Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Life After 40

This one's for those onlookers in their 20s and 30s, as well as to those beyond 40 who I suspect will quietly nod and grin.

I was watching clips from the current PGA tour stop yesterday when I heard a commentator mention that Tommy Armour III was a model of tour perseverance in that he finally broke through the $1 Million annual winning mark last year, shattering his former glass ceiling by earning $1.5 Million. His age? 48.

Of course that struck an immediate chord with this 48 year old trader, given a eerily similar situation with my 2008 trading results. And while Armour turned pro at the age of twenty, versus my beginning serious pursuit of trading in my late 30s, the analogy remains valid.

Napoleon Hill writes the following in the often-controversial book "Think And Grow Rich":

"Seldom does in individual enter upon highly creative effort in any field of endeavor before the age of forty. The average man reaches the period of his greatest capacity to create between forty and sixty. These statements are based upon analysis of thousands of men and women who have been carefully observed. They should be encouraging to those who fail to arrive before the age of forty, and to those who become frightened at the approach of "old age", around the forty-year mark. The years between forty and fifty, are as a rule, the most fruitful. Man should approach this age, not with fear and trembling, but with hope and eager anticipation."

Say what you will about other portions of the book, Hill nailed this concept and then goes on to cite many famous individual that hit their stride well after forty.

As many know, last year was my personal Bamboo year, which we all saw grow quite publicly before our eyes as momentum begat momentum which begat even more momentum. Frankly, when I look back at last fall, I don't know how I did it, just as I don't quite know what to make of this year thus far where I'm waiting for the inevitable multi-day slump to set in, or when I again momentarily let down my guard in Feburary 10th fashion. Oh, it will happen ... and when it does, all energies will be directed at minimizing its damage.

By the way, for those new to the blog, please understand any reference to my results when I step away from personal diary mode such as I'm doing here, are meant solely for motivation to others. For in a world and industry where smoke and mirrors prevail, and we all begin to question what is real, or more importantly, what is possible, I hope that sharing the reality of this stage in my life helps reinforce to others that all things are possible. For as I said at the end of the final 2008 "Night to Dance" post:

"I encourage you to consider printing this and putting it someplace safe that you can reference if you ever get down, or if someone ever tells you "you can't". Because they're dead wrong. If you're breathing, you can and you will. Regardless of what the pundits say or how much the temporary pain may sting, don't ever let anyone take away your spirit and joy for life. Who knows, 2009 may very well be your personal Bamboo year.

So for those onlookers under 40, I say with conviction that the best is yet to come. For those in their 50s and 60s, I suspect you'll probably tell me it gets even better. Talk to me on that one gang, if it's not, I'll be extremely bummed.

At this end, I find myself at a very interesting point in my life, as I contemplate how to spend the next decade while in the midst of what will arguably be the most productive 10-20 years in one's life. One example is that after next year, our youngest daughter will be off to college and we'll be in our official empty nest years.

And while I won't bore you with the questions I'm asking myself at this point in my life, they include where trading and blogging fit in as I move ahead. Frankly, as it relates to portions of this blog, I'm not sure how much more I can say that hasn't already been said.

Yet for now, this ongoing glimpse into what is traditionally an intensely private world of a trader continues, and I suppose as with most things in life, time will provide the ultimate road sign.

I just hope the sign looks like a futures chart so I can try to interpret it.

Enjoy the weekend.


James Stollenwerck said...


I’m 61, so I’m on the back nine of life approaching, let’s say, the eleventh green. My front nine was pretty good, but if I’m going to keep it together coming in, I’ve got to pay attention to what’s working for me now. The odds are this will be different from what was working for me going out.

First, know the difference between what’s important and what is not. Then don’t waste time on the latter. After all, we’re not as fresh as we were earlier in the game and our resources are more limited to cope with its ongoing challenges.

Second, if you hit it into the tall grass and have to improvise to get back into play, remember what you did to recover and do it again. Then do it again and again until maybe you’re confident enough to try something new for the fun of it. Remember, though, the game is ending, not beginning, so never lose sight of the simple shots, the ones saving you to begin with.

Third, accept the fact you don’t have the same skills you used to. For sure you can’t hit the ball as far. But you still can be terrific around the greens. KISS. It’s a whole different game when you’re playing off the short grass not swinging for the bleachers hitting it out all the time. You might even win net.

That’s how it is at my stage, still interested and still playing within my abilities as I head for the clubhouse, the big trading room in the sky.

Lord Tedders said...


Inspiring. As a trader who is still struggling to find his bamboo in his 30s I often hear remarks that this is a young man's game. Hogwash.

If I can be half as successful as you by 48 I will consider myself very fortunate indeed. When I start feeling lazy, I remind myself that you rarely take a day off, you trade 2 sessions, and never a compliant. It's always, "I've got get more focused". Me too.

Have a great weekend.


Don Miller said...

Wonderful post and words of wisdom James.

I look forward to aiming for many more "greens" ... even those surrounded by bunkers as my well-used sand wedge has turned out to be my favorite club.


E said...

James, I must say I that was an outstanding post. Love to join your foursome one day.

Here's one for you, and since this was accomplished the year after I graduated from High school, I am a hole or two ahead of you on the back nine.

"Ya gotta believe, and ya gotta go for it, doing the best we can with what we've got."

Don has certainly attracted a class act of followers, and it is a privilege to learn from all of you.


(Don this one below is my site, no need to post this; it's for you. I don't wish to appear as self-serving.)

Just one of my favorites and seemed to fit with your exceptional post today.

You are truly an inspiration for all of us.


Max Ghello said...

Hi Don,

this post is particularly inspiring to me. especially today (this week)

"... I'm not sure how much more I can say that hasn't already been said."

certainly... much more!




mtcx2009 said...

What an amazing post and comment repost. Inspirational to say the least for a panicked 40 and 3/4 year old.

This one gets printed, framed and placed next to the screens.

MikeH said...

Thanks for the post. Just a few days past my 40th, sometimes a swift kick in the behind is a pretty good gift.

Stone said...

I am 27... and while I do not know what it feels like to be 30 or 40... I do know what it feels like to struggle and wonder if you will ever make it.

They say that everyone starts out optimistic and uninformed when they set out. Then you get to doing it and you realize it's not as easy or as simple as you first thought. You go on a downhill slide and you reach the edge of the cliff.

Will you crash & burn? Or will you turn the corner w/ renewed optimism & well informed wisdom?

Perhaps every trade feels like they are one step away from a crash & burn or perhaps turning the corner. I saw over the edge of the cliff and decided it wasn't for me- and I feel like I am turning the corner.

Thanks for the inspirational post Don.

Jason S said...

I've thought about this for a while before posting.
I suspect that the reason for the "late bloom" phenomenon is one of necessity. I think most people have the bulk of their energies devoted to family, specifically raising children during the "front 9".
At 36, I'm the youngster in my neighborhood. Most of my neighbors are in their 50's and 6o's. They have been very encouraging through my family's struggles. They all tell us that it was no different for them at our age and that things will smooth out significantly once the kids move out. This advice has enabled me to chill out a bit. I was nearing panic at seeing 40 approach and had many goals not yet fulfilled. Again, it's encouraging to hear again from Don that life may in fact begin at 40, not end as I had perceived in my youth.