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TRADE LIKE A STOCK MARKET WIZARD
HOW TO ACHIEVE SUPERPERFORMANCE IN STOCKS IN ANY MARKET
By MARK MINERVINI
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Mark Minervini
All rights reserved.
AN INTRODUCTION WORTH READING
Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision.
—Muhammad Ali, three-time world heavyweight boxing champion
In the heat of competition, champions rise to their strengths, triumphing over mere contenders. Marathon runners win through superior endurance and a keen sense of pacing. The great flying aces of World War I defeated their enemies, winning dogfights by thinking faster and better in three-dimensional space. At the chessboard, victory goes to the player who sees more clearly through the maze of possible moves to unlock the winning combination. Virtually every human contest is dominated by the few who possess the unique traits and skills required in their fields. The stock market is no different.
Investing styles may differ among successful market players, but without exception, winning stock traders share certain key traits required for success. Fall short in those qualities and you will surely part ways with your money. The good news is that you don't have to be born with them. Along with learning effective trading tactics, you can develop the mindset and emotional discipline needed to win big in the stock market. Two things are required: a desire to succeed and a winning strategy. In Trade Like a Stock Market Wizard: How to Achieve Superperformance in Stocks in Any Market, I will show you how my winning strategy brought me success and how it can do the same thing for you.
I've been trading and investing in the stock market for most of my adult life: 30 years and counting as of the writing of this book. Stock trading is how I made my living and ultimately my fortune. Starting with only a few thousand dollars, I was able to parlay my winnings to become a multimillionaire by age 34. Even if I had not become rich from trading stocks, I would still be doing it today. For me, trading isn't a sport or just a way to make money; trading is my life.
I didn't start out successful. In the beginning, I made the same mistakes every new investor makes. However, through years of study and practice, I gradually acquired the necessary know-how to achieve the type of performance you generally only read about. I'm talking about superperformance. There's a big difference between making a decent return in the stock market and achieving superperformance, and that difference can be life-changing. Whether you're an accountant, a schoolteacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a plumber, or even broke and unemployed as I was when I started, believe me you can attain superperformance.
Success requires opportunity. The stock market provides incredible opportunity on a daily basis. New companies are constantly emerging as market leaders in every field from high-tech medical equipment to retail stores and restaurants right in your own neighborhood. To spot them and take advantage of their success you must have the know-how and the discipline to apply the proper investment techniques. In the following pages, I'm going to tell you how to develop the expertise to find your next superperformer.
Follow Your Dreams and Believe in Yourself
Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it.
Dedication and a desire to succeed are definitely requirements to achieve superperformance in stocks. What is not required is conventional wisdom or a college education. My real-world education began when I was an adolescent. I dropped out of school in the eighth grade at age 15, which means that I am almost completely self-educated. Yes, you read that correctly. I left school at age 15. I have never seen the inside of a high school as a student, let alone attended a university. What I did have, however, was a thirst for knowledge and a burning desire to succeed, to be the best trader I could be. I became a fanatical student of the stock market, its history, and human behavior. I started out by reading the financial news and stock reports at the local library. Over the years, I've read an incredible number of investment books, including more than 1,000 titles in my personal library alone.
In light of my lack of starting resources and formal education, the level of success I have achieved strikes some people as unlikely or even impossible. Along the way, some have even tried to discourage me. You too probably will face people who will try to dissuade you from trying. You will hear things such as "It's a rigged game," "You're gambling," and "Stocks are too risky." Don't let anyone convince you that you can't do it. Those who think it's not possible to achieve superperformance in stocks say so only because they never achieved it themselves, and so it's hard for them to imagine. Ignore any discouragement you may encounter and pay attention instead to the empowering principles I am about to share with you. If you spend time studying and applying them, you too can realize results that will amaze even the most ambitious positive thinkers. Then the same people who said it couldn't be done will ask you the question they always ask me, "How did you do it?"
And the Trade Shall Set You Free
From the very beginning, I saw the stock market as the ultimate opportunity for financial reward. Trading also appealed to me because I liked the idea of having the freedom to work at home and taking responsibility for my own success. In my young adult years, I had tried several different business ventures, and even though I felt enthusiastic, that burning passion was still missing. Finally, I came to realize that what I was most passionate about was freedom—freedom to do what I want, when I want, where I want.
One day it dawned on me: life is rich even if you're not. I realized that things were happening every day, good and bad, and that it was just a matter of deciding what I wanted to be part of. People were getting rich in the stock market. I said to myself, Why not be part of that? I figured that if I learned how to invest in the market and trade successfully, I could achieve my dream of financial freedom and, more important, personal freedom. Besides, who was going to hire a junior high school dropout? The stock market was the one place I could see that had unlimited potential without prejudice. The author and successful businessman Harvey Mackay said it perfectly, "Optimists are right. So are pessimists. It's up to you to choose which you will be."
Achieving the Best of Both Worlds
When I started trading in the early 1980s, I had only a few thousand dollars to invest. I had to make huge returns on my relatively small account to survive and still have some trading capital left. This forced me to hone my timing and learn the necessary tactics for extracting consistent profits out of the stock market day in and day out. Like a pro poker player who grinds out a steady living while consistently building a bankroll, I became a stock market "rounder."
My philosophy and approach to trading is to be a conservative aggressive opportunist. Although this may seem like a contradiction in terms, it is not. It simply means that my style is to be aggressive in my pursuit of potential reward and at the same time be extremely risk-conscious. Although I may invest or trade aggressively, my primary thought process begins with "How much can I lose?" not just "How much can I gain?"
During my 30 years as a stock trader, I've discovered that a "risk-first" approach is what works best for me. It has allowed me not just to perform or perform well but to achieve superperformance, averaging 220 percent per year from 1994 to 2000 (a 33,500 percent compounded total return), including a U.S. Investing Championship title in 1997. My approach also proved invaluable when I needed it the most: cashing me out ahead of eight bear markets, including two of the worst declines in U.S. stock market history. By adhering to a disciplined strategy, I was able to accomplish the most important goal of all: to protect my trading account and keep the profits I made during the previous bull markets.
Invest in Yourself First
When I began trading in the early 1980s, I endured a six-year period when I didn't make any money in stocks. In fact, I had a net loss. It wasn't until 1989 that I began to achieve meaningful success. What kept me going? Unconditional persistence. When you make an unshakable commitment to a way of life, you put yourself way ahead of most others in the race for success. Why? Because most people have a natural tendency to overestimate what they can achieve in the short run and underestimate what they can accomplish over the long haul. They think they've made a commitment, but when they run into difficulty, they lose steam or quit.
Most people get interested in trading but few make a real commitment. The difference between interest and commitment is the will not to give up. When you truly commit to something, you have no alternative but success. Getting interested will get you started, but commitment gets you to the finish line. The first and best investment you can make is an investment in yourself, a commitment to do what it takes and to persist. Persistence is more important than knowledge. You must persevere if you wish to succeed in anything. Knowledge and skill can be acquired through study and practice, but nothing great comes to those who quit.
When Opportunity Meets Prepardness
When people hear my success story, the two questions they ask most often are, How did you do it? and Did you just get lucky? The assumption is that I must have taken a lot of big risks or been lucky along the way.
So how did I do it?
For years I worked on perfecting my trading skills, plugging away 70 to 80 hours a week, often staying up to pore over stock charts and company financials until the sun came up the next day. Even though the results weren't there yet, I persevered. I spent years separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff, perfecting my process by analyzing my successes and, more important, my failures. I invested countless hours in learning how great investors approached the market and how they created and executed trading strategies and developed the emotional discipline required to follow their models.
Then something wonderful happened. My preparation intersected with opportunity. I had been honing my skills for years, and by 1990 I was fully equipped to take advantage of a new emerging bull market. With all the lessons I had learned from my trial-and-error days in the 1980s, the pitch was now coming across the plate, and I was staring at my chance to knock the ball out of the park. I was 100 percent prepared, like an Olympic athlete who has practiced and practiced and is now ready to perform with perfection.
Opportunities in the stock market can spring to life on short notice. To take advantage of them you must be prepared and ready to act. Right now, somewhere out in the world someone is tirelessly preparing for success. If you fail to prepare, that somebody probably will make big money while you only dream about what you could have been and should have done. So prepare, prepare, prepare, because when opportunity knocks, which it definitely will, you want to be there to answer the door.
Seize Permanent Knowledge
In the following pages, I will share with you a plethora of information as well as specific tactics to help you succeed in stock trading, but there is no substitute for real-life experience. Just as you cannot learn to ride a bicycle from a book, the only way you can accumulate experience is by taking action and producing results and then learning from those results, good and bad. Unfortunately, experience cannot be force-fed; it must be acquired personally over time. However, as you go through trials and tribulations during your learning curve, keep in mind that once acquired, the skill of proficient stock trading can never be taken from you. No one can fire you from your craft the way a boss can from a job; it's just you and the market. All you have learned and the experience you have gained can bear fruit for many years to come. Truly, this is what makes acquired knowledge and firsthand experience the greatest tool to succeed and build upon in stock trading and in life.
Put Passion at the Wheel
The best traders wake up every day excited about trading and speculation. They can't wait to get to work each day and find their next superperformer. They are challenged by the markets and feel the same passion and excitement that drives athletes to greatness. Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player in history because he had passion for the game, not because he was motivated by commercial endorsements. So it is with great traders. They are motivated not just by money but above all by their passion to become the best they can be.
Passion is not something you can learn; it comes from within you. Passion transcends monetary reward. Don't worry; if you are doing something you truly enjoy and you are great at it—whether you're the best writer, lawyer, archaeologist, or basketball player or the world's foremost authority on dung beetles—the money will come your way. For me, the greatest success came when I finally decided to forget about the money and concentrate on being the best trader I could be. Then the money followed.
Those of you who enjoy investing and the art of speculation can learn the techniques and disciplines needed to succeed in the stock market. Concentrate on being the best you can be, and the money will follow. The main thing is to let your passion drive you.
The Best Time to Begin
You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.
Every day we have the opportunity to make choices and shape our future; every day is the first day of the rest of our lives. At some point, those days are gone. You can choose to learn from or regret your failures and also rejoice in your triumphs; however, the sooner you begin pursuing your dreams, the sooner you can achieve them. If you truly want success trading stocks, take action right away. You don't need anyone's permission or any reason other than you've decided to stop wasting valuable time that you will never get back. It all begins with beginning! You can dream, you can think positively, you can plan and set goals, but unless you take action, nothing will materialize. In his book Possibility Thinking, Robert Schuller said, "It's better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly." An ounce of action is worth pounds of theory. In the stock market, you can make excuses or you can make money, but you can't do both.
It's not enough to have knowledge, a dream, or passion; it's what you do with what you know that counts. Even if you don't become wealthy, by doing what you're passionate about, you will at least be happy. The best chance you have to succeed in life is to do what you enjoy and give it everything you've got. When you get up each morning and do what you love, you never work a day in your life. Those days can begin today. The best time to begin is right now!
A Time to Share
If you cannot—in the long run—tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.
You may wonder why I chose to write this book now. More than a decade ago, I was approached by several major publishers, but I decided not to proceed. Yes, authoring a book gives one credibility and prestige and maybe even boosts one's ego. Although the offers were tempting, I hesitated. I thought to myself, Why should I give away all my hard work for a relatively small sum of money, especially since most people probably won't apply it correctly? Admittedly, I was being a bit cynical. Then I realized that if even one individual put forth the effort that I did in my earlier years, perhaps my book could help that person achieve his or her dreams. Perhaps my work could make a real difference for someone else; perhaps that someone is you.
Since my early twenties, I have been inspired by the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer, the internationally known motivational speaker and author. Not long ago, I reread his book 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, in which there is a chapter titled "Don't Let the Music Die Inside You." That chapter really struck a chord with me. My father died relatively young, in his fifties. Later, my mother became sick and recently passed after a long battle with an illness. This prompted me to think about my life. Over the years I have accumulated a treasure chest of knowledge and expertise. I came to the realization that it would be a waste to let it all just fade away. Books written by great traders provided me with a foundation to build on—a passing of the torch, one might say. Similarly, I would like others to benefit from and further advance my work.
The stock market provides the greatest opportunity on earth for financial reward. It also teaches great lessons to those who win and those who lose, an education that goes well beyond trading and investing. Without a doubt, the stock market gives you incredible exhilaration when you win and deep humility when you lose. It is the greatest game on earth, and for me it has proved to be the greatest business opportunity on earth.
Excerpted from TRADE LIKE A STOCK MARKET WIZARD by MARK MINERVINI. Copyright © 2013 by Mark Minervini. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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