Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cross-Talk: Why Good Traders Aren't Boring People

Pierre of the Daytrading Blog in Germany emailed me with a very interesting observation earlier today. He pointed out that most financial websites are written in a very serious manner. "However," he wrote, "I think that goes entirely against the idea of independent trading." He further observes that, "I've never met a boring, successful trader", pointing out that--oddly--"most books and websites are boring".

I stopped short when I read Pierre's post. My experience matches his exactly: It is *very* difficult for me to think of successful traders who are boring as people. To the contrary, many are characters, with idiosyncrasies, unusual interests, and unique views. That's why books such as the Market Wizards series have been so popular: the interviewees are *interesting*, not just informative.

But Pierre's real insight comes when he points out that a boring approach clashes with "the idea of independent trading". His use of the term "independent" is important here. A successful trader has to have an independent mind; otherwise they will simply see markets and trade them like everyone else. Being able to stand apart from the herd, being able to develop fresh ideas and perspectives, looking for opportunities in unusual places: these are skills that are common among very successful traders.

When you have that independence of mind, you tend to be a bit unconventional. And that's why successful traders aren't boring people. They have unique views; they see things differently. True, there's more to trading success than nonconformity. Still, it's difficult to imagine sustaining success if you don't have the ability to question consensus views and maintain confidence in your own, unique perspectives.


What Makes an Expert?

How the Personality of the Trader Affects Performance