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Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Isn't a Contest (TEXT and VIDEOS)

This entry is a re-post of a blog entry that I wrote at another site some time ago. I have edited somewhat so that it is current and makes sense for today's date ..

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I discovered years ago, that it was possible to absolutely love one's work, and simultaneously hate one's industry.

I've often related the story. From 1996 to 1998, I worked for a one of the largest computer consulting corporation at the time. It has since went the way of the dinosaur. I try to remind myself of that fact from time to time. Regardless, I've been rather public about that time period in my life. I had a great job. And I was miserable.

I loved my work at that corporation. I'm very much a “numbers” and metrics guy. As much as I admire the nobility that is working with one's own hands? Although I admire those with grease on their fingers, and dust on their face? That's just 'not me', and I'm not sure if it ever will 'be me'. As well, I have an affection for technology. I'm also very much a “people” person, and the “peace maker” of a group. I love the administration of anything technological. So my job was a perfect fit. Because I was the point of contact, between high level General Motors executives and my consulting corporation; whenever the GM executives experienced problems on the network that we had built for them. Since GM had decided upon Novell for their network software, the problems were a'plenty. At the time, Mr. Smith was the CEO of GM. I remember sitting in Rick Wagoners office when he was the head of North American operations. Actually, Rick was a very nice guy to interact with on a professional basis. I don't say that to brag. I say that to stress the point, that I loved my work. And if I may be so bold, I was very good at my job. As well, the Renaissance Center in Detroit was a beautiful environment in which to work. The job itself? The people? The nuts and bolts of what I did? I loved it.

Unfortunately, I had to deal with the middle management of my employers. All of whom, were smidiots. "Pointy haired Dilbert Bosses". Whatever you want to call them. When it came to managing people ... they were backwards looking, curve-fitting … smidiots. They felt that performance was a “who can do better, and 'look' better” contest. I kid you not, I remember watching executives for some of the largest corporations in the world, pull administrators off of their job. Why? Because they wanted their two offices measured out with a tape measure. The reason? To make sure the point of contact for the other corporation did not have any more square footage than they did. I saw that sort of behavior for long enough? I quit. I had discovered that it is possible to love one's work, and detest one's industry.

I discovered once I started trading for myself that the same dichotomy is possible.

I love my current job. I love trading. I love the wheel and the deal of the bid and the ask. I love watching spreads, and observing time and sales. I love squeaking out of a losing trade with a wonderful bit of risk management. I love looking into seasonal data averages for commodities and reviewing the Commitment of Traders (CoT) report.

But I absolutely refuse to make a repeat of my mistakes of 1996 through 1998.

Because I've come to find out, that this industry attracts some of the worst sorts of individuals. The worst sort of crooks, as well as the worst sort of proud, arrogant, haughty people. Most of them blow smoke at you, and they're little more than a snake oil salesman. Some of them are profitable. But some of these folks? They seem to have gotten it in their head? That the point of life is to have larger returns than everyone else.

Seriously? Are we the minority that was taught you do not under any circumstances brag about your accomplishments to others who are attempting the same thing? Are we the minority that was raised with these values? Aren't we all trying to find the same thing? A peaceful life, for the brief time we're here?

Seriously? Trading is more akin to golf. You're working to improve your own score. Your account capital. No one elses score. Your score. Your account capital. Sean O'Brien had a tweet some time ago that went something along the lines of unfollowing anyone on Twitter who, and I quote

Unfollow Friday any punk *)#* rookie posting stratospheric daily/weekly % returns..... I care why?"


Listen. You trade your account well? Awesome. Fantastic. I'm happy that you're doing well. My concern ends there. I'm not trading to be in competition with others. I'm not trading to prove I'm a better trader than anyone else. I'm trading, so that I can live the life I want to live.

Now I also have established a rather 'public' internet presence. I, and others have been accused of 'spamming' our 'product'. Listen. I don't need to do this. I can go back to trading my accounts, and delve back into the realms of obscurity. I do not post pictures and videos of my vacation on my daily blog to brag. I'm trying to encourage folks. In probably the worst recession that most people alive today have ever experienced? I'm trying to encourage people. Is that such a bad thing? The point isn't to sit in front of monitors, and beat everyone else's returns. I trade, so that I can turn the monitors off, go out, and try to find some peace and happiness in this world of ours for the brief amount of time that I am here. I trade, so I can go spend some time in an art museum, or visit my friends in Mexico, Prague, or Hawaii. I don't post my pictures of my vacations because I'm out to brag. I'm happy that I've found some small measure of peace, and I want to encourage others that they can find some peace. If you want to travel to Paris or Hong Kong, or Hawaii or the Caribbean? You can do that. It's possible to live according to the level of freedom that you wish to enjoy. I learned a long time ago ... when you want to take a day off? Take a day off.

The wife and I walking through the square of Tequisquiapan, Queretaro, Mexico ...

The version of that last video ...

I do what I wish to do, when I wish to do it. But I want other people to enjoy that same sort of freedom. Otherwise, I wouldn't have this public presence. I want to help the "Cameron Fry's" of the world. And I'm sorry if that means that from time to time, I'll tweet about an update.

Because life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while? You could miss it.

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