Meet Stock Ultraman!

Life is funny. Michael Valentine Smith, Robert Heinlein's most famous character, said in the novel "Stranger in a Strange Land": "I had thought - I had been told - that a 'funny' thing is a thing of a goodness. It isn't. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to...the goodness is in the laughing itself."

John Pierce would laugh at that.


Pierce is better known these days Stock Ultraman at The Penny Stock Zamboni, a site which educates investors about the risks and rewards of penny stocks.

Why am I writing about a guy who dabbles in penny stocks?

Stop trading for a minute and read.

Pierce and I have never met, but I have known him for many years.

A long time ago he sent me an email out of the blue. He had started watching CNBC. A lot. I get emails from viewers all the time. I respond to most of them and move on. Pierce, however, wrote back, and he eventually got my attention with his story.

He was a CPA by trade who worked for a variety of small companies. But John Pierce learned in September 2000 that he has ALS, a debilitating condition which will eventually shut down his body and kill him. "I already knew the day would come that I would die, so did that give me cause to withdraw and hide in a corner? No, not really. God had other plans for me."

Pierce decided to keep his mind busy as his body became less so.

"I was always interested in business," he told me via email, writing me using a special device that allows him to select letters or phrases using his eyes.

Over the years, he's shared stories with me about his children, the stock market, faith. Once he sent me a DVD of a community presentation he made—from a bed—about living with ALS. I wouldn't hear from him for long stretches, only to learn later that he'd been sick. Still, even during the down times, even as John Pierce and his wife battled their insurance company, he always tried to connect with others and learn new things (he got bored with the markets for a while and went through a recipe collecting stage).

Last week John Pierce marked ten years with ALS, an anniversary he never expected to see. "To begin my second decade, I'd thought I'd start off by giving something back."

That "something" is an investment club he's formed focusing on penny stocks. He has spent the last year immersing himself into learning about this risky corner of the markets. "I hope to do two things: Make our members some money and teach our members about the market so that they can do the same."

During his research he found kindred spirits online, and a group of them formed Virmmac, a website focused on connecting very small businesses with potential investors. Pierce is a contributor, "but he's much more than that to us," says fellow contributor Terri Frey. "John loves penny stocks, he loves doing due diligence on them. Most of us feel this area needs financial reform. Leave Wall Street alone, look at Back Street." Frey says Virmmac created The Penny Stock Zamboni website just for Pierce, aka Stock Ultraman, where he can chat with other potential investors and help them keep their "eyes wide open" when it comes to investing.

"It's nice to be busy again," Pierce tells me.

He isn't sure he's going to make money for himself or others in the investment club—but this isn't a story about making money in penny stock investment clubs, ok?

This is about a guy who wants to stay involved.

"In my opinion, a lot went wrong with America when our people started asking, 'What's in it for me?'" Pierce writes. Rather than wondering who can help him, Pierce hopes to spend his remaining time helping others.

"When you contribute and actively try to help in family matters, and in the lives of others, you get something back. It's called LOVE, and love helps to cure many things, regardless of what medical professionals say."

Love and life are funny like that.

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