Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Completing The Circle

Some days are hard to describe, other than to simply say they "feel" right.

And today was one of those days ... from sun-up to sun-down.

It started when I awoke feeling more refreshed, energized, invigorated, and mentally sharp than I've felt in a long time. I simply felt, well, good.

Then I stepped on the scale. 181.4. Wow. Welcome to 1983 Don.

Then I logged into both Jellie tanks and began working on deciphering the daily market puzzle, beginning with a few tight overnight trades, before prepping the teams for the day's action. And everyone sensed a distinct spring in my step. Yes, it was that noticeable.

From then it was onto the daily ritual of avoiding market landmines, while searching for what we call PJOs (Prime Jellie Opportunities), where we could lean into a few high-probability trades. And after playing rope-a-dope with the market during its early gyrations and attempt at a day-long bear trend, we recognized the changing patterns that resulted in alternating bear and bull traps, and I was as proud of both teams today as I've ever been as they did extremely well to not only avoid the traps, but anticipate and profit from them. And my own trade executions? Well suffice it to say they were sharp and crisp, including sizing effectively on the trade of the day as the final trapped bears gave it up in the early afternoon.

Of course the day ended with my presenting the American Diabetes Association with the $11K initial check reflecting 15% of the Jellie Study Series Webinars "pre-formal launch" proceeds. And during the evening's dinner, Executive Director Chris Boynton and I exchanged stories about everything from the concept of the Jellies to incredible advances that are being made daily in the ongoing fight to cure diabetes. And as Chris reminded me, insulin is not a cure. Call it a good end to a good day.

And so tonight it feels as if a circle has finally been completed. A circle that began with the 15-month $2 Million trading run, followed by mental burnout and the internal "Is this all there is?" soul searching, the infamous bump on the head right before the Boston Bamboo picnic, the creation of the Jellie concept, building the first tank and assembling/training the team, and finally building a second tank to meet another need.

All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not in control of my life. For if I had to choose my own path, the 15-month run would have continued full-steam while I continued to eat and stress my way into a possible early grave, all while forty traders would continue to spin their wheels in various corners of the world.

Instead, a Greater Force shoved me on a different interim path not of my own choosing. The result? I've lost twenty pounds, gained 40 teammates with whom I'd trust my life, injected new life into my own trading, and based on feedback from Study Series participants and some of the Jellie brokers, have apparently made more than decent inroads in the one part of this industry of which I've long been extremely critical -- trader education from people who can back up their words with actions on a moment-by-moment basis. Oh, and a charity doing a great deal of good in this world just received a $11K infusion.

And so with tonight's presentation at the Barnstable Tavern, I sense the circle of the last two crazy years has been completed.

As I said, I'm glad I'm not in control of my life.

I guess I'm a jellyfish in the truest sense of the word.

And as I told the teams today, I have a feeling we've still just scratched the surface.

We can do even better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Notes - Planting the Seed

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be presenting the attached check for $11,360.05 to the American Diabetes Association tomorrow evening, which reflects the portion of the Jellie Trader Study Series Webinars that I've pledged to charity to date.

My sincere thanks again to all participating in the Series, as we indeed accomplished our mission of creating a win-win for all involved. Let's hope this small seed joins with others to plant continued hope for a cure to this disease which has impacted so many lives, including that of my daughter Chelsea and millions of others.

Hopefully, we'll be able to donate additional monies as the effort benefits from upcoming industry-wide exposure in various November trading publications and websites.

In the meantime, I'll continue to let spokesmen Andy Shepherd and Jimmy V speak for me via the last two posts, as their words continue to express my current thoughts in spades.

More after the quarter close and check presentation tomorrow evening.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Notes - The Blue Wall Part 2

Some tidbits for a Monday:

"Blue Wall" Follow-Up - Apparently, Sunday's "Blue Wall" post struck a huge chord that seems to still be echoing across some sectors of the 'Net today, with several long-term followers that truly "get" this business emailing that it was among the best ever. Jimmy V, we'll never forget your words as you look down on us.

And in response to those who have asked, part of it indeed reflected a long-overdue Andy Shepherd-like approach (from my wife's favorite movie, The American President) to one particular "Bob Rumson" corner of this industry that has been calling the blue wall red for some time, in the form of distorted statistics and posts, along with personal attacks and simply spewing outright lies.

I could go on and stoop to their level by responding to each one of their myths, but won't waste the virtual ink and would rather focus time on trying to build up people with facts -- as we're currently doing with the expanded Jellie team -- vs. tearing folks down with lies.

However, I will let Andy speak for me, as you imagine substituting the word "Trading" for "America", "Trader" for "President", "Merc" for "ACLU", and "Chat sites" for "Bob Rumson" ... with particular emphasis on the 0:22-0:48, 2:08-3:10, and especially the 4:45-5:16 marks of the speech. Call it must-see TV.

Yes sir, it's indeed all about character, and their 15 minutes are up.

ADA Update -
On Wednesday evening, I'll be presenting Chris Boynton, Executive Director for the New England Chapter of the American Diabetes Association with an initial check that is now closing in on $11,000. Thanks again to all participating, and I'll provide a further update after the check presentation.

Another Blog Post Syndication - Thanks to Tim Bourquin and for choosing to syndicate portions of my recent post on "Mistakes" on today's site. I think that's about the fifth time in recent memory that a blog post has been distributed throughout the industry, including January's Jazz Trader post and February's Svithjod Rock post that appeared on the inside cover of this year's International Traders Expo in New York.

And if you missed Sunday's post, I encourage you to have at it again, while letting the words of Jimmy V resonate loud and clear.

And never forget ... no matter what some may try to convince you, the wall will always be blue.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Weekend Trader - The Blue Wall Part 1

On my way to Foxwoods yesterday morning to refresh and clear the mind at the card table, I had a lot of time to think by myself, while listening to a highly inspirational message that reminded us that we've all been given the gift of a limited amount of time in this temporary "tent" we call earth ... a gift that we could lose at any moment.

Key excerpts from the message included the following:

Queen Elizabeth said on her deathbed, "I would give my entire kingdom for just one more day"; and:Imagine every morning your bank deposited $86,400 into your account, and the money was yours to use as you wished, and the only catch was that whatever money you didn't use by the end of the day, you'd lose. If that were the case, you'd likely be focused and purposeful, and not let one penny go to waste because it's valuable. It's the same thing with time, for each day we're all given 86,400 seconds to spend as we like. We can invest it by living positive, hopeful, pursuing our goals, helping others, or we can waste it by being disorganized, unfocused, unhappy, negative, defeated or discouraged.

Wow ... talk about reflection time. Have I at times fallen into the "wasting" category? Absolutely. In fact, even to this day I still do. Yet as I get older and approach 50, I at least tend to more fully see the difference in what I'll call effective "human production" when living each day in the first category.

So what thoughts did this message trigger in my head? Here are a few.

First, I wonder how a trader who has acquired the skill would trade if told he/she only had three months to live. My guess it that he or she would trade with no fear and likely reap the bounty of their lives.

Second, I wonder how people in general -- including me -- might live their lives if told the same thing. My guess is that we'd tend to actually live more positively, especially when backed by an unwavering faith that we indeed do live in a temporary tent that will ultimately be packed up before moving to our true and final home of permanency. And such positive actions would hopefully plant seeds for other positive actions.

At my end, for some reason I've been placed in the very unique position of having a highly public profile in an industry that is full of greed, fear, distrust, cynicism, and skepticism ... with even myself being at the top of the list of skeptics with regard to some areas. It's also an industry that relies heavily on the Internet where myths, untruths, bloggers, and anonymous posters can have a field day blurring the lines beyond myth and reality, as the term "editor" has gone the way of non-steroidal baseball. And I'm smack dab in the middle of it.

And yes, I fully accept the attributes that come with being put in such a position, including accepting the rare, but inevitable barbs from the tiny minority of those who disagree with everything from my trading style, to my trying to help improve the educational side of this business of which I've been highly critical, to my wanting to give a portion of the educational proceeds to a worthy cause.

And speaking of which, believe it or not, I actually received an email from someone yesterday stating my donating to the ADA was, "throwing that money away" and that "Sickness is a multibillion dollar business and that will not be jeopardized by the finding of a cure." Egads ... I guess we should all just fold up our tents and cower. On the other hand, I received another email from a more rational optometrist, stating, "Thank you and I have to tell you, your donation to the ADA is very appreciated. I'm an optometrist and I've seen first hand how devastating it can be to one's sight." Welcome to my world.

Have we really lost that powerful vision that Jimmy V had whe he spoke at the 1993 ESPY awards those 16 years ago??

Frankly, I've never understood why some in this world will stare at a blue-painted wall and call it red until they truly convince themselves it's red. And then they'll try to convince others that it's red ... using every tool and argument they can muster. Or they'll simply state it's impossible, too hard, or too expensive to paint a wall blue ... or that it can't be done unless one was a member of the union of professional blue painters.

Perhaps it's because they simply hate blue (btw, nothing will ever change that), or just that they enjoy unproductive habit of believing the glass is always 1/2 empty vs. 1/2 full. Or perhaps they're simply in denial. All I know is that they can call the wall red all they want, and the wall will always remain blue. btw, there are huge trading implications to this analogy as it's likely that such people will never become successful traders and will often be the unfortunate losing "squeezees" as they try to short the "blue" moonshot, or spend more time finding fault with the color blue instead of shopping for cost-effective blue paint or improved eyeglasses, or accepting the fact that they may simply be color-blind.

At my end, my goal in life isn't to be liked or disliked. It never was and never will be. For years ago I was placed in a public trading role, before going off the grid a few years ago to focus on my own needs and ambitions, before realizing that simply serving oneself -- while being the easy road in terms of not having to deal with the complexities that comes with public exposure -- wasn't exactly helping anyone other than, well, myself.

So I bit the bullet, and again chose to open myself up to the doubters and skeptics to prove once and for all that a certain level of success can be achieved under the right conditions of personal focus and commitment, while remaining steadfast that opening myself up once again could hopefully make a small difference in the trading "community". Yet in doing so, keep in mind that I'll never waste limited and precious energy defending the blue wall, lest we waiver from more important tasks at hand.

Then what is my goal? Easy. It's essentially to do better today than yesterday, and to do better tomorrow versus today. And that's probably not a bad way to approach both life and trading.

The other day, Tim Bourquin contacted me about a trader who going through a very rough time and asked if I could help. So I gave him my direct phone number, spoke with him at length one evening, and provided him with some materials and counseling without asking or looking for anything in return. And during yesterday's two hour drive home, I spent the majority of the time talking to a trader who simply wanted to chat.

You see for some, a phone call and helping hand is the only help needed. For others, the blog seems to help, while yet others benefit from an abbreviated formal course to compliment other education, and still others require a full immersion college-like experience as they prepare to launch a new career.

So what are my long term plans as I near the sixth decade of my life? I'm not sure, as every day we're given the gift of personal choice and free-will. At my end, I could decide at any time to stop trading, blogging, and/or the current interim phase of trying to make a difference on the educational side. Yes, blogging does take energy, and I do have other unfulfilled aspirations falling in the category of climbing Mount Everest, playing in the World Series of Poker, and going on an extensive tour of Europe with my wife.

Yet as all of those latter choices seem to fall into the selfish category, and given the overwhelming response to continue our current journeys, I for now remain steadfast in our efforts. And when I do decide to perhaps move on to something else, it will be at the time of my own choosing. For the mountain will always be there, and Doyle Brunson still plays pretty darn well as the age of 76.

Are our current efforts perfect?

I'll answer that by asking if that wall is really red.

And I imagine if you look real closely, you'll see a few imperfections in the blue paint job, just as my car Grace still shows. For those new to the blog, here's the important story of my car Grace.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, including all 86,400 seconds of today.

And in the words of Jimmy V, "Don't ever give up."

Click here for Part 2 of "The Blue Wall".

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Notes - Cleaning the Tanks

Just a quick post tonight on this successful M.A.T.D. (Morning After Trend Day) as I'll be completely shutting down both the trading and coaching sides of the brain on Saturday to clear my head.

Over the weekend, we'll also be cleaning the Jellie "tanks" by moving Team #1 into its permanent "tank", while I transition to swimming with Team #2 who will ultimately have the opportunity to join Team #1 a month from now.

In terms of the American Diabetes Association Webinar Tally, we currently stand at $10,632, and I'm making arrangements for delivery of the initial check. Thanks again to all participating, and a reminder that the price of the 16-Hour study sessions will soon be reset closer to its value now that the effort has been fully completed and we make the sessions available to a wider audience.

And what am I going to do about last night's poker loss? Get right back on the horse by heading to Foxwoods tomorrow. That should clear any remaining cobwebs.

Then again, according to popular myth as mentioned in last night's video, I should have been washed up 23 years ago. btw, Average age of Jellie Team #2: 49!

Go Get 'em Sal & Mark!

P.S. Mail continues to flow in support of Tuesday's "Keys to the Castle" post. Seems we struck quite a chord.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Notes - Trading Success Over 40

Before I get ready to defend first place tonight on our Championship Poker night, I discuss the myth that successful trading is only for the young.

11:05PM Poker Finals Update - It just wasn't meant to be as I finished second in the overall standings by a very slim margin. It was a helluva run though and I really can't fault my play at all. The losing hand was my A-10 that ironically flopped a straight when K-Q-J hit the board. Ultimately, I went all-in on the river and was called by a well-hidden flush. It was a very odd night, as earlier I correctly folded trip 10s (I had pocket 10s and again flopped the trips) when I knew I was beaten by a straight. So very solid play for 12 weeks, yet I'm admittedly disappointed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Speechless

Yes, it happens and no, hell is not freezing over.

Actually, I'm simply a bit tired tonight and will thus let last night's key post (or is it "keys" post) stand for now.

Tomorrow, we'll be looking for possible M.A.T.D. rhythms (Morning After Trend Day ... or in today's case, Trend "Close") rhythms, keeping in mind FOMC afternoons are often irrelevant in terms of next day patterns. As usual, I'll be watching for overnight clues beginning at 4am.

OK, I guess I wasn't completely speechless.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday PM Notes - Keys to the Castle

9/23 Update: Apparently, based on a flood of emails last night, many of you have ranked this the top post of the entire blog ... and that's saying quite a mouthful. As such, I've added it to the "Key Post" list in the lower left margin. Enjoy.

Last night, we completed the 8th and final formal Jellie Study Session (a.k.a. Webinars), where I presented top lessons learned by the Jellies to a packed house. The lessons were authored by each Jellie, and reflected each trader's top three lessons learned over the last two months of full immersion.

In my view, it was a final test of sorts to see if the things I firmly believe form the cornerstone of highly profitable trading -- which I had beat to death day after day in terms of both running commentary and my own trades (and yes, the team saw my live trades as automatically plotted on order entry charts time and time again in addition to the live market bias commentary) -- had set hold in their minds.

And when I saw several members of the team last night comment on the critical roles that (1) Market Bias and (2) "Outliers" play in this business, I sat back and grinned as I knew then that some of the most important concepts -- those that separate losing traders from profitable traders and profitable traders from million dollar traders -- were taking root.

Specifically, here are comments from two members of the team as presented last night with respect to those two critical concepts:

Market Bias is King. This was the most important lesson overall as just this one little concept can turn your whole trading career around and make consistent profitability possible. Prior to the Jellie effort, I had been sitting here with my sister showing her a strategy and it happened to enter a trade automatically. It went in my favor to start then immediately did an about face and ran right through my stop. I wasn't mad that the trade lost, I was upset - scratch that, beyond upset! My sister saw the look in my face and wondered why I was so upset if the loss wasn't really that large. I told her, "It's just so damn frustrating that after all the countless hours I've spent researching, reading, writing code, and studying chart patterns over the last 2 years, that it still feels like a coin flip every time I enter a trade."

The tank changed that for me by allowing me to see a bias in the market that I hadn't given any credence to before and by following that bias I could stay on the right side of the trade and I could make this work.

Outliers are Critical.
In poker, it's usually best to play conservative until you get a hand where the probabilities are strongly in your favor. When trading, it's usually the same. You need to wait until the odds are strongly in your favor, and then go in heavy. Unfortunately, those conditions may exist only 2 to 3 times per day and only in windows of a few seconds where you can get in at the right odds.

Outliers are the keys to the castle. You add to your winners. Try to turn each and every trade that goes in your favor into an outlier. Get as much out of each trade as you can. Inverse applies to trades going against you. Limit your losses to the best of your ability by knowing you're wrong and scratching before the market proves you're wrong.

At the end of the day, 1 or 2 outlier trades can make up for every missed opportunity or good trade gone bad. And those become outlier days. And those lead to outlier weeks. Pretty soon, you don't have to worry about being right 70+ percent of the time. You take all that stress of "being right" off your shoulders and that in turn makes it easier to scratch a trade that's lost its premise. I no longer think that it "may come back so I don't have to take the loss" or "just try to get out here on this limit!" Who cares, scratch it. Next bus is coming. It's a heck of a lot easier to come back from a 200.00 loss versus a 2000.00 loss.


Yes, market bias is critical which is why we beat it in minute after minute, hour after hour, and day after day until people were sick of me discussing it. And double yes, outliers are ABSOLUTELY the keys to the castle, which most traders can't or won't pursue ... often under the completely wrong guise of "worsening" average cost and ignoring the concept of incremental income, or adding at the wrong times such as in range markets.

As I've mentioned from time to time, top traders -- like top poker players -- push hard and add to their bets when provided with market information that confirms their initial bias read. The millions I've earned over the last few years are the direct result of doing just that. Simply put, you have to know when to floor the accelerator and when to back off or coast, whether it be during a given trade sequence, day, week, month, or year. Like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, you simply have to know when to go for it. And experienced traders do just that.

The record of course shows that I sensed the kill over the last two years and thus pushed it hard. And we're talking about no-sleep, non-stop, health-affecting, hard ... in such a way where every single penny of the millions earned in recent years came at a price few would ever think of paying.

Last fall and even into this spring, I essentially floored the accelerator right through the pavement until the engine (my engine) ran out of fuel and was burning oil. So this summer, it was time to open the hood, let the engine breathe, and get a mind & body tune-up.

btw, in hindsight, my 2007-Early 2009 decisions to go for it, as well as the 2009 summer decision to pause to open the hood, were both 100% correct. Simply put, you have to push when you sense the kill, and you -- and only you -- need to make the decision as to when to do so. And don't ever let any bleacher bums critique your trading decisions, style, or self-imposed breaks in this business.

And now the engine has been rebuilt, I've teamed with a Pit Crew, and am now picking up the speed once again and racing around the track ... with a "car" that's much more lightweight and nimble, and a mind that's sharper than ever.

Yes, outliers are indeed the keys to the castle. And keys to the race car.

It's one thing when I say it.

Yet it means so much more when it comes directly from the traders.

And some day, I hope to be watching them join me in the victory lane, at which point I'd simply be content to help change their tires or dine at their castle.

P.S. Jellies - Never underestimate your potential. I certainly won't.

Tuesday AM Notes - Canceling the Stop Loss

One of the Jellies -- who has been cheering me on during my summer physical rebuilding effort -- has been on my case to publish before and after photos of my weight loss effort.

So to that end -- and to maintain this ongoing diary theme of accountability while at the same time stopping my friend's constant "pestering" -- I present the attached progress photos (click to enlarge), beginning with that infamous "rushed to the hospital with a head gash right before I greet a few dozen traders" day -- which officially marked my hitting bottom on the physical and post-run burnout plane of my life -- and ending with this final week in the inaugural Jellie tank.

Thanks for the support and encouragement Jimmy, which has been one wonderful and unexpected byproduct of the Jellie effort.

And after 4 more pounds, I'll be able to officially cancel the "Stop Loss".

P.S. And like my trading records, no photoshop was required.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Notes - Tonight's Final Webinar

A quick note to all attending tonight's final Jellie Webinar that I expect we'll run long tonight as we have a lot of material to cover, including 8-Week lessons authored by the Jellies in addition to the standard reinforcement of last week's tank discussions.

We'll also have a packed house, so I'll be starting at 7pm ET sharp. Please plan accordingly.


P.S. ADA Update as of this morning $9,970.84!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Webinar Excerpt Video

As a follow-up to today's earlier post (yes, I really did post it around 12:00AM ET), and as we get ready to expand the reach of the Webinar series to the trading world, I've added a video overview to the educational site that includes a few excerpts of the actual sessions for your benefit.

9:45AM Sunday Update - I've also updated the Webinar Syllabus & Table of Contents links to reflect the entire content presented over the last two months, which is also linked on the same video page.

The Weekend Trader - Ends & Beginnings

As the Jellie effort winds to a close, here are a few key updates to get the weekend started.

ADA Update - Thus far, and with one week left to go in the eight week inaugural effort, the tally of the portion of the Jellie Webinars that will go to charity is $9,542, which reflects a 15% tithe of the net Webinar proceeds ("net" meaning less merchant credit card processing fees).

As promised in my recent post, I plan to personally ante any difference to get us to $10,000 if we fall short, and hope we can exceed the target this week. Based on future plans (more below), I believe we'll exceed it over time ... if not blow through it.

Final Jellie Webinar - And speaking of the Webinars, the eighth and final one scheduled for Monday evening will include feedback offered by the Jellies detailing what each one feels are the three most important take-aways from the eight week marathon, so I expect we'll officially close the series with the same intensity with which we began.

Webinar Downloads - A reminder that I've recently added the capability for traders to download zipped files of all Webinar replays for you to store and replay on your PC to your heart's content. This feature is in addition to viewing the series directly from the server. In addition, all presentation handouts are downloadable in both color and black & white (for ease of printing).

Based on attendee feedback, one of the most applauded features of each week's session has been the recaps of the prior week in the tank, often using specific chart examples to describe key scenarios and take-aways. This weekly segment has allowed us to keep the content reflective of actual, current market conditions, while allowing those outside the "tank" to more clearly sense the live education that has occurred during market hours ... in today's market.

The Future - Lastly, and again based on the feedback from Webinar attendees as well as several well-respected leaders in the industry, we're going to increase the awareness of the recorded sessions beyond this blog to allow as many traders to benefit as possible, while continuing to donate a portion of the proceeds to the ADA.

As such, the Webinars will be getting wider exposure via both SFO and Stocks & Commodities Magazines (both of which have either interviewed me or published my teachings in earlier years ... and yes, my hair was a lot less gray during that 2005 Cover Interview!) in their November issues.

In addition, after the initial Jellie effort has been completed and the Webinar series wrapped, it's likely that I'll be adjusting the current discounted price closer to its true value. For now, I plan on leaving the current discount in place through the end of September to allow interested blog followers to benefit from what I believe is the most intensive educational service I've ever produced, and likely ever will in the future ... and at a fraction of the value. (I apologize if that comment sounds like a huge sales pitch ... it's simply how I feel about it.)

Over the coming days, I'll also be updating the syllabus on the site to reflect the final content of each session.


And so this coming week will mark several "ends" as well as new "beginnings":

The end in terms of the Jellies being turned loose to swim on their own (although we will be swimming alongside each other as peer traders going forward as I've stated in the past), yet the beginning of an infinite world of market opportunity.

The end in terms of completing the "charter" Jellies' formal educational, yet the beginning of working with one final team throughout October. And yes, a few spots still exist if you're interested as I'm purposely not screaming about the effort to maintain a professional and intimate atmosphere for those who want to be there.

And soon ... the end of Don Miller the educator/trader, and the return of Don Miller the trader as I trade alongside the expanded Jellie team in the new tank.

May fortune favor all those who have benefited in some small way from the experiences of the last two months -- and upcoming four weeks -- including the Jellies, Webinar Attendees, blog "onlookers", and those in need of services from the American Diabetes Association.

From day one, this was always about win-win.

I think it's safe to say that the mission is almost accomplished.

P.S. I'm also now down to 184 pounds ... my pre-wedding weight of 24 years ago! That's 19 pounds gang, and has been a large focus of my summer restoration of body and soul after what one doc termed as almost "working myself to death" in 2008. Yea, it was an extreme comment, but his point was well taken and helped trigger me to action.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Notes - 1st With 1 Week to Go

As many know, Thursday night is poker night at our local tourney, and fortunately I played better than I traded today and took the prior-week winner out for the bounty while also making the final table.

Which all means I'm now first with one week to go by 225 points, although there are several scenarios that could play out where I could lose it, including those 2nd through fourth winning (for 500 points) or taking the bounty (for 200) coupled with my not placing high in the final table which "pays" 50 through 250 for 8th through 2nd.

The good news is I have control of my own destiny.

Why do I care? Well, the winner gets a free buy-in at Foxwoods, not to mention when my poker game picks up it usually coincides with a tighter trading game.

And both have strong income implications.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Necessary Mistakes

Many of you know I have several pet peeves about this industry, including lack of transparency, poorly designed trader training by non-traders, and lack of accountability by the likes of Cramer et al. (Lest we forget that memorable "Miller vs. Barrons & Cramer" Post from February.)

Well one pet peeve that stacks right up there on my list is never being able to understand why many traders or educators never speak about that "other" side of this business -- or putting it bluntly, their MISTAKES.

Well I make 'em. And sometimes they're doozies. In fact I make 'em every day. And as I was telling the the team the other day, there has never been a day in my trading career where I haven't made one. Think about it. Never. And some days or portions of days, I flat out suck.

And while I've thus far passed on the many recommendations to pursue a book (btw, isn't the blog enough?? Plus, it's live and ever-evolving!), if I did, it would probably be titled something like, "How to make $2 Million by making Millions of Mistakes". And by "mistakes", I mean everything from tangible loss to the opportunity loss that comes from missed opportunities, lack of focus, burn-out, etc.

Rifle through the virtual pages of this diary and you'll see plenty of them. Who could forget that infamous day in October 2008 where I -- along with the rest of the world -- got the wake-up call of all wake-up calls as the VIX shot through 60. -$94K was the "tuition" I paid to learn how to trade the VIX in the stratosphere if I recall. And yes, the tuition was worth it as that week ended +$40K and month +$315K.

So that incredible month was the result of a beginning mistake. And not just your "trip on a banana peel" variety ... rather it was figuratively a full blown drop from the 4th floor of a building onto a concrete walk.

Today, I made smaller mistakes in that I traded the Europe session poorly and began the U.S. session with a drawdown. Yet I was able to use the information gained and "tuition" investment (failure for the market to break down even in the stratosphere and a less than 100% focused mind) to anticipate the U.S. session rhythm, tighten up the focus, and fully negate the early draw.

So why then do most traders, columnists, educators, vendors, chatrooms (I could go on, but might run out of virtual ink) never want to discuss their mistakes??? Well here's a news flash: We're human and we make 'em. And top traders make plenty of them ... perhaps even more than novices at times as we take the necessary risks required to profit over the long run.

And since mistakes are often the very seeds needed for success ... whether it be invention of the light bulb or million dollar trading, shouldn't we not only talk more about them, but shout them from the rooftops???

My recent years of success are the direct result of mistakes -- whether earlier in my career or of the current day variety. Come to think about it, even the current Jellie effort which is currently transforming traders is the direct result of a mistake in the form of my own personal early-summer burnout which led me to the concept of "Well, if I'm going to focus on restarting my own engine, why not do it with a team of traders so we can all benefit over the long run?"

Mistakes. I hate 'em. You can ask the Jellies about my self-inflicted lash marks.

But I love overcoming them.

Every hour of every day.

I have to.

I'm human.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Notes - Can Traders Be Taught?

Tonight I take to the video to share my thoughts on my own trading, performance momentum in general, some incorrect myths and generalizations floating around the 'net about how I trade, and whether traders can be taught to be successful.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Notes - Jellie Webinar Tonight

Normal posts will resume on Tuesday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Weekend Trader - The Sky's the Limit

Today, I speak directly to the Jellies about both the past and future, while allowing the rest of the world to listen in. Suffice to say I'm again raising both the stakes and bar.

The limit? It's called the sky.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Notes - In Memory of 9/11

I'm going with a silent post for tonight and letting Thursday's key notes stand.

May we always remember those who lost their lives or family members on that tragic day.

Look for the Weekend Trader as always.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Notes - Making a $10K Difference

Lots going on in the brain tonight (no jokes please), so I'll touch on a number of topics in no particular order.

First, my thanks to the three Jellies who penned the guest posts that you've seen here in recent weeks, including yesterday's. Each of them pursued them on their own, and it was a win-win in terms of their being able to share some thoughts while giving me a few nights off from blogging. Like many things in my life over the last few years, I didn't expect it, but appreciate it.

Second, I had a wonderful conversation with the Boston office of the American Diabetes Association yesterday, as I explained the Jellie effort to them and informed them that they could expect to receive a fairly significant check in a few weeks. As most hopefully know by now, I'm donating 15% of all Jellie Webinar proceeds to the ADA, and expect to present them with a check of at least $10,000 when the final tally is made in a few weeks. And if we don't reach $10,000, I'm going to personally make up the difference.

In a day and age where charitable organizations are hurting for capital, all I can say was that my call put a huge smile on the Executive Director's face, and I'll keep you posted as we get ready to deliver the funds. To all who have participated in the Webinars (which are recorded and downloadable for those still interested), you have my greatest thanks, and I trust the effort has been a win-win all around. Based on your feedback, it seems we've indeed done the right thing by delivering something with strong value at minimal cost, while benefiting a worthy cause and making a difference. In my view, that's what life is about.

Lastly, and on the topic of the Webinars, several of the attendees have expressed significant interest in participating in a Jellie-like effort in the future. And while I hadn't planned on duplicating the current effort for a number of reasons, I've decided -- based on the interest and feedback from current Jellies -- to respond by doing one more with a very limited number of participants who have previously participated in the Webinars or had contacted me in the past, and Webinar attendees will be able to apply the full cost of the Webinars to the effort.

The upcoming effort will be for four weeks beginning on September 28, at which time the current Jellies will continue to trade together in a separate "tank" (as I suspected and have mentioned previously, we've all indeed decided to trade together over the long haul ... more on that in future posts as we continue to build one of the top trading teams in the industry). After the four weeks have been completed, I'll then rejoin the Jellies -- along with interested folks from the new group -- simply as one of the trading team. In the interim, they'll also be able to "listen in" to the dialogue with the second group, so we'll still remain linked.

Please understand that the second, smaller effort will be with a limited group, and thus I don't plan on again rifling through hundreds of resumes and requests. As I've said before, this isn't about the money. If you're seriously interested and committed -- and yes, there is a tuition commitment -- please email me. As always, this is a serious effort for professional, mature individuals only, and this will likely be the only mention of the effort in my blog posts.

Now it's off to poker night where I've moved up to second place and am trailing #1 by a score of 1,850 to 1,825 with three weeks to go. I'll need to maintain the strong focus that we had in the tank today, if only for a few more hours.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Guest Jellie Writer #3

For the third time, it's one of the Jellies' turn to again take the virtual pen and give this trader the evening off from writing. I think the piece is especially enlightening since I lectured the group on focus at the end of today! Enjoy.


Focus & The "Cool Hand"

Have you got your mind right, Luke?
Yes sir, Boss. I got it right. I got it right.
Are you sure, Luke? You ain't gonna backslide on me are yuh? You sure your mind's right?
Yes suh, Boss. Please. Please don't hit me no more.

The above exchange between Luke (Paul Newman) and the Captain of the prison is from the 1967 classic "Cool Hand Luke".

There are many facets to having one’s “mind right” when it comes to trading. One component eloquently and sometimes loudly emphasized by Don to the Jellies is the importance of Focus. What is focus? Why is it important? And how might we enhance it and minimize distractions?

Tim Gallwey, the author best known for writing the classic, The Inner Game of Tennis, speaks of focus as “the quintessential component of superior performance in every activity, no matter what the skill level or age of the performer”.

The reality is we do our best when we are centered on task. This is no surprise. What's most interesting is not that focus equals results, but something more indirect. If we’re focused, it’s as though all the “other stuff” is out of the way. All those fears, concerns, and doubts are no longer influencing the outcome of our efforts. When we’re focused we’re in a way too busy to notice all the gremlins that can hinder performance.

Legendary futures trader, Richard Dennis, commented on trading by saying, “there’s less here than meets the eye”. Could this be another way our success is diminished is by losing focus? Perhaps our conscious mind emerges and does everything it can to over complicate this endeavor we call trading.

Themes I’ve taken from the tank to enhance focus include:

1. Simplicity. Don often responds to our queries about the relevance of some indicator or news item with “TMI”. Too much information. Less information can allow us to focus more effectively on the most important indicator of all, price.

2. Play. Don speaks to trading having a great deal in common with poker. Structure this endeavor so the learning process is enjoyable, even before the profits begin. Remember, focus is aligned with interest. Also do our best to travel this journey with as little pressure as possible. Our interest is then focused because we want it to be, rather than because it has to be to meet some monetary objective. For example, Don often speaks to the merits of having a supplemental income -- if possible -- to pay the bills and mentally "assist" one’s futures trading.

Perhaps it’s simpler than we care to believe, and our mind is already right. We just have to better nurture our focus. As a result, those fears and doubts will evaporate, and competence should ultimately follow.


And in case you missed it, here are the earlier first and second guest Jellie posts.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Notes - The Circle of Life

Tonight's 6th (of 8) Jellie Webinars was interesting for a couple of reasons, perhaps the most important one being that I devoted half of tonight's content to my own decade-long journey with particular emphasis on the early years. And those are the stories that I enjoy telling.

Why? Simple. For while many have joined this trek in recent years amidst talk of records and streaks, it's often those early trading years that provide the real clues as to what makes us tick. And of all the public speeches and articles I've done over the years, it's the early "being brought to one's knees" stories that I most want people to hear ... and that people need to hear.

And oh, are there stories. The sacrificing of our dream custom executive home after becoming a trader and move to a modest family fixer-upper to save money. Driving ten & 15 year old vehicles until they died. The time I thought I'd sacrificed my young family's future for the dream of conquering the markets. The times in tears ... literally. Yes, they're all true. And for those that forever warn me of gaining an ego because of recent success, those powerful memories have a tendency to always keep me on at least one knee.

Someone asked tonight what I would have done differently to avoid those times. And while I initially half-jokingly responded with, "everything that I advocate now", I quickly explained that answering such a question was like reviewing a chart after the fact ... which is a difficult and often worthless exercise.

I say that because we usually have to go through life's pains to reap the benefits. Sure, we can work to minimize it through education and careful life management, but we can never eliminate it. In responding, I also said that perhaps I had to go through some of the sharp pain to better understand the recent years of success, or simply so I'd feel strongly enough about the experiences that I'd feel compelled to publicly share the painful stories that have to be heard, yet are so seldom told. Cuz they make for lousy marketing copy.

In Sunday's post, I touched on some of life's challenges that have stared me in the face, and tonight we did similarly from a trading perspective.

And wouldn't you know it, the "Circle of Life" isn't a perfect circle after all.

Perhaps that's the lesson we have to learn ... the hard way.

A reminder for Webinar folks that the session videos are now fully downloadable in zip file format, in addition to playing them directly from the server.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Notes - 24 Years

Nothing to report on the trading front tonight, yet on a more important note, today marked the 24th anniversary of the most important milestone of my life ... our wedding.

As such, I didn't trade the Globex or Eurex sessions (yes, the futures markets were open aside from a brief midday break if you didn't notice) as we celebrated the end of the summer with a cookout in picture perfect Cape Cod weather.

As I'll be reminding everyone in Tuesday's Jellie Webinar, 100% of the earthly credit for any success I've experienced over the years goes to my wife Debra. She's stood by me through thick and thin, and I wouldn't have accomplished any of my dreams without her love, faith, and support ... especially during the painful times. Her support has been worth millions ... literally ... and this year has been dedicated to her.

Happy 24th to my best friend.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Tomorrow is Today

Labor Day Weekend.

Traditionally, it's the artificial demarcation point that separates "summer" and "fall" trading. And this year, it's also the starting line that separates my getting personally serious again about trading. Yet before the starting gun goes off, I need to take one last look at "What I Did During My Summer Vacation".

For me, the summer of 2009 will forever go down in my memory as the inner tearing down and rebuilding of Don Miller ... in part by choice, and in part by circumstance. For on the heels of a record all-out, non-stop run, a mental wall, fatigue, and that famous & literal bump on the head "hit" me (pun intended) out of nowhere. The guy who far surpassed his lifelong goal and topped the industry in 2008, couldn't lose in January '09, and barely lost in Q1 2009 suddenly appeared mortal. No scratch that ... I was the epitome of mortality.

Of course, sometime in May (I forget exactly when), I essentially shut down the inner personal race that had been extended far beyond the initial one-year plan as the result of continuing, albeit waning personal performance momentum, and essentially stopped keeping score. The mind and body simply screamed "enough", and ultimately led me to other efforts which became far more important than simply maximizing personal income.

If you recall, I repeatedly stated during the record run that I knew trading in such a "prolonged zone" wouldn't and couldn't last, yet it continued month after month in an absurd fashion until finally fading. Similarly, during this summer of retooling and focus on people other than myself, I knew the inner engine would shift out of neutral and into gear, yet the exact timing was likewise unknown.

Yet before continuing, perhaps it's best to briefly go back to my post of June 25th:


Yup, I bleed red just like everyone else. Reminds me again of that scene in Rocky IV when Ivan Drago finally gets cut and the announcers scream "The Russian is bleeding" and then Duke turns to Rocky and says, "He's worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He's not a machine, he's a man!"

As most should know my now, I view trading as a competitive mental sport, where performance momentum begets momentum. We saw that in spades last year with an avalanche of profit day after day and month after month. And right now, I'm trying like hell to hold back the rolling snowball so it doesn't become an avalanche in the other direction.

Which brings us to Rule #244 in The Tao of Poker that reminds us that such extended periods happen for professional athletes, and that there's not "something wrong with the universe" when it happens. A reminder this is why I floored it 24x7x52 last year ... lest we forget
yesterday's key video about the need for "outliers".

OK, so what am I going to do about it??

Essentially nothing. I'm the same person I was in 2008, and am simply going to keep breathing and swinging, knowing that at some point the performance momentum will again turn in my favor, at which point I plan to again floor the accelerator. I also look at May and June as bit of a "Perfect Storm" in terms of my being tested in both the market and in my personal life.

So that's going to be how I spend my summer vacation ... one step at a time.


And so I did. And in doing so, I chose to try to improve on what I strongly feel are significant educational deficiencies in this industry by again putting my actions where my mouth was and devoting myself to building as intense a developmental experience I could think of based on 100% transparency. In doing so, the idea was to jump-start the engine of not just this one trader ... but the engines of multiple traders simultaneously.

I suppose such is the case with life. We take it one step at a time, not knowing how long current circumstances will last. Yet we do know one thing with certainty. The circumstances will always be temporary. The good, the bad ... they're all just single pages in the book we call life.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm even here, as I was the second of two children -- yet only after my parents experienced a devastating stillbirth before somehow finding the inner strength and faith to try yet again.

And like everyone, there were other challenges along the way. I was born while my mother was experiencing chicken pox (not a good thing), had severe asthma as a kid, missed most of my junior year in high school due to a mono-like virus, then missed our High School basketball championship run due to a broken ankle while working on my comeback. Later in life, there were other setbacks including rocky career transitions, almost losing my wife to a massively burst appendix (it had gone gangrene) and subsequent infection, and then learning only a month later that at the age of 10, my youngest daughter Chelsea -- whose weight had been dropping at an alarming rate -- was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and would be forever dependent on insulin ... thus my passion for supporting the American Diabetes Association with some of the Jellie proceeds. Here's her own inspirational story as published on the front page of the local paper last year if you've missed it.

And this doesn't even touch on the trading highs and lows.

Yet thankfully, we're given a world of tomorrows. Tomorrows that give us an opportunity to do even better than yesterday. Tomorrows that at this end -- with God's strength -- have somehow given me the time to overcome every challenge thrown in front of me. Examples include overcoming my senior year illness and injury to set summer league scoring records the following year, rising to the top of three companies, seeing my wife bounce back in a major way -- recently losing 75 pounds and regaining her health and vigor, and currently watching Chelsea enter her senior year in High School as an accomplished athlete and violinist, as well as the leading candidate for valedictorian when she graduates next spring. No pressure kid! And yes, the competitive streak runs strong in our family.

For the rainbow will always appear after the storm, just as the joy of Easter will always follow the pain of Good Friday. And while the timing of personal rainbows is always uncertain ... just as the extent of the Bamboo heights is ... there is certainty that there are always things more powerfully at work in our lives than we'll ever know.

And so we all begin the new trading season with a blank page ... and at this end, with a new engine. For my capital is essentially fully in tact from the record run, my body feels good with my weight down from 201 to 187 in three short weeks (on its way to 180) and eating healthier than I ever have, and having spent the last few months assembling and training a team and support network that's about ready to step out on the playing field in the regular season. For now we begin to find out if the needs of the many indeed outweigh the needs of the few ... or the one.

Yes, from a scorecard perspective, both the personal run and break lasted longer than I expected. Yet I believe there's a greater scorecard at work in our lives that we may never fully understand. And in the end, that's the only score that matters.

All is know is this:

Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow starts today.

Let's take advantage of it ... in trading and in life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Notes - Averaging Up

As week five of the eight-week Jellie effort concluded today, it's been another full and extensive week as we now gear up for the "regular season" that post-Labor Day trading typically brings.

Today certainly wasn't bad all from an opportunity perspective though, as both the U.S. and Europe normal sessions were practically identical in their patterns (click early session charts to the right enlarge; ES on top, DAX on the bottom) and lack of weakness signals. As a result, the "tank" bias was strong throughout the day as we focused primarily on finding wholesale entries on both pullbacks and range expansions to take advantage of anticipated continuations.

And like the other day, the day's rhythm provided many opportunities, including three by this trader, to add to winning positions with the classic "buy-buy-buy-sell-sell" sequencing -- on the way up -- that top traders understand is often the best way to grow profits exponentially. And for newbies, yea, it results in a worse "average cost' ... yet each add provides incremental income.

Think of it this way, would you rather make two points on five contracts with a lower "average cost" or two points on five and one point on another five with a worse "average cost"?? Of course the backdrop and anticipated action has to provide for continuation, which is why market bias is so key. That change in mindset by itself has been enough to get some traders to finally see the light and reverse bad habits ... which is continuing to happen in the tank.

Today's tank emphasis was also on reinforcing the fact that one doesn't have to trade the high-risk Jobs data whipsaws to generate sustainable income from consistent, low-risk, and high-probability opportunities during the course of the 13 hours between when Europe opens and the U.S. close.

And if we can't find 2 or 3 prime opportunities in 13 hours, then I suppose we should empty the water out of the tank!

Look for much more -- including the usual "Weekend Trader" -- over the Holiday weekend.

E-Mail Announcement

All - I'm having some issues sending mail at this end (receiving is fine), and am currently working with my provider to resolve the issue. In the meantime, please know I'm not ignoring the mail, and that my responses may not have made it to you. I appreciate your patience as we work through the issues. Thanks. Don

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday Notes - Webinar Excerpts

I thought I'd provide a paraphrased excerpt from last night's packed Online Trader Central Webinar -- which essentially was a tiny excerpt of the Jellie Study Session Series -- and focus on one of the many key indicators the Jellies use: Three Line Break. In the video, I refer to the two slides below (Click to Enlarge). Enjoy.

btw, Poker night tonight, so I'll respond to emails after I try to move from 3rd to 1st in our standings!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday Webinar Reminder

A reminder I'll be giving a free HotComm Webinar from 5:30pm - 6:30pm ET this afternoon, where I'll be discussing how the Jellies are using Three Line Break and TICK in their trade management.

Interested participants can register here.

7:20pm Wow ... 668 Attendees from 45 countries ... I think that's an Online Trader Central record! Thanks all for attending. It's been a long day here as I've been up since 3AM trading the Europe and U.S. opens on this key M.A.T.D (Morning After Trend Day), so I'll post again tomorrow. If you're new to the blog, I encourage you to begin with the key post list in the lower left margin.

A reminder per tonight's event
that I'll be providing everyone interested in the recorded Jellie Webinar Package with a 1/2 hour personal phone call to supplement the first five recordings & final three live sessions for sign-ups before 5pm on Friday.

Have a pleasant evening.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Notes - The Toughest Student

Someone asked me the other day why I chose to start a blog last year, as well as "why the Jellies"? And while are were many reasons for both which are well chronicled in these pages, there would be one common thread in both responses ... and that is my desire to openly share the reality in this business that is too often hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

So last year, I chose to chronicle every bump and bruise in a way that had rarely -- if ever -- been done before in such a public forum. The rest, as they say, is history. And of course a few months ago, I agreed to do similarly -- under an even more intense microscope -- with a group of twenty traders who not only see a summary of every day's actions as was the case in these pages throughout 2008, but every moment's thoughts and actions. And as I've stated from day one in this diary that has taken on an incredible life of its own, the dialogue includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. For they always have and always will.

You see many pursuing this business think the life of a trader -- especially one that has been so richly blessed with being able to reach the pinnacle of a career and industry -- is an easy one. And at first blush, it certainly seems the case with no customers, no employees, and an infinite supply of industry inventory with which a trader has to manage. It just sounds ... well, so simple ... especially when you start throwing around the word "million" to describe performance.

Yet the Jellies are seeing the other story. The full story. The real story. The story I've been trying to scream about since I gained a public voice years ago, including in what has become a very public diary since July 2008. A story devoid of curtains, smoke, or mirrors. The story that includes every moment-by-moment & breath-by-breath thought that enters a trader's mind, as well as the result of his actions ... wherever the market chooses to take his/her trade and however efficiently or poorly managed. The story that includes sometimes-agonizing detail that may best be described by borrowing the words of ABC Sports, "The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat". Cue the music and skier.

Those that have followed the blog know that the recent millions were only possible because of the occasional sharp pain that's unavoidable in a business where we constantly must put ourselves at risk. For that's -- as Paul Harvey would say -- the rest of the story, just as the pain of childbirth is a necessary chapter to the book of life.

And I imagine if you asked the Jellies to a man, they'd tell you they're indeed witnessing the rest of the story for which words will never do justice. For just as I do in this diary, I don't pull punches in the tank. I simply tell it like it is, including critiquing trade placement or management -- sometimes rather harshly.

The Jellies will also probably tell you that I'm the hardest on one particular trader. And I've admittedly been fairly relentless on this one individual since day one, and many wonder why I don't cut him a break. In fact, one of the other Jellies told me today to back off a bit. I suppose you could say I'm sometimes downright rude to him. You see he's fairly consistent, but is simply leaving far too much of his capabilities "in the locker room". He's done OK in the past, but I'm constantly in his ear on a daily basis telling him that doesn't mean squat.

And yes, I admit I'm essentially trying to mentally "break" him so he can lose his prior self and move to that next level. In my opinion, he just has to be broken ... not unlike David Webb had to be broken in becoming Jason Bourne (absent the firearms of course).

And while I can't share names for confidentiality reasons, he's given me the approval to provide his initials:


P.S. A reminder I'll be giving a free Webinar Wednesday afternoon at 5:30pm ET if you're interested in attending. I'll be discussing a few of the indicators the Jellies use to manage their intraday trades, including TICK and Three Line Break.