Risk Is Not a Four-Letter Word

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- First, let me say I'm thrilled to be back at TheStreet ( TST) . After a way-too-long absence, I look forward to getting back to actively writing, in my own space, in 140 characters or more.

I originally joined Jim Cramer's bold adventure in 1998, when online journalism for an old print guy like me was considered a new, risky frontier.

That was when TheStreet was the edgiest place in town, but before everybody and their mother was wired. To quote Josh Brown, in retrospect, TheStreet had become the Motown of the Financial Web and Cramer was Berry Gordy.

TheStreet became a breeding ground for a "Who's Who" of the next wave of financial journalism and the first wave of online financial punditry. Real Money was investing blogs before there were investing blogs and Real Money's Columnist Conversation was Twitter before Twitter. "We didn't know what we had," is the way superstar venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who had originally bank-rolled TheStreet when he was a nobody, put it earlier this year.

In the 15 years since, TheStreet has evolved into a hybrid of research and reporting, online journalism has become mainstream and anybody with a keyboard has a shot at becoming an overnight blogging or social media sensation.

And the markets? They simply ain't what they used to be.

But one thing that hasn't changed, even though sometimes it feels like it has: The importance of the concept of risk. In a world predisposed to focusing on what can go right, I've spent much of my career trying to figure out what can go wrong. It's in my DNA, to the point that I always hesitate and wonder how cold the water is before diving in it.

It's the same for the smartest investors, even today -- when old-fashioned stock-picking for the sake of investing, not a quick trade, can seem like driving a car with a carburetor rather than a fuel-injected twin-turbo.

And rather than attack anyone who dares to fly red flags over the stocks they own, these same smart investors usually want to know why.

Not long ago, The Wall Street Journal's Jason Zweig wrote a terrific piece headlined, "Lesson from Buffett: Doubt Yourself."

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