When inspiration and optimism meet opportunity, wonderful things happen — NYC edition.

April 28, 2018

I’ve often been intimidated about going to NYC and interacting with Traders I perceive to be “smarter” or “more sophisticated” than me. New York and Wall Street have an aura about them. One earned over two centuries and perpetuated by romantic stories in the press and in classic books about various “Masters of the Universe” who ply their craft on the Island of Manhattan.

But here’s the thing: whenever I push myself past all that and just sit down and have meaningful conversations with NYC-based traders, I realize that at the end of the day they are all human just like me and you. We all share the same struggles, have the same hopes to be the best we can be, want to receive the best rewards for our efforts, and want to achieve some kind of sensible balance in our lives between work, family, and fun.

In the past three weeks, I’ve traveled to New York twice (for a total of 7 days on the ground there) to attend two conferences: The CMT Annual Symposium and Stocktoberfest East by StockTwits. During these conferences, I’ve had opportunities to engage in person with stock traders who are customers and potential customers of @TradeIdeas to demonstrate the power of our platform, as well as opportunities to chat with options traders like myself to assess their needs, to listen to their frustrations, and/or celebrate their new ideas. In nearly all cases, the vibe I get from many I’ve talked to is: no matter how successful one has been, they all continue to seek opportunities to be better. We can all relate to that, whether you work on a wall street arbitrage desk, are developing the latest and greatest HFT algorithm, or if you’re trading a small personal account from your modest house nestled in a small mountain town in Colorado (sounds like somebody I know!)

I had the opportunity to walk on the floor of the NYSE and be amongst some of the best (and most successful) in the world. At one point I was standing 10 feet away from Art Cashin — a true legend. I got to have a wonderful conversation with John Bollinger and his wife and hear stories from a man who’s been so instrumental in the lives of technical traders for decades (he developed the very popular bollinger bands chart indicators). And I was fortunate to reconnect with Jerry Parker who was a key player in one of the greatest trader development stories of all time (The Turtle Trader experiment). Jerry has been tremendously successful over his career and was a true inspiration to me very early in mine. I’m now lucky enough to call him a friend. But these famous people aren’t the only inspiring people I got to hang with. I also felt greatly motivated and learned a tremendous amount from people you probably haven’t even heard of. Just regular guys and girls who love this game as much as I do.

One guy shared a fantastic-sounding options strategy he’s been trading that I’ll be thinking about how to do in my own trading account.

Another guy noticed something while I was giving him a Trade Ideas demo that led to a fantastic discussion of new ways to leverage that tool.

I met a woman who is a self-described “trading junkie” and her enthusiasm for the craft is off the charts and I couldn’t help but be motivated by her.

And yet another guy has such a unique perspective about “getting away from the markets” to find his zen that I’m going to continue following up with him to learn more.

I also met with several people in the trader education and social community spaces to discuss ways to reach larger audiences who can benefit from the tools at my disposal, and I got to see how the sausage is made behind the scenes at CNBC, Fox Business, CNN, Investopedia, and even a couple of my favorite podcasters (shout out! to Mike Batnick and Ben Carlson!)

All in all, it was a very productive couple of trips for Trade Ideas (my employer) and our efforts to tap into larger retail and wealth-managing audiences, as well as for me personally and for some new projects I’ll have rolling down the mountain soon. These two trips have left me inspired and optimistic. And when inspiration and optimism meet opportunity, wonderful things happen.

As my former co-worker and great friend @scheplick from StockTwits likes to say: What a time to be alive!

I’ll be back in New York in mid May for the Benzinga Global Fintech Awards conference, where @TradeIdeas is once again up for an award. Looking forward to building on these previous two trips.

P.S. An eye-opening random new thing I learned on this trip, courtesy of Barry @Ritholtz: when the next nuclear war goes down, “smart money” is betting on Australia and New Zealand to be the only safe zones on the planet to live out the rest of your days.

In other words: Know your exit. This is relatable to Traders and all humans. Something to think about.

~ @chicagosean