I've always been into statistics, especially with sports.
I collected cards as a kid and would make trades at recess.
Another thing, I was into video games very much as a kid
and then later on after college. I look at the market
as an extreme video game and the hardest game to win at.
I love challenges and the market always has me thinking
on how I can improve my performance.
I got into html/coding when myspace came on the scene.
Without a doubt the most formative part of becoming who I am as a trader was, in each instance, being throw to the wolves. Survival necessitated that I figure this out fast and in that I relied on some unbelievable mentors.
In the early 90's I found myself as a retail bond salesman at a firm that didn't really have any interest in debt markets. I know it is hard to believe but recruiters and office managers don't always tell the whole story truth. The firm was a tech/biotech investment banking boutique not short on talent or drive.
The "trader" there was an old timer, a hangover from a prior ownership team. He started his trading career when markets in the otc market where kept on a chalk board. The guy had plenty of experience but was really just executing agency orders as the firm only very recently started making markets.
The problem was the guy wanted and was entitled to a vacation but he communicated in a way that pissed some people off. So on a Thursday afternoon one of the owners asked me if I'd learn the "trading desk" so I could back the guy up when he was on vacation. Since there was no bond inventory for me to work I thought I did not have much to lose. We negotiated a "deal" and I was to start my training the next day, Friday. It did not occur to me that Monday was the start of a two week vacation and I'd be on my on after about 6 hours of training.
I did not sleep Sunday and there are no such things as trading books to even give you an idea about that specific business segment. Monday came and I was thrown to the wolves...I did not even understand the jargon being rudely shouted at me when I answered the phone. By 9:00 am I had written "bid" and all the other words associated with my price to buy stock on the back of my left hand and "offer" and sell associated words on the back of my right hand. Left palm "I buy", right palm, "I sell".
Every single minute of that day was as bad as you can imagine...a real horror story. When word got around young guys from other desks would call just to jack with me. At about 1 pm the receptionist said there was someone there to see me. It was a senior guy from another firm...one of the best men I have ever known in my life...the calvary had arrived.
I was in tears and I do believe that I messed my pants...I certainly threw up in the trash can more than once. The guy got me calmed down and said one of his girls would come over and help me. He invited me to a get together that evening and said I'd meet the street... and my tormentors (another story)
We got the blotter (kept on paper) balanced just as the firms owner was coming down the hall. He was amazed that an employee from another firm was on my desk and even more amazed that I let her in. He asked me how it went. I showed him the puke bucket trash can and said that so far it was the worst day of my life, but that I was going to bloody the faces of the guys who made fun of me that night at an "event."
He told me the clearing firm had called...my heart sank. They asked him if he had a new trader. I said, was it that bad? He said," bad?...no, you made $19,000 dollars today...twice a normal day...I was coming down here to tell you do it again tomorrow."
I was the center of attention at the gathering. I had a true otc legend as a mentor and I had the attention of the "street"...wildman was born.
Ever since it seems as though the golden horseshoe has been stuck firmly up my butt.
Thrown to the wolves and rescued by a mentor....same type of situation developed on the floor BUT the nasdaq baptisim is a church picnic compared to being the new guy in a trading crowd.
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That was just the first day. This, I believe is why I do not believe in very much testing/backtesting. The greatest value in development for me came from having my feet in the fire and from having the guidance and wisdom of mentors who are legends in their own right. How I got to be at the right place at the right time was/is a miracle.
1) Experience - For each stupid mistake it is an opportunity to teach myself never to do that again and I have had plenty.
2) Books/Articles/Websites - I read a ton of material and have adopted a little of what I have learned from each source into my personal strategy.
3) Poker - I was just starting high school when the poker phenomenon hit ESPN. I was hooked on the game all through out high school, I enjoyed the strategy and the constant need to decipher a situation for a monetary gain.