
Andy Andrews | Stone | Getty Images

Lesson: Explore, examine and experience. Seeing is believing.

Jim Rogers moved to Asia because he saw, with his own eyes, signs that Asia was experiencing a financial revolution similar to what the U.S. experienced at the turn of the 20th century. But you don’t have to move to Asia to learn from this legend. The takeaway is the same anywhere on the planet. See for yourself. For an individual investor who may be putting money into a company long-term, that means looking at more than financial metrics. Buy the company’s goods or experience its services. Shop in its stores. Talk to employees. A company that looks great on paper may be far from it in reality.

Lee Ainslie

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A rock star in the hedge fund community, Lee Ainslie is the founder of Maverick Capital, and has more than $11 billion under management. As an investor who mostly trades equities, Ainslee believes generating returns and preserving capital is a dynamic process not a passive one. That axiom of investing was perhaps best displayed in 2003 when Maverick established a sizable position in Cognizant at slightly less than $5 share. Not until July 2007, did Ainslee sell the position. In other words, duri
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A rock star in the hedge fund community, Lee Ainslie is the founder of Maverick Capital, and has more than $11 billion under management. As an investor who mostly trades equities, Ainslee believes generating returns and preserving capital is a dynamic process, not a passive one. That axiom of investing was perhaps best displayed in 2003 when Maverick established a sizable position in Cognizant at slightly less than $5 share. Ainslee did not sell the position until July 2007. In other words, during the entire four-year period he always felt the capital was best deployed in Cognizant. When Maverick finally sold its stake, it realized an eight-fold return worth several hundred million dollars in profit.

What’s the lesson? Click ahead for the takeaway.

Lee Ainslie

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Lesson: Visit your Investments every day as if it were the first day.Ainslee thrived because he visited his investments ideas every day and asked himself if they still held true. Unless the answer was a resounding yes, he made adjustments. It may be on a smaller scale but you can do the same. After you’ve established positions, don’t let your portfolio collect dust. Visit your investments all the time to determine if your buying thesis remains intact. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost money or ma
Steve Cole | the Agency Collection | Getty Images

Lesson: Visit your investments every day as if it were the first day.

Ainslee thrived because he visited his investments ideas every day and asked himself if they still held true. Unless the answer was a resounding yes, he made adjustments. You can do the same, even on a smaller scale. After you’ve established positions, don’t let your portfolio collect dust. Visit your investments regularly to determine if your buying thesis remains intact. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost money or made money. Ask yourself, if you could do it all over again, would you deploy capital in the same way?

Renee Haugerud

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As a graduate of the University of Montana at Missoula with a major in forestry, Renne Haugerud harnessed her passion for the earth to become a top commodity trader at Cargill. As the daughter of the American Midwest, her keen understanding of crops such as corn, wheat and other grains gave Haugerud an uncanny ability to gauge commodity cycles better than most. Today, Rennee Haugerud runs Galtere Ltd., a New York based hedge fund with a billion dollars in assets under management.What’s the lesso
Jerritt Clark | WireImage | Getty Images

As a graduate of the University of Montana at Missoula with a major in forestry, Renne Haugerud harnessed her passion for the earth to become a top commodity trader at Cargill. As a daughter of the American Midwest, her keen understanding of crops such as corn, wheat and other grains gave Haugerud an uncanny ability to gauge commodity cycles better than most. Today, Rennee Haugerud runs Galtere Ltd., a New York-based hedge fund with a billion dollars in assets under management.

What’s the lesson? Click ahead for the takeaway.

Renee Haugerud

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Lesson: Buy what you know.Renne Haugerud succeeded because she harnessed an area of the market that she came to understand better than most. Anyone can learn how to trade commodities but she understood them as only a farmer’s daughter ever could. Chances are you’re just like Haugerud. That is, you’re already a home-grown expert in something. Harness that advantage. If you have a passion for cars, allocate a portion of your portfolio to auto stocks or if you’re a clothes horse, look at retailers.
Floresco Productions | OJO Images | Getty Images

Lesson: Buy what you know.

Renne Haugerud succeeded because she harnessed an area of the market that she came to understand better than most. Anyone can learn how to trade commodities, but she understood them as only a farmer’s daughter could. Chances are you’re just like Haugerud. That is, you’re already a home-grown expert in something. Use that advantage. If you have a passion for cars, allocate a portion of your portfolio to auto stocks; if you’re a clothes horse, look at retailers. You’ll be much more engaged in an area that you already find intriguing, and your instincts will be surprisingly strong.

R. Donahue Peebles

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A developer who made his fortune reinvigorating parts of Miami and Washington DC, Peebles set out to be a millionaire by age 30 and achieved his goal with time to spare. Politically-minded from boyhood, at 16, Peebles became a Congressional page, then intern and later staff aid. During that time in U.S. Capitol, he learned just how important personal relationships were in deal making. And when he began selling real estate in 1979, Peebles transferred what he learned from Congress to his own busi
Johnny Nunez | WireImage | Getty Images

A developer who made his fortune reinvigorating parts of Miami and Washington D.C., Peebles set out to be a millionaire by age 30 and achieved his goal with time to spare. Politically-minded from boyhood, at 16, Peebles became a Congressional page, then intern and later staff aid. During that time in the U.S. Capitol, he learned just how important personal relationships were in deal making. And when he began selling real estate in 1979, Peebles transferred what he learned from Congress to his own business.

What’s the lesson? Click ahead for the takeaway.

R. Donahue Peebles

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Lesson: Keep the humanity in investing.Peebles achieved success because he understood that as important as numbers, contracts and metrics may be, every transaction begins with people; living, breathing individuals who have thoughts and feelings. The takeaway here is simple. In an age of e-mails, Internet research and computer trading, it’s easy to avoid personal interactions. But sometimes a good old fashioned conversation can be more valuable than all those other methods combined. Not only does
Photo: Cultura | Hybrid Images | Getty Images

Lesson: Keep the humanity in investing.

Peebles achieved success because he understood that as important as numbers, contracts and metrics may be, every transaction begins with people. The takeaway here is simple. In an age of e-mails, Internet research and computer trading, it’s easy to avoid personal interactions. But sometimes a good, old-fashioned conversation can be more valuable than all those other methods combined. Not only does interpersonal communication allow you to build a network of contacts, but the tone of a conversation can and should inform your decisions.

Learning from the Legends

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You can find in-depth analysis about the investors mentioned here as well as more detailed information about the takeaways in Stephen Weiss’ new book, “The Big Win: Learning from the Legends to Become a More Successful Investor.” Weiss is a CNBC Contributor who regularly appears on as well as managing partner at Short Hills Capital.

You can find in-depth analysis about the investors mentioned here as well as more detailed information about the takeaways in Stephen Weiss’ new book, “The Big Win: Learning from the Legends to Become a More Successful Investor.”

Weiss is a CNBC contributor who regularly appears on Fast Money, as well as managing partner at Short Hills Capital.

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