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Ep. 509: Van Tharp Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following

Van Tharp

Van Tharp

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Van Tharp is on today’s podcast. It is his third appearance on the show. Van runs the Van Tharp Institute and is the author of four acclaimed books published by McGraw Hill: Super Trader, Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom, Safe Strategies for Financial Freedom, and Financial Freedom Through Electronic Day Trading. His new book is called Trading Beyond the Matrix. He was also featured in Jack Schwager’s Market Wizard’s: Interviews with Great Traders. Van Tharp received his Ph.D. in psychology, is a certified Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), a Certified Master Time Line Therapist, a certified Modeler of NLP, and an Assistant Trainer of NLP.

Michael starts the podcast asking Van how he felt the year Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller won the Nobel Prize. Van has a long standing theory that those who win the Nobel Prize are just supporting the ideas of the status quo. It is meant to propel the majority into believing they are in the right. Trend following does nothing to support the status quo, therefore Van says that Michael and himself will not be winning the Nobel Prize anytime soon.

People looking for help constantly approach Van. Michael asks, “What is it like to observe the learning of people who come into your world?” Van goes into the steps he takes new students through when teaching them how to trade. He shares some typical biases that new traders have when starting their training. He first teaches people to understand that they need to take total responsibility for what happens to them while trading. If was easy to make money in the markets then big money would make it hard to participate in the game, but since it is not easy to make money in the markets, they make it easy to join.

Michael switches gears and asks, “When were you first exposed to the ‘how much’ question?” Van says that it was at a workshop with Ed Seykota. Seykota asked, “What is the most important factor in your trading?” Van responded, “Well, It’s you.” And Seykota said, “No, it’s how much.” It all starts with how much you are willing to lose and how much you can afford to lose. Michael moves on to ask “Are there anymore interesting things that you learned from working with Ed Seykota?” Van shares a story about Seykota and the psychology behind what makes him such a legendary trader. He moves on to share some stories about another legendary trend following trader, Tom Basso. Van shares personal stories about how he conducted his business and trading.

Discretionary trading is the next topic. Van says, “If you are a pure discretionary trader, it seems to me that it would be very difficult to implement some of the position sizing methodologies that are in your work.” A trader needs to know when something is not working anymore. You need to be aware of market changes, and subtle changes in that market that no longer works.

Michael ends the podcast asking, “Who changed your thinking in your life? Who helped to send you down this path?” Van started his business around 1982, which coincidentally was probably the low point in his life. He went to a life science church that helped him work on himself. He can’t pinpoint a specific event or person that has molded him into who he is right now, it was a collaboration of events and people.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Systems theory
  • Money management vs. Position sizing
  • Ed Seykota’s trading and psychology strategies
  • Tom Basso’s trading and psychology strategies
  • Yoga
  • Training your brain how to think

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Posted in Trend Following

“Just keeps getting better…”

Feedback in:

Hi Michael, what a great combination of conversations with Charles! I am about 4 hours in and the information just keeps getting better. Wanted to say thank you for the great and varied content. I would also like to share what I have learned since starting to follow you over the past 6 months or so. The power of language and more significantly the importance of right language and what that represents to my interpretation is truly insightful. What I realize is that:

– I have a long way to go (and 15 years in FX management means i have to unlearn many things as well)
– There is an absolute need for clarity of language
– Limiting the negative self-talk to very specific timely events, not large general broad sweeping ones

So thank you for the journey so far. As a side note, do you list the books that yourself and your guests recommend or mention on the podcasts on your website? Michael I will be honest I am leaving the above sentence in as a example of picking up my own system one thinking and the way search engines are making us look for easy and immediate answer. My mindset went straight to typing for an answer rather than doing search for one. A little research goes a long way.

Keep up the great work.

Thank you,


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Posted in Endorsements, Feedback, Psychology, Trend Following

Trading Food for Thought: December 7th Edition

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Posted in Economics, Multimedia, Politics, Psychology, Trading 101, Trend Following

“500th episode with Charles Faulkner was eye opening…”

Feedback in:

Dear Michael,

First of all I have to say a big thank you! Your podcasts broadened my knowledge base and moreover, it provided me the impulse to change the way I’m thinking about markets, market participants and my own work.

I’m currently managing 2bn € AuM for institutional investors and the job is really embarrassing to me. The way money is managed in the industry is pro cyclical. You’re hiding behind benchmarks & marketing brochures and worse – due to regulations – you’re just paid for avoiding risks. I have enough and to spare!

Your 500th episode with Charles Faulkner was eye opening to me. It started a mental firework in my brain! I really want to change something in my life. As I was always a great fan of behavioral economics, and I would love to combine this direction with NLP and do coaching work in the finance space. Especially in Europe, we’re decades behind in comparison to the US.

As NLP is very criticized in [other country] for not being a “real science”, I wanted to ask you what do you think about NLP? At the moment I look at different coaching techniques. As I now that you are very open minded and a great thinker I really appreciate your feedback!

Best regards,

NLP has a great many benefits. Any effort that brings a greater understanding to us irrational humans is alright by me.

Not Rational

Not Rational

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Posted in Feedback, Psychology, Trend Following

Trading Food for Thought: December 5th Edition

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Posted in Economics, Psychology, Trading 101, Trend Following

Ep. 508: Hysteria with Michael Covel on Trend Following

Michael Covel Trex

Michael Covel Trex

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“If you are in a dead end existence and feel like you need something else, get on a plane.” Fly to a foreign country, go alone, and do not have a plan. The influx of adrenaline from getting away and exploring can break anyone out of their day to day hypnosis.

Michael plays a series of news clips starting from the beginning of the Presidential race. The various clips start off profiling Donald Trump’s campaign as a joke, and then slowly morphing into him inching his way up in the polls and taking the Presidency. Michael then reads an excerpt from “Follow Me and Die” by Cecil Curry.

Michael ends the podcast with a quote from a recent Financial Times article featuring David Harding. The excerpt explains how Harding exploits the failures in the efficient market theory. He says that the markets are a psychological game and should not based off of fundamentals. Bet your money on the price, not what is happening in politics.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Trump as President-elect
  • Trading off of price, not politics
  • Nazi’s in America
  • David Harding
  • Efficient market theory

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Posted in Economics, Politics, Trend Following

507: Lanny Bassham Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following

Lanny Bassham

Lanny Bassham

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Olympic gold medalist Lanny Bassham is on today’s podcast. After falling short in the 1972 Olympics winning the silver medal rather than gold, Lanny went home and re-applied himself. He returned to the 1976 Olympics and won the gold medal in rifle shooting.

Lanny was the kid in school that nobody wanted on their team. He was slow, short and uncoordinated. He worked hard, but he was never going to be able to compete against others that were taller, faster and more coordinated. He shares a story about being in school and one of his classmates saying that he would be the least likely person to become an Olympic gold medalist. This prompted him to go home and learn all he could about the Olympics. This began his journey in finding his place in Olympic history.

Lanny moves on to share how much practice and work he had to put in to become an elite performer. He never felt like practice was something he had to do, it was something he got to do. He loved rifle shooting not just because of the action of it, but because he was good at it. He took obstacles and turned them into opportunities.

Next, Lanny says there is a big difference between winning silver and winning gold. When you go back home and everyone asks how you did, they always ask who won the gold, not who won the silver. Lanny relates winning silver saying, “It is like going to the super bowl and losing.” Doesn’t matter that you made it there if you don’t win. He quickly realized the reason he won silver wasn’t because of his shooting capabilities, it was his mental game. He teaches people how to have a mental process and tap into it when they need it the most.

Lanny breaks performance down as a function of three mental processes: the conscious mind, subconscious, and self image. He goes into depth explaining the balance between all of these psychological functions. He says that you need to focus on your process rather than outcome. When you are 100% in control, then you will be much more mentally consistent. Outcome will always follow process. Lanny finishes up the podcast asking the question, “Do you really want it to be easy?”

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Creating a mental process
  • Changing your self image
  • How the top 5% think
  • Hard work in practice vs. Hard work in tournaments
  • Thinking of process not outcome
  • Valuing performance not just participation

“A lot of people chase the ‘skill’ thinking that is all they need.” – Lanny Bassham

“Outcome will always follow process.” – Lanny Bassham

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Posted in Interviews, Multimedia, Not Wall Street, Podcasts, Psychology, Trend Following
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