Archive for August, 2009

Aug
22

Guest Jellie Writer #2

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments (0)

As I mentioned in Friday’s video, and as was the case in Wednesday’s post, the following was authored by one of the Team of 21 Jellies. Enjoy.

“Teamwork & Simplicity”

The great discovery of the 50’s: “You cannot understand the system by the analysis of its parts.” What does this mean? And, what does it have to do with trading?

The idea here is that you can not and will not know what an engine capability is by analyzing the pistons, the rods, the crankshaft … you get the idea. I would go as far as saying that you would not know what the car can do until you put it all together and run it. You see, a system is all of the parts together, and the system performance only shows up when they all work as designed. “As designed,” means they all work well together, we can pick the best parts from every car in the world, and with the best parts of all the cars in the world we cannot make the best car in the world. Why? Because the best parts from each car in the world are not designed to “work together,” they are designed to work for a particular car.

So what does this have to do with trading? I think everything. As traders we are always looking for the latest and greatest indicator that will “tell us” what to do “at this moment,” or interpret the news event that will shake the market. Since 99% of all indicators are lagging indicators, they are always late in telling us this and we keep searching; in addition, by the time you interpret the news, the market is gone. Indicators are like the “parts” in a car, none of them can tell you what the car can do for mainly one reason, the car is you and fuel for this car is a price chart.

The essence of the Jellies training is exactly that, “what kind of trader am I and what can I do?” Don Miller’s daily drill has been “feel the market,” “feel the pace,” based on this, “have a bias,” then “sense, trust, and act.” I have known this fact, the discovery of the 50’s, for almost my entire previous career, but it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday. It took Don’s 2 weeks of drilling for me to go through this paradigm shift. I integrate all the data, “garbage in-garbage out.” The more I put in my head the slower I perform. This kind of learning only comes through deep immersion, lots of deprogramming and reprogramming going on. It is intense with moments of emotion only felt because there is commitment all around. I told Don at the beginning, I was committed to this effort and told him the story of the chicken and the pig for breakfast, the chicken contributes, the pig is committed.

Enter Don, as transparent a trader I will ever meet – “what you see is what you get”. If he is having a good day or a bad day, we all know it, because he tells us. He is his worst critic; he makes self-observations that are valuable to me as a trader. I learn from these examples and they help me create a baseline for myself. Don drills, what I mean by “drills”, there is lots of repetition and correction, everyday. For example, “have a bias, but make sure to trade what you see, not what you think;” “the ups and downs, manage them, but stay in the game, you have to be present to win;” “the minute the sequence ends, look for the next one, mentally delete old sequences, only look forward.” The team loves it, because we all know where the bottleneck of the system is – US! So, I am the limiting factor to become a self sufficient trader. I can only get better if I am “coachable,” open minded and receptive to new ways of thinking, AND, if I have enough repetition.

Don is a great believer of simplicity. “Give me a price chart and a TICK chart and I can make money.” I love simplicity, but it is very difficult to achieve, you know why? You have to burn all your crutches, and this makes us insecure. In a 1998 Harvard Business Review interview, Jack Welch said: “For a large organization to be effective, it must be simple. For a large organization to be simple, its people must have self-confidence and intellectual self-assurance. Insecure managers create complexity. You can’t believe how hard it is for people to be simple, how much they fear being simple. The worry that if they are simple, people will think they are simple minded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse.” This works for traders as well, just switch the words “large organization” and “Managers” with “trader’ and you have it.

So, as I hit that brick wall yesterday, Don picked me up, shook the dust off and asked me If I was “Okay” – true care by the leader. All the Jellies checked in, “I am not alone.” It allowed me to get past it and think, and through thinking went through a paradigm shift.

What an awesome responsibility, I looked for the keys to the kingdom all over the place, and come to find out, in the trading world, that key is me and my fuel is a price chart. The only way to achieve self-sufficiency is to find the right people to help you; use your intuition about the people you choose and work only with the best.

What an awesome team concept.

Guest Jellie Writer

Aug
19

Guest Jellie Writer #1

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments (0)

I awoke this morning to find this unsolicited offer from one of the Jellies to pen a journal post for today. Here it is, completely unedited.

“No Country For Old Men”

I enjoyed the Coen brother’s critically acclaimed movie “No Country for Old Men” for its realistic depiction of human life and experience. If you are familiar with the Coens, they are not known for warm and fuzzy happy endings. They like to present to you in various forms what we go to the movies to forget…that life is hard. Toward the end of this twisted crime drama sheriff Tom Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones) visits a former colleague’s isolated home on a plain somewhere in Texas. After greeting each other and forcing a couple of pleasantries, the colleague looks up from his wheelchair and says “this country’s hard on people”.

Trading is hard. This is part of the appeal, part of the joy at reaching a milestone, and part of the challenge. Like the first line in “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey which simply states “Life is Difficult”. Covey goes on to say that the sooner we recognize and accept this, the sooner we are able to deal with things much more effectively. This is true for trading as well. After 12 days in the Jellie Tank I can tell you that there are no magic set-ups, no Don Miller secrets that have not been revealed in the blog, and no easy profits (though, there have been profits!). However, 21 people signed up for this effort and 21 people remain. We could have left during the first week and gotten most of our money back. Nobody did.

This is a testament to Don Miller and a testament to my brothers in the tank. I’ll just go ahead and say it and he might edit it out, but these last few weeks have been hard on Don. First let me say that I personally trade 2-4 ES contracts at a time and do 5-10 trades in a day. That’s anywhere from 10-40 contracts per day. Don traded 550 contracts yesterday which was a light day for him. He’s done this everyday with 21 of us questioning him about entries, telling him what we are thinking, and doing stupid things that he has to correct. This is all in addition to the Webinar preparations, questions at night from the Jellies, and blog updates. At dinner last night, my wife said to me “how does he trade that much and deal with everybody at the same time?”. I told her I didn’t know.

I think a lot of the Jellies wonder what Don will do after these 8 weeks. Deep down, we all hope he continues to keep the trading room open and even possibly trades with us “for the rest of our lives” as he says on a recent blog video. I have my own opinion which I’ll keep to myself for now (hint hint: it doesn’t include trader education). I accidentally came across a blog discussion on a Google search last night where a guy was saying that Don was a “sell-out” for doing trader education. I chuckled to myself thinking how foolish people can be. 21 guys could have gotten most of their money back after a week and nobody did. That’s my only response to any questions about Don’s integrity or the quality of his efforts.

“No Country for Old Men” ends with Sheriff Bell and his wife at the breakfast table on his first day of retirement. He recounts a dream he had the night before and there has been much discussion on what this final scene meant (see clip below). I think Bell is just tired, he doesn’t want to go into those “dark woods” up ahead that he speaks of in the dream which are surely symbolic of the escalating violence he has witnessed in his formerly quiet town. He’s “20 years older than his father ever was” and he’s tired. Hence the title of the movie.

Don’s young by most yardsticks, but maybe “old” in trading years. He’s certainly and admittedly tired from his miraculous journey in 2008. Trading’s hard on people. But in the end, as much as he loves his wife I just don’t see Don Miller ever having that “first day of retirement morning breakfast” with his wife.

Make of that what you will.

Guest Jellie Writer