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Better Know A Trader: James DePorre

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Sponsored by Chicago Board Options Exchange
James DePorre is the founder of 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 and am a featured writer for 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”).