[originally published May 8, 2017 on medium]
No it’s not a trade gone wrong, a risk poorly managed, a missed opportunity, or a job or partnership I should or should not have taken. I have regrets in all those areas, for sure. But the number one thing I regret and wish I could go back in time and do again, is failing to seek out guidance from a seasoned mentor who had successfully ridden a full Trader’s life and career cycle and had the bruises and pile of cash to prove it.
Early on in my career, I stubbornly believed that I could figure out everything I needed to know about trading on my own. I knew it would take time. But I was young, and if there was anything I had an abundance of, it was time. You see, up to my early 20’s, I more or less succeeded at nearly everything I tried. I was rarely the best, but I always got done what I needed to to get by.
I was the first of my friends to get a “real job” (paper route at age 12, pizza shop at age 16). From middle school on I always got good grades. Not straight-A’s, but well enough to be grouped near the “top of the class” in most subjects.
I was rarely the top overall pick when picking teams for street hockey, baseball, tackle football, or soccer. But I rarely was picked beyond the middle round.
And I was certainly no virtuoso with musical instruments, but I was always depended on to deliver a solid mostly mistake-free performance when I sang in various school & church choirs, played french horn for my middle school and high school bands, and played guitar in a couple rock bands with my friends.
So, at age 23, it seemed only natural to me that a career in trading would be a challenge that I could eventually solve and be “good enough” at to make a very comfortable living. Problem is, while I knew there were a few things I didn’t know that I’d need to learn, there was SO MUCH MORE I had no idea I’d need to know about. There were so many unknown unknowns.
This is where a proper mentor would’ve made an incalculably valuable difference in my career trajectory.