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Forbes® Best Business Mistakes: How Today's Top Business Leaders Turned Missteps into Success by Bob Sellers

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Chapter 5. WILLIAM O'NEIL

Founder of Investor's Business Daily (IBD)

Inventor of CAN SLIM stock investing strategy

Youngest person (at the time) to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

UCLA's legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to start the first practice of the season instructing his players on how to put on their shoes and socks.

William O'Neil, the famed investor and founder of Investor's Business Daily, loves that kind of focus. "He was trying to eliminate every possible controllable item that could beat them."

It wasn't just the practical guidance so that players could avoid blisters or a shoe coming untied and forcing the player out of the game. O'Neil saw it as a lesson for anybody trying to succeed. "Wooden said the difference between a champion and almost a champion was paying attention to every little detail."

Detail. While nobody can match Wooden's record as a college basketball coach, neither can many businesspeople match William O'Neil's investing career for creativity, performance, and impact.

Or his own attention to detail.

When he was a kid growing up in Texas, he used to go down to South Padre Island—even then an entrepreneur at heart—and sell sandwiches. He recalls, "I learned that sandwiches got soggy near seawater."

Detail. It's why his company, William O'Neil + Company, has amassed an enormous database of information on stocks going back to the 1880s. "We've learned that there's really not that much that has changed. The chart patterns in 1910, 1930, ...

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