The Greed You Don’t Recover From

This week has been something else…

“Election day” has spread out across four days and counting. As of Thursday night, there were at least four states that were still “too close to call”.

With all the uncertainty and hysteria, you would think the markets would be spooked.

Nope. Not even a little bit…

Market Summary Index Pulled on November 5th, 2020

The S&P 500 has gone up every single day. Turns out the markets were ready for this uncertainty. They continue to chug along.

Could there be volatility in the days and weeks ahead? Of course. Could the markets continue to climb steadily? Sure. Will we lose our heads over any outcome? Absolutely not.

I learned this lesson, shall we say, quite memorably my very first week on Wall Street… I saw how some people never recover from greed.

The Greed You Don't Recover From

I’ll never forget it: It was my third day in the office. I was still learning names and faces. Still learning my way around the office and how to use the Quotron machine.

It was all a lot different back then…

If a client called me and said they thought the Dow Jones was going to go up and they wanted to purchase a bunch of stocks, I’d have to get out a calculator and a paper and pen to figure out which ones to buy for them. There weren’t ETFs or anything like that.

From my very first day, I was always diligent about the work I did for clients.

That’s what mattered to me. After all, that’s who I was working for. Unfortunately, not all of my colleagues had the same priorities.

One of them was this guy – we’ll call him Buzz. Buzz was pushing about 60 at the time. He and another guy (we’ll call him Fred) spent a lot of time using the Quotron machine. We had to share it in our office, but these two seemed to be on that thing a lot.

Turns out, they were using it almost entirely for their own trades – they were barely paying attention to their clients’ portfolios.

Now, Buzz and Fred were involved with some trades that they really had no business taking part in. I mean, really risky stuff – companies they knew nothing about.

It was nothing but pure greed, plain and simple. I guess they had gotten lucky with some big trades here and there. But on my third day in the office, their luck ran out. And they never seemed to get it back.

They were so sideways in a trade — so deep in the red — you wouldn’t believe it. And everyone in the office found out about it… at the exact same moment.

THUD!

It was the sound of Buzz’s head hitting the floor..

Buzz had passed out because of how much money he had lost. And the sound of his head hitting against the floor echoed all throughout the office. Man, I’ll never forget that sound. It got everyone’s attention.

I’m not going to lie… it startled me. It made me ask myself what kind of profession I had gotten myself into. I can still hear that sound in my head.

THUD!

Buzz was completely unconscious…

He had to get hauled out of the office on a stretcher. Never saw him again. Never heard from him again. I’m not sure he ever recovered, to be honest with you. And Fred? Fred was crying like a baby. He left the office too. We never saw or heard from him again either.

Lessons Learned?

Look, this kind of thing doesn’t happen to people who have a strategy that they follow with any kind of discipline. This kind of thing happens to people who get blinded by greed.

Buzz and Fred were completely blinded by greed. And they never recovered from it.

Like I said, it was just my third day in the office…

But it’s something that has always stuck with me. Frankly, it’s part of the reason I eventually left Wall Street and ended up doing what I do now…

Trust me: I was fortunate to have some incredible mentors. But there were a lot of people like Buzz and Fred. And I just didn’t want to be like those guys.

In the end, I find that I can help people doing what I do now. And I don’t have to worry about hearing the sound of heads hitting against the ground anymore.

I thought that this would be a good story to share this week, of all weeks. Fortunately, the election hasn’t brought the kind of volatility that a lot of people expected. But that could very well be coming. In the end, I’m not worried. I believe in the American economy.

It’s important to stick to a plan. Don’t be too greedy. And whatever happens, don’t lose your head.

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