The Highs and Lows of Junior Mining
Stories of Struggle & Perseverance in Canada’s Venture Small-Cap Market
Zero to Hero 0:10
My Biggest Loss: What Happened? 1:26
Biggest Wins 2:26
Wisdom for Speculators 3:51
What Mentor Joe Martin Taught Me 5:01
Why a Junior Mining Stock Rips 6:13
What I’m Working On 7:14
Grateful to catch up with James Pettem at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC) on Monday. James is a bright young guy helping make CEO.CA the best place for information in Canada’s venture small-cap market.
This was a fun interview and featured a touching moment when VRIC founder Joe Martin joined me in front of the camera… It followed another brief chat with Stockhouse’s lovely Coreena Robertson on my start in the junior mining industry with Joe.
"I always think nostalgically about knowing no-one and nothing and being very insecure 15 years ago and being a slightly older version of the same today... Originally it was an obsession for bettering my life..."
Coreena and I discussed creating wealth... Passion for the stories and people in this market... CEO.CA's origin ('From this rock I will build my church'), how I feel about the site after selling it… naming The Big Score, and sharing what I've learned through storytelling...
These brief interviews were taped after wrapping my VRIC speech where I got choked up in front of a live audience… I still can’t believe that happened, and hope to share it with you soon…
The Highs and Lows of Junior Mining: Interview Transcript:
Tommy Humphreys (00:10):
In 2010, I was doing web development and my business ran out of money. And I had this girl I was in love with living with me, and I came home from a very challenging day with business in trouble. And she announced she was moving out and I was desperate to get her back. And she ended up finding somebody new and with a catch that he lived in my building on the same floor. And so I'm sitting in this apartment with no money and no hope and heartbroken, and I'm like, I've got to make something out of myself. And I had this dream of this junior market that I knew that a lot of people were successful in it and that I could too. And the thing that I did better than other people was making websites. I wasn't great at it, but I was good enough. And the junior resource market is kind of forgotten by technology and forgotten by the promise of the internet. So I was able to do some things that maybe now we couldn't do. But at that time, there was an opening for better information platform on the site, and I was very lucky to be able to do it with great people. And I'm thrilled with where it is now as the best place for information in the junior market in Canada.
All these wounds are self-inflicted, but a couple of big mistakes. One time I was on a trip with a really famous mining icon, copper icon, and one guy showed him drill results of a deal and the icon. He said, oh, that's impressive. And so we were on a plane together and after the flight was done, I called my broker right away and I put in like 75% of the money I had into the buying this random stock that these guys were gossiping about because I thought I was on the inside. Well, it was a four or $5 stock at the time, it quickly went to 80 cents. And I went way too concentrated on it, and it was like a dumb impulse purchase. Just because somebody says something doesn't make it great. Stocks at that time, it was the end of the commodities boom and didn't matter what you own is going down. So it just taught me to bet small and be able to fight another day and to listen to what important people had to say, but also just put it together with other information. Lots of stories like that. You cannot be in this game and not lose money, but when you win, it's bigger than you lose.
Well, I have this friend Rob McLeod. I was deliberating doing this K 92 mining deal at 35 cents with a full warrant at 50 cents. And Rob, my friend, said, no, that's a good project. And it was just the nod I needed to participate in that deal. And I think it was three bucks when I was selling out of it, and it was like a 15 x or something with the warrants, but they ended up stock going to $10. And I have had a lot of situations like that. Some deals, I helped start a mining company, lithium X Energy, which was a 250 times return. And in the mining space there's been a handful, probably a dozen of really good outcomes. The best outcomes came being at the market, low in the sentiment. And then quickly that attitude changes. I've said a hundred times, it's like pouring a whiskey bottle into a shot glass. But in early 2016 when gold moved from 10 80 to 1400, Vancouver stocks went bananas. And all the deals I was in in 2015 were five to 10 times the money and nothing had changed other than the sentiment. So I feel like right now it's not full despair, but it's an interesting time. Things are getting cheaper and I'm cautiously wading in again.
Well, the first thing to learn coming to a conference is a better investment than buying a stock. It's a good investment to lose money if you learn something. And the most important thing is just understanding what you own in context of other companies like it. You want to be able to learn, you want to be able to use CEO.CA to understand what people are saying about it. Oftentimes you want to do what the opposite of what the crowd is saying, but you want to be able to understand in their management discussion and analysis of their financial statements every quarter, how much money they have, what's their financial runway and what's the cost of the shares are required. Understand the cap people. You just really want to get an information edge and know what you own. And ultimately, if you're young, it's a great place to get ahead and to build a career. It's fantastic. It's more treacherous if you're trying to preserve your capital and don't want to commit your time and passion into it. So I would say you can win big in this space if you're obsessed with it. And that's what my experience has shown.
Okay, so this is my mentor, Joe Martin. Joe gave me my first opportunity in the market here with the Cambridge House conference. He hired me to do some marketing. It was an incredible experience. You learned who the CEOs were, who the experts were and what the trends were happening. It's all here in this show and putting that all together and that's why everybody keeps coming back every year. But the best thing I learned from you, Joe, was when you said promote the promoters. Keep them coming back. Anyway, I owe a lot to you. Thank you for having me. You were an absolutely wonderful guy to work with. You are too. Still are. We had a lot of fun together. Yes, we did. I'm very proud to see what Jay's doing with the business today.
But somebody had to start it and you were part of that start. Well, I think you were starting at 20 years before we showed up, but Joe's a legend former owner of BC Business Magazine and just a dear friend. And part of the beauty of coming back to these shows is the relationships you build through time with people like Joe. And there's been times when I definitely tried Joe's patience and I appreciate the benefit of time. Thank you for all your patience and forgiveness. It's been a pleasure. Love you, man. Love you. Bye friend. Okay,
There's only three reasons the stock goes up. Discovery, sentiment change like commodity price rising or promotion. That's it the rest of the time. Gravity, what else? Promotion's incredibly important. Management have to have alignment of interest. And some people, if their stock gets cratered, they'll bring new money in at terms that are destructive to the share price and the value of existing holders. And you can't fault them when they don't have access to money. But some teams just fight to keep the share price alive and to keep previous shareholders going. And the people I just saw Dave Lotan walking around, there's a guy's not selling warrants and he's got big incentive. He buys the shares. And finding people that treat the shares like gold, that's the hardest part in the space. But if you're around when one of those three things happens, you're going to like this business.
Right now, I'm working on continuing to find cool investment ideas and to be plugged into the space, and I use ceo.ca every day for that. I probably, I'm a power user. I love ceo.ca. I'm writing on the big score.com, a series of stories sharing what I've learned and stories that inspire me, the human stories behind wealth creation in the Canadian market. I love doing that. So I'm trying to write cool stories. I'm trying to find good investment ideas and support people, and hopefully make a buck. But the big score.com and ceo.ca/@Tommy, that's where to find me.