Archive for September, 2011

Embedded in the one of the greatest collapses in sports history this week are two critical trading lessons. 

We’ll begin with excerpts from Jackie McMullan’s excellent piece today on the Red Sox 2011 collapse (largest September lead ever blown) on ESPN.com:

“While the Rays were young, hungry and edgy, the Red Sox were arrogant, complacent and, worst of all, entitled.  They took their baseball gifts for granted, and when those gifts abandoned them, as they almost always do during a long baseball season, they were either too lazy or too cocksure to recognize what was required of them to maintain the consistency that is so vital in baseball. 

So they complained about the absence of the designated hitter in interleague play, bemoaned injuries that robbed them of key players, even suggested their schedule was too grueling because they played too many televised night games.

Back in the good old days, the Red Sox famously dubbed the Yankees “the Evil Empire” because they were arrogant, complacent and, yes, entitled. When New York failed, it merely outspent everyone else to pluck the best players from free agency and rejigger its lineup.

Somewhere along the way, the Red Sox became what they once abhorred.”

Truer words have never been spoken … on the ball field, in the trading arena, or in life.

Or maybe they have:

Proverbs 16:18:  Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 

Yes, it’s one of the largest traps in this industry, especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to have been blessed with a number of industry innovations and accomplishments. 

So how do we avoid the trap? 

Perhaps being aware of it is a start … as well as the finish. 

For example, many of you know that when I re-launched this highly public trek three years ago after a few years in solitude to focus my market energies 100% on my own trading, I did so knowing all of the pitfalls and traps associated with pubic life in an industry where all of the worst human emotions can often be seen on display. 

Emotions such as ego, fear, greed, jealousy, anger, bitterness … and on and on.  

Fortunately, I knew much of this largely because of my prior public work as a trader, educator, and daily columnist in the late 90s and early 00s. 

So to try to counter this, from day one I placed the following words at the top of the blog:

I will not allow yesterday’s success to lull me into today’s complacency, for this is the greatest foundation of failure. — Og Mandino

It’s a lesson we all need to hear and heed, lest we fall into the same crevice that swallowed the 2011 Red Sox.

So call this lesson #1.

As far as lesson #2 goes, the last day of the major league season reminded us that with the exception of religious certainty in which there is no gray, there is no such thing as 100% probability.

And such is true even with the highest probability, rhythms, and tendencies associated that the current Jellie trading teams that often exceed 90%.

For example, prior to Wednesday night’s final Red Sox-Orioles and Yankees-Ray games – both of which decided the playoff pairings — consider these facts:

The Red Sox were 74-0 when leading after eight innings this year.

The Yankees had only come back from a seven run deficit twice in franchise HISTORY.

And there are a number of other mind-boggling stats related to those two games that – like the stats above – approach 100% … and they ALL failed simultaneously.

The chances?

There probably aren’t enough decimal places to quantify it.

So that’s lesson #2.

Which brings us to the Perfect Storm scenario, which would essentially reflect not paying attention to EITHER lesson at the same time.

So imagine taking a trade with statistical probability (whether based on actual stats or simply a professional trader’s experience and feel for the market), AND being arrogant enough to think your accomplishments are so great that you can’t/won’t be wrong.

That my friends, has ended many a trading career in a single trade.

Jellie Discount – In continuing celebration of the completion of Jellie trading team #9′s efforts, and in recognition of my upcoming prop firm expansion, I’m continuing the Jellie Webinar $250 discount for a limited time.  Simply email me at don@donmillereducation.com if you’re interested and I’ll email a discounted invoice.

Have a blessed and relaxing weekend, and look for my PivotPoint Advisors CIO Weekly Briefing over the weekend.

Categories : The Weekend Trader
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Sep
24

The Weekend Trader – A Trader is Born

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments Comments Off

Sunday 8:12AM ET Update – The weekly PivotPoint Advisors Briefing for longer term cycles and portfolios has been updated on the Briefing Room tab of the PivotPoint site.

As you may be able to tell via the lack of recent posting, the last few weeks have been … well, no less than ”intense” as the full immersion of the current Jellie team enters its fourth and final week.

Now since the current effort is our ninth installment of what – with all due humility – many are now regarding as one of the top trader training efforts in the industry in terms of authenticity, value, and results, you’d think I’d stop wondering on occasion if its worth the effort. 

And by effort, I’m referring the to the behind-the-scenes effort that I purposely rarely discuss and few know about:

Such as the getting up at 3AM daily to trade and monitor Europe and summarize for the Jellie’s arrival a few hours later; the personal phone calls; the 160 hours of collective trading and market monitoring between 8AM and 4PM; the ongoing correcting of old habits and retraining of the minds throughout the day; the personal trading during the four weeks in FULL transparency which is an integral part of the effort; and the sacrificing of occasional personal trade opportunities and focus to respond to a critical question by a participant.

A reminder I’m a trader with zero staff who sets certain times aside for an apprentice-type effort … not a salesperson or trainer who tries to trade.

But the fact is that I do continue to at times wonder if it’s all worth it since not everyone will make it.

I wonder because I know full well that even despite providing the best foundation possible in terms of a continually improving program (enhacement tweaks have been over the first 8 efforts) over four weeks and 160 hours of of non-stop guidance, some will still fail.

For it’s been well documented that failure rate in this industry — like similar performance based professions such professional athletics – is huge … ranging anywhere from 70% to 90% depending on the study referenced.  And as such, I’m a realist in that not everyone entering what is quickly evolving into one of the top trader training efforts in the industry will succeed.

To digress for a moment, I remember a few years ago as we were going through the course’s beta development stage someone asking me if I would guarantee participant success.  Of course my mind immediately shifted to my two children for whom by the end of 2013, I will have spent close to a half million dollars in real money on their collective college educations with no guarantee of even a job upon graduation.  Imagine my asking Tufts that question! 

For as I tell every incoming participant, I can’t guarantee “success”, which is of course ultimately dependent upon each individual’s personal desire and effort over time.

What I do guarantee however with unending resolve, is that I’ll under-promise, over-deliver, and provide something of far, far greater value than they could possibly imagine, and that they’ll have my back for life.  And that they’ll NEVER pay me another cent for anything.

Yet I continue to wonder and soul search, frequently asking myself if we’re truly making a perceivable difference in this industry which remains in such desperate need of real education.  I soul search in part because of something a dear friend named Frank told me upon the launch of the Jellie program, which was his perception .. albeit completely incorrect and misguided … that I was using success to go over to the “the dark side”.

And then each time we enter the fourth week of the effort, my wonders are set aside as they turn into … well, wonderment.

For during each effort, as is the case with any educational offering, a few rise to the top.  I recall one trader (remember Marco from one of the early teams?) who ran off such a ridiculous string of successes, it made even my head spin.  And I remember another one whose broker called me to ask “what the hell have you done?”, and before my heart could completely sink expecting the worst, he explained – without violating client confidence – how this guy suddenly morphed into a model of consistency in all market rhythms.

But until now, I’ve never seen anything like the current team of eight.

You see, as we enter our final week of full-immersion in the tank, I know with confidence that everyone “gets it”.  Everyone.

So much, that my recent plans to provide selected schooled traders with capital are expanding … continuing to put my money where my mouth is.

The deal was cinched yesterday when just as I was about to comment on a market rhythm and setup for which one had to have a very keen eye, the observation had already been made and the trade already executed by a member of the team. 

At that point, I removed my headset, took a deep breath (which felt like my first in weeks), closed my eyes, and sat back.

For me, it was essentially like witnessing a birth.

And while it didn’t carry the obvious and far greater significance than one’s first physical or spiritual birth, this “birth of a trader” was still hugely important.

For now I know that after more than a few intentional “spanks” during the first few weeks, the umbilical cord can be severed and he can self-sustain his breathing on his own without assistance.

And at that point, the labor pains are suddenly forgotten.

Yes, three years ago (here’s the initial conceptual Jellie post, including the nudge from Phil Vischer’s “Me, Myself, and Bob” book) some may say we took a risk.  A risk of looking foolish, having intentions questioned, and of failing.

Yet as I said in a recent post, we take a risk every day we step out of bed.

And someone (make that someones) took a risk to give each of us life.

The take-away?

You see, the real risk in life is often not taking the risk.

Insider Jellie Tip - One of the cardinal Jellie rules I created long ago based on experience is to NEVER fade the 3:45pm – 4:15pm ET move for a number of reasons, including insufficient time for a pricing inefficiency to correct itself or for one to recover from a stop, loss of personal focus after a full day of trading, end-of-day settlement messes, and more.  Suffice it to say that the rule saved our behinds no less than three days during the current effort.

I spent over a quarter of a million dollars early in my career “learning” that one, and strongly encourage all traders to consider implementing a similar restriction.

Jellie Webinar Discount Is Back - In celebration of the current team’s “turning the corner”, as well as the upcoming GrowUganda mission trip, I’m pleased to announce that I’m once again discounting the 16-Hour Jellie Webinar Video series which chronicled the beta team’s eight-week journey by $250.  Just email me at don@donmillereducation.com and I’ll email a special discounted invoice. 

A reminder a portion of the Webinar proceeds goes to benefit our GrowUganda.org charity, where even small donations have a direct and tangible effect on human lives.

Trading After Dark – Look for an industry interview discussing the Trading After Dark episodes coming soon.

Local Alpha Program Kicks Off – I also ask for your prayers and support as we get ready to kick off our eleven-week fall Alpha program on Sunday night.  For those unfamiliar with the effort, the Alpha Course provides people from all backgrounds and cultures an opportunity to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed, non-threatening, and friendly atmosphere through a series of evening dinners.

The program has been attended by over 16 million people worldwide, and you can find out more information at www.alpha.org.

May God guide our local leadership team and participants through this important time.

Have a relaxing and peaceful weekend.

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Sep
11

The Weekend Trader – Secretariat at the Belmont

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments Comments Off

I recently watched the movie Secretariat, which I’ve now added to my all-time list of favorite and inspiring movies.

Yes, even at the age of fifty, I was extremely motivated by the movie as I watched it with my younger daughter about a week ago before we dropped her off at Tufts University to begin her Sophomore year.

One reason was because it reminded all of us of one of the greatest feats in sports history … I was only 12 at the time the mega-horse and his team won the Triple Crown, so I of course wasn’t able to fully realize the magnitude of the moment.

Yet another reason, was that it reminded us that the “establishment” can be fought and won when teams rally together and believe in their mission. 

At my end — as a father, trader, and current Jellie-mentor mode — the movie struck three specific chords. 

First, it showed how women can perform at level equal to — and often better than — men in fields typically dominated by male ego and testosterone.  And as the father of two daughters who are now both competing in highly competitive schools and industries, it provided a great frame of reference and encouragement.

I’ve often frankly wondered why there aren’t more female traders, as their ability to multitask and complete absence of male ego already places them two rungs ahead on the trader prerequisite ladder.

Second, the movie provides several strong parallels to the current Jellie trader team effort, where a small group of dedicated and focused individuals work toward accomplishing a specific goal.

The third chord?  Well, I admit it’s personally more nostalgic than anything else as Secretariat’s win at the Belmont reminded me in spades of 2008, where my challenge to both myself and the “establishment” resulted in what at that time was a personal and industry breakthrough. 

For just as Secretariat was doubted by the masses — he actually lost the race preceding the three Triple Crown races, he fell behind early in both the Derby & Preakness, and then set an opening pace at the Belmont where everyone felt he’d burn out well before the second turn – he ended up winning all three races in record fashion.

And his closing performance at the end of the Belmont?  Well, suffice it to say that it dropped the jaws of everyone on the planet as he grew a one-length lead against his bitter rival Sham (whose goal was to push Secretariat into an unsustainable early pace) into two, then four, then eight, then twelve … before winning by an astounding and likely never-to-be-repeated 31 lengths.

For me, that was 2008 where I began my multi-million dollar futures trading journey to once and for all show both myself and the pundits one’s true potential and the incredible power of focus, dedication, and personal momentum.  Call it my “Secretariat moment” where $50,000 months turned into $100,000 months … then $200,000 months … then $300,000.

Over the years, some have referred to Secretariat as “The Horse that God Built”.  For when he finally died and was autopsied, he was found to have a heart about two and half times the size of any horse heart ever seen.

And after he stopped racing, he continued to “give back” to the industry, siring many future winners — especially along the female descendant line.

The parallels between Secretariat’s growth, performance, and subsequent actions and those of my own journey are admittedly eerie.

Yet of all of the similarities, one common theme is certain.

Both showed the incredible strength, power, grace, and love of God who deserves and gets every iota of the credit.

For without God, nothing is possible.

And with God, everything is possible.

Everything.

The weekly PivotPoint Briefing has been posted on the PP site.

And here’s the YouTube link to CBS’s transmission of the 1973 Belmont (embedded was disabled).  The Disney movie ending was similarly outstanding.

Categories : The Weekend Trader
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Sunday 3:50AM Update – My weekly PivotPoint Advisors CIO Briefing has been posted on the PP site.

Trader Motivation – Let’s get the long weekend off and running by adding yet another motivational video to our motivational video page which I’ve also posted below. Many thanks to onlooker Stephen for sharing.

Please pay particular attention to the comments beginning at the 3:45 mark, “Most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad … most of you don’t want success as much as you want to sleep”, as well as earlier comments with respect to wanting success in whatever you’re pursuing as bad as breathing.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during all my years of trading and teaching, and on this eve of the 9th Jellie effort which begins on Tuesday, it’s that trading success always comes down to whether someone is willing to do what the vast majority won’t or can’t do.

And yes, that’s especially true for me as when I’m not committed or motivated … or more interested in sleeping past 5am ET, I lose money … every time. Remember those all-nighters in 2008-09??

And that includes wanting something as bad as “breathing”, and being willing to sacrifice more than a bit of sleep and comfort at times.

PivotPoint Briefing – Look for the weekly PivotPoint Briefing on the Briefing tab of the PivotPoint site over the weekend. Looks like last Friday’s expectation was spot on as the S&Ps did indeed carry last Friday’s strength into the early week before running into a brick wall of resistance. Shocker … not.

The result was a market that is essentially neutral on the week (as of the time of this posting), yet is 4% off its mid-week highs in what has again been highly volatile trading with the market dumping hard today after Thursday morning’s bull trap and today’s lame jobs report.

The impact for client portfolios? A +2.6% gain for those with an Aggressive risk profile on the one high-probability trade we entered at Friday’s close, selling well before today’s dump.

And whether trading intraday or longer-term, there’s nothing like a “gain” without the “pain” of a volatile portfolio.

Enjoy the video and have a blessed weekend.

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