The Traders Journal

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ChartPack Quarterly Updates & Insights 200 New Enhancements (Version 8.25)

The last three months since Wiley published our book, Tensile Trading, has given us a unique opportunity to talk with many investors.  In doing so, we’ve been able to discuss with them the big picture challenges of managing one’s assets, as well as hear unique testimonials extolling the organizational value of the ChartPack.  

The most common refrains we hear from investors is that until now they had struggled without a clear and simple process.  As they’ve explained, our book has not just given them an organizational structure but it has allowed them to incorporate their own investment needs and inclinations into a personalized methodology.   One investor told us that the book really “plugged the holes in my money management ship.”  

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Investorship, like Citizenship, Must Have Parameters

Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.”  We have all been exposed to this public service advertisement since it was first broadcast in 1983.  This simple slogan has been embedded in our collective consciousness, and research has proven that its impact has saved thousands of lives. It really works.

If you read my blogs regularly, I’d wager that you are probably the most sophisticated investor in your friend group.  With that comes a similar responsibility to look out for your friends.  This is in part what motivated me to begin teaching investors over twenty years ago.  Perhaps a comparable handle might be to say “Friends don’t let friends invest wildly or blindly” – use whatever synonym you feel is appropriate.  I’d even go so far as saying that perhaps potential investors should be treated like immigrants and your role being that of a customs official.

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The Single Most Important Lesson I've Learned Trading the Markets for 25 Years

My Thesaurus lists the same two words – enhance and augment – as synonyms for both words “improve” and “more”.  The mantra of today’s global society could indeed be “improve and more” with all the corresponding complexity that it brings with it.

I merely have to look in my garage at a new BMW that is so improved with more gadgets (I use the word with tongue-in-cheek) that one must make multiple appointments with a   “BMW Genius” (their label, not mine) since the salesman clearly could not give us an adequate explanation of the car’s infinite features.  Improved and more?  Unfortunately, most investors bring those same expectations to their money management endeavors where investing is most definitely not one-size-fits-all decision making.  Investing geniuses don’t offer appointments.

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You Bought It...But Here's How You Increase Your Probabilities of Making Profits!

I think of this weekly blog as a sort of view from the kitchen.  Mine is not some candy-coated representation of a non-existent financial Valhalla being peddled by someone who is trying to sell his black box with the holy grail formula.


This is a weekly experience where I invite you into my trading kitchen and let you look over my shoulder as I blend a lot of essential ingredients into what becomes a tasty profitable investment dish.  Is it simple?  Heck, no!  That’s the point.  I make it clear that it takes a lot of study, practice and work.  If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Find a money manager to take over your assets and learn to live with his or her results.  If that’s the road you chose, I hope I helped you make the right decision. 

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A Through Z of Investing: The Essentials

Fair warning: everyone has some comments to offer when you write an investment book.  And they do.  

For 25 years now, I’ve operated under the caveat:  “if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it.”  As a former entrepreneur, my customers reviewed my performance daily.  As an athlete, the stopwatch rated and ranked me.  As a trader, the markets always critique the choices I make.   Feedback like this is nothing new, and I’m used to it. 

It’s the source of the feedback that’s always mattered to me.  In other words, the accolades from close friends and family is what I strive for.  The applause from the multitudes is not. 

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The Four Crucial Beliefs Necessary to Achieve Stock Market Mastery

Galloping through the markets without recognizing the impact of your essential beliefs is an investing tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.  If this describes your style, money management will be like trying to nail Jello to the wall. 

We use to joke that my high school buddy, Brian Maxwell, was a force of nature – so much so that the weather would follow him wherever he went.  In truth, it was his beliefs that fueled his behavior. Brian was a world-class marathon runner. When he created PowerBar, he believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that its formulation would allow him to break through the inevitable 21-mile wall that all runners hit in a marathon race.  His absolute belief in his PowerBar formulation allowed him to aggressively run to 21 miles knowing he would blast through “the wall”.  The faith he had in his methodology facilitated his near-evangelical zeal as he pedaled PowerBars out of his van at numerous race events.  His beliefs resulted in the building of a 300-person company that he eventually sold to Nestle for $375 million.

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Precisely How I Bought the 4 'FANG' Stocks Before Their Run-Up

Put your hands up if you can remember the big money we made in the ‘Nifty Fifty’ – those stocks from the ‘60s and ‘70s.   Or what about the Four Horsemen from 1999 to 2001?  The famous FANG stocks of 2015 – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google – had many of the same similarities.  More on that in a minute.

Tensile Trading is a methodology that teaches you how to metabolize your investments and digest your profits.  Let me explain.  It’s been my experience that new investors rush to lean their financial ladders immediately against the growth stocks’ wall.  They don’t appreciate that this ladder tends to get you to the wrong place fast.  They are often disappointed when I suggest that their financial ladders be leaned against the asset protection wall first.  Their personal narrative seems to get in the way.  They have a vision of big gains to quickly grow their assets.  

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7 Reasons Why Investing/Trading is the Best Pastime in the World

Trading the stock market is not the blood sport that many in the press portray it to be.  That sentiment is just part and parcel of Wall Street’s sophisticated disinformation machine which preaches a familiar old sermon to individual investors.  The market pitch goes something like this:  “the market is too complex and you individual investors do not have the tools (or the smarts) to effectively manage your own money…so give us your money to manage for you” (so we can collect enormous fees).  I think not, Mr. Market – I beg to differ.

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Stalking the "Best of Breed" Equities

The same investment analysis seldom yields consistent conclusions over a period of time.  As much as investors would like to believe they are predictably consistent in their analysis, I’d be willing to wager that this is seldom the case.

This is especially true if you are stalking similar equities, ETFs or mutual funds in the same industry or asset class.  I find when I review my asset allocation baskets and focus on the “top” options (which I inventory on asset specific perf charts), my preferences for “best of breed” may vary from month to month. 

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What They Don't Teach You About Investing at Harvard and Stanford Business Schools

I was recently discussing trading and investing with Carlos Obando, former portfolio manager and graduate of a famous east-coast Business School – yes, Harvard. And as regular readers know, my MBA is from Stanford.  Both schools are famous for their respective teaching methods, but as investment professionals, Carlos and I agreed that there are a lot of things business schools just don’t teach you about investing in the financial markets and portfolio management. There are things you have to learn the hard way.  Here are eight things we both agreed upon quickly.

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