CMU: Lesson 1: Trading is hard

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

Jan 21

Cracked.Market University:

I learned many things through my three decades of trading experience, but none have been more all-encompassing than the simple idea, “Trading is hard.” If I’m only allowed to share a single idea with a new trader, this would be the one.

We arrive with different backgrounds and with varying ambitions, but the one thing that unifies all of us is the belief we can beat the market. The concept seems easy enough. Come up with an idea. Move a little money around with a few mouse clicks. And blamo, profit! Or at least that was the notion that brought us here.

But as most of us have already figured out, reality is far different. In fact, I’ve come to believe trading successfully is one of the most challenging ways to earn a living. In most fields it is pretty straight forward, the harder you work, the more successful you are. Unfortunately, there is no such correlation in the stock market. A well researched and thought out idea has nearly the same chance of being correct as a coin flip. In fact, there have been documents cases of dart-throwing monkies outperforming some of the smartest and most experienced professionals in this business. Talk about humbling!

The challenge with trading is the only thing that matters is when we open a position and when we close it. It doesn’t matter how we came up with the idea. It doesn’t even matter if we were right. The only thing that matters is if the market moved in our direction between while we held it. Sometimes we get it right and make money. (Yeah!) Other times we are wrong. (Boo!) But far and away the most frustrating cases is when our idea was spot-on but somehow we still managed to screw it up. (WTF?!?)

The truth is, trading is as much about managing ourselves as it is about having a good idea. Can we control both our positive and negative emotions? Do we have a sound risk management strategy? Do we know how to get in and get out at the most favorable times? Are we capable of admitting our mistakes?

I wish I had a simple or easy answer to help new traders getting started out, but the simple truth is trading is nowhere as easy as it seems. But don’t get discouraged. As long as you educate yourself, have a sensible plan, and stick with it, eventually this gets less hard. (It is never easy)

Over the next few months I plan on writing brief posts covering all of my Trading Rules. If you want to receive the list of my list of Trading Rules and be notified when new posts are published, signup for FREE Email Alerts.

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About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two children.