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Jan
28

The Weekend Trader – The Road Map Evolves

By Don Miller

It is time.

As blog interest once again accelerates towards new highs with the launch of Trading After Dark (TM), it’s time to shift the format of this ongoing journal to reflect its natural evolution.

For the past 31 months, I’ve spilled every ounce of thought possible in terms of describing real, bona-fide trading.

Through over 800 posts – including countless parables & painfully true personal trading experiences, over a hundred videos, trading log transcripts, copies of public presentations, and formal educational tools, I’ve tried my best to tear down the shroud of darkness and deceipt that too often surrounds this industry.

And you’ve seen it all … or as I like to call it, the good, bad, and ugly of the life of a trader.

Want to make a living as a trader?  First, read this journal … it hopefully will make you think twice.

Objective #1 accomplished.

Still want to make a living (or run a solid secondary business) as a trader?  Then re-read this journal again, yet with a different light in terms of learning from the potholes of the road I’ve traveled.

Still want to go further?  Get a solid education to reduce the substantial cost of “market tuition”, whether it be through the Jellie efforts or via bona-fide efforts with people who know what they’re doing and have a pedigree.  At this end, I’ve simply tried to provide that which I wish I had when I started. 

Objective #2 accomplished.

Yes, it’s true my fund is up over eight-fold since its 2004 CME inception solely as the result of intraday wholesale trading, which – along with the single year 2008 – will always rank among the best short- and long-term performances by any trader in my asset class.  But let the record also show that in doing so, I’ve at times been battered, beaten, burned out, and tossed around like a rag doll when I haven’t been on my game, or when the lesser probability outcome occurs.

You see, you simply can’t have one without the other.  Or said another way, no one reaches great heights by playing it “safe”.

My goal in these 800+ pages?  To try to make it “safer” for others.

So as we move forward, I’m going to take a bit of a blog sabbatical (one of my objectives in December’s presentation to LBR group) and let TAD do most of the talking … albeit on a far less frequent basis (quality over quantity) than the daily dialogue you’ve grown accustomed to over the last three years. Such will also allow me more time to focus on my new CIO role for an investment firm, as well as what will likely be the only live Jellie effort of 2011 beginning in two weeks.

Simply put, TAD is the only tool I haven’t yet used to try to rip the shroud into complete oblivion. 

Consider this final Objective #3.

#   #   #

Which brings me to the overwhelming response to the the TAD pilot effort.

I’ve purposely not responded to comments or emails so as to first digest things at this end, and likely won’t respond to specific ones due to redundancy to that which is well-chronicled in this blog and educational material.

First, my thanks to everyone for the feedback.  For the record, the % positive response with a very good sample size is darn near close to 100% … which exceeded my own expectations.

Blog comments, YouTube views, Emails, twitter followers (merely via your word of mouth), and site traffic are all approaching record levels.

Now whether this small spark and the flames that follow it will significantly influence the perception of trading throughout the industry remains to be seen, but the feedback certainly indicates that we’re on the right track.  btw, I’ve never had a problem being a pioneer in this industry, even if it means a few arrows in the back!

As was the case with the Jellie program launch, despite extensive thought, planning, and foresight at this end, it was critically important to first test the concept before expanding it beyond the pilot effort.  Call it a “probing” trade that carries virtually zero risk – aside from possible personal embarassment if it flops, which doesn’t rank in my top 10,000 of things that bother me – and only upside for the viewers and industry. 

For example you may recall that ALL of the beta Jellies in ’09 had the chance to get their money back as we worked through the initial program, and I was ready to end it right there if feedback suggested as such.

Of course none did, and their feedback, enthusiasm, and prodding led to further refining it into what is now one of the most extensive video educational series and trader development programs in the industry.

But back to the pilot.

For now, TAD remains a bit of a “hobby”, and is of course very secondary to my main fund management businesses.  As such, I have no clue as to what its frequency or episode timing will be like.  For example, it could be weekly, or some days if I have time, I may simply feel like posting one “quickie” 5-minute snippet. So please be nimble with your expectations and check back often.   If you use twitter or RSS, you’ll be notified when each episode is posted.

Yet like any worthwhile hobby, I had a ton of fun preparing for its launch, and certainly plan on sustaining and growing it.

Here are a few highlights in response to some of the feedback.

The primary idea is to mirror the evolution of transparency in the poker industry, essentially replacing “hole cams” with ”trading screen cams”.

And like those programs, time and production constraints simply won’t allow for much more than showing selected relevant hands, ranging from the well-played to the brain cramp or bad beat, and everything in-between.  And yes, there will be trades placed days and hours before, as well as hours and days that follow that won’t be addressed or ”televised”.

As will be noted at the outset of each episode, TAD is NOT meant to encourage anyone to pursue trading, OR to teach.  Frankly, anyone looking to learn how to trade by watching it or exchanging comments or emails on this or other sites (and believe me, there are MANY) will end up like a pilot apprentice trying to learn to fly by watching Top Gun or emailing the pilot after a Seconds From Disaster episode on the National Geographic channel.  Remember, the pilot is likely flying another mission as you attempt to bombard him with questions! 

If you’re truly interested in learning the trade, or “how” I trade (and yes, the Webinars do discuss typical FOMC rhythms as noted in the Syllabus), there are ample formal programs available that incorporate all of the elements of trading far beyond televised single-sequence management.

Having said that, TAD IS meant to be enlightening in terms of continuing our mission of the “balanced” transparency … and most of all, FUN!

In terms of what’s in it for me?  I’m glad you asked. 

For example, you may have noticed that there’s no advertising … which of course could change if it goes network.

On a personal level – and this is critically important – it’s also not a self-indulging excercise.  For I have nothing left to “prove” to myself or anyone else in terms of skill or performance over time with both small and large account sizes and in multiple market conditions, and have survived the unavoidable bad beats and slumps – including those well-documented in these pages – that are part of the business to rank ahead of most of my peers … although there’s ALWAYS room for improvement and growth lest we so quickly forget the December webinar or the Og Mandino quote at the top which has been with us since day one.

So I ask again, what’s in it for me?

Well, it’s yet again injecting a heightened personal passion for the business.  I’m also viewing the personal recording of my sequences similarly to that of my initial blog, scorecard, etc. in terms of seeing if it can further improve my weak spots, just like a major league batter would watch film of his swing.

With respect to live (at the time) narration vs. a director’s cut type of recap which some of you have asked about, I’ve thus far found it to be both technically difficult (PC memory constraints if I include the webcam) and not very helpful to either me or the viewer.  For example, there are long periods of silence, and I also often focus best when I’m simply quiet, which results in more realistic results.  So I’ll have to noodle on that a bit.

Now as was the case with the blog and Jellie program launch, I imagine that as we move forward, exposure and interest will grow, and the tiny minority of people who simply love to “tear things down” will all take their shots.

For example, there are still traders – including this week – who are convinced that successful trading is a myth, and point their fingers at everyone but themselves. 

A reminder to myself that when I don’t perform well, it’s 100% my fault because I didn’t focus or wasn’t alert to changing short-term or longer-term market or personal dynamics … NOT the market’s.  For a truly successful trader who stands the test of time takes constant and critical notice of his/her environment and is adaptive … which is why I don’t advocate “systems” that only work in single environments a.k.a. the Turtles, and is why we properly improved the term to “Jellies” … duh!

So, as we move to the next phase and increase our collective exposure, I’ll reprint the following excerpt from my September 2009 post for those who continue to believe that one has to be a Wal-Mart to begin or run a profitable business. 

Frankly, I’ve never understood why some in this world will stare at a blue-painted wall and call it red until they truly convince themselves it’s red.  And then they’ll try to convince others that it’s red … using every tool and argument they can muster. Or they’ll simply state it’s impossible, too hard, or too expensive to paint a wall blue … or that it can’t be done unless one was a member of the union of professional blue painters.

Perhaps it’s because they simply hate blue (btw, nothing will ever change that), or just that they enjoy unproductive habit of believing the glass is always 1/2 empty vs. 1/2 full. Or perhaps they’re simply in denial. All I know is that they can call the wall red all they want, and the wall will always remain blue.

At my end, my goal in life isn’t to be liked or disliked. It never was and never will be. For years ago I was placed in a public trading role, before going off the grid a few years ago to focus on my own needs and ambitions, before realizing that simply serving oneself — while being the easy road in terms of not having to deal with the complexities that comes with public exposure — wasn’t exactly helping anyone other than, well, myself.

So I bit the bullet, and again chose to open myself up to the doubters and skeptics to prove once and for all that a certain level of success can be achieved under the right conditions of personal focus and commitment, while remaining steadfast that opening myself up once again could hopefully make a small difference in the trading “community”. Yet in doing so, keep in mind that I’ll never waste limited and precious energy defending the blue wall, lest we waiver from more important tasks at hand.

So I’m biting the bullet again gang, in the spirit of trying to improve the industry … and have a lot of fun doing it.

If TAD accomplishes nothing else, it will hopefully allow EVERYONE to see the true color of the wall through the eyes of those who painted it.

I figured the lemonade stand was a pretty good place to start.

Thanks again all … until the next “episode”.

Comments

  1. Steven says:

    More, more, more!!!

    Thank you!

  2. Dave says:

    Don

    Keep up the good work Don. You are very helpful to many of us!

    Looking forward to future episodes of TAD – under adverse market conditions (like Friday) and various other market conditions…

    Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesen’t but you have to play it consistently.

    Thanks.

    Dave

  3. chalupa says:

    wow -just a short time ago you were lost for words and then this -well said -well done – we’ll see you again soon

  4. Johann says:

    Hi Don!

    Phew! There is a lot going on at the time frames you trade at! Why did you decide to trade those small time frames? Is there a reason why you don’t trade end of day charts? I know a lot of people use the overnight moves as a reason, but isn’t there a lot more money to be made by staying with a trend on the longer time frame? Please understand, I am not critisizing, just enquiring!

    Do you think it is possible to trade for a living using only the end of day charts?

    Thanks for sharing so much of your trading with us!

    Regards,
    Johann

    • Don Miller says:

      Hi. For my trading business, I’ve always been and always will be an intraday trader … cash at the start and cash at close just like the floor locals, and I sleep very, very well (aside from poor performing days of course … that’s another issue). Yet it doesn’t really matter what timeframe one chooses as the principles apply across the board. One advantage of the business if the skill is indeed acquired, one can pick the timeframe(s) that suits their personality, comfort level, and core competency … as wholesale inefficiencies abound on every timeframe. Don

  5. Jason says:

    Hi Don!

    Thanks again for you are doing this TAD series. I have a question about the concept of “wholesale” – the term you use a lot in your trading. My understanding of your terminology is to buy at weak and sell to the strength, really an institutional mind set, but with retail size account. This technique requires tremendous screen time to be right to pick the trend reversal. I think most of retail traders have mindset of “trend following” built in.
    I could be wrong to understand your term here, will be really appreciated if you can elaborate more on this. Thanks a million.

    -Jason

    • Richard says:

      Hi Jason

      The way I saw it is that Don was trend following by being bias long. In other words he was entering on weakness and existing on strength in an upward trend. I think the difference is that “retail” traders enter on strength (about the same spot Don’s first scale out)

      Richard