Contact Info and Media Kit


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Phone: +81 501-014-7773 in Japan (where the local time is here)

Publicist: Mary Pomponio,, 212-366-2218, New York

Literary Agent: Sheree Bykofsky,

Bulk Orders: The 3% Signal helps participants in 401(k)s and other retirement plans maximize their returns from the plan’s investment list while minimizing stock market stress. Anybody can do it. Offer the life-changing benefits of 3Sig to members of your organization by giving each of them a copy of the book. Penguin Random House has a program for bulk purchases with your local bookseller that will provide an extra discount and excellent customer service. Please contact them to place a business-to-business order. For assistance locating a store near you, please email Deb Lewis at


Media Kit

Book Information

Title: The 3% Signal
Author: Jason Kelly
Publisher: Plume
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142180955
ISBN-13: 978-0142180952
Date of Publication: February 24, 2015
Retail Price: $16 US (Trade Paper)
Pages: 336

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • A Note on Performance Calculations
  • Introduction: Financial Floundering
    1. Why Markets Baffle Us
    2. Harnessing Fluctuation
    3. Setting a Performance Goal
    4. What Investments to Use
    5. Managing Money in the Plan
    6. The Plan in Action
    7. The Life of the Plan
    8. Happy Signaling
  • Appendix 1. Mark’s Plan
  • Appendix 2. Tools
  • Appendix 3. Rights and Permissions
  • Appendix 4. The Kelly Letter
  • Index

Back Cover Copy

Take the stress out of investing with this revolutionary new strategy from the author of The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing, now in its fifth edition

In today’s troubling economic times, the quality of our retirement depends upon our own portfolio management. But for most of us, investing can be stressful and confusing, especially when supposedly expert predictions fail. Enter The 3% Signal. Simple and effective, Kelly’s plan can be applied to any type of account, including 401(k)s — and requires only fifteen minutes of strategizing per quarter. No stress. No noise. No confusion.

By targeting three percent growth and adjusting holdings to meet that goal, even novice investors can level the financial playing field and ensure a secure retirement free from the stress of noisy advice that doesn’t work. The plan’s simple technique cuts through the folly of human emotion by reacting intelligently to price changes and automatically buying low and selling high. Relayed in the same easy-to-understand language that has made The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing such a staple in the investing community, The 3% Signal is sure to become your most trusted guide to investing success.

First Sentence

One day long ago, I found my mother sitting befuddled behind a stack of stock market ideas.

Short Synopses

A simple quarterly system that beats the stock market.

The antidote to low 401(k) performance and high stock market stress.

Two New Terms from the Book

3Sig: Shorthand for “The 3% Signal,” both the book’s title and the technique it describes.

Z-val: Shorthand introduced in The 3% Signal for “zero-validity forecasters” and “zero-validity environment.” The latter phrase was coined by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, where he wrote that “stock pickers and political scientists who make long-term forecasts operate in a zero-validity environment. Their failures reflect the basic unpredictability of the events that they try to forecast.” This is why stock market forecasters are proven to sport an accuracy rate of about 50 percent, same as a coin toss … yet they continue forecasting.

Three Quotes from the Book

“You’ll discover how to check in quarterly to see whether the stock fund’s growth is below target, on target, or above target, then move money in the appropriate direction between the stock fund and the bond fund. This action, using the unperturbed clarity of prices alone, automates the investment masterstroke of buying low and selling high — with no z-val interference of any kind.”

“What the experts don’t want you to know — but what you’ll never forget after reading this book — is that prices are all that matter. Ideas count for nothing; opinions are distractions. The only thing that matters is the price of an investment and whether it’s below a level indicating a good time to buy or above a level indicating a good time to sell. We can know that level and monitor prices on our own, no experts required, and react appropriately to what prices and the level tell us. Even better, we can automate the reaction because it’s purely mathematical.”

“The stock market is humanity’s monkey mind writ large. For many, there is no greater cacophony, no greater distraction from life than the news cycle connected to financial markets. The more enlightened way to navigate the market is by letting it all go, reducing the chaos to a concise list of prices, visiting that list just four times a year, letting an unemotional formula tell you what the prices mean you should do, and then doing it. This higher state of investing not only performs better, it costs less and uses less of your limited time on Earth.”


We often hear, and have come to believe, that models beat experts. Kelly offers the individual investor a simple, mechanical model that instills discipline, removes a lot of self-sabotaging emotion, and has a good track record. Will it continue to outperform? Actually, it just might.
— Brenda Jubin, “Reading The Markets” book review at and ValueWalk

Why I’m a Good Guest

If you’re a producer or host, you’ve probably experienced these:

Guests who don’t show up or call at the designated time
Guests who don’t know their subject
Guests who give five-word answers that leave you hanging
Guests who are boring

For your show, you want a guest who knows his subject and can talk about it in a way that’s interesting to your audience. That’s me. I’m good at explaining concepts to beginners, but in a way that makes more experienced listeners nod with joy at hearing somebody put the subject in understandable terms.

I speak in a conversational, humorous tone with a bright personality. Audiences say they enjoy listening to me. Isn’t that the kind of guest you want?

Most producers and hosts who’ve worked with me are eager to do so again. I’m prompt, professional, and good at keeping the conversation flowing. No curt, where-to-from-here kinds of answers from me.

I’d love to join your show, either in-person or by phone. Let’s book something!


Author Photo



Book Photo




Author Bio

Jason Kelly is the author of The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing and The 3% Signal, and six other financial books. He writes about the stock market and runs the 3 percent signal plan in The Kelly Letter, which goes out to subscribers every Sunday morning. He lives in Japan. Visit his website at

Jason Kelly is the author of The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing and The 3% Signal, and six other financial books.

He graduated in 1993 from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor of arts in English. He worked for several years at IBM’s Silicon Valley Laboratory, where he wrote articles and books that won him the Society for Technical Communications Merit Award. He moved from writing about computers to writing about finance, and found his niche in the stock market. Having realized his dream of being able to live and work anywhere in the world, Jason moved to Japan in 2002 and works from his office in the countryside about two hours from Tokyo.

After the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, he founded Socks for Japan, a volunteer organization that hand-delivered 160,000 care packages from around the world to survivors. More than 70 percent of donations came from the United States. In that moment of crisis, seeing return labels from churches, Brownie troops, neighborhood coffee shops, small town light and power departments, Mrs. Wilson’s fourth grade class, and other mainstays of American culture filled him with pride for his country.

He keeps busy writing new books and The Kelly Letter, and exploring Japan. With his sister and business partner, Emily, he co-owns Red Frog Coffee in Longmont, Colorado. Visit his website at

Please see the About page.

The 3% Signalandwith Jason Kelly

With your bestselling book The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing, and popular newsletter The Kelly Letter, you’ve been offering stock market investing advice for over twenty years. You began as a technical writer at IBM in California, with a background in writing. How did you get involved in investing?

That job at IBM’s Silicon Valley Lab started everything. My editor at IBM, Fred Bethke, was superb. He taught me how to write about complex topics in a way that was interesting for readers. Even books on potentially dry subjects, such as mainframe software installation, needed to engage readers and surprise them with wit, fun examples, and other unexpected moments of levity in what they thought would be just a workday slog. If the writing didn’t do this, it didn’t get past Fred. We all learned quickly how to do it right, how to do it consistently, and how to stay on Fred’s good side. We won awards for our work.

I realized after a couple of years in Fred’s technical writing bootcamp that other topics could benefit from the approach. I’d studied investing on my own in college, and decided to write a friendly manual covering the basics to give away as a Christmas present to family members that year, mainly my mom. Before I knew it, photocopies had been distributed widely and I was receiving emails from people I’d never met asking about the book. Somebody suggested I get it published for real, and that book became the first one I published, The Neatest Little Guide to Mutual Fund Investing.

I loved investing, and kept at it. I grew my own account through experimentation, using myself to test most of what I wrote about. I discovered that there’s not as much to successful investing as the industry would have people believe. Conveying the core truths of the business has remained my motivation while writing my Neatest Little Guide series, The Kelly Letter, and most recently The 3% Signal.


Tell us about your research.

Most of it has involved reading academic studies and testing what I’ve found in them. The problem with a lot of academic findings is that they’re impractical for an individual investor managing a portfolio. Anything that is based on holding more than about 20 stocks is a waste of time, because almost nobody can manage that many positions without reverting to index returns or worse, in which case they should just own an index, which is the market as a whole via the S&P 500, for instance. Most pros lose to indexes, and part-timers tend to do a little worse because their portfolios come together only after reading occasional tips from pros. Such hodgepodges don’t work.

Beyond academic research, I’ve interviewed lots of investing experts over the years. Some of them, such as Bill Miller at Legg Mason, have been very informative and willing to help me translate their most successful techniques into methods appropriate for individual investors.

For The 3% Signal, I needed to strike out on my own. It brings together everything I’ve learned in two decades of researching and writing about stock market investing and distills it down to the best practice I’ve been able to devise. I’m proud of it, and believe it has the potential to upend the industry and finally free a legion of individual investors from the stress and indecision that accompany listening to forecasters, who as a group are proven to be wrong half the time. This is not a rhetorical statement. Several academic and industry studies have shown the average accuracy of professional forecasters to be at or a little below 50 pct — a coin toss.

To help me with the extensive data crunching necessary to prove that The 3% Signal beats the market and pros over time, I worked with an investor and programmer named Roger Crandell, whom I met when he subscribed to The Kelly Letter. We later became friends and he helped me with software and spreadsheets to verify my conclusions.


Your previous book, The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing has had an impressive run, selling more than 225,000 copies in its five editions. Tell us about your experience writing the book.

The book has grown with me. When I look back at how much it’s improved over time, I can see all the lessons I learned finding their way into the text. When I wrote the first edition, I relied almost entirely on the wisdom of more experienced investors because I didn’t have enough of my own wisdom yet to offer. What I was good at was gathering different viewpoints, seeing where they agreed and disagreed, and combining them into what I saw as the overall best approach by the best people on Wall Street.

Later, I found my own preferences within this overall best approach and realized that a more focused bit of advice was needed. The risk in distilling only mainstream industry viewpoints is that the resulting program will achieve only middling results, the fat part of the bell curve. As with almost every approach to investing, that one is doomed to lose to indexes. I decided that if I couldn’t offer a method with a reasonable chance of beating indexes, then I should just write another book recommending indexes. I didn’t want to do that, not in the way that it’s always done, which is to just advise buying and holding or dollar-cost averaging into the main market, so I kept looking for the little edges I could find.

I found them, too. One of them was a value averaging system that occupies a tiny corner of The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing, and it grew into The 3% Signal.


How did The Kelly Letter get started?

As a way to help readers run a real-time investing program with the advice they’d read in my books. At some point, theory needs to end and orders need to be placed. I used to send out tips to people on my free email list. A few readers asked if they could pay me for more in-depth articles. Then a few more asked the same thing. The first incarnation of my newsletter was a printed paper one sent from my office in Los Angeles. It was called The NeatSheet. When I moved to Japan, I needed to go all digital, and the name of the digital publication became The Kelly Letter. Like my stock book, it has grown over the years as I’ve become better. It’s very good now, based entirely on the signal system explained in my new book.


How was your system that’s presented in The 3% Signal created?

Through a lot of trial and error. The initial thought experiment that kicked off the desire to research it further was related to dollar-cost averaging, or DCA. It’s the sending of a constant amount of money to an investment on a regular schedule, such as every paycheck or once a month. DCA is popular because it’s easy, and it automatically buys more shares of an investment when the price is lower and fewer shares when it’s higher. If you send $100 per month, for example, you’ll buy 20 shares when the price is $5 but 5 shares when the price is $20, automatically. This lowers the average price you pay for an investment to less than its average market price during a time period.

The question that arose when looking at DCA was this: Wouldn’t it work better to send more money when the price is lower and less money when the price is higher? More questions followed. Wouldn’t it be better to send no money if the price is too high? Wouldn’t it be best to actually sell some of the investment if the price goes too high? The obvious answer to these questions was yes. From there, I set off to find ways to determine whether a price was high or low, how to figure the order adjustment based on that, and other details that became 3Sig.


How successful has the technique been?

Very. 3Sig beats buying and holding most indexes, beats all indexes in a program in which the investor adds more money over time (which is what the vast majority of individual investors does, in retirement accounts, etc.), and because most pros lose to indexes it runs circles around just about every famous talking head in the investing media. I’m not kidding. The household names of Wall Street can’t keep up with 3Sig, and therefore try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

It’s basically unbeatable by non-chance-based investing approaches, by which I mean systems that rely on methodical management rather than “gut instinct” and other casino approaches that hope for dashes of luck. Most newsletters are of the latter variety, trumpeting their successes and ignoring their mistakes, and a waste of time. Their editors are not engaged in a practice that is reliable and repeatable. They guess at which stocks will win and which will lose, and they’re right about half the time. This is not enough to trump the market, so they lose.

Among reliable approaches that are measurable because they can be applied in retrospect to past data, and are simple enough for ordinary people to manage, 3Sig is the champion. One aspect of it that I like is that it’s easy to understand why it wins. It uses a small-company index for the growth part of its portfolio. Small companies have beaten large companies over time and have been the best growth segment of the market. The 3Sig formula adds extra performance on top of whatever index it’s using for growth. Therefore, if 3Sig is adding performance on top of the market’s best growth segment, it will naturally beat the entire market. Since pros lose to the market, it will beat them, too. In short, it beats everything and everybody!

In Chapter 7 of the book, I show how three investors earning the same amount of money and investing the same percentage of their salary in the same set of 401(k) choices fared over the 12.5-year time frame from the end of 2000 to the middle of 2013. It included two bull and bear markets, so was a perfect period to use as a backdrop. One of the investors (Garrett) followed media tips from coin-tossing pundits, another (Selma) ran DCA in industry-leading funds, and the third (Mark) ran 3Sig.

It wasn’t even close. Garrett the pundit follower was a goner from the get-go, as is anybody who follows media tips. The relentlessly dollar-cost averaging Selma did well by choosing superb funds and sticking with her plan through all but the worst of the 2008 crash. Mark following 3Sig was not able to fund all of his plan’s buy signals through the 2008 crash, but still crushed his rivals. Look at their ending balances at the conclusion of the 12.5-year time frame:

Garret: $97,971
Selma: $102,929
Mark: $200,031

Here’s a chart showing the path of their balances along the way:

Most people running 3Sig will experience a similar margin of victory over competing methods — while paying no attention to the frenzy of Wall Street.


What has subscriber response been to The 3% Signal?

Subscribers love it. Whatever initial hesitation they felt when I said I was going to manage two of the letter’s tiers entirely by the 3Sig formula and use the formula to guide decisions in the third tier, was dispelled after they saw the formula successfully navigate several quarters of roller coaster headlines. It’s amazing to watch, actually, bordering on uncanny. Last year, it sold ahead of the crash into October, then bought near the bottom ahead of the fourth-quarter recovery. It did so without engaging in any forecasting.

It doesn’t always get the moves precisely right, but its way of buying low and selling high compounds over time in little bursts of outperformance that add up. It’s most appreciated by people who’ve tried using intuition, both their own and that of the experts, to pick stocks and then get the timing right for when to buy and sell them. This method is extremely hard on people, because they get it wrong half the time, yet it remains the method that Wall Street continues pushing because it racks up the most trading commissions and sells the most research and advice.

The stock market is a life wrecker for more people than is commonly acknowledged. Some of those who’ve made their way to 3Sig look upon the method like a newfound religion. I get this. When a person is in pain, they love what soothes the pain. 3Sig soothes stock market pain and heals portfolios.

This is why subscribers have come to love it, and why I believe new readers are going to love it, too.


What are some of the biggest mistakes that people commonly make when investing?

The number one mistake is assuming that their investing ideas count for anything. I hate to break it to people, but we all suffer from the 50 percent mistake rate. You think you know where interest rates are heading? You don’t. You think you know what the price of oil will be in six months? You don’t. You think you know which industry is going to post the highest growth this year? You don’t.

I’m not picking on any one person, because nobody knows these answers, but I need to be unequivocal on this point: You’ve been told that you need to be smarter than other investors to get ahead, but you can’t be smarter because everybody is equally clueless. Accept this and start investing in a way that doesn’t involve guessing the future. There’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from this acceptance and the change in behavior that naturally follows, both of the investing variety and the regular life variety. Humility is a virtue when it comes to facing the future.

Another biggie is not understanding that capital allocation matters. You can get it right five times in a row, but if you blow it in a big enough way on the sixth time, you’ll wipe out all the progress you made. Guess what? Most people make it to that sixth time — repeatedly. 3Sig stops the cycle. It protects people from their own worst instincts. It’s foolproof. It will never chase a harebrained idea, never bet the farm, never miss the bulk of a move, and never puke at the bottom of a bear market. You know what it will do? Nudge performance above the market’s through a series of quarterly actions based on prices alone.

Ideas and gut feelings? Spare yourself. In the financial markets, numbers and the easy math that tells you what to do with them are all that matter. Leave the guesswork to the pros and their 50 percent mistake rates.


What is the one thing you wish everyone knew about stock market investing?

That last thing I just mentioned, that numbers are everything. It doesn’t matter what you or I or the voice-of-the-moment on CNBC thinks will happen next. It matters only that the price of your small-company stock index fund finished the quarter with more than 3 percent growth and should be sold, or less than 3 percent growth and should be bought. That’s the whole story behind how to win at this game. Everything else is just distraction.


What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m focused on spreading the word about 3Sig. I feel that it really is the market’s best practice, the stock market solved, if you will, and that I don’t have much more to say on the subject. I’m still trying different permutations on the 3Sig plan, but nothing has yet turned out to be better than the base case. I doubt anything will.

Beyond 3Sig, I find myself at a crossroads. I’m considering what to write next and I have a feeling I’ll be heading in a new direction. With investing safely on autopilot, thanks to 3Sig, there’s a whole world to explore!


  1. Posted November 30, 2019 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    I just subscribed. Now where do I find my user name and password.

    • Posted December 2, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Welcome, Dan!

      We emailed your information to you shortly after you subscribed, and it looks like you’re all set. I’m happy to have you.


  2. Roger Radke
    Posted March 10, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    “The 3% Signal” 2nd Edition with update on 6Sig/9Sig and a big focus on retirement planning would make for a great update of this fine book.

    Cheers, Roger

  3. Larry Rogers
    Posted February 23, 2019 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    I lucked into buying Jason’s book four years ago (3% Signal) while killing time in a bookstore on vacation in Florida. It has totally revolutionized my investment results. I’ve been a daily stock market watcher/investor for some 30 years, but nothing works as well as Jason’s plan. Since Trump’s election in November, 2016, I’m up some 75%. My Mom has her money invested with a large investment firm and she’s up less than 30% in that same time frame. I’m about halfway to my second million dollars now, thanks to Jason, and planning for a wonderful retirement in a few years. Five stars!

    Larry Rogers
    Retired Pastor
    Insurance Agency Owner

    • Posted February 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Larry. What a wonderful testimonial.

      With best wishes,

  4. Bill Stepp
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    I’m reading your “Neatest Little Guide” now and enjoying it. Next is “The 3% Signal.”

    You might not be aware of this, but the OID apparently no longer exists. I tried to track it down, but can’t get through by phone or their website, and found something online indicating that the publisher lost two close family members around 2010. Several people stated they haven’t seen a copy for a while.

    • Posted June 20, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for making your way through my books!

      Yes, it’s unfortunate that the OID looks to have closed up shop. It was an excellent publication. I need to mention this on the updates page.

      Happy reading,

  5. James Osborne
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    I’ve been running the 3% signal for a few years now, and expanded to the tier 2 and 3 plans as well. One thing I’ve noticed is the drop in SCHZ and AGG over time. I’m comfortable with the ups and downs from the stock indexes, but what advice do you have about the bond funds? Do they typically lose over time, or is this just a bad time for mutual funds and bonds?

    • Posted May 10, 2018 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Hi James,

      We’re in a rising-rate environment, so bond-fund prices are on the decline. This will pass, and eventually the bond funds will provide larger distributions. More than 90% of a bond fund’s profit is from distributions, so this works out over time.

      Also, fluctuating bond-fund prices can work in our favor as well, since we move money back and forth between the stock and bond funds of the plan. If we get a quarterly sell signal, for instance, the proceeds from that sale of the stock fund will go into the bond fund at lower prices.

      Happy Sigging,

  6. Daniel Loren
    Posted April 19, 2018 at 1:14 am | Permalink


    Hi. Read through a little over 1/2 of the book and definitely find it interesting.

    If someone is sticking to ETFs, I use fidelity, could I use AGG as my ETF bond fund instead of VFIIX?
    No transaction fee with AGG vs BND (vanguard total bond fund).


    • Posted May 11, 2018 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      By all means, Daniel.

      The three bond funds I use in The Kelly Letter are AGG, BND, and SCHZ. They’re interchangeable, so feel free to use AGG in your plan. You could even use it in all three Sig permutations.


  7. Jeffrey Thompson
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I am normally one that only reads books that grab my attention. Your books have really caught my eyes and they are hard to put down. It takes a lot to grab my attention.

    I served 10 1/2 years in the military and even growing up, no one ever taught me about money or finances, yet alone investing. I will say that I admire the fact that you live in Japan. I lived about an hour south of Hiroshima for two years. There is a lot of history and a great culture there. It is amazing.

    I will get to the point now.

    I live in a small town that has no access to Value Line through a library. Do you have any other information on how to get access to it without me spending $600 to get it? Is there anything that even comes close to the information that it contains? Any ideas would be great.

    Thank you for your time. The cherry blossoms should be in full bloom now, huh? They are beautiful!

    • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the kind note, Jeffrey, and for your service. Hiroshima is a beautiful area of a beautiful country. You’re right that cherry blossoms are just getting going now. Next week should be stunning the Kanto area, where Tokyo is located.

      As for Value Line, I was able to get it online through my local library in Colorado. Is there a library somewhere reasonably close to you what you could join that might provide similar online access?

      Barring that, Morningstar is a cheaper substitute for Value Line, and it comes pretty close to covering the same bases. Also, keep in mind that the Dow 30 components are free to anybody at Value Line.

      Finally, I would like to point you to my preferred approach to investing, which is the Sig systems introduced in my book The 3% Signal. If you run them, you won’t need to do any individual stock research anymore. They use just two funds, one stock index and one bond index.

      I hope these ideas help, and thank you, again, for the note.


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