A Visit with Gen X Tech Maven Stephanie White on Life, Investing and More

The real reason that physicians are rotten investors is that it never occurs to them that finance is a science, just like medicine. — William Bernstein

A couple weeks ago I met someone on an investment forum who has had a most interesting career. Very early in life she acquired a passion for technology and later became a syndicated columnist as The Digital Diva*. Among other things, she currently assists participants at an online investment forum called Data Driven Investor (DDI) on the Seeking Alpha platform.

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EN: Can you briefly outline your career from college to the present?

Stephanie White: I was just a kid, my parents were hams as a hobby, they would go have field tests, etc. (Ham radio, or Amateur Radio, brought communications, technology and people together.) I learned Morse code by the age of 6. Once I saw Ritty CW, I was fascinated. How can people communicate over THIS, and then turn it into text over a monitor through an antenna?

Perhaps, after seeing that, I was born, so to speak, on what my true passion would become. Later, I went to college, which was before my graduation year. There is a really long story that goes along with that, as I was the only female in a soldering class and I blew everyone away, as I had been taught by my father when I was young.

After that, I got a job. That job propelled me into the monster I am. What happened to me later in the next few years were companies trying to steal not only me, but all of us with any experience. It was the tech boom. At age 24 I made more money than my mother ever did in her life, and she was a star in her own right. She is an ace at sales. My mother is another story.

EN: You say that you were a syndicated columnist at some point. For how long and how did you come to take an interest in writing?

SW: One of my clients happened to be a newspaper. There were actually 2, and they merged. One afternoon I brought up the idea to one of the owners. It worked. I was just there repairing a database issue, if I recall. This idea perked the owner up, and then led to me selling blocks of my column to contacts in the industry. You probably know a little something about that, Ed. I cannot say how long the column was written or sold at this time, I apologize. My photo was on it. People were saving paper copies… many got lost after the flood. I never saved a paper copy.

EN: What were you writing about? Was this during the tech boom and post bubble collapse?

SW: No, after. I was writing a technical column. I also had to make the column entertaining at the same time. If I got too technical, my editor’s eyes would glaze over… You never want people’s eyes glazing over, Ed. I would answer people’s questions, from what to do about viruses to how to…. X… I answered them all. For example, a great question was always “My son was on my computer, and now I have all of this malware, help!”.

EN: Managing money is not something we learn about in K-12 unless our parents teach us. How did you come to learn about investing and handling financial assets?

SW: The hard truth is, you have to learn on your own. Most parents were never taught to teach their children. Schools? Does the teacher know how to invest?

EN: Right.

SW: I’m GenX. I know not one that was taught. I did my research. The boomers weren’t either. It’s sad, really. I often believe that it’s due to the fact that the amount of money one had is such a private thing.

EN: For those who do not know what Seeking Alpha is (most of my readers) what is SA and how long have you been involved with. this platform?

SW: Seeking Alpha is a bit of a crowd sourcing area where a lot of authors can share articles as well, and as a marketplace for selling (investment) services. I learn more from comments. 🙂

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EN: What is the Data Driven Investor and what prompted you to become involved here as opposed to other investment groups?

SW: I was doing research, and I am tenacious. I happened upon an article Andres** had written. There was no advertising at the time, I just knew I belonged. Andres may not be for everyone, but I knew he was for me.

EN: That is how I feel. I like his efforts to eliminate all the emotional aspects of investing out of the equation.

SW: A stock should never be personal. (unless it’s Apple, haha!)

EN: Can you briefly talk about the way that greed and fear drive the way a lot of people approach investing?

SW: People sell on fear, smart people buy on their fear.

EN: Would intuition be a better word than emotion?

SW: Intuition and gut, always listen to that. Also never look back at a stock you sold. Pointless to look and see what you may have lost. I know I may sound like a hypocrite. DDI buys and sells the same stocks. I believe it is not a great practice to check in between and worry over what you may have missed out on.

EN: What are the biggest mistakes you see people make when it comes to investing?

SW: Selling on fear. Many people go sell when the market is down. They run in fear while the people that expect this to happen have cash waiting to grab up stocks for sale. The greatest portfolios are those that can’t be touched, by the way.

* White, who has stopped writing her column, is not to be confused with The Digital Diva who is on the radio.

* * Andrés Cardenal , CFA. Economist, financial analyst, columnist. Naturally flavored. Founder DDI.

Originally published at

The Data Driven Investor may be found on Seeking Alpha in the Marketplace, or by using the following link;

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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