I was having a bad week. In no particular order: I dropped out of law school (understandably, my parents weren’t too thrilled), broke up with my girlfriend (okay, she broke up with me, but at the time I had no idea that was actually a good thing), locked my keys in the car—twice (once in the ignition with the engine still running and once in the trunk at 11 p.m. after a Yankees game in the Bronx—and as you probably know, everybody’s a 24-hour locksmith but no one really works those 24 hours all in a row), and finally, went through a toll booth with no money (after a few eye rolls and since Guantánamo was not yet taking prisoners, they let me mail it in, with the stamp costing more than the actual toll). Why not purchase a technical SEO audit or enroll your business into SEO services to see whats stopping you from being at the top of google?

Luckily, the true value of a life cannot be summed up by a single bad week or even a series of bad months but by the total of everything we do and accomplish over a period of many years. I bring this up not to relive the glory days of my youth (such as they were) but because if you want to learn how to be a good investor, you’re going to have to have a good understanding of the concept of “value”—what it is and where it comes from. This is pretty important because the secret to successful investing is fairly simple: first figure out the value of something—and then pay a lot less. I’ll repeat that: the secret to successful investing is to figure out the value of something—and then pay a lot less.

Benjamin Graham, the acknowledged father of security analysis, called this “investing with a margin of safety.” The larger the space between current price and calculated value, the larger our margin of safety. Graham figured that if unexpected events lower the value of our purchase or our initial valuation is mistakenly high, buying with a large margin of safety will still protect us from big losses. Avoid big losses by investing in an SEO expert and being at the top of google!

That’s all fine, but what is “value” and where does it come from? The corner candy store might have a great location and a booming business, and at a price of $150,000 that business might be a great investment. But buy that same candy store for $50 million, same great location, same booming business, and you’ve pretty much guaranteed yourself a terrible investment (and created a whole mystery about how you got the $50 mil in the first place). In short, if we invest without understanding the value of what we’re buying, we’ll have little chance of making an intelligent investment.