Monthly Archives: October 2014

Book review: Market Wizards by Jack Shwager


MarketThis book had been on my reading list for almost a year. I was lucky enough to find it at my favorite second hand store for only $3.

The book is a compilation of 17 interviews. 16 interviews of  top traders and one interview of a psychologist who focuses on helping professional traders. The book was originally published in 1989, so we don’t get to read how those top traders did during the most recent economic crises.

Some initial observations: All the traders are from the United States. I am sure that there are excellent traders in other parts of the globe. Maybe Mr. Schwager wanted to keep it simple by staying in The United States. Another observation is that all the traders are male. I hate to stereotype, but I have noticed that there are not that many women who work as professional traders.

The stories collected were incredible. Many of the traders interviewed went from trading a few hundred dollars to becoming millionaires or managers of multibillion dollar portfolios.

Although each story on its own was interesting, when you put all of them together, they all begin to sound like the same story. For example, Michael Marcus started trading with $700 and retired with 80 million dollars. Bruce Kovner borrowed $3,000 from his credit card and now has over $4.8 billion dollars. All the other traders have similar stories. They all went from very little to an incredible amount of money. They all are fanatic about trading at the expense of everything else in their lives. All of them gave practically the same advice: “You have to work hard. You have to do your homework.”

There were two stories in particular that I found very valuable; the one of William O’Neil, and the one about David Ryan. They did not talk so much about how they became successful, instead they explained their process in becoming successful. Although the purpose of the book was not educational, I felt that I learned something reading those two chapters.

Overall, I give the book four stars out of five. The material was excellent, except that after a while it became too repetitive.

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Don’t waste your money on expensive wine.



wineWhen I taste this Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, what am I tasting? The grapes? The tannins? The oak barrel? or the price?

I have a question. When you have two bottles of wine, one costs $50 and the other one costs $10. Is the $50 bottle five times better than the $10 bottle? or is it better at all?

Brian Dimarco, a well respected wine distributor, presented random participants with two bottles of wine, each containing the exact same wine. They were told that one bottle was worth $50 and the other was worth $10.

After the participants tasted the two bottles, all the participants agreed that the $50 bottle tasted better.

But of course, those were amateurs. What do they know, they were confused by the price label. Certainly experts would not make that mistake. Or would they?

Since many of us don’t have enough knowledge to judge an expensive wine from a cheap wine, we rely on the expertise of writers from magazines like “Wine Spectator.” Not only do they taste each individual wine and give us their opinion but they also review the wine list of many restaurants and tell us which restaurants have the best wine lists. Or do they?

This was the question posed by writer and researcher Robin Goldstein.

In August 2008, Mr. Goldstein created a fake restaurant in Milan, Italy, called Osteria L’intrepido. He created a fake menu, a fake website and a fake voicemail message saying that the restaurant was closed for vacation.

As for the wine list, Goldstein made that up too. He chose several wines which had received low ratings by this magazine, Wine Spectator.

Mr. Goldstein sent all this fake information to the magazine and a real money order for $250 for the registration fee. What he wanted to test was whether you had to have a good wine list to win an award of wine excellence? Well, to the surprise of Mr. Goldstein, he did win the  award of excellence and he was pitched to buy advertising in the magazine next to the award in the following issue of the magazine.

Ok, they were biased because they wanted to make some money, but real experts would not make that mistake, or would they?

In 2001, Frederic Brochet, from the University of Bordeaux, invited 57 wine experts to evaluate two wines, one red and one white.

The experts described the red wine as: “Intense, deep, and spicy.” while the white wine was described as “lively, fresh, and floral.” It turns out that they were drinking exactly the same wine. They were both white wine, except that the red was in reality white wine with red colorant.

It is my believe that when you buying an expensive bottle of wine, you are buying a cheap bottle of wine packaged with a good story around it. My advice for you to buy a cheap bottle of wine plus a movie of a good book and you will be getting much better value for your money.

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You don’t need money to start a business


One of my favorite topics of conversation is business and how businesses are created.

Many of us have heard the phrase: “It takes money to make money.”

That is not true. You don’t need money to succeed in business. Many of today’s business leaders, From John D. Rockefeller to  Mark Zukerberg, started with $0. What they had was a determination to succeed, a belief that their goals could become a reality.

Today, I’d like to show you, with three simple examples, that anyone can succeed in business if they are determined to do so.

I’d like to start with my case.

Last November I did a business deal. My total investment was zero dollars, my time invested was about 60 hours and the potential outcome of this deal is about a quarter of a million dollars. And the most beautiful thing is that this transaction can be repeated over and over again.

Let me explain.

Last year I wanted to invest in real estate. I found a beautiful condo in the Plateau which was already rented to some McGill students. I decided to buy it, but I had one problem, I didn’t have any money. I asked some friends for a loan to use as a down payment. Once I had the money for the down payment, I asked the bank to lend me the rest of the money, which they did. In other words, the money out of my pocket was zero. And since the property was already rented, the risk was almost zero as well. Here I put together a simple deal, with no money, very little risk and the potential gain is about one quarter of a million dollars, which is the value of the condominium.

The major ingredient to do this investment was to have a belief that it was possible.  No money out of my own pocket was necessary.

The next example is my friend Christopher Lavigne.

Christopher is only 24 years old. He’s the owner of Jour 7 communication, an advertising company that is one of the biggest in Quebec. Christopher sells and upkeep Facebook pages for small businesses

Christopher started his service before investing in a business card. Imagine that, he didn’t even invest $20 in business cards. He and his partner went from door to door, offering their services. Once clients paid them, they provided the service and re-invested the profit back into the business. Christopher created this company without any money out of his pocket.

How did he accomplished this? He believed that it was possible and he just did it.

My last example is Sir. Richard Branson, the creator of Virgin Airlines.

How many of you have heard of Virgin Airlines?

Many times, when Mr. Branson wanted to go from London to New York, he found that all the seats were sold. This frustrated him, so he decided to create his own airline. He built a website, he sold the tickets in advance, without having an airplane, then he rented an airplane and hired a pilot. He carried the people across the ocean and then he paid his bills. He repeated this process over and over again and reinvested the earnings back into the business. Notice that Mr. Branson didn’t risk any money. He only rented the plane once he had sold the tickets. His risk was zero, his investment was zero and the the outcome was spectacular.

How did he accomplish this? He believed that it was possible. He didn’t need any money to start an airline.

Dear friends, These opportunities are available to all of us. First of all, we have to develop a mindset of abundance, a belief that whatever we desire we can achieve. Then how we find opportunities will depend on our unique talents and creativity.

Once you embrace this kind of thinking you will find that anything is possible.

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