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That's one of the reasons many financial advisers counsel investing novices to park their money in index funds -- because if the pros can't beat the market, how can a small investor have any hope?

"You may never be able to get 30%-plus per year, but if you pay attention to your investments and take the time to research stocks and the market, I do believe you can wring a few extra percentage points out of your portfolio," Schifrin says.

"So instead of the 8% everyone says you can expect, you can get three extra percentage points.

He hunted down 10 of the best-performing amateur investors over the past 10 years and asked them how they managed to beat the market when so few others were able to.

He has compiled their investing secrets in a new book, The Warren Buffetts Next Door: The World's Greatest Investors You've Never Heard of and What You Can Learn from Them.

Yet this would sound weird and perhaps even taunting, which is not my intention.