Long Posts

How I Became A Thought Leader In The Trading Industry – And How You Can Too

How I Became A Thought Leader In The Trading Industry – And How You Can Too

This blog has been a way for me to share the many lessons I have learned about habits, beliefs, behavior, mindfulness, philosophy, motivation… all of which are important matters in trading.

Since the blog’s inception, it has been quite an amazing journey for me, full of learning… and it never stops.

When I look back on when I started Trading Composure, only four years ago now, I am amazed at how much the blog has evolved.

At first, I started out with zero audience, but by writing thoughtful posts, my readership has grown slowly but surely.

Last time I checked, you’re over 11 000 subscribers now who have chosen to receive my weekly newsletters. The website also collects about 1500 visits a day on average.

Compared to other blogs out there, it’s not a lot. But for me it is. For someone as low-key as I am to have captured the attention of so many people around the world, it’s truly amazing.

And, to hell with comparisons anyway. It’s a poison that I’ve learned not to drink. I’m happier this way, and I feel much better about myself and my accomplishments –however small.

My story.

If you’ve read my books, you saw that my story is quite ordinary: I’m just a simple guy who, for the longest time, wasn’t utilizing correctly that “device” that stands between his two ears.

I was stuck in bad habits and self-limiting beliefs. And consequently, my trading results reflected that – there wasn’t any consistency.

I’ve struggled for 5 whole years like that, but, eventually, I did change my ways. My trading results finally improved and slowly I became a consistent winner. I now earn a decent living, and life is good.

What happened?

Well, there wasn’t a one AHA moment. There were a lot of them. It was mostly small steps, slow changes, gradual realizations and learning… But at its core, everything that I have achieved so far, the shift in behavior, the successes that I’ve had, everything is to be attributed to the basic practice of introspection.

I talk a lot about the impact meditation has had on me. Like everyone, I had always assumed that the world was outside, and only outside. I never thought there was another world – an inner world — waiting to be explored. And I never thought there was a way to turn your attention inwards and see what’s there.

In trading, often it’s very hard to keep your performance steady. After one or a couple of costly mistakes, you might vow to yourself, “Ok, this time, I will not screw up. I will stick to my plan and follow it to the T.”

And that’s what you do for one, two, three, maybe even four trades. But then, the habituated patterns of the mind start to resurface again. And before you know it you end up screwing up again.

I know this because I’ve been there many times.

With a consistent meditation practice, I now have a tool to calm myself back down when emotions are threatening to overcome me. It also helps me think more constructively and helpfully.

It’s been truly a game-changer.

Writing — an important ally.

Meditation aside, writing has also been instrumental. Before this blog, I would keep a paper journal with me at all times. And I would write insights, realizations, and anything else that came to me that was worth recording.

It helped me connect ideas, think more constructively, articulate my regrets of the past and my anxieties of the future. (Curiously, when I articulated them, they didn’t haunt me that much anymore.)

I would write in public transits, on park benches, at the library, at home…

I went through a process of opening up to my life – the only life that I have and that I can work on improving. And it’s been really helpful in shaping up who I am today.

That’s my story, in a nutshell.

But what’s yours?

Yes, what’s your story? What are your struggles? What are your successes? What does it feel like to walk the path you’ve walked, and to be where you’re at right now? How do you plan to change your bad habits?

These are the types of questions that it might be useful for you to figure out, and writing is an excellent means of doing that.

The goal of a journal is not to simply record surface events such as, “I didn’t follow my rule with this trade.” You should cut through the superficial and record your experience of the experience.

In other words, you didn’t follow your rule. Okay. How did you feel as that was happening? What was happening in your body?

Often we tend to overlook sensory impressions. Look at the experience directly, and peel off your filters and layers of interpretation. Aim to see reality as honestly as possible.

It is my experience that the moment we bring words to unexpressed events, perceptions, and feelings, we pierce through to a new layer of understanding. We polish that understanding more and more, and slowly, we become more. Until comes a point where we are able to do and perceive things others can’t do or are oblivious to.

So, on the path to mastery, writing is an important ally. I highly recommend it, even if you were never a writer, to begin with.

If you’re not good at it, don’t worry, you can write for your eyes only. But if you think you’re good enough and are confident that people might find those writings helpful, then read on.

Developing an online presence.

What makes you interesting? What do you have to offer the world? What do you enjoy? Where do you struggle? Find them, and then, maybe set up a blog and share that with the world.

Write about your experiences, learned lessons, insights, thoughts about the market, difficulties and how you are overcoming them… anything relevant to trading that makes you think deeper. Write!

Don’t worry about criticisms about your writing, your level of understanding, your journey, and your failures. They will happen as they always do, but don’t let that stop you from becoming a better version of yourself.

If you don’t like blogging, or writing long essays for that matter, you could share your thoughts and insights on Twitter. By its character limit, Twitter forces you to get to the point – and fast. Which is the best thing about this platform.

There are important perks to developing that kind of online presence:

First,

To hold a blog (or a Twitter account), you have to reflect on your life and your journey. You have to push yourself to experiment, reflect, connect ideas… You must motivate yourself to learn and experience something useful every time, so you can share it.

You must be open, because criticism will naturally come. You also need to hold yourself accountable for the things you say and share, because other people are watching.

Second,

Eventually, if you’re any good and if what you share is perceived as valuable, that will position you as a thought leader. That’s when things get interesting because you’ll get to develop a solid list of followers who value what you have to say.

And with that, you’ll get the opportunity to develop another source of income besides trading. This will take away a lot of the pressure to perform in the market. As a result, your trading will naturally improve.

Becoming a better thinker.

So again, if somewhere deep inside of you you want to become a thought leader in this field, you need to start to reflect and express your thoughts in writing. Writing will make you a better thinker.

But how do you come up with new ideas to share?

First,

Use your own experience. Never talk with authority about something you haven’t studied or experienced.

Second,

Be honest about your shortcomings and how you overcame them — IF you overcame them.

Third,

Look to express what’s already out there, in your own words and understanding. Being a thought leader is not about coming up with original ideas. There are no original ideas, only people who aren’t extensively read enough to understand that their ideas aren’t that original.

So don’t be afraid to re-do what others have already done before you. You will rarely create something completely new.

Fourth,

Develop your synthesis skills. Originality is not about individual ideas but their synthesis. That’s what we do as humans –we build upon other’s work and findings. We add our own spices to the mix.

That’s one of the reasons why it doesn’t bother me to see my ideas published and distributed freely on other blogs without attribution nor permission. It’s because those are not “My” ideas anyways. They’re just ideas. Some of them I’ve personally experienced. Others, I’ve read somewhere, internalized and synthesized using my own words, understanding, and experience.

Of course, when I see attribution, it pleases me. But inherently, it’s not all that important.

The most toxic mindset you can have is thinking everything is scarce. If I teach you something I know, it doesn’t make me worse off. Together we’re creating more value which makes both of us better off. And eventually, more people can join in. It’s all for the advancement of the human species. That’s how I see it anyway.

In truth, if I haven’t made that clear already through my writings, I don’t do what I do for the money. The money hasn’t been the real prize –I live a simple life regardless of how much I earn. What makes me tick is the small changes I’m able to make in people’s lives.

It’s also looking back at where I was and where I am today — I once thought of myself as a static entity. I now see the changes I’m constantly going through, and I don’t hold on so tightly to things anymore.

So, from this angle, it’s always a win-win situation.

In closing…

I am entirely grateful to all of you readers! Whatever your background, if you are struggling to engineer a viable source of income for you and your family from trading, I want to tell you that change is possible.

My advice to you: be curious, adventurous, entrepreneurial, and perspicacious. Let go of your narrow focus on money. It’s crippling you. Think big. Think self-improvement. Think sharing. Think openness. And just start already.

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Yvan
I've been trading for a living since 2006. By merging mindfulness (an in-depth study of the mind and its tendencies in the present moment), a good trading process, and an efficient business practice, I went from being a losing trader to a consistently profitable one. Through my work here at Trading Composure, I aim at helping you do the same.
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  • Randy Woods

    Yvan,
    This blog post reached me at the perfect time. I’ve been having a particularly challenging period of trading lately and yesterday (Thurs.) I decided to take Friday off from the markets and use the time to step back and look at the big picture of who I am as a trader. Today I will write an essay that begins with an honest assessment of my past trading experience, where I am now (trading capital, time I have to commit to trading daily, coaching/mentoring available to me) and what my short and long term goals as a trader are. Then I’ll assess my strengths and tools I can use to reach my goals. And then come back to the small picture details of how I will interact with the market – What does my ideal trade set up look like? What is my exit plan for my trades? I feel like the trading part of my mind is too cloudy right now and I need to do this for clarity. Reading your words above confirmed to me that this will be a worthwhile day. Thank you.

    • Randy,

      Thanks for reading. Writing will provide you with an incredible amount of insights into the cause and effect of your results. And the reason is simple: when you grab a pen, a piece of paper and you start putting your thoughts down, it allows you to articulate clearly the thoughts in your mind and the feelings in your body that might just be hazy. When you have it on paper, it is not hazy, abstract anymore, and you have something to work with and to improve upon.

      Also, I’m sure you know this, but, failure, as an important stepping stone, cannot be overemphasized. Mastery is a byproduct of it. Mastery doesn’t come from remaining safe and unscathed. One has to earn it by way of trial and error.

      Mastery is as much a product of failures as it is a product of successes. So don’t shy away from losses, mistakes, failures. Instead, welcome them. Let them teach you with an open mind. Keep trading and keep pushing. Virtually every tale of success in trading that you’ll read involves resilience in the midst of failure.

      I wish you all the best,

      Yvan

      • Randy Woods

        Thanks. I agree.
        I worked on my “who I am as a trader” essay and clarified trade plan a lot over the last few days and will continue to refine and learn.
        I also saw a tweet from Brett Steenbarger recently that made the point that in a performance business, success is enhanced by putting in the work outside of the arena. I’m on the right track.

  • 01deluxe01 .

    Great Stuff Sir!

  • NVP

    hey Yvan – yet another deep and thought-provoking post from you …..I agree that ones own evolution as a person and a trader can indeed be accelerated through journals and many other ways of expressing ones own journey and thoughts…ive been posting and sharing on trading forums and websites since 2009 and have found it useful ….thanks again N

    • As always thanks for reading Neil, and thanks for your valuable input. 🙂

  • Option Trader37

    I’ve followed you since day one and I don’t comment often but I consider myself a thought leader. I know your story of saving 6 figures and losing it, just like I have and the depression that comes along with it. After trading for 8 years I am finally ready to do something with it online. In a honest, BS free way – like you have.

    • Thank you so much for reading the blog since day one. You’ve probably seen how I started from nothing. No experience. No nothing. I learned everything on the go.

      So go for it! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just do what’s already working. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but you’ll learn. And eventually you’ll built a solid following.

      I wish you all the best. You can do this. You absolutely can!