James P. Owen, a 40 year veteran on Wall Street, has written a interesting book entitled Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn From the Code of the West.  In it he lists the 10 codes of the working cowboy, explaining how each code can be a source of inspiration for all those involved in Wall Street, from traders to institutions.  Along with the message are beautiful photographs throughout by David Stoecklein.  You could actually classify this as a trader’s coffee table book.  Here are the codes:

1.  Live Each Day With Courage.  Real courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway, setting aside the fear of the unknown knowing there is work to be done.

2.  Take Pride in Your Work.  Cowboying doesn’t build character, it reveals it.  Stock trading brings out what is already there: pride in the preparation.

3.  Always Finish What You Start.  When you’re riding through hell…keep riding.  Good stock traders, like cowboys, never quit in the face of uncertainty.

4.  Do What Has to be Done.  The true test of a man’s honor was how much he would risk to keep it intact.  Stock trading is about taking responsibility for decisions and results, just like the cowboys.

5.  Be Tough, But Fair.  The Golden Rule was nothing less than a key to survival.  Cowboys always treated others with respect, especially those who differed.  Should we not do the same, whether bull or bear?

6.  When You Make a Promise Keep It.  A man is only as good as his word.  You have no one to trust but yourself and when you have rules they are there for you to follow.  If you do not, then you have broken a promise to yourself.  Same with traders as with cowboys.

7.  Ride For The Brand. The cowboy’s greatest devotion was to his calling and his way of life.  If you have clients, the clients come first; if you have family depending on your discipline, then they come first.  Period.

8.  Talk Less and Say More.  When there’s nothing more to say, don’t be saying it. No room for bragging or boasting out on the range or in the market.  Your work, devotion, and steadfastness speaks for itself.  Enough said.

9.  Remember That Some Things Are Not For Sale.  To the cowboy, the best things in life aren’t “things.”  What matters most on the range and in the trading room is not what money can buy but what can’t be bought.  Reputation is all that really matters.

10.  Know Where to Draw the Line.  There is right and there is wrong, and nothing in between.  Insider trading, whispers, rumors, secret deals behind close doors, and all manner of questionable activities may be all around us but we do not have to embrace them as our own.

Of all the places to learn a few lessons about investing and ourselves, is it not refreshing to find a few on the open range from a time not so long ago?

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