This week I met, for the first time, someone who was personally financially taken out by the fall of Enron. He was all set to retire in his 50s because his “advisor” had him invested in an ultra high risk portfolio – Enron stock. He didn’t pay much attention to it until he got the call that it was all gone. All of it. This wasn’t a normal market cycle; the company went down and its stock went to zero.

He’s a resilient guy and he bounced back – working for several years as a highly paid ice road truck driver. At 65 he is now retired, but those years of driving affected his health. I was honored to meet him and I appreciated his tenacity & work ethic. He now shuns anything to do with the stock market. Everything he has is in a credit union – which is a mistake, but I can understand why he feels that way.

I wasn’t about to Monday-morning quarterback the last 16 years of his financial life, but his problem wasn’t the stock market as a whole. It was that he put all his money into a single stock instead of a series of mutual funds. There’s far too much risk tied to a single company. One bad corporate decision, one change in government tide, one bad sector event, and you can be toast. That’s different than “the market crashing”…when that happens, don’t sell your funds. In fact, buy more. And ride the roller coaster back up.

History has shown us that the market as a whole always recovers. But some individual companies do not.