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.


leon t said...

i take two things from this post. well, many but primarily, you will continue with the seminars at some point.(giving hope for those waiting in the wings), i know you've noticed me. the other is exemplified by this vintage nike add. i hope the link works. i printed it and posted it on my son's room, some of his notebooks as well as mine and, on the walls
i'm sure you'll like it. btw, although i have no relationship to the owner of the blog. nor do i get anything from what he sells. the contents of the pamphlet are contained in thousands of books and, in the public domain.

Jay Nocats said...

Don, I never thought I'd get anything near what I get from my music, with trading, until I started to expand from the desk to the world.

Biggest thrill in my music, an audience member telling me the line in the song I wrote was meaningful, and she quoted it after hearing it one time. Mind blowing.

So after starting to blog - for my own benefit, I got a cool comment where someone quoted something in it they found meaningful. Totally unexpected. But that's only one piece, it's the connections, the shared psycological experiences of us humans attempting to challenge ourselves and do something rather counter intuitive that has enriched my trading experience and definitely enhanced it, and now, your mentioning pretty much exactly what I was feeling. Awesome. I encourage everyone to blog their trades, feelings, challenges, etc. One thing it does for me is to have me concentrate on my subject more so than usual because I am now needing to compose something readable and formatted for someone to read in some more cohearent form than my journal scribbles, allowing the lesson to sink in deeper, useful to me, perhaps useful to others; win-win. - J

E-Mini Player said...

"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."

I totally agree Don! Here's a Blog post I wrote last year regarding this very topic:

Wish you the best!