Odgers Berndtson With special thanks to Odgers Berndston, global leaders in executive search, for supporting these interviews.

Meet Brent Cook: seasoned geologist and the mind behind Exploration Insights, one of the most credible and influential gold stock newsletters in the world today. We recently caught up with Brent in Vancouver, and asked him to share some of his experiences in the junior mining sector.

According to Cook, odds of making a discovery are 1:1000 (“those are just statistics”), but if you take a hard look at the data (“the company reports, the geology”) you can lower the odds to 1:250. Cook figures that his odds of success are 1:25 or 1:50 after his due diligence. “That’s about as low as I can get it… there’s so much of what you don’t know when buying into an early-stage project, but the key, in my mind, is to know what it is that you’re looking for, and what [the deposit] looks like — meaning, when the results come back, evaluate in terms of what you need to be seeing. If you’re not seeing it, if it’s not meeting your thesis, sell it.”

Cook is being modest about his odds of investment success, as his trades during 2012 returned over 50% throughout the year. Subscribe to Brent’s Exploration Insights newsletter for only $140 per month here.

Our conversation shifted to the Vancouver financial scene, which Cook described as “quite a rude awakening.” As someone who places a lot of value on honesty, he found Vancouver to be “cut-throat.” “The flat-out lying takes a bit of getting used to. I’m certainly not saying everyone in Vancouver is a crook, but that is how the vast amount of money is made here.”

Cook continued, warning about rigged exploration deals and “seed stock.” “I suspect most of the money made in Vancouver is made through inside deals, seed capital financings, early stage financings that go out to a group of people and of companies built up around some [big] name people, and eventually this gets recommended by whatever newsletter writers or brokers or analysts and these guys are able to get off their paper at a double or a triple, going from 10 to 30 cents… Some of these are legitimate stories, but if the flat out odds are 1:1000, you can see that when you get to the stage where you’ve put money in at 10 cents and this thing is at 30 cents, you can just keep doing that and make a good living. That’s what happens a lot here, and you’ve got to be aware of that.”

If honesty is hard to find around here, who should we turn to? “A good geologist’s mind is the best tool because there is so much subjectivity to it,” Cook told us. Some lesser-known mineral explorers Cook thinks investors should follow include Steve Nano, Rob Carpenter, and Rob McLeod. “There is too much emphasis on the gurus… I think the people who are going to make the next discoveries are the people we don’t know, like the names I just mentioned.”

It’s always rewarding to connect with Brent Cook. Exploration Insights is an outstanding newsletter for the sophisticated investor, and we recommend following Brent if you’re serious about making money in this sector.