We all tend to worship the most successful individuals in our respective professions, no matter what it is we do.
It goes for doctors, lawyers, athletes, engineers… Just about any field of endeavor we approach with passion has within it certain standouts that the rest of us, by default, respect implicitly.
When it comes to investing, it’s no different.
As an investor, I’m conditioned to follow the careers and life stories of successful venture capitalists like Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman, or hedge funder Steve Cohen, or the greatest of the great, the richest investor on the planet, Warren Buffett.
However, within this field of billionaires and jet setters, there are outliers that have most of us scratching our heads.
I’m not talking about self-made guys who finished college with English degrees or one-time doctors who decided medicine wasn’t right for them.
I’m talking about truly bizarre stories of chance encounters and moon-shot decisions that turned the unlikeliest of characters into professional investors, simply by virtue of wealth made.
From a Box to Silicon Valley
Perhaps the most bizarre of them all is the story of a man named David Choe.
You can go ahead and Google his name to confirm that everything I’m saying is true. God knows I still do sometimes, just to make sure the whole saga wasn’t just some fairy tale concocted in my brain during REM sleep.
David Choe spent a good deal of his life living in a box. He didn’t live in a box because of poverty, per se, but more so because on some days, he simply didn’t care enough to arrange for sleeping quarters.
He wasn’t jobless. But, at the same time, he wasn’t exactly employed.
His profession was graphic art — which sometimes included graffiti, and not always the kind that he was paid, asked, or even authorized to execute.
To make money, he periodically made contributions to comic-styled publications, though some of them were more of the adult variety than the mainstream Spiderman- and Incredible Hulk-type works most of us are familiar with.
David was, by most people’s standards, a deviant. He led a strange life, which almost certainly included involvement with various chemical substances — because, let’s face it, what else would put one in a mindset where voluntarily sleeping on the street was acceptable?
Given this background, some of you might be disgusted, but I bet at least some of you are fascinated enough to want to see a picture of David.
Here he is, pictured on the left:
You might notice that the guy on the right looks familiar.
And it’s this relationship that gave David an advantage that made the rest of his life story possible.
You see, when he wasn’t drawing naked comic book characters or vandalizing buildings, David occasionally did commissioned artwork for businesses.
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A Chance Encounter
One business in particular, whose first Palo Alto office he was commissioned to paint, was none other than Facebook.
David was friends with Mark Zuckerberg, which gave him that priceless luck he needed to land the job.
But he was also a risk-taker, and when he was offered $60,000 to do the work, he decided he’d just take shares of the company instead.
Living in a box, after all, relieved a lot of pressure to pay rent.
$60,000 in cash is nothing to sneeze at, but $60,000 in Facebook shares, eight years prior to its IPO, was a different matter altogether.
The company would end up growing more than 1,000-fold before David’s shares became tradable — which probably didn’t bother the artist all that much.
When the stock finally went public in 2012, it bothered him even less.
On that day, David’s shares were worth more than $200 million.
If he’d held his shares until today, that sum total would be north of $600 million — or about $10,000 for every dollar he was initially to collect for his artwork.
Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
Lifestyle and wardrobe choices aside, this story captures the very essence of venture-level investing.
Couple insensitivity to risk and rational decision-making with cool-headed patience and some seed capital, and the result is enough money to propel an individual deep into the ranks of the richest point-one percent in the world.
Of course, David’s luck played a key role. His relationship with the founder of Facebook was what gave him an in and opened the door that most people would never have access to.
Sadly, that is the main difference between normal, hard-working individuals who still put in their 40, 50, 60 hours a week, and those who get to do whatever they want, whenever they want, always on their own terms, without ever having to worry about basic necessities.
It’s the opportunities that you never hear about and the people you never meet that cause the biggest life-changing moments to pass by most.
The saddest part of it all is that most people don’t just miss the opportunities; they believe those opportunities are forever out of their reach.
That last part is simply untrue.
Life-changing investing actually is available to most anybody willing to look hard enough. It’s there for you right now if you choose to seize it.
The only question is, are you willing to take the steps?
David Choe’s story is certainly unusual. It’s downright bizarre, as I mentioned… But it’s not completely unique.
There are many low-key individuals walking the streets today that have similar stories, and the path they took to get there is always similar.
I’ve made it my job to seek out these stories and to allow people just like you to reproduce them in their own right.
Fortune favors the bold,
His flagship service, Microcap Insider, provides market-beating insights into some of the fastest moving, highest profit-potential companies available for public trading on the U.S. and Canadian exchanges. With more than 5 years of track record to back it up, Microcap Insider is the choice for the growth-minded investor. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Energy and Capital. To learn more about Alex, click here.