Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Notes - Slumdog Millionaire

Jamal Malik is one question away from willing 20 million rupees. How did he do it?

A: He Cheated
B: He's Lucky
C: He's a Genius
D. It is Destiny

Those familiar with the incredible award winning movie Slumdog Millionaire will recognize the above opening, for which the answer is provided at the end of the film. And as I mentioned to my fellow trading teammates the other day, I finally joined the ranks of those watching it over the weekend after I returned from my Sunday Foxwoods trek.

Of course, since I tend to live and breathe trading just about 24x7, and like most movies I watch, I saw incredible trading parallels ... at least to this trader's last decade.

Yet before I continue, let me be clear in that I by no means am inferring that my life has been even .001% as difficult as those in the slums of India as portrayed in the movie. So let's not even go there.

Nevertheless, there are a few interesting similarities from a plot perspective, as many continue to be drawn to the mystery and intrigue of following this trader's ongoing journey. And we need look no further than the opening scene above ... although we'll twist the first part of the question ever so slightly:

Don Miller has made millions in trading over the last few years. How did he do it?

A: He Cheated
B: He's Lucky
C: He's a Genius
D. It is Destiny

And like the movie storyline where Jamal's actions, motives, and results are scrutinized, various onlookers who have stumbled across these pages over the last few years have likewise considered every single answer long and hard. Examples:

A. He Cheated - This answer has been considered by a tiny minority of lazy trader wannabes who like to talk more than trade and complain that CME seat lessees have a trading "advantage" over everyone else.

Is that your final answer?
Before responding, you may want to ask the audience, or at a minimum, revisit my second Blue Wall post from September.

B. He's Lucky - This answer was considered by one particular individual several months ago who will go to his grave incorrectly believing that trading is 100% luck, and who refuses to believe that any trader can be successful on a long term basis. And despite speaking to this gentleman for almost an hour one evening quoting facts, figures, and providing reference after reference, I finally ended the conversation with, "well, some of us must be the luckiest people on the planet".

Is that your final answer? Before responding, you may want to phone a friend on that one ... as in my broker at MF Global.

C. He's a Genius - This answer has also been considered by some who believe I simply "know" something that others don't. And while I do have a BSBA, MBA, CMA, and other various initials, have a very unique way of viewing and predicting market behavior, and can multitask with the best of them, I'll tell you that most times I'm not even the smartest guy in any given room.

Is that your final answer? I say go for the 50-50 ... it will take this choice off right away.

Which brings us to:

D. It is Destiny - Interestingly, I did consider this at times -- especially after we began putting an "s" at the end of "Million" earlier this year and I began considering any day that didn't achieve five figures as a bad day.

But is that my final answer? Well, the 50-50 also removed this one.

So what is the real answer?

Before giving it away, suffice it to say that as was the case throughout the movie, the results have been the product of years of hard work in the trenches that most will never see or understand.

For while I never trudged through latrines or was physically tortured, my current-day results are similarly the accumulation of years of doing things many would never do, such as getting up at 3 or 4am day after day, putting my capital on the line trade after trade, thinking about trading almost non-stop, sacrificing personal freedom for extended periods of time, learning from tremendous setbacks in the early days, and simply getting back up after every devastating blow or disappointment ... day after day, month after month, and year after year.

Throughout the movie, we're provided the real clues as to why Jamal knew the answers. And throughout the last two years of this blog -- and intense recent Jellie training -- I've tried to provide similar clues as to how I was able to reach the upper echelon of the trading field, which is to get up earlier, work harder, and get up off the mat faster and stronger than the vast majority who "think" they want to become successful traders without paying their dues.

Yet hard work -- as important as it is -- would only be a partial answer.

As for the real answer?

I'll pencil in: E. By the grace of God.

And since I'm simply a temporary steward of the tremendous assets with which I've been blessed, the real test may be what I do with the assets. Sure, training traders and helping the American Diabetes Association was a start, but I know there's more. Lots more.

For to whom much is given, much is expected. - Luke 12:48

And that's the only test I truly want to pass.

Frankly, it's the only one that matters.

Have a pleasant evening.