Do you know what style of investor you are? If not, try playing fantasy baseball.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people drop by websites run by Yahoo!, CBS SportsLine, and others, pretending to be general managers. They draft teams, make trades, cut players, and sign new ones. How a team performs in various statistical categories - home runs, stolen basses, strikeouts, etc. - is then compared with other fantasy teams. Just like a company, if the team performs well, it rises in the standings. If it fails, it drops like a sinker ball.
While managing a fantasy team this year, I learned that I am a "value" manager. I pick up struggling players, expecting that they will improve as the season progresses. Some players I've pulled from the scrap heap: Cincinnati's versatile infielder Aaron Boone, and last year's American League Most Valuable Player, Miguel Tejada. In real life, these players have started slowly, but are playing better lately. Other fantasy managers, who act like day traders, had cut them.
What I call "growth" managers are those who take big name players - Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Randy Johnson - expecting them to play well despite the fact that they are in the later stages of their careers. Bonds and Sosa are going great, but Johnson has been hampered by injuries.
Perhaps if I spent less time ogling baseball statistics and more energy looking at balance sheets and other financial data, I might find the few valuable companies in today's dreary economy.
Parallels like these exist in other areas. For example, management strategies can be used to run a home and organize your personal life, as Stacy Teicher found while reporting our cover story.