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
- Training your brain how to think