Discipline has been a key for Mr. Kahn. He still works five days a week, slacking off only on the occasional Friday. He reads voraciously, including at least two newspapers every day and numerous magazines and books, especially about science. His abiding goal, he told me, is “to know much more about the stock I’m buying than the man who’s selling does.” What has enabled him to live so long? “No secret,” he said. “Just nature’s way.” He added, speaking of unwholesome lifestyles: “Millions of people die every year of something they could cure themselves: lack of wisdom and lack of ability to control their impulses.”
Traders who have learned to think in probabilities are confident of their overall success, because they commit themselves to taking every trade that conforms to their definition of an edge.
They don’t attempt to pick and choose the edges they think, assume, or believe are going to work and act on those; nor do they avoid the edges that for whatever reason they think, assume, or believe aren’t going to work. If they did either of those things, they would be contradicting their belief that the “now” moment situation is always unique, creating a random distribution between wins and losses on any given string of edges. They have learned, usually quite painfully, that they don’t know in advance which edges are going to work and which ones aren’t. They have stopped trying to predict outcomes.
They have found that by taking every edge, they correspondingly increase their sample size of trades, which in turn gives whatever edge they use ample opportunity to play itself out in their favor, just like the casinos. On the other hand, why do you think unsuccessful traders are obsessed with market analysis. They crave the sense of certainty that analysis appears to give them. Although few would admit it, the truth is that the typical trader wants to be right on every single trade.
He is desperately trying to create certainty where it just doesn’t exist. The irony is that if he completely accepted the fact that certainty doesn’t exist, he would create the certainty he craves: He would be absolutely certain that certainty doesn’t exist. When you achieve complete acceptance of the uncertainty of each edge and the uniqueness of each moment, your frustration with trading will end. Furthermore, you will no longer be susceptible to making all the typical trading errors that detract from your potential to be consistent and destroy your sense of self-confidence.
This person can point to any chart, and identify his buy and sell points with absolute precision. Usually recognized as an expert in his field of analysis, he can create stunning buy and sell signals for past data. Problem is, he usually can’t do it going forward. ADVICE: Ignore past “predictions,” and only follow Mr. Hindsight in real time. You’ll soon see his true ability.
2. Ms. Vague
Her market predictions are akin to reading the works of Nostradamus. She’ll say “the market will be up today, unless GDP figures are disappointing.” After the numbers come out, the prediction can be made to fit the outcome – “well, the numbers were only somewhat disappointing” or “other forces overpowered the market, so even though I was right, the market fell.” ADVICE: Turn off financial TV shows, since this is where Ms. Vague and here cohorts lurk.
3. Mr. Sneaky
This guy will have an ad that states “95% winning closed trades.” Sounds great, BUT it usually means that 5% of his trades are currently open losers, usually big losers, that he has held onto for a long time. ADVICE: Make sure all open trades are disclosed, too. Treat open and closed trades as the same. Don’t fall for the “this losing trade can always come back and be profitable” ploy.
4. Ms. Quick Exiter
In and out like a flash on winning trades, Ms. Quick Exiter will typically have losses 5-10 times her winners. But, she gets a lot of winners, and she wants to dazzle you with winning percentage. ADVICE: Look at total net profit. You probably will see a losing strategy, even with a 90%+ winning percentage.
5. Mr. Liar
If Mr. Liar can do anything to cheat, he will. In the past, he has stuck all his losing trades in one account, put all his winners in another account, and of course, only shows you the winning account. But, he has many other tricks up his sleeve, certainly more than I can name here. ADVICE: Track his trades in real time. Make sure they are specific and detailed enough so they cannot be misinterpreted.
6. Mr. Long Term
“The stock market will rise,” says Mr. Long Term. He is absolutely right, if you don’t pin him down on time. It may take 100 years, but stocks will eventually rise. But, the first 99 might wipe you out. Long term forecasters hope you’ll forget their predictions if they are incorrect. ADVICE: Treat any prediction, especially long term ones, with extreme suspicion. The fact is most experts are just guessing.
7. Ms. Really Can Do It
A rare and exceptional talent, this person is the real deal. No gimmicks, no tricks – just super high winning percentage and super high profits. ADVICE: Ask yourself “why would this person sell me their amazing secrets for $79, when if she is so good, she can trade and make unlimited amounts of money?” Answer: No one will ever sell you the ultimate key to trading success, and if they did, it would cost a lot more than you could afford.
So, now you know the seven members of the 90% winning trade club. Avoid these folks, and you’ll almost certainly become a better trader.