Better Know A Trader

Better Know A Trader Subject?

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Click Here Who wants to be the interviewee for the final installment– finally!– of our BKAT series? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? E-mail us at tips at dealbreaker dot com, john at dealbreaker dot com, or bess at dealbreaker dot com– your call! The “winner” will receive drinks with Carney, on Carney. Jamesons only.

Better Know A Trader: Chad Sersen

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chadsersen.jpgIf you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?
In an entry level job at a hedge fund.
What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?
My best trade ever was in 2003 I bought 60,000 shares of IVAN at .85 and sold between $3.50 and $4.00
Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?
That’s a tough one, can’t really think of anyone off the top of my head.
What is the most important quality a trader should have?
Patience.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
Aggression.
Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take
a simpler, easier job?

From the end of 2004 to the beginning of 2005 I couldn’t put together a winning streak and the bills
kept piling up. I was taking loans out just to pay the bills…eventually I got ahead.
What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’—how long until you retire or move on?
An entry level hedge fund position. If trading fails I’ll sell my house and move out west and be
a lift operator at a ski slope…no stress.
What is your motto?
Keep hitting singles and doubles and only go for a homerun when you LOVE your entry.
Whose teachings are most useful in your business—Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis
de Sade?

Sometimes when I loose a lot of cash trading I honestly think, “I must’ve killed Jesus Christ in a
past life.”
(If you missed the last installment, featuring Jeb Molony, click here. And if you think you’d make a good subject, or want to nominate someone else, please email us at tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com–subject line: “Better Know A Trader”).

Sponsored by Chicago Board Options Exchange
Click Here When Better Know A Trader was conceived (on a kitchen table, a little over nine months ago), it seemed like a great idea, with little-to-no drawbacks. Feature a trader every Friday, get some money from the Chicago Board Options Exchange (love you CBOE!) and maybe, just maybe, entertain our readers with the insightful answers of insightful people answering insightful questions. But soon after this whole thing got underway, we realized something—finding a trader for every Friday, every week takes, like hard work and stuff. And it’s not that we’re lazy or incompetent or lack initiative but, well…[crickets chirping]…[clearing of throats]…[shuffling of papers]…you know.
This particular Friday was like all the other ones since this bitch of a baby was created, in that it rolled in like all the ones before it had and we found ourselves with out a candidate. Kind of sucked. But don’t “kind of sucked”-us yet just because we’re nothing—nothing!—if not lazy, incompetent, lacking initiative people who often find ourselves in the company of an enormous amount of well-timed luck. So, as ‘luck’ would have it, our General Manger remembered that our new neighbors, with whom we’re separated by only a small (but festive looking) deck are traders and, “Hey, look, they’re outside right now! Carney, throw that ball out the window and we’ll make Bess go ask for it in sort of humiliating ‘look I dropped my pencil, oh, I didn’t see you there’ kind of way and then we can parlay that into ‘you wouldn’t want answer some questions and pose for a picture’-type thing so that when we ask for CBOE to give us money, they won’t be in a position to say ‘The deal was money-for-interviews, not money-for-nothing’.”
Anyhow, Mike, who graduated from Sienna in ’04 and is currently working the trader-interview circuit is now standing at our window, desk adjacent, ready and willing, so without further ado, we bring you this week’s Better Know A Trader: Live Blogging Our Neighbor.
neighbormike.jpgHow did you get your first job in finance?
I’m currently interviewing for that job.
Describe your trading strategy.
Rather bearish.
If you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?
At a top investment bank.
What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?
To be determined.
Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?
Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox.
What is the most important quality a trader should have?
The ability to not get discouraged when losing money.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
See above.
Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take a simpler, easier job?
This moment in time.
What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’? How long until you retire or move on?
Pass.
What is your motto?
“Get rich or die trying.”
Whose teachings are more useful in your business-Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis de Sade? (Feel free to nominate another choice.)
John Maynard Keynes

Better Know A Trader: Chris Lahiji

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Click Here A few years ago, Chris Lahiji broke into fund managing at the ripe old age of nineteen. Today he discusses buying stocks that have market caps of less than $200 million, the teachings of Dave Chappelle, and– sacrilegiously for us diehard Tom Wolfe fans– Sherman McCoy’s “idiocy.”
In Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy attempts to explain to his four-year-old daughter what he does for a living. How would you explain to a four-year-old what you do?
First off, I think that children are bad investments. Think about it for a second. ChrisLahiji.jpgThe cost of raising a child have soared in recent years (now over $300,000 before you send the brats off to college), and the amount of respect youngsters have for their parental units continues to plunge, like Ford’s stock.
Sherman is an idiot in my opinion for fornicating without protection or birth control. To a four year old, daddy buys candy for $1 and sells it for $2.
Describe your trading strategy.
To buy companies trading less than “intrinsic value” and sitting on them for an infinite period of time. Intrinsic value is calculated by free cash flow and net tangible metrics. I use a convoluted software system that calculates the cheapest stocks on paper, and then do some tantalizing research with my forensic accountant, to figure the “actual” worth of businesses.
Since I only buy stocks that have market caps of less than $200 million, my universe is limited. As of today, the software system recommends seven stocks, a historic new low.
How did you get your first job in finance?
I begged the right person at A.G. Edwards. Became an intern for them at 19 for a very short while, and then went on to write reports for an online newsletter.
If you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?
The United States government, a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?
Getting a check every month for loving what I do. The accomplishment is even more profound when the check does not bounce. Most people (99% of them) in the financial services industry are only in it solely for the monetary benefits, hot men and women it attracts, and the unlimited supply of free alcohol at conferences. For me, analyzing stocks are a hobby, not an occupation.
Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?
Fictional Heroes:
MacGyver: He taught me that it’s okay to hurt people, as long as you don’t use guns. The man can also make a hydrogen bomb out of bubble gum and paper clips.
Holden Caulfield: Both of us abhor the superficiality of things in life.
Tron Carter (Chappelle Show): Due to a “hot hand in a dice game”, he becomes the richest man in America, and buys babies for “straight cash”. His entrepreneurial drive as a cocaine dealer is worthy of praise.
Role Models:
My Great Teachers (can count them on one hand) who accelerated the belief that anything in life is achievable and promoted an incredible work ethic
High School Librarians: For facilitating my fascination with information.
“Weird” Al Yankovic: After three decades, the man is still going strong with his parodies. A beacon of hope for nerds around the world.
Goran Ivanisevic: Won Wimbledon as a wild card entry in 2001. “The trouble with me is that every match I play against five opponents: umpire, crowd, ball boys, court, and myself.” I feel that way in business.
What is the most important quality a trader should have?
Confidence and the ability to admit that they can be wrong at times.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
An upset stomach. Going to the bathroom prevents you from tracking your investments. Tums are a necessity.
Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take a simpler, easier job?
When someone writes an article defaming you with false information and slander (happens annually).
When someone pretends to be your friend, just so they can steal your information. (Happens monthly).
When someone lies to you about certain information, and causes you to lose money in an investment. (Happens weekly, but I don’t take their calls).
When someone discounts your ability as an investor, because of your age or the color of your skin. (Happens everyday).
What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’—how long until you retire or move on?
I was an English major and originally wanted to become a teacher educating kids on how corporate America is going to shaft them in life. s long as I find undervalued investments, I’ll stay in the game. My exit strategy is death.
What is your motto?
“Numbers don’t lie, people do.”
Whose teachings are more useful in your business—Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis de Sade? (Feel free to nominate another choice.)
Dave Chappelle: “Nighty Night, keep that butt hole tight”.
Translation: Always be aware of your surroundings, because once you drop your guard, someone is going to take unfair advantage of you.
(If you missed the last installment, featuring independent trader James DePorre, click here. And if you think you’d make a good subject, or want to nominate someone else, please email us at tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com–subject line: “Better Know A Trader”).

Better Know A Trader: James DePorre

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Click Here James DePorre is the founder of SharkInvesting.com and the author of the forthcoming Invest Like a Shark. And he’d prefer you to call him RevShark.
In Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy attempts to explain to his four-year-old daughter what he does for a living. How would you explain to a four-year-old what you do?
I’ve actually have had that conversation with my 5 year old daughter. I told her that what I do is buy and sell different kinds of money. I try to find money today that other people will want to buy in the future for a higher price.
How did you get your first job in finance?
I was an attorney and CPA with a practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I suddenly become completely deaf and stumbled into online trading as the internet became available to the average user. I’ve never worked for anyone else in the financial or investment field and am self taught. I now run a hedge fund, operate SharkInvesting.com and am a featured writer for RealMoney.com. My book “Invest Like a Shark” will be published next year by Prentice Hall.
Describe your trading strategy.
I focus primarily on small caps and use a momentum strategy. I’m primarily a technician with some fundamental considerations.
If you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?
In my home office overlooking the beach. I would be interested in working with a mega-billion dollar fund just to see how they operate but ultimately I will always work for myself.
What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?
The launching of Shark Asset Management last year was a major milestone for me. I’ve done well trading my own capital and this market is a transition into a whole new game. I am now attempting to grow and develop my abilities in something that is quite different than managing a personal portfolio. It has not been easy but I’m pleased with the progress and looking forward to continued evolution as a professional money manager.
Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?
I admire people who overcome adversity and difficulties. The true test of character is to overcome obstacles and to not let them drag you down. There are many people both famous and not so famous, like my father, who I admire for having done that.
What is the most important quality a trader should have?
Emotional balance. You can’t get too excited when times are good or too depressed when they are bad. You are going to have ups and downs in this business and you have to take them in stride or they will doom you.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
Impulsiveness and decision making based solely on emotions.
Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take a simpler, easier job?
I have always been in the unusual position of having no choice but to be a trader. I’m deaf and couldn’t get a job at a fast food restaurant let alone a well-paying job in another field. I have no choice but to be a trader which happens to work out very well because I love what I do. I had some struggles in my early going but one on my tenets has always been to protect my capital base beyond anything else and that has served me well.
What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’—how long until you retire or move on?
I don’t foresee ever retiring from this business. The market and trading and writing is part of my life and I anticipate I will continue to do them all to some degree for as long as live and can hit the keys on my keyboard.
What is your motto?
My favorite quotation is by Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.”
Whose teachings are more useful in your business—Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis de Sade? (Feel free to nominate another choice.)
I find the teachings of psychologist and philosopher, William James to be of great value to me. He offered many insights into behavior and thinking that I find quite valuable. Some of his observations include “A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices” and “the greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”
(If you missed the last installment, featuring independent trader Alexander Paul Morris, click here. And if you think you’d make a good subject, or want to nominate someone else, please email us at tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com–subject line: “Better Know A Trader”).

Better Know A Trader: Alexander Paul Morris

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Click Here Meet Alex Morris: founder of Yourika Capital LLC; creator of the tymoraPRO trading platform; big fan of Warren Buffett (but don’t hold that against him).
In Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy attempts to explain to his four-year-old daughter what he does for a living. How would you explain to a four-year-old what you do?
After people panic and lose interest, I look to buy things with as little risk as possible. Then I wait to sell it back to them when prices jump higher and they all go crazy trying to buy it.
How did you get your first job in finance?
I’ve always been fascinated by the markets, gaining interest by watching how my grandfather picked stocks, with some investments going back to the days of the Great Depression. Over the years, I’ve tried every combination of trading products available, and none of them were able analyze the markets to the extent that I felt necessary to enable me to find, analyze, and trade the best opportunities moment-by-moment. I finally gave up the search, and began developing my own trading system, known as tymoraPRO, from the ground up. Since then, tymoraPRO’s blossomed into a complete trading platform that remains more powerful than any other available to this day.
Alex MorrisDescribe your trading strategy.
Scanning for and identifying cycles of fear and greed at key levels of supply or demand, and entering positions as new trends reassert themselves but before the momentum players join the party.
If you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?
I would look to join a trading group like the one I created, Yourika Capital LLC, offering truly unique tools and a strategic trading edge that I could learn to use and leverage to give me the best possible chance to successfully and consistently beat the market.
What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?
Creating my own trading platform to use for trading, and using it to find and analyze high-probability trading opportunities throughout the day.
Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?
Jesse Livermore’s trading style and acumen, Warren Buffet’s long-term value investing approach.
What is the most important quality a trader should have?
Discipline, humility, accepting losses gracefully, and understanding yourself.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
An addictive personality and needing to always be right.
Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take a simpler, easier job?
Probably 9/11 – the day of the World Trade Center attack. Although I wasn’t caught in any positions, I was in such shock at the time watching it all happen from my downtown apartment that it took me a while to get back the nerve to start trading again. Events such as that remind you to step back from trading and take a moment (or two) to enjoy life.
What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’- how long until you retire or move on?
It’s hard to say since trading really seems to be “in the blood” and it’s not something that you ever have to give up completely. Over time, while I may become less active in trading the markets, I’ll always be ready to pounce if I see the right opportunity to do so.
In terms of the “bigger picture” I’m also a partner in a hedge fund called “Eagle’s View,” whose purpose is to invest in ‘niche oriented’ off-radar strategies, such as Electricity Arbitrage, Environmental Credits (Emissions) Trading, and Natural Gas Delivery Basis Arbitrage, unknown or inaccessible to most investors. These strategies have the potential to generate attractive, diversified, low-volatility returns in a “fund of funds” capacity, which is managed by a solid and well- established team. For those interested in investing in hedge funds, this is the ideal situation for most investors to consider.
What is your motto?
I’m generous – I’ll give you three mottos!
“I’m convinced that life’s 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
“Feed the ducks while they’re quacking.”
“Add to positions as they prove you correct, reduce positions rapidly as soon as the market proves you wrong.”
Whose teachings are more useful in your business-Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis de Sade? (Feel free to nominate another choice.)
Certainly Sun Tzu’s Art of War, since it disciplines the mind in preparation for battle. Also Jesse Livermore, who seems to be appreciated more by seasoned traders who reread “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” because they are able to relate through experience to the many points he makes throughout the book. One of my favorite Livermore quotes is: “Stocks are manipulated to the highest point possible and then sold to the public on the way down.” Also Barton Biggs of Traxis Partners, whose book “Hedgehogging” is a must-read for anyone interested in getting involved with hedge funds.
In fact, for those who want to learn how to trade, I recently released a DVD that guides people to exactly what it takes to successfully trade the stock market. I also host an online financial show at www.moMoneyTV.com that keeps viewers informed on important trading and money tips and concepts.
(If you missed the last installment, featuring independent trader Tim Sykes, click here. And if you think you’d make a good subject, or want to nominate someone else, please email us at tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com–subject line: “Better Know A Trader”).

Better Know A Trader: Timothy Sykes

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Click Here It isn’t often that the world notices when a trader makes a million something dollars, today’s BKAT entrant being the exception—most likely because he was 18 and doing it with his Bar Mitzvah money. Meet Timothy Sykes, Cilantro Fund Partners founder and today’s featured trader.
In Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy attempts to explain to his four-year-old daughter what he does for a living. How would you explain to a four-year-old what you do?
Daddy and lots of other people like to play a game with tiny companies. These companies go up and down a lot and daddy has to predict which way the company will go. If daddy is right, he wins money from the other people. If he is wrong, other people take daddy’s money.
How did you get your first job in finance?
My parents gave me permission to open an online brokerage account with $12,415 of my Bar Mitzvah gift money during my senior year of high school thinking I would lose it all and that it would be a great lesson about money. It turned into a great lesson for me as I turned it into a fully audited pretax sum of $1.65 million from 1999 to 2002. After that feat, friends and family wanted me to trade on their behalf so I created a hedge fund.
Describe your trading strategy.
I predominantly short small caps and micro caps although I do sometimes go long. There is so much volatility and surprisingly much liquidity in this market segment. I believe it is the most inefficient space in the US equity markets so there are plenty of opportunities to trade in and out of these securities’ price swings.
Tim Sykes.jpgIf you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?
I’d start my own hedge fund all over again. The lessons I have learned over the past few years are invaluable and will serve me for the rest of my life. If I had worked at a large hedge fund, I might have made more money, but I would still be naive in a business sense like I was when I first started my fund.
What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?
Illinois Superconductor announced on a Friday that their revolutionary superconducting product would be featured that weekend on a major news channel; I think it was CNN or 60 Minutes. This was back in 2000 so the stock had already gone from $10ish to $17ish that week, but I figured even if the product was a dud, they would hype it up and make it look incredible on national TV. Back then people would “invest” in anything with hype so it would be good for a point or two on a Monday morning gap.
So, I put most of my net worth, 10,000 shares, long over the weekend at $17/share. I watched the program and sure enough everyone started talking that it was the next Microsoft. It just kept going up premarket…19..20…21 and I desperately wanted to sell by 8:30am at $24ish, but back then Suretrade didn’t allow premarket trading so I was forced to wait for the market open. I put my order to sell right at the open and it still took about 10 minutes to execute because there were so many buy orders. I finally sold at $29ish and I just couldn’t believe it. One day later it hit $39 before plummeting.
Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?
Bernard Baruch, George Soros, Jesse Livermore
What is the most important quality a trader should have?
The ability to live on money outside of their trading accounts.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
The need for “action” and/or the need for attention/recognition.
Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take a simpler, easier job?
I had lost $180,000 of my then $1.5 million fund in one day (although I was still only down $40,000 on the month) and because I was having a great month before that day, I just felt completely dejected.
What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’—how long until you retire or move on?
I can’t even imagine my life without trading since there are just so many market inefficiencies out there waiting to be taken advantage of, but I could easily close my fund and just go back to trading for myself.
What is your motto?
Eat, drink, and be merry. When not involved in those three activities, be disciplined.
Whose teachings are more useful in your business—Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis de Sade? (Feel free to nominate another choice.)
The lessons from failed gamblers, traders, and hedge funds, Jesse Livermore being the most useful for my style of trading. A lot of these people are incredibly smart, but a few variables ruined them. When I first started, I was right about 95% of the time and I bet big because I was very cocky. I’ve learned that I could have easily been ruined if a few variables shifted, but I was lucky. I’ve now become conservative and disciplined enough so that I don’t put myself nor my fund in a position of ruin no matter how right I think I am.
(If you missed the last installment, featuring independent trader Mick Buckley, click here. And if you think you’d make a good subject, or want to nominate someone else, please email us at tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com (subject line: “Better Know A Banker”).

Better Know A Trader: Mick Buckley, Independent Trader

Sponsored by Chicago Board Options Exchange
Click Here Meet Mick Buckley. Mick cut his trading teeth working at Tradescape Securities. After taking a couple of years off, these days he is back at it, working independently from his home in Miami. Mick agreed to share with DealBreaker his thoughts on what makes a trader tick and what makes a trader trip.

In Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy attempts to explain to his four-year-old daughter what he does for a living. How would you explain to a four-year-old what you do?

I buy small pieces of companies I think I can sell at a higher price to someone else. I don’t think I could explain the short side to a four year old.

How did you get your first job in finance?

After I moved to NY I looked into many broker jobs. Soon I ran into and old friend from school at a party in Queens who told me about a trading firm that was hiring.

Describe your trading strategy.

Buying breakouts and shorting breakdowns with stop losses always in.

If you were starting out in your career now, where would you want to work?

In a boutique firm with an experienced mentor.

What is your favorite career accomplishment/best trade ever?

Getting out of the market at within days of the top in early 2000 and taking a break while it went down.

Who are your heroes or role models, fictional or real?

Jesse Livermore, the real life person behind Larry Livingstone from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre. Livermore ran away from home at fifteen and ended up peaking with $100 Million by, among other things, shorting before the crash in 1929. However, I wouldn’t want to emulate the rest of his life which ends like a Greek tragedy.

What is the most important quality a trader should have?

Discipline.
What is the worst character fault for a trader?
Lack of discipline and arrogance. Thinking you’re smarter than the market when it tells you otherwise. Hoping that a stock will come back when you’re out of the money instead of having a sound plan.

Tell us about the lowest of low points, the time you thought should just give it all up and take a simpler, easier job?

Getting long the NASDAQ around 2200 in 2001 because I was convinced I’d found the bottom(see previous answer and extrapolate results).

What job would you have taken? What’s your ‘exit strategy’—how long until you retire or move on?

Real estate investment, but ultimately nothing is as fascinating as the markets. My exit strategy is ‘soon as possible’.

What is your motto?

It’s nothing new: ‘Cut your losses, let your profits run.’

Whose teachings are more useful in your business—Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Jesus Christ or Marquis de Sade? (Feel free to nominate another choice.)

I think reading about the great traders of our time will help a lot and then you just have to get into it. Making and losing money is the greatest motivation.
(We’re still looking for more traders the get to know better. If you think you’d make a good subject, or want to nominate someone else, please email us at tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com (subject line: “Better Know A Banker”).