Small Things are Big Things

You’ve covered lot of ground, and are now cleaning up the field. 

You’re tying up the loose ends. 

Your small acts here count big. 

Please see them through to their logical conclusion. 

Don’t get up without completing full action. 

An act at or towards the end leans on the main piece of action which you’ve already fulfilled. 

It’s loaded on a spring. It’s effectivity is enormous. However, you are tired. You’re looking to close up. Hashtags, man, what are these hashtags!? Why do I have to put them, you’re saying to yourself. What purpose do they serve? Let me just forget about them.

No.

Hashtags are just one thing. A small thing, but then, a big thing. 

Tying your act into your own seamless sphere is another such thing. 

I know, it’s a pain…but seamlessness is a beautiful feeling. 

I like to imagine that seamlessness is the equivalent of free-falling in a mad, mad world. Maybe that’s a nonsensical analogy, but that’s what I like to imagine. Seamlessness gives you a huge advantage in today’s world. Take it. Make the effort to keep yourself seamless. 

Backing up, yeah yeah. Who likes backups? You’ve got to do them, however. No pain, no gain. I’ll talk to you after some data-loss. Only bother hooking up with me if you’re well backed-up. I don’t have the energy to lend a shoulder that withstands your tears in the event you weren’t back-up. 

Where hashtags stop, that’s where your organisational skills should take over. Meaning, that one hashtag-search could give a thousand results. How do you still find what you’re looking for? Logic. You’ve used your logic while organising your work. Logically, your file should be somewhere, and that’s the somewhere you look. 90%+ you’ll find it there. Follow seamless logic. The first logical avenue that comes to mind…take it. Yeah, your seamlessness also stands on your own seamless logic. 

Staying with what counts is a small thing, but again, it’s a big thing. 

On the path, one strays. One is distracted. What do you do?

The mind is like a baby. 

Don’t deny it outright. 

Trick it. 

Let it stray for a bit. 

Then, when its defences are down, bring it back to the main path. 

Keep bringing it back, until it starts getting a rooting righ by returning to home-base every half an hour. That’s the sweet-spot.

Don’t lose yourself into lost causes. 

Achieve. Fine. Set goals. Sure. Get them done. Great. Move on. 

Moving on is one small step. However, it’s a big step. Not many have the strength or the mental capacity to move on. Make sure you do. 

How?

Open your eyes and see the world. 

If you feel that your one achievement is going to make it spin, fine, stay on there, good for you. If not, please move on to your next achievement. Keep doing this till you find that one big, big thing for yourself. By that time, you’ll have many small things going on auto-pilot anyways. 

Get a grip. Nip something small when it’s small. Get to the big. Go for it. 🙂

A Secret Ingredient for Equity-People

Racking your brain about how to make Equity work?

Don’t.

Two words work here. 

Be passive. 

Learn to sit. 

Let’s say you’ve gotten all your basics right.

Company is great. Management is sound. Multiple is low. Debt is nil. Model looks promising. Yield is note-worthy. Technicals allow entry, blah blah blah…

Then what?

Yeah, be still. Learn to sit. 

What are the prequisites for sitting?

You need to not need the stash you’ve put in, at least for a long while. 

You also need to get your investment out of your primary focus. 

For that, your day needs to be full…of other main-frame activities. 

Make Equity a bonus for yourself, not a main-course. That’s how it’ll work for you. That’s the secret ingredient. 

How to… … is stated above.

Why to? Aha.

For it to work, fine, but why the sleeping partner approach?

Human capital needs time to show results. 

That’s why you’re in Equity, right, for human capital? The rest is ordinary stuff, but human capital is irreplaceable. Human capital works around inflation. One doesn’t need to say anything more. 

You’ve got your work all cut out.

Get going, what are you waiting for? 

Thunder, Lightning and the Road Ahead

Why do you look here and there?

If there’s a road ahead of you which you have defined, why don’t you just go ahead and tread it?

Is it mandatory to get distracted by things that don’t concern the path?

In the marketplace, it’s all about mind-set.

Free your mind.

Unburden it.

Dump all useless stuff into the bin. 

Secure your family’s basic bread and butter.

Identify a portion of your surplus cum non-invested cash as your NGHM (nobody’s-getting-hurt-money).

Enter the marketplace with your NGHM.

You are armed with your system.

You know how to identify your trades. 

You further know how to enter, manage and exit your trades.

These are the basics.

From here on it a mind-game.

Not partially. 

Fully.

It’s fully a mind-game from this point on. 

Mentally resilient? Are you? Well, you’re going to create thunder with your system then. 

Don’t get distracted by the lightning on the path.

Tread the path with complete confidence, drawing upon your full mental resilience. 

The road ahead is painted with glory.

Danza Kuduro x Gangnam Style = Indian Political Circus

Can you ignore the circus around you?

Sooner or later, you’ll need to learn how to.

Why?

Because growth is where we are.

And, growth is dying in many parts of the world.

So, why do you need to ignore the circus?

To focus. The circus won’t let you focus properly.

And why do you need to focus?

To take advantage of the growth around you.

Growth is a coveted commodity, remember that.

One could say that you are lucky to be born in an area showing growth. You are in demand. People from other parts of the world want to participate in any available growth story. These are competent people, selling highly developed technology and expertise. They deserve to participate in growth stories, why not? The question here is about you.

Are you able to make the most of your times, and that too – ethically?

Then forget about the circus.

The circus won’t let you function ethically.

You need to learn to function despite the circus.

Welcome to the world of minimal exposure. At times, you will need the circus, since it controls the machinery of your system. That’s about it, that’s your minimal exposure. No more exposure than what is absolutely required – these are golden words summing up your policy of minimal exposure.

And you are totally going to succeed despite minimal exposure – many have done so already, so why should you be an exception?

The quality of success that emerges, after having followed a policy of minimal exposure, is sweet. It’s a no-strings-attached kind of success. It is lasting, and brings peace and exhilaration. Definitely worth striving for. So, circus shmirkus, don’t even bother, just go for it, and make the most of the growth happening around you. Because of your ethical angle, I wish even more, that you succeed.

All the best! 🙂

Finding the “Switch-Off” Button

Gadgets have a switch-off button, right?

Whatever for, have you ever wondered?

Do we have one too?

If we do, is it clearly marked, i.e. is it easy to find?

If we do, and if it isn’t clearly market, where and how can we find it?

Why is it essential to find it?

What if we don’t have a switch-off button?

First, let’s observe the Master. Sherlock Holmes. Master at the art of switching off.

Observe Holmes when the next obvious lead will take a day to obtain. Since the case is going nowhere, Holmes will take the day off. He will play his violin, trip on some coke to study its effects on mind and body (he’s Holmes), go to the art gallery, or what have you. The case at hand has gone into oblivion. Attenuated. What happens when it is time to pursue the case again? Holmes switches on. He is fresh. Alert. The switching-off really helped.

Remember the “attenuate” button on your car’s stereo?

Why do you think it is there?

So you can take that call without getting disturbed by the music. The music is still there, but upon pressing this button, it becomes really soft. So soft, that you don’t get affected by it. You conduct your business on the phone, and then press this button again, and the music comes back on in its full glory.

Same goes for the markets.

Once you are in a trade, market-forces are connected to you.

If you cannot attenuate them during off-market hours, you can ruin your evenings, nights, weekends, health and family life

Big, big price to pay.

Not worth it, so get busy and learn to attenuate the market’s connecting force once you switch your terminal off. Rest assured, it will come blaring back at you when you switch your terminal back on, but that time between terminal off and terminal on is oh so precious. That time belongs to you, and not to Mrs. Market. Don’t allow her that extra privilege. Use that time for things that you wish to do in life. Use it for your family. Mrs. M will be getting your undivided attention during the next market session anyways. Let her be content with that. Keep her in her place.

Just as any gadget needs rest, so do you.

Sometimes, the markets go nowhere, and / or are choppy. It doesn’t pay to trade. Switch off from the markets. Take a holiday. Do something else, till conditions become better for trading.

Yes, we do have a switch-off button. It is not clearly marked. It is located in the mind. One activates it indirectly. By switching on to some other relaxing activity that has the ability to grab the mind’s interest.

Switching off is a skill, and this skill needs to be developed. We don’t necessarily come with it. Most of us need to learn it. Otherwise, we’ll become tired, erratic, irritable etc. etc., scale up to commit big blunders, and then we will eventually burn out. That’s if the Street doesn’t throw us out as paupers before a looming burn-out. Also, our family lives will have gone for a toss. Our children will remember us as dreadful parents. Yes people, we need to find the switch-off button asap, and then we need to learn to activate this button at will. Essential.

And please don’t worry about not having such a button. After all, it was the human being who put such a button into all gadgets. Well, the idea must have come from somewhere. From inside our own mind, perhaps, where our own button exists?

The Cat that Survives Curiosity

So, what are the Joneses upto?

Or the Smiths?

Naths?

You know something, who cares?

You’re trading, right?

Fine, then just mind your own business, and focus on your return.

I mean, people, let’s just go beyond poking our noses into others’ businesses.

Don’t we have our own businesses to take care of?

Isn’t that enough for us?

If not, and if we start poking around, seeing what kind of return XYZ has made, or for that matter how many winning trades ABC has pulled off, well, we are doing ourselves a great disservice.

For starters, we don’t seem to have much confidence in our own trading system, if we’re poking around like that.

You should be pulling off the winning trades, you.

And XYZ’s or ABC’s performances should have no meaning for you.

They are trading according to their system. Let them be. What’s good for them is not necessarily good for you.

You are trading according to your system. Period.

Not minding your own business can seriously affect even a successful system which has temporarily hit a string of losing trades.

Random losses in a row happen. A winning system can well yield ten losses in a row, for example. Improbable, but not impossible.

Ask a coin, which functons at 50:50. On average, you’re flipping heads and tails equally. Nevertheless, you could land heads (or tails) ten times in a row over many, many coin-flips. Part of the game. Accept it.

Since you have a system, you’re functioning well beyond 50:50, right?

Thus, chances of a large number of losses in a row are even lesser for you.

Tweak at your system if you feel it’s lost its market-edge.

To remind you, an edge starts occurring when one functions beyond 50:50.

After a while, one gets bored, and tells oneself, that from now on, one wants to function at 55:45 and beyond (for example), come what may.

One then tweaks at one’s system, and raises the bar.

Tweak at your system if you feel the urgent need to raise the bar.

Keep raising the bar to your comfort level.

Leave other people alone. Don’t bother with their systems. Focus on your own trading.

Be the cat that survives curiosity.

Going All-in Against Mrs. Market

Yeah, yeah, I’ve been there.

And it backfired.

Luckily, my stack-size in those days was small. That’s the good part. The shocking bit was, that back then, I had defined my stack-size as my networth. Biggest mistake I’ve made till date in my market-career, and I was very lucky to escape relatively unhurt.

Wait a minute, why is all this poker terminology being used here, to describe action in the world of applied finance?

Well, poker and market action have so much in common. Specifically, No-Limit Hold-’em is deeply related to Mrs. Market. We’re talking about the cash-game, not tournament poker. It’s as if Hold-’em is telling Mrs. Market (with due respect to Madonna):

i’ve got the moves baby
u got the motion
if we got together
we’d be causing a commotion

A no-limit hold-’em hand is like one trade. Playing 20-50 hands a day is excellent market practice. You’ve got thousands of games available to you online, round the clock, and most of these are with play money. Even though the “line” is missing here because of no money on the line, this is a no-cost avenue for trade practice, and it’s entertaining to boot.

Back to stack-size? What is stack-size, exactly?

Well, your stack size is the sum of all your chips on the table. You play the game with your stack, and on the basis of your stack-size. The first thing you need to do before there’s any market action is to define your stack-size.

A healthy stack-size is one that allows you to play your game in a tension-free manner. My definition, you ask? Well, I’d start the game with a stack-size that’s no more than 5% of my networth. Segregate this amount in an account which is separate from the rest of your networth, and trade from this segregated account. That’s the wiser version of me speaking. Don’t be like the stupid version of yours truly by defining your entire networth as your stack-size.

In this 5% scenario, you have 20 opportunities to reload. It’s not going to come to that, because even if a couple of your all-in bets go bust, you will eventually catch some big market moves if your technical research is sound and if you move all-in when chances of winning are high.

Wait patiently for a good hand. Then move. One doesn’t just move all-in upon seeing one’s hole-cards. If these are strong, like pocket aces, or picture pocket pairs, one bets out a decent amount to build up the pot. Similarly, if a promising trade appears, and the underlying scrip breaks past a crucial resistance, pick up a decent portion of the scrip. Next, wait for the flop (further market action) to give you more information. Have you made a set on the flop? Right, then bet more, another decent amount, but not enough to commit you fully to the pot. Then comes the turn. The scrip continues to move in your direction. You’ve made quads, and you’re holding the nuts. Now you can commit yourself fully to the pot and move all-in. Or, you can do so on the river, checking on the turn to disguise your hand and to allow others to catch up with your nuts somewhat, so that they are able to fire some more bets into the pot on the river. Your quads win you a big pot. You fired all-in when the scrip had shown its true colours, when winning percentages were high. You exhibited patience before pot-commitment. You allowed others to fire up the pot (scrip) further, and you deservedly caught a big market move. Just get the exit right, i.e. somewhere around the peak, and you’re looking at an ideal trade strategy already, from entry to trade management to exit.

Fold your weak hands. If something’s not working out, give it up cheaply. Ten small losses against a mega-win is enough to cover you and then some.

Often, a promising trade just doesn’t take off after you enter. The underlying might even start to move below your entry price after having been up substantially. You had great hole cards, but didn’t catch a piece of the flop, and now there are two over-cards staring at you from the flop. Give up your trade. Muck your hand.

At other times, you move all-in and the underlying scrip tanks big against you in a matter of hours. Before you can let your trade go, you’re already down big. You’ve suffered a bad beat, where the percentages to win were in your favour, but the turn-out of events still caused the trade to go against you. Happens. That’s poker.

Welcome to the world of trading. Pick yourself up. Dig out another stack from your networth. Don’t allow the bad beat to affect your future trades. If you are thinking about your bad beat, leave the table till you are fresh and can focus on the current trade at hand.

And then, give the current trade at hand the best you’ve got.

Dealing with Distraction

I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.

The stand-out quality I admire about Holmes, apart from his mastery in observation and deduction, is his ability to switch off.

In the midst of the most engrossing case, Holmes will switch off for half a day or more, and will visit the museum, or will play the violin. While having switched off, there will not be a single thought on his mind concerning the ongoing investigation. He will be fully and totally involved in the recreational activity. Of course he switches off at a juncture where he knows that nothing of consequence is happening for the next so many hours, but that’s not the point.

The ability to switch off is a huge asset to the trader. It allows the trader’s mind and body to recuperate. Also, it does away with overtrading. If a position is showing good profit, the trader who installs a trailing stop, and then switches off, opens the window for still larger profits.

At many times, one is distracted. It is potentially dangerous to trade while distracted, just as it is dangerous to drive while communicating on the cellphone. While distracted, the trader needs to switch off. As long as it takes. Till the source of distraction is nullified, at least in the trader’s mind.

Just a minute, forget about the trader. Investors need to be experts at switching off too, after having entered into an investment. If they don’t have this ability, they’ll be thinking about their investment day in, night out, for years at a stretch. The investment will eat into their life. If we’re looking at the average investor with 10 to 20 investments and without the ability to switch off, we’re also looking at a mental and emotional wreck.

Traders and investors both need to learn how to switch off from Sherlock Holmes.

Options 1.0.3

Has your stop ever been jumped over?

Yes?

Did it make you angry?

Yes?

It might make you angrier to know that Mrs. Market couldn’t care less about you on a personal level. It’s you who has to adapt, not Mrs. Market.

So, next time you see Mrs. Market moving many points in one shot, you have a choice. Either you can choose to take the chance of having your stop jumped over in the hope of huge rewards, or you can use options as an instrument to trade.

In general, a stop getting jumped over is a non-issue with options, because you are pre-defining your maximum loss here. Your option-premium is the maximum loss you will incur on the trade. Once you’ve mentally aligned yourself with this potential maximum loss, you are actually then asking Mrs. Market to do all the jumping she wishes to do. It just doesn’t bother you anymore. You travel, do other stuff, and then take a sneak-peak at your position.

Once your position starts making money, you might decide to fine-tune your trade-management after achieving your target. If you then make sure that your trailing stop is wide-gapped, you can still relax and do other stuff. Maybe one time out of twenty, Mrs. Market will jump even your wide-gapped trailing stop. Even if she does, you are well in the money, and you do not forget to install a new stop. Also, a little while ago, you were mentally prepared to forgo your whole option-premium, so giving back a part of your profits seems a piece of cake to you.

Welcome to the world of options. We have plunged right in. I believe that the best way to learn something is to plunge right in. Gone are the days of bookish learning.

The options market in India is just about coming into its own. At any given time, there will be at least 20 scrips on the National Stock Exchange showing very high options volume for long trades, and at least 10 scrips showing heavy volume for short trades. Bottomline: you can get into a liquid trade on either side, anytime you want. The number of scrips showing this kind of liquidity is picking up. We are still very, very far away from the mature options market in the US. What can be said is that the Indian options market will offer you liquid trades, anytime, both on the long and the short side. Frankly, that’s all one needs.

On the flip side, options on commodities have yet to come to India. Also, only the current month options are adequately liquid in India. Regarding options, the Indian market is getting there. Well, as long as you get a liquid trade anytime you want, who cares if we’re not as mature as the US options market? I don’t.

Over the last few months, options have been the instruments of choice, with unfathomable volatility abounding. I was dying to have a go, but have been caught up in so much other distracting stuff, that I’ve not traded for two months now. I like sticking to my trading rules. One of them is to not trade if I’m distracted. I really stick to this one.

Those who did trade the options market over this period would have done exceptionally well, because ideal conditions persisted. Big and quick moves, like a see-saw. The scenario would look like this: Long options give quick profits, short options simultaneously becoming very cheap, especially the out of the money ones. One sells the now expensive long options (which were picked up cheap), and stocks up on the now cheap out of the money short options. The market turns around and leaps to the downside, giving quick and large profits on the short options. One sells the short options and picks up now cheap out of the money long options, again. The repeat trades according to this pattern can continue till they stop working. When they stop working, what have you lost? Just your premium on some out of the money options.

Wish I’d had the frame of mind to trade options over the last two months. But then, one can’t have everything!