Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finding Your Performance Niche

I'm pleased to report that my new book is now shipping and is available at discount via Amazon. Here's an excerpt that introduces the notion of the performance niche.

My review of expert performers in such fields as chess, military, athletics, and performing arts--as well as my research review of exemplary performers--suggests that success is not simply a function of qualities of the individual. Rather, it is the fit between the talents (inborn abilities), skills (acquired competencies), interests, and opportunities afforded by a field that creates accelerated development and eventual mastery.

What does this mean for trading?

It means that success will not be found in better indicators, improved self-help techniques, or any of the endless parade of chart patterns, wave formations, numerology schemes, or moving average arrays.

Rather, success is achieved when we find markets and styles of trading that take maximum advantage of our skills and talents. That keeps us focused on markets and absorbed in them, enabling us--over time--to internalize their patterns.

Many, many times, traders do not live up to their potential simply because they are trading markets and methods that do not draw upon their strengths. Without that fit, they are not absorbed in what they do; frustration replaces focus and learning suffers.

If my book accomplishes nothing else, I hope that it assists you in thinking about where your niche might lie, not just in trading, but in life. The days pass by quickly; life is too short to waste on anything that you're not passionate about and good at.

My thanks to the many readers and traders who contributed directly and indirectly to the ideas in the book. You have been a source of insight as well as inspiration.


TraderEyal said...

Hi Brett, Congrats. Sounds like a really good book. Any chance for an autographed copy? :)

A question on the contents, can you explain briefly if and what the book offers to intermediate/advanced traders who have moved beyond the mechanics and have already identified the right market and strategy for themselves?


Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Hi Eyal,

Thanks for your interest. Any chance you'd be in Chicago for the CME panel presentation on Thursday or in Las Vegas for the Merc's Futures Trading Summit? If so, I'd be more than happy to autograph a book. If not, we'll have to think of some other way of doing it!

The book has separate chapters devoted to the development process from novice to competent trader to expert trader. Much of the book is devoted to specific strategies for moving further along that curve.

The last two chapters are actually self-help manuals that teach traders cognitive and behavioral techniques to change patterns of thinking and action that might interfere with trading. I find these methods particularly helpful for experienced traders as they raise their size, assume more risk, and remake themselves during periods of market change.

Hope that's helpful--


TraderEyal said...

Hi Brett, Thanks for the explanation.

Unfortunately I won't be in Chicago or Las Vegas. I live in Singapore. Who knows maybe in the future :)


Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Hi Eyal,

I may yet get to Singapore and, if so, will look forward to meeting. Thanks again for your interest--


Krasimir said...

Hi Brett,

Congratulations on your new book!

I pre-ordered it two months ago and can't wait to start reading it. It will be in my country (Bulgaria) in three weeks...

I'll be glad if you plan visiting Europe in future.

All the best,

Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Thank you, Krasimir; I would *love* to visit Bulgaria. My hope is that the Futures Trading Summit, which is beginning in the US later this month, will expand to Europe and Asia. If so, I'd enjoy meeting you and the many fine international traders I've been privileged to meet through the blog.


kalius said...

I just read the "teaser park of the book". I found it very interesting I will definatedly put an order for it today, it will be my first trading book.

Althou I don't feel I know much about trading, I have been on the exploratory phase for a few months now, I can't stop reading and learning about trading, everytime getting more facinated by it. I'm going to start in a few weeks formally learning with books, learning some software and paper trading to develop my strategy, but there's a step missing for me.

I can't figure out how to get started in the career. I think It would be hard for me to save enough for a decent capital, and from what I know nobody would hire me in the profesion without formal education or experience.

"Hi I have been paper trading for 6 months can i have a job?". Maybe you can offer me some insights or sugegstions?

Thanks for your writtings, they facinate a newbie like me.

Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Thanks Kalius,

You're raising an issue that many new traders face, especially when they lack initial capital. I do think the book will be of help to you in structuring your development process, so that you can accelerate your learning curve. In addition, I will write tomorrow's column on the topic of how to get started in the trading business. Thanks for the interest and the idea--


Anonymous said...


I finally read the first chapter teaser online and I have to say that I'm impressed. What you say makes a lot of sense and, strangely, isn't something that I've seen made so explicit. I've intuitively drifted to a style of trading that fits my style but I spent a lot of grief in the process.

I also really appreciate the relentless, unforgiving analytical approach that you've demonstrated in your blog and in this first chapter. So many times in Mark Douglas's books I'd have to rant in disgust about his Woo Woo weirdness - it really detracted from what he had to say. Compare that to your writing or Victor N. (e.g.: your excellent article on the Bearish Engulfing pattern), well, there isn't a comparison :)

I'm eager to get a hardcopy of your book. At least so I won't have the curious experience of reading about disciplined, skilled traders glued to their screens while being painfully aware that I'm reading instead of, say, trading.

Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for the great comment, Tyro. You hit the nail on the head: I'm hoping the book can save traders some grief during their learning/development processes. The other theme I wanted to hit upon was the need to remake ourselves as traders as markets change. Just look at how energy trading has shifted increasingly from the pit to the screen.

I appreciate the interest in the book. Do, BTW, send me a heads up when you post something on your blog that you think might be of interest to readers of my site. I'll be very happy to link--


Brandon Wilhite said...

Nice presentation at CME yesterday Brett (I was online). I just wanted to let you know that I look forward to hearing what you have to say about traders who have found their niche taking the next step, a la kalius' post.

I look forward to reading your book, once I obtain a copy. I took the first 1 1/2 year or so and just tried to learn as much as I could about trading...researched and traded MANY different approaches and markets. I've finally hit on one niche for myself, and I think I've discovered another...although really in some ways it's just a continuation of the first one.

It's amazing how my confidence and emotional stability has changed, now that I have a method or 2 that is quite profitable. In other words, it's much less painful to take a loss on system A when system B is making more than enough to make up the losses. In that situation life is good!


Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for the feedback. Your observation is *so* important. Once you find the right methods for you, many of the emotional disruptions of trading are greatly reduced. What does Michael Jordan do once he's found his niche in basketball? He systematically works on aspects of his game and constantly evaluates himself to see what needs work. It's much the same for the trader. The key is structuring the expertise development to yield maximum results. That also yields confidence and emotional stability.


Steven said...

Hey Dr. S:

My review of your new book is up on my blog...bottom line...great book.

Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

I appreciate that very much, Steven. Would you be so kind as to leave another comment with a link to your blog, so that readers can access your work? Thanks!


Steven said...

Sorry about that. It is:


Brett Steenbarger, Ph.D. said...

Thank you, Steve! I will link to that tonight on my personal site and take a look at more of your posts. I appreciate the interest--