Re-Visiting My Trading Roots
- Posted by chicagosean
- on April 5th, 2011
The wife and I have been here in Florida since early Friday morning to attend a wedding in Clearwater Beach and to spend time with my very pregnant sister who is expecting any day now. We were hoping she’d have the baby while we’re in town, but we leave tonight and its not looking like its gonna happen. Oh well.
But on the other hand, it’s been interesting to be back in Tampa, Florida. Tampa is known for a lot of things: Amazing weather, great Cuban food, beaches, Gasparilla, and old people. It is not known as a financial center. However, it is here, as a winter escapee from Buffalo, NY that I first learned how to Trade in 1998.
Driving around town in a rental, I’ve seen lots of old places we used to enjoy hanging out at. And it’s brought back lots of memories of the “Salad Days” of 1999-2001 when scalping Nasdaq stocks up the mountain and then back down the back of the bursting internet bubble was producing ridiculous profits for me and my 20-something year-old trading buddies. We lived like Kings – if only for a couple years.
Great memories came back to me when I drove past the car dealership where I bought my first real gift to myself from my trading profits. On the way to that dealership in 1999, I had to keep the heater running in my car (despite outside temps in the 80′s) to prevent the car from overheating. And its such a cliche to say, but my old car literally stalled when we drove it onto the dealer lot and it couldn’t be restarted. I laughed when the salesman said they’d give me some “trade-in” value for my old clunker if I bought a new car. Anyway, I had my eye on a shiny slightly-used convertible. And on that fine day, I paid cash for the car and drove off the lot as the happiest young man in the State of Florida.
While here, I’ve also was able to re-connect with some old trading buds. And one thing I was shocked to learn is that out of 40+ guys who were trading with me in our office back in the day – including many who made multiple millions in trading profits during that time – I am now the only one left who is still fully engaged with the markets. This is surprising and humbling to me on many levels, but mostly because many of these guys were far better Traders than I ever was (or I have ever been since). I made money, but I was frequently the low man on the totem pole.
This has been a wake up call. No matter how good you’ve got it, or how much money you make, or how amazing everyone tells you that you are – if you aren’t willing to adapt, to learn new tricks, and to occasionally mix things up a little bit, the markets will eventually knock you down a peg. And in many cases knock you clean out. It’s also been a reminder to SAVE MONEY!!
This has renewed my focus on keeping things simple. It is my hunch that a lot of my buds who burnt out did so because they tried to do too much. They were constantly looking for a fleeting edge and in many cases were probably focused on too-short of a time-frame for their trades. Some may have been employing too much leverage, and others were probably engaged in risky naked short options plays.
Simplicity and being a Minimalist Trader means going with the flow, taking what the markets will give, and lengthening your time-frames. This is my directive.
What do YOU do to keep in simple? Please share in the comments section. I’m off to get a Cuban Sandwich in Ybor City.
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Sean McLaughlin - Editorial, Curation, & Investor Relations Solutions at StockTwits. Also, former Member of the Chicago Board of Trade who trades his own account in Boulder, Colorado. More »
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