THE SHEER-LUCK MILLIONAIRE
Marcus Fuller didn’t grow up poor. He was a middle-class kid in Kansas City whose father was a dentist and whose mother taught school. But he never imagined he’d be one of the 100 richest people in the United States. And he certainly didn’t know that it would be as a result of investing.
“My grandfather was a bit of a player in the stock market,” Fuller said. “He was mostly a farm-equipment salesman, but when he got a little money, he would buy shares of this company or that one.”
Year after year, Grandpa Fuller would pick new companies, often after careful study. But few if any panned out. “Most of his investments were failures,” Fuller said. “He did lots of research and never made a dime. It was a kind of tragedy”
That’s why when Fuller got a little money of his own — and the itch to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps — he was careful not to learn anything about any of the companies, or the industries that contained them. “I didn’t know where companies were located, or what kind of year they were coming off of, or whether they had just released a popular product. I bought based on whether a company’s name made me laugh, or whether it had any letters in common with my mother’s name, or whether I saw its stock symbol in the license plate of a car on the road.”
HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT
Almost from the first, it started paying off. Fuller’s easiest investment, $3000 dollars in a medical-supply company, was worth $60,000 within a year. “It was medical supplies?” Fuller said. “I didn’t even know that. Weird.”
Within three years, he had made several other small investments, and all yielded profits, some of them tremendously. His three thousand dollars, increased by multiplication at first, was then increased by exponent. Before he was thirty, he was a millionaire. And before he was forty, he was within spitting distance of a billion.
All along the way, he never changed his methods. “If anything, they got stupider,” Fuller said. “I would start writing down the first letters of the lyrics of a song, you know? Like for ‘Yellow Submarine’ it would be ITTWIWB, for ‘In the town where I was born.’ Then I would blindly circle a part of the string of letters and then I would invest in a company with those letters in the stock symbol.”
Fuller didn’t run his decisions by his investment adviser, because he never had one. “No one will work with me,” he said. “One guy tried but he quit after a week. He said I was giving him a heart attack. I thought it was a figure of speech, but then I watched him when he was watching me invest, and I think he was serious.”
Over the years, Fuller estimates that he has invested in more than 400 companies, and more than 99 percent of his investments have yielded at least a three-to-one return. “Every once in a while I try to be an expert,” he said. “I had a friend who was an expert at building materials, and he got me interested in graphene. So thin, so strong. I went out and found a company that had invented an improved process and put $10 million into it. Peanuts for me. I lost every cent.”
While Fuller’s massive wealth may be the result of pure randomness, he has not been able to apply the same method to other areas of his life. “I tried to date the same way,” he said. “You know — just opening up the phone book and calling a number. That didn’t work at all. I kept dialing married people or old people or supermarkets. And it was a bad strategy for deciding where to live.”
He had to go back to old-fashioned methods for those decisions, which is how he met his wife, Erin, and settled in the Twin Cities, where he lives in a $12 million mansion in the Deephaven area.
He and Erin have three children: an eight-year-old daughter, a five-year-old daughter, and an infant son. “I’ve started to let my son pick stocks,” he said. “He’s only nine months old, which is perfect. I build a pyramid of these soft alphabet blocks, and he crawls into it and knocks it over. Whatever letters end up face up, I go straight for those stock symbols He made $12 million last week.”