Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Break

Recharging over the weekend, including a trip to Foxwoods.  Back at it on Monday.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Notes - Wrap on a Busy Week

Some closing thoughts and perspectives on a highly productive week, including follow-up to Tuesday's heartfelt post, perspectives on today's action, trading news, continued emphasis on trader preparation & aggression, reversing backward trader mindsets, and other insights from the trader training effort.

And perhaps the chant of "M.A.T.D". will soon overshadow that of the Olympic "U.S.A."!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Special Post - No 4:30pm Livestream TV

Due to trader training. 

You can view last week's "replay" of a portion of the NY Expo presentation here.

Normal posts will resume on Friday. 

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Notes - Overcoming the Odds

Every now and then, you meet someone in this business who simply touches the depths of your soul and helps reset the proper perspectives of trading -- and more importantly -- life. 

And while I've been fortunate over the years to have met and worked with many great people, one individual of the current team has impacted me in a way that words will never be able to fully describe.

His name is Bob, and he's allowed me to share his story.

You see, about four years ago, Bob lost his wife and 5-year old son in a private plane crash in which he and his other son barely survived.  Bob barely escaped death himself, as he had a nearly severed leg and had to be pulled from the burning plane by a passer-by who was flagged down by his surviving 7-year old son.  And while I'll withhold his full name for respect of privacy, I can tell you the story is real and is well-documented in newspapers.

I first met Bob about seven months ago, and he's become nothing short of an inspiration to me as I've learned about how he's battled back and continued on with life and raising his incredible son.  We've chatted several times -- including tonight -- and each time he's helped me gain an improved perspective of life, as well as what "overcoming the odds" truly means.

So no trading commentary tonight gang.

Instead, simply perspective as we collectively pursue an endeavor that has a place in life.

But not first place.

Keep the faith my friend, and remember that time is only a temporary separator.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Notes - The Importance of "Time"

Some perspectives from tonight's Jellie wrap session and today's market from an admittedly tired trader.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Weekend Trader - Lessons from Woods, Bullock, & O'Brien

Many of you probably know by now that just about everything I see in life draws some sort of parallel to trading, whether it's attending a concert of the state's top high school musicians as I discussed January 2009's Jazz Trader post (a piece which was subsequently syndicated by the folks), or watching any of the several movies we've discussed in the pages over the last two years.

Quick aside -- If you're looking for some fun reading material on a winter Sunday... you can find a brief list of the corny movie analogies near the top of last August's "Julie & Julia" post.

And such was again the case over the last few weeks as I followed the end of Conan O'Brien's brief Tonight Show run, the Tiger Woods saga, and then watched an E! presentation on one of my favorite actors last night -- Sandra Bullock.  And there was one common theme throughout, which should become evident.

Lessons from Tiger Woods - We'll start with this one -- from perhaps a different angle than you may expect -- using yesterday's quotes from caddie Steve Williams to get the discussion going.

"There are always going to be people who are going to knock you ... there have been people who have knocked him anyway. I am sure there might be a few more, it goes with the territory.  My gut feeling is he doesn't come back until he's 100 percent better, focused on golf and ready to win."

Lessons?  I see two.  Actually, there are probably about a dozen including the part of humanity, but we'll keep it to two. 

First, never expect to live life with a 100% popularity poll ... even during the good times.  Keeping in mind that there will always be another trader on the other side of my trade who believes the exact opposite of my perspective helps keep this trader grounded.

Second, it's a strong reminder that one shouldn't participate in any skill-based endeavor if distracted by larger life "events".  For here's the world's greatest golfer by far (I didn't say "person"), realizing that even he can't perform unless and until he fixes more important things in his life.

At my end, it should also come as no surprise that all of my largest hits over the last few years have come during periods of distraction or suboptimal focus.

Lessons from Sandra Bullock - Let me first say I love Sandra Bullock.  Not in the romantic or "stalker" way of course (my wife also "loves" her), yet I simply enjoy watching any project with which she's involved.  One reason is she has a seemingly unending supply of energy and positive approach toward life.  And yes, she's has incredible looks.

Last night's show focused in part on the latter years of her "journey", when like many actors before her, she chose to pursue producing & directing ... while continuing to act.  Why?  Well according to her, it was because (1) she always wants to make sure that she's "moving forward" in her life, and (2) she simply enjoys it. 

She always has multiple irons in the fire, and is never afraid of risking failure.  Does anyone remember Speed 2??  Not the one with the bus, but the second one with the out-of-control cruise ship???  It was a complete bomb.  Or in her words, the worst "piece of sh#%&#t" one could ever produce.

And while she -- like all of us -- is a mere mortal trying to figure out how best to spend the brief time with which we've all been blessed, I took three personal take-aways from last night's show.

First, keep moving forward.  Second, never let fear of failure, looking ridiculous, or the world's cynics stop you from pursuit of a worthwhile endeavor.  (We'll address the cynics directly in more detail below.) And third, pursue what you love to do.

Traders of course can relate to all three.  Even at my end, as I continue to try to carve out a balance with two efforts that I simply enjoy more than I'll ever be able to put into words -- trading and teaching -- it was a helpful reminder that there's nothing wrong with balancing both.  In fact, I think I'm finally realizing that to do either one effectively, one really has to do both.  For each endeavor provides a unique perspective that is necessary to make the other one work.

If you're a good trader, I suggest you reach out to someone to teach them what you've learned.  In doing so, you'll find it indirectly enhances your trading.  And if you're a good teacher, find ways to continue to trade to keep yourself sharp and abreast of current markets -- which in turn will enhance your teaching.  For in both cases, you'll likely find that focusing on one will likely improve the other.

Lessons from Conan O'Brien - And lastly, if you ever find yourself surrounded with cynics -- as those of us who have chosen to live a public life outside of a cave sometimes are -- I'll echo the final words of Conan O'Brien who may have said it best when he closed his short-lived Tonight Show experience with the following: (You can fast forward to the 3:50 mark of the video for full effect ... it's a classic.)

"All I ask of you, especially young people . . . is one thing. Please don't be cynical.  I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen."  Conan O'Brien 1-22-2010

And he's right.  Even at my end, I'm going to work on being less cynical. 

Even of cynics.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Notes - Tank Rant, Rehab & Cash

Tonight's video allows non-tank members to "sit in" on my suggestions for continued trader improvements, my personal "rehab" this week, and why I enjoy being in cash every night.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Notes - Poker Night

Unwinding from the long week.  Back at it on Friday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Special Post - Trader Expo Presentation

This afternoon's Livestream "replay" of a portion of Monday's presentation at the Traders Expo in New York is now available at the Livestream on-demand site.

Just click on the "Wed Feb 17" video link in the lower section of the Livestream page.

Also, please note you can expand the video screen via a button in the top right.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Notes - Expo Follow-Up

Tonight I discuss my final observations on the Expo -- including several perceived positives for this industry -- as well as discuss plans to provide portions of the presentation content over time via video and the Livestream TV effort (beginning here tomorrow at 4:30pm ET) for those who couldn't attend.

btw, I misspelled NEWSical near the end.  There's no "u" ... duh.  And the show included a hilarious skit poking fun (and rightfully so) at Suze Orman.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday PM Notes - Thank You New York

Some observations from the Trader Expo as I head back to the comfy confines of Cape Cod courtesy of Amtrak to Providence, and then via the Miller van for the final stretch drive.

Well, I guess they weren’t kidding when I was told we’d have a full house for this morning’s presentation (I was a bit skeptical), as the official headcount tally clocked in at 250+ with folks standing in the back. According to Pat Lafferty, it was apparently the largest Expo crowd MF Global has ever sponsored, and my thanks to Pat and Chuck from MF Global, as well as the fine folks at the CME for inviting me to speak. Also, congratulations to May Guan who won the Jellie study series drawing.

My thanks also to Tim Bourquin for inviting me into the MoneyShow videotaping studio where we did a series of brief segments which will be aired over the course of the next few months. It was a far cry from my humble trading office studio webcam. In general, the Expo folks did an outstanding job as always.

Some initial take-aways. As was the case with prior years, there was an abundance of how-to trader training booths, ranging from hired salesmen pitching dreams to a few (in my view) refreshing bona-fide efforts that endorsed longer-term training programs. Having said that, it remains to be seen how many are actually led by pedigree traders who have proven themselves at one time or another. Frankly, I still don’t see it.

Which brings me to my continuing dilemma which I discussed with no less than a dozen people over the last few days, including the Jellie traders who got together Sunday night. There’s now no doubt in my mind – absolutely zero doubt at all – that the modest effort we began last year with the Jellies, which unexpectedly grew into three subsequent efforts and a single planned session for 2010 beginning in two weeks, is on the right track.

Add to that the extremely warm reception the Jellie effort received both in private discussions from past participants & onlookers, and then on a national and very public stage this weekend, and I’m left wondering how to properly devote my time going forward. As I hinted last week, the combination of trading and training is quickly growing beyond one person and I need to consider options if I’m to maintain my focus, energy, and sanity.

What I’m beginning to realize, is that there apparently wasn’t just a trading bamboo planted a few years ago … there was an educational one as well that people are screaming at me not to stop watering.

I of course continue to consider myself a trader. A trader who continues to want to push himself toward new goals and new horizons. Yet I wonder if it’s selfish of me to continue to put that at the top of my priorities. Is my recent challenge in increasing sizes to block size trading and grow millions into mega-millions misplaced?? Is there an actual limit to the height of a Bamboo??

My dad (a very wise man as most dads are) once told me that everything is good – in moderation. Not exactly what a Type A overachiever wants to hear.

For now, my immediate plan remains to try to strike that careful balance by primarily trading, while sprinkling in some teaching at appropriate intervals. And as I told the Jellies over the weekend, I also want to continue to improve on the effectiveness of the ongoing communication link so all can benefit.

Last week I did an experiment of sorts. During portions of the week I traded alone as I traditionally do, while other times I traded with the ongoing Jellie link active on my screen where we exchange observations and compare market biases in shorthand. To my surprise, I traded more effectively and profitably when I was in the room actively monitoring and commenting. Simply put, my head was “more in the game”, compared to other times where I was sloppy and unfocused. And this is from a guy who has always traded better alone in a cave.

A reminder I derive no benefit from the ongoing room – aside from improved trading results should they occur -- as we all share the cost. I don’t even see the bill as payment is handled by another Jellie.

With others, it’s just the opposite – which continues to prove that everyone must find what works for them in terms of facilitating optimal focus.

This much I know. Tomorrow morning I’ll show up at my trading office and do what I love to do. Trade. And as the Amtrak “Polar Express” passes snow-laden Stamford, Norwalk, New Haven and beyond, I find myself invigorated by the events of this weekend … on all fronts.

To those attending today's session, thank you for your time and I hope the effort got you thinking about this business with a newfound passion and perspective.  To Cliff, John,  Joe, & your spouses, thanks for sharing time and/or dinner with us. And to Ed – not an official Jellie, but a friend of a Jellie who couldn't attend – my thanks for showing me a few techniques to improve my posture and neck issues.

To Pat, you remain my broker lifeline and continue to have my utmost respect. To Linda & Damon, we didn’t have much time to chat, but keep up the great work and I wish you continued success and that balance in life that I’m similarly seeking.

To the many who stopped to say hi and thanks for the blog -- several of whom also gave me great comfort in that telling me I will need to slow down at some point and there's nothing wrong with that -- I appreciated the discussions and will consider your advice.

And to the city of New York, thank you for welcoming my family and me with open arms.

You are indeed a special place.

Monday Notes - More From NY

Had a good day yesterday hanging with the folks at MF Global and then catching up with a few of the Jellies in the evening.  I caught up with Carolyn Boroden, and Linda Raschke & Damon Pavaltatos also stopped by to say hi.

This morning it's off to a MoneyShow interview at 9:30 and then the presentation at 10:30, where I'm told the room will be packed.

And yes, I've already traded the DAX this morning, getting up at 5am, heading into the "private room" with a flashlight so as not to disturb my daughter and wife, logging into my trading station 300 miles away, checking the Europe charts, and executing a sequence before finalizing the presentation.

We'll head out late this afternoon and should be home by about 11pm.

I'll provide a summary of the day and weekend on my train ride back this evening.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Weekend Traveler - Tales From NY

Last update 7:50pm ET.

Check back throughout the weekend for updates from New York & the Trader Expo.

7:50PM Dined at Broadway Joe's Steakhouse on 46th between 8th & 9th with John from the Jellie team & his wife.  Great food, friends and another strong recommendation.

3:55PM  Just saw NEWSical -- a great current event musical parody  -- at the 47th Street Theater after standing in the 1/2 price line.  (Hell, I'm a trader!)  It was hysterical and I highly recommend it for anyone.

11:40AM Today will be family day (absent my other daughter in Europe), before meeting with the Jellies Sunday night and finalizing preparations for Monday's MoneyShow interview and the 10:30 presentation.

Be sure to stop by MF Global's booth and say hi to Pat Lafferty.

We're about to head into the tunnel to Penn Station, so more later.

And yes, that's my Sony Vaio!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Weekend Trader - Breathing Exercises

This weekend will mark a few important milestones for me, including giving a great deal of time to think about my trading business and the future of the blog.

In terms of milestones, Monday's Expo presentation will reflect one of my rare speaking engagements which I plan to continue to limit.  One reason is that I simply don't enjoy traveling. The topic will be "Profiting From Intraday S&P Market Inefficiencies", with emphasis on helping traders try to think of this business with a "storefront" mentality.  There's no cost to attend, and we'll have some fun with a study session give-away at the end.  My biggest challenge will be squeezing as much as I can into 45 minutes.

Second, several of the Jellies will be meeting in person -- some for the first time -- Sunday evening at 7pm in the Marriott Marquis lounge if anyone is interested in saying hi.  The team had a strong session this morning, which was a good send-off for the long weekend.

And third, after a critical session with my trading psych coach this morning, I'm going to use the long weekend to work on cleaning some lingering cobwebs out of my brain and again reassess the future of my involvement with blogging & teaching.

With respect to the coaching, the experience has been productive and worth the investment, and has further affirmed my belief that this "skill profession" is 99% between the ears for discretionary traders.

There's the old joke of course about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb.  Only one, but the bulb has to really want to change.  Well, I admit I've been a bit like that bulb who in some areas hasn't been ready to change back to the ultra-aggressive, ultra-competitive Don of the mid to late 2000s.  I grew ... comfortable ... and these virtual pages are full of ramblings that have tired some.

A reminder gang that this is a non-fictional account of this trader's journey.  If you want to read about the millions, then you have to accept the venting of frustrations and challenges.  As any true trader will tell you, you can't have one without the other, and if you don't care for the content, please change the channel to C.S.I. Wall Street or any of the hundreds of "fictional" sites and chatrooms out there.  I'm sure they're full of feel-good stories.  Of all my goals in life, one isn't creating internet traffic.  One is trying to get the word out of what this business is really about.

Frankly, it's continuing to take every ounce of my focus as I coil the slingshot.

Which brings me to a larger perspective.  Life of course is about alternating inhales and exhales, as well as about continually opening one's hand to give back so your open palm can freely receive again.  From a trading perspective, 1999-2002 for me was an inhale in terms of focusing on my own trading, 2003-2005 was a bit of an exhale and giving away with writing and teaching (while I still traded), 2006 - early 2009 another trading inhale (with increased lung capacity), and the latter part of '09 an exhale.

And as I work on both receiving and inhaling once again in 2010, one thing I've learned throughout the last decade is that inhaling and exhaling are impossible to do simultaneously ... both literally (duh) and in terms of the trading/teaching/blogging paradox.  It sure hasn't kept me from trying though!  I've also learned that you can't fully accelerate with the parking brake engaged, or using the words of our former NFL quarterback turned Jellie (still trading with us by the way), playing at anything less than full speed is a great recipe for injury and/or disaster.

One commenter recently suggested that I narrow my focus.  And he/she is right.  Trading, teaching, blogging, & running two businesses with one person is a recipe for doing lots of things poorly.  Especially as the trading risk/reward ramps up another notch.

So this weekend, I'll be considering a number of options, which range between the two extremes of going completely off the grid as I did a few years ago (seriously) to partnering with someone to continue the multiple fronts to allow for better focus.

Yet for now, I look forward to meeting some old and new friends over the weekend in NY.

For those traveling, have a safe journey.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Notes - Massage & Poker Night

Back at it on Friday for one final post before hopping on the train to NY.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Notes - Nothing But Net

At this end, today was a quasi-practice day for me as I found myself carrying over some sloppy play from the prior two days during this morning's early Europe session.

So I decided to instill a combination of both discipline and fun in my game by seeing how many consecutive profitable trade sequences I could make, using the number of consecutive NBA free throws (97 By Michael Williams in 1993 ... and yes, I had the wrong figure during today's chat) as a reference point.

So every time I saw an edge, no matter how slight, I took it and exited immediately.  And while I didn't make it to 97, I did manage to reach 21 before having to start the streak all over.  The idea of course was to tighten up my game and simply focus on the "ball" and "hoop".  No crowd, no teammates ... just me in an empty gym.

Which reminded me of one of the most popular Super Bowl commercials of all time when Bird and Jordan played the famous "first one to miss" game for a Big Mac.

The only difference was that in my case, it was more like ... "Off the divergence, over the low volume, around the phony sizes, through the TICK air ... Nothing But Net".

The real game starts again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Notes - Video Follow-Up

Tonight I take a break from the keyboard and use the camera to follow up on Sunday's post addressing trader commissions, as well as expand on a portion of yesterday's piece on trader education.

A reminder that we'll again continue with the Livestream TV interactive chat here tomorrow at 4:30pm ET.  Just refresh the browser around 4:15pm ET and view in HD.  You can also view at the On-Demand site which will be playing a pre-recorded video until air time.

And I promise not to screw up the recording this time for those who can't make it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Notes - Super Bowl Wrap Edition

Some random musings on the day after the big game.

Commission Analysis Follow-Up - MF Global's fee experts reviewed yesterday's commission analysis in depth today and they confirmed all the data is correct.  I've added the post to the Key Post list in the lower left hand margin for ease of future reference.  Based on record Sunday blog traffic, it seems the analysis was sorely needed.  Thanks to Dr. Brett for helping spread the word.

Why Don't I Purchase a Seat? - An excellent question as Jeb221's conclusions in yesterday's comments are indeed correct, and one that I've been considering for some time -- especially as lease prices have continued to plummet and are at multi-year lows (the last IOM seat recently sold for $175K vs. around $500K just two years ago).  For now, I've chosen not to make the investment, but the issue is definitely on the table again and I've ramped up dialogue with MF Global's seat liaisons.  Traditionally, I've preferred the variable cost (vs. initial investment) route for flexibility.

New York Prep - I'm putting the finishing touches on the NY Expo talk, which will include a segment on trader cost structure and expand on some of the elements in Sunday's commission analysis.  One of the general themes will be "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" to continue to try to get traders thinking about trading as the casino versus the speculator ... no matter how small their "casino" may be.  Why some traders refuse to acknowledge that cost structure may be the heart of their problem vs. simply barking at profitable traders who have figured it out continues to escape me.

TT Excel Programming - I've just about completed programming an excel spreadsheet that contains in-depth live trade logging and summarizing in a way that meets my preferences (many canned trading statistic platforms simply don't provide the data in the way which I prefer), which I'll make available for those trading via Trading Technologies' order entry system shortly.  As I mentioned the other day, one solid benefit to the TT platform is that it automatically links its live data feed to Excel which allows you to dice and slice the data any way you choose to.

Psych Coach Update - I had a good session with my psych coach on Sunday, which included a subconscious re-wiring of a thought pattern which often affects those of us who both teach and trade.  I'll provide additional data and results over time.  It also reinforced the need for me to LIMIT formal live teaching this year to the single upcoming effort.

Continuing Education Thoughts - Which brings me to my final thought in response to a few recent questions on my views on formal trader education. Yes, I've been highly critical of it over the years ... although I've recently chosen to stop whining and try to do something about it.  And I also believe that experience will always be the best teacher -- whether in trading or in life.

Here are my simple views, perhaps surprising to some: There are many solid educational efforts out there of which I'm not a part. And my suggestion is that if you have such a need and come across those efforts via reference, word of mouth, proven performance, or another bona-fide source, by all means pursue them!

Yet here's where I'm stumped.  There are some that refuse to believe that any education for which you have to pay isn't completely bogus, and/or that they should guarantee a certain level of earnings.  So let's not only throw the baby out with the bath water, let's add her two brothers as well.  Next, I suppose we'll be asking the government to provide "free" trading education for everyone ... and let's fund via some sort of hidden tax.  Oh, and let's also go ahead a pay losing traders an income so that everyone is guaranteed to come out the same regardless of personal dedication and application of skill.

Sound ridiculous?  Well, just a quick tour around the 'net will prove otherwise.

At my end, I budget a minimum of $10K in expense annually to fund a combination of personal coaching and continuing education.  I'll also spend about $80K this year to pay for two years of my two daughters' formal education, a total that will reach over $320K for their combined eight years, and that doesn't include likely graduate programs.  The expectation of course is that they'll both earn far more than that over their lifetimes to offset the cost.  I suppose I should have asked the college to guarantee they'd receive all As, as well as a lucrative job after graduation ... oh, and then success after that.

Yet in a business where one could literally out-earn the vast majority of professions, some continue to insist that even a single dollar paid for education is too much.  Have we really grown that cynical of this business??  Again, I'll take myself and any vested interest out of the picture by saying if you find quality teaching out there and are in need, pursue it.

One question I'm often asked is why do most traders fail.

There are of course many answers, yet one is poor cost management in the context of either paying excessive costs via over-priced commissions, or via underfunded investment in training.  Such are also classic reasons why some businesses in general fail or simply suboptimize their results.

You may find that doing your homework in both may pay off in the long run.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Special Post - Comprehensive E-Mini Commission Analysis

Prompted by a combination of various email & Twitter responses to my recent post on CME member commission rates (feedback greatly appreciated btw), as well as lots of confusion and lack of clarity (some purposeful) on the various rate structures involving non-members, lessees, and Electronic Corporate Memberships (ECMs) -- I haven't come across a single current comprehensive comparison -- I've put together what I believe is an accurate and detailed cost comparison of choices for traders seeing to reduce their expenses via the CME member route:

Snapshot Photo
Excel Version

Essentially, I lay out the four common choices: non-member, Lessee, ECM-H, and ECM-M.  (I chose to omit the fifth option of purchasing an Exchange seat which is out of reach for most and would introduce a host of other cost/benefit issues beyond this scope.)

For those not familiar with ECMs, the term refers to Electronic Corporate Memberships which are available to Prop Firms and whose commissions are priced in-between non-member and Lessee rates.  As noted on the CME ECM Q&A, an ECM-H still requires the purchase of a lease (two in fact) while an ECM-W (a temporary category) allows for a waiver of the lease so long as average daily volume is at least 50 contracts.

A few notes and observations from this end:

- I've highlighted the lowest total monthly cost given various volume levels in green.

- The analysis only reflects the CME rates.  FCM or Prop Firm commission setting & bundling is firm-specific and could have as many flavors as Baskins Robbins.  So consider the prefacing phrase "all things being equal ..." critical as you review the data.

- Given the lower commission rates -- and especially the substantial discount structure that kicks in for lessees after the 1st 150 avg daily contracts (which is not applicable for either ECM) -- the lessee option remains the most viable option for a single trader trading more than 150.  Below 150, trading with a Prop Firm (yours or somebody's) that doesn't have to pay for a lease under the current waiver based on volume has the slight edge since there's no trader lease payment.

- The slight advantage for a low volume ECM-W trader would quickly disappear should (1) the Firm impose a substitute fee or cost (profit sharing aside as mentioned below), or (2) the trader experience even some modest growth in volume following initial success beyond 150/day.

- The ECM portion of the analysis essentially reflects considering establishing a one- or two-person Prop Firm (vs. Leasing) just to realize the discounts, versus am existing larger firm that could spread the lease cost over a larger group of traders.

- The analysis also of course reflects a pure financial exercise and doesn't consider Prop Firm benefits such as access to capital, shared infrastructure, risk controls, education, etc. or drawbacks such as having to share profits with the firm.  Our good friend Dr. Brett has done some solid posts on Prop Firms pros and cons ... just do a search on his site for "Prop Firms".

I encourage discussion via comments, including any corrections to the data which I culled from the CME's rate schedules and their ECM Q&A.

I hope you find the analysis useful.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Weekend Trader - Iron Sharpens Iron

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Yes, it's true a few days I ago I considered taking a blog break.  Consider that a scratched trade as I share some weekend perspectives on 
continuing to use this platform to collectively sharpen each other, as well as updated action plans for this trader.

Also, a reminder for those on Twitter that you can be notified of blog posts and other off-blog comments at

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Psych Coaching Notes

From my current journey into the inner mind with my personal coach:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

 -- Marianne Williamson (although sometimes inaccurately attributed to Nelson Mandela)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Special Post - Facing the Giants

To my blog friends - I'm going to take a short break from the blog to continue to increase the focus and commitment on my current trading phase, as well as make sure I have life's priorities in order.

To my beloved wife Debra - A very happy birthday to the love of my life.

To my Jellie students/teammates and onlookers - I hope the attached video clip from "Facing the Giants" (Thanks Charles) gives you a tiny glimpse as to why I've been so very tough on you at times, as well as provide you motivation to help stir the inner depths of your souls.  Please bookmark this post and view the video every day for the next week -- as I've already begun doing personally as a part of my trying to continue to move forward -- and then weekly thereafter. 

It's the most motivational clip I've ever witnessed and best illustrates my current frame of mind -- as both educator and continuing student of trading & life.

May you all find the strength from above to reach places and heights which you can't yet see ... never mind imagine.  And yes, Bamboos indeed exist in this world.

I'll leave the comments on to continue the discussion while I take time to reflect and rededicate.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday Notes - FuturesTV Wrap

Here's a video summary of today's TV session on the topic of CME lease price trends, along with related links. 

While the session wasn't recorded (I fired the operator -- me -- who only hit the record button once instead of twice), this should pretty much cover it, and future sessions WILL be recorded for later On-Demand play.

Referenced Links:
CME IOM Seat Lease Price Trend
CME BreakEven Analysis

Please note I didn't discuss ECM (Electronic Corporate Membership) scenarios which involve discounted commissions for prop firm traders.  Here's a link overview.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday PM Notes - Continued Transition

Here are some end-of-day thoughts on my continued journey "toward the heat of the sun", including my response to this morning's poll (kudos to those who guessed "slingshot").

Also, a reminder that our first "official" Live TV session is set for tomorrow at 4:30pm ET, where we'll discuss the current status of CME leases and have some general Q&A. 

You can participate/view by either refreshing the blog shortly before 4:30pm or going to the continued Livestream On-Demand feed where the recording will be replaced by the live stuff.  I also plan on recording the session if you're unable to make it.

Please keep in mind it's not expected to be a formal "presentation" ... rather an informal after-market interactive chat.

Tuesday AM Notes - Mindset Poll

OK, kudos to anyone who can figure out what the attached photo visualization represents (aside from the obvious Nerd factor) in terms of the current extremely critical stage of my trading journey.

Once you figure it out, it may help you in your own journey. 

Have at it in the comments, and I'll check back later with the answer.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Notes - Blog Break

Gone for a massage as a part of my new energy management program.