Don't Follow the Masses... Follow the Fear

If you were handed $5, would you be able to turn it into $650 in just two hours?

For most folks, the answer is no. They'd call it impossible. But a couple of college students were able to make this a reality...

Back in 2009, Stanford University professor Tina Seelig gave teams of engineering students $5 in what she called "seed funding." The challenge was to turn that $5 into as much money as possible in just two hours.

Students were given a few days to mull the assignment over. The following Monday, they'd have to present how they spent their two hours and how much they earned.

Now, plenty of folks would throw away that $5 on a long-shot sports bet or lottery ticket.

But as I'll explain, it pays to think outside the box. The students who won this challenge didn't think like the crowd. And that's an edge that investors will need in today's market...

Seelig's students were an inventive group.

Some tried to "flip" their $5... buying cheap items at a discount store to resell for a profit.

Other folks focused less on the $5 than on the two hours given to them. They set up a stand in front of the student union and offered to pump up bicycle tires for $1.

This turned out to be lucrative... As bicycles started rolling in, the team began taking donations instead of charging a fixed rate for the services. The students generated several hundred dollars from this in just two hours.

Using a similar "hustler" mentality, another team booked reservations at popular restaurants and sold their reservations to folks standing in line for a table. This also brought in a few hundred dollars.

But none of these teams won.

The winners took a different route. They understood what the others missed... what was really the most valuable asset in the assignment.

It wasn't the $5. It wasn't the two hours. It was the presentation to the class on Monday morning.

The winning team sold their presentation time to a local company that wanted to recruit Stanford students. The company paid the group $650 for a chance to address this room full of talented go-getters.

As the professor recounted, "They recognized that they had a fabulously valuable asset others didn't even notice just waiting to be mined."

To really make it far in life – and especially in the markets – you need to put aside conventional thinking. Outperformance doesn't come from doing what everyone else is doing.

Sometimes, that means you need to think a little harder. In my Retirement Trader service, our ideal trade is to sell options on world-class stocks that the market is afraid of...

We like to buy when fear is rampant – the exact opposite of what the typical investor does.

Right now, though, no one is afraid. They're all certain they know what's coming next.

To see this, we can look at the CBOE Volatility Index ("VIX"). This measure is near its lowest level of fear since before the pandemic. Take a look...

The key is, we don't expect volatility to remain this low for long...

Investors tend to overreact to surprises. That means this new status quo will soon work to our advantage. When volatility rises, we'll be ready.

For example, let's say some new economic data comes out that casts a little doubt on Wall Street's soft-landing expectation... Volatility could rise to 18%. And prices would spike in the options market as investors flood into protective positions.

In the meantime, you don't need to sit on the sidelines and wait for investors to get worried about the entire economy...

Instead, you can find your own fear. Any bad news can set up an overblown reaction for an individual stock. Look for short-term problems that the crowd takes too seriously.

That will lead you to the kinds of unexpected opportunities that typical investors would avoid... with a chance to walk away with big returns.

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig

Editor's note: Doc's Retirement Trader advisory has become the most successful newsletter at our firm – recording a stunning 94% success rate. That's because he has found a way to target the best companies in the market... and walk away with instant payouts of hundreds of dollars at a time. You don't need to be an expert to learn how it works... Watch this demo to learn the details.

Further Reading

Options trading might not be for everyone. But it's a moneymaking strategy that works in any market environment – especially during periods of volatility. Plus, it allows you to profit off investor fear with less risk... Read more here.

Being a contrarian is easier said than done. It's unnerving to see the crowd suddenly turn against you. But with three easy steps, you can protect your portfolio from potential gut reactions – and use this approach to help maximize your returns... Learn more here.