The opportunity to write this story is a welcome distraction from the plate spinning of my day-to-day work. It’s a circus act, to which many of you might relate. Some people are experts at it, like David Spathaky. David Spathaky won the Guinness world record for spinning 108 plates simultaneously, while on television in Thailand.
Running your own business is like being a plate spinner in a circus. You’re always spinning as many plates as you can manage in front of an audience. Hopefully, you’ll love performing this ridiculous stunt. Plenty of people do, and if you don’t, someone will always be prepared to run out and take your place.
So here I am – spinning as many plates as I can. I’m a family guy, pushing 50, working on a $250M equity raise and all the rest. How did I get here? If you are thinking “I came here to learn about trading, why do I care about your life?”, spare a thought that traders are human first (if you forget about the robots for a moment).
For those of you who are hard-nosed and just want “the good stuff” about how to trade, never fear, we’ll get there. You’ll just have to bear with me. For those of you who are old enough to have been in the theatre for the premier of the Karate Kid, just think about Ralf Macchio waxing cars and sanding decks. Your patience will pay off.
The kind of person you are will be a very important factor in your success. Perhaps if you gain some insight into who I am as a person, you might make the decision that trading is not for you. This is a good thing – it may turn out to save you a lot of money. For now though, here’s part of my story.
Led Zeppelin wrote a song called Dazed and Confused. For me, high school was spent dazed and confused. I struggled to fit in, and to conform to structured learning. I was absorbed in topics I liked, and failed at things I wasn’t interested in.
One day, feeling oppressed by the school’s demands to “define my career path”, I meandered home to find a friend waiting for me on the porch, strumming an electric guitar. In an instant, my juvenile brain wanted me to be that cool. I practiced guitar until my fingers bled. I listened to as much guitar music as I could find. I watched Countdown, Rage, and MTV, watching the masters in awe. I set my sights on the West Australian Conservatorium of Music.
I heard later, second-hand, that my father had said, “Why does he want to do that? He has a tin ear like me!”. Which is probably why I became so determined to succeed. Anger can be a great motivator. I auditioned for the Conservatorium, and got in.
TEN YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS
What followed was a period my step-mother referred to as my time “lost in the wilderness”. I played in bands, grew my hair long, lived in share-houses, and wrote music. I never did dishes , and I was far from responsible – I just dreamed of being a rock star.
The “wilderness” I was in, was one in which money was a bit-player at best. If I could cover rent, food and play, I was good. A weekend performing at the local public bar and busking on the streets would cover the essentials. It was a time in which I didn’t think about money much. I was concerned with other things. Perhaps one day I will return to a place where money isn’t so important, like the halcyon days of my early twenties.
That period of my life was quite a roller coaster – not an uncommon story for most. A famous developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, developed a theory of psycho-social stages of development. If you feel inclined, read about stages five and six. I spent ten years living through a tossed salad of these two. Just like most others, I progressed out of those periods. As my responsibilities grew, money became important. Was it like some form of enlightenment or was it like meeting the devil at the crossroads?
It all began just after my Grandmother died.
A BIG SURPRISE
No one in my family knew much about Gran’s finances, least of all me. All I knew at that point, was that she was a nice old lady that I saw rarely. She lived in another state, and I only saw her on some school holidays. Before she died, I visited her in hospital. Unsettled, I entered her ward. She beckoned me over, whispering “My favourite grandson”. My brother was there – I hope she said that to him as well. When I left, I knew I had seen her for the last time.
It wasn’t until some time later that I realised this moment set-in motion a series of events that changed the direction of my life. A month or two after her death, I received word that I had been left an inheritance. Suddenly a person with no idea about money was placed in a position of being responsible for it.