The comedian and actor Kevin Pollak was recently on The Moment podcast with Brian Koppelman. Besides revealing that Pollock has a role in the Season 4 of Billions, Pollak also dropped a great nugget. He said, “Nobody dabbles at dentistry.” The context being stand-up comedians constantly struggling with the perception that what they do: stand on stage and tell jokes and stories is something amateurs are capable of as well.

Seth Godin took this idea and ran with it. He notes how there are a class of jobs that many people think they can do, and they may very well be able to do some part of it. The question Godin asks is what can you do if you are in one of these professions. Godin writes:

If you’re doing one of these non-dentist jobs, the best approach is to be extraordinarily good at it. So much better than an amateur that there’s really no room for discussion. You don’t have to justify yourself. Your work justifies you.

You have to do the work. Anyone who has seen any one of the now numerous backstage documentaries about stand-up comedians recognizes the incredible amount of work that goes into building a six-minute set let alone a sixty-minute special. What does this mean for investors?

Like stand-up comedy, investing on the face of it seems pretty simple. Open a brokerage account and buy some stocks or ETFs. If only it were that simple. However anyone who has spent time as an investor recognizes that while getting started can be a challenge, the tough part is putting together a strategy and sticking with it.

Investing for many is a hobby. A hobby that can pay dividends down the road, if you treat it as an educational opportunity. Investment scammers make their living on individuals who, in part, have a dearth of investing knowledge. It’s okay to dabble in the markets. Call it ‘fun money’ or your ‘investing tuition’ but don’t confuse your investing hobby with a well-thought out, long-term investing plan.

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