July 26, 2011- A Life in Wall Street- The Contemplations

This will lean into my more personal posts, as I delve into the topic of that most elusive question that perhaps makes traders, wanna-be traders and already legendary elite traders , still question every now and then, their importance or lack of importance in society and the world in general.

I don’t know why I even question such things.  Perhaps, it’s because I’m an introvert?  The fact that I regularly mask my identity in this blog, if I so desire, perhaps is one proof of that.  It’s a good thing that interacting with people primarily online is now the norm.  It’s easier to get my point across, and somehow get responses from people all over.

You see, I’m what these Myers-Briggs and all those psychological tests typify as the “Introvert”.  I’m someone who needs hours alone every day.  I love quiet conversations about feelings and ideas, but I’m a person you can’t drag into parties quite a lot.  I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests.

Jonathan Rauch describes me pretty much on the mark in his article “Caring for the Introvert”

Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality.  Introverts don’t outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness.” 

While I’m very happy that my writing and thinking for the most part, is seen useful by friends and newly found friends, writing about trading is simply my canvas which I’m very grateful to paint a little every single day.  Using these conversations , I’m able to explain things to myself. – Oh- the liberating power of a few simple words.  Pretty cool!  I’ll forever be grateful for technology and social media for giving me a golden opportunity to share my inner introvert to anyone who happens to read any of my links.

Here’s what really bothers me, instead of being cooped up in the office/home in front of a computer, we are living in the 21st century where 5 years from now, we probably don’t even know if Facebook will still be the dominant leader in the social space, nor would Groupon still be worth their hefty price tag.  RIMM just disclosed in Marketwatch the 2000 employees getting laid off.  A lot of disruptive changes are happening and Leigh Drogen whose works I admire (bro-code type of admiration) talked lengthily about this topic and the immense possibilities and its consequences resulting from it.  I urge you to read it here.
We are currently living in a fast changing world, where honestly, my degree in college had no direct link with what I’m doing now, and I frankly hope I had pursued studying film, animation or something quite akin to my artistic interests or more mathematical data mining, computer languages (which I’m satisfying currently one at a time), though I really lack the basic training.  Good thing there’s Open University where I can study for free.
In our current world,  we’re in offices all over the place, using email.  Your office can very well be your bedroom. We sit quietly hunched over laptops, transitioning even our mundane conversations to our keyboards/ mobile phones through Twitter.  Frankly, if you’re studying some management crap- it is my opinion that you just study something more tangible like the sciences, technology or engineering.  Yeah, I’m a big proponent of more engineers rather than marketers because I adhere to the policy that word of mouth is the best marketing piece.  I’d rather all artists work more in the communications space and the education arena.  I’m sorry if I offended any, but studying economics or marketing with all bunch of theories is really nonsense, at least to me.    Oh but, who am I to know anyway?  I’ve always been a very biased person. Isn’t everyone biased anyway?
My story sounds like this.  I chose a path  because I wanted to be a good son.  It’s not like I hated my course or anything, I just didn’t really think much of it.  In some ways, it’s easier to settle for someone else’s version of success than to risk falling short at one’s own version of fulfillment.  Will I ever be good enough in arts? journalism? communications?  My C+s in writing discouraged me to pursue it in any manner of degree whatsoever.  I jinxed the writer in me.  Somehow I relegated all my creative life and chose a path lazily within my parents’ expectations and my comfort zones.

With all that pent up guilt in me, of living away from my “design”, I lean over and over into Cassidy’s reflective piece on any social good I’ve ever done in trading, and the whole Wall Street workforce in general.  Please read “What Good is Wall Street” here and Vivek Wadhwa’s post here .

You see, as a trader, I’ve learned to adapt to the system very well, can earn a comfortable living through it, but just like Vivek Wadhwa, I don’t seem to enjoy encouraging my friends to pursue finance as a career.  Ironic isn’t it?  Make no mistake that I value financial freedom, but I just think you can do it along with doing other grand “jobs” such as the job of solving the world’s problems through startups, inventive disruptions like Go-Jek (which happens to be co founded by one of my friends, I envy them of course) and other of your passionate interests.

Let me share to you a few things that bother me from time to time.

  • A trader understands the game is rigged and makes no excuses about it
  • A trader understands that the market adapts and forces the trader to adapt with it.
  • (Quotes above courtesy of Joey Fundora)
 It is no measure of health to be well adapted to a profoundly sick society – Krishnamurti
Recently, I’ve talked down the pursuit of being a quant to one of my close friends.  Heck, I purchased a book ” How I Became a Quant”, watched quite a lot of videos on financial engineering, only to feel deep inside that the world frankly doesn’t need number crunchers to arbitrage and pursue process driven trading systems, even if Peter Muller rakes in billions of dollars from the market.  Of course, Peter Muller happens to be a Math genius, pursuing his other endeavors such as Math for America, but I feel with his prowess in algorithms, he can always do away with earning another billion dollars.  He can start serving his countrymen just like what Salman Khan did.  I dunno, it’s just something that bothers me a bit.  Same goes for Emmanuel Derman etc.  Honestly, I think my  grandfather, Mr George Soros’ resignation in favor of more philanthropic endeavors (which he’s been doing for many many years already) is something I can always picture, and not surprised.  He recently announced he’s retiring.
Do you know that in UK, their incumbent David Cameron proposed GWB (general well being) in strict opposition to the world’s metrics of measuring the global health with monetary productivity (GDP or Gross Domestic Product.) ? Please read more here “UK Launches Happiness Index
You see, I’ve often subscribed to the social entrepreneurs’ mindset of creating businesses in pursuit of passions, profits and purposes which Tony Hsieh always insisted in his book “Delivering Happiness”.
To anyone out there, I guess— what I can only say is that in my life, I chose this fork on one of life’s crossroads.  I don’t really regret it.  Trading has really allowed me to know a lot about myself, my own” makeup”, my trading style and my design.  Trading has allowed me to learn a competency in understanding about being rigid with my rules, and yet flexible to opinion- “floating like a jellyfish”- in Stuart Walton speak.  I’ve read about very interesting personalities, traded very wonderful companies (I don’t exactly know the fundamentals of every stock I traded in, but for the highfliers, I check on whats happening with them, once in a while, for sheer interest in what the company’s doing).  If you want to know more about yourself, the markets is really an expensive place to do that, but that’s what I’ve paid my thousands of dollars of tuition for.
I can’t think of having it in any other way.  Plus, my life hasn’t even ended.
– The Faceless Trader
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2 Responses to July 26, 2011- A Life in Wall Street- The Contemplations

  1. Diego says:

    Hi! I just discovered your blog. Very interesting! Captivating! I plan to read all of your posts starting from june2011. Still a long way to go. But I don’t mind. Thank you

    Like

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