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You Can Start the Money Management Firm or Work for Someone; Different Beasts

Podcast Feedback:

Hey Michael, if you had a 23 yr old wanting to become a CTA, graduating with a degree in Finance from U. South Florida in May, is there a certain firm you would push him towards? Two summers ago he did an internship with [Name] Capital ($106 mln AUM), last summer with R.J. O’Brien’s CTA platform Oasis. He works two days/week with me holding down our trade desk. We work with commercial Ag hedgers. Any ideas would be helpful. [Name] gave Patrick your book on the TurtleTraders 1st day on the job, along with 4 other books on trading.

No short cuts. All the trading “names” are well known. It’s an issue of knocking on doors. Seth Godin’s blog may give you a good non-trading perspective that will better help him to break into trading.

The Importance of Curiosity for Trend Followers: Wanting to Know

A top CEO recently spoke before a Harvard MBA class. A student asked, “What do I do?” The CEO replied, “Take the rest of the money you have not spent on tuition and do something else.” If you do not understand his wisdom, fine. If you are curious, though, you will figure it out. That is the difference. It is a big time aha! moment–if you are awake.

However, curiosity has been lobotomized from many. Freud once lamented: “What a distressing contrast between the radiant intelligence of a child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” Today, many seem to be waiting for an order or peeking over their shoulder to see what others are doing just to fit in.

Simple childlike curiosity with no agenda except to know–that’s it. That is the precious commodity, the secret weapon. Kids have that wide-eyed wonderment when they take apart their first toy to figure out how it works–and so should you. As simplistic as it sounds, maintaining childlike wonder and enthusiasm keeps your mental doors open.

Curiosity is the only reason I wake up to go digging in the sometimes secretive world of trend following trading. Taking very little at face value and always questioning the system is my modus operandi. With the way I am talking do you really think teachers liked it when I raised my hand? Bloodhounds find things–sometimes things people want hidden.

One of the more unlikely people to have asked me, “How do you go about unearthing details?” was former U.S.S.R. President Mikhail Gorbachev. He had been told in Russian via a translator that my career involved traders who make big money. When an introduction was made he asked me in Russian through his translator, “What is it like to write about these traders?” My response was brief: “Very interesting.” He waited for the translation, “It must be difficult to get behind the scenes; how do you do it?” With a smile I replied, “Oh, I am very good at digging.” He laughed. No translation needed. He understood my English perfectly.

My education comes directly from some of the great trend traders of the last five decades. No hyperbole. However, it did not start that way. It started while finishing grad school in London (school was a mistake, but London and travel was not). A book by motivational speaker Anthony Robbins convinced me that getting close to great traders was the solution. That sounded easy, but how to do it? One part of Robbins’s book struck me square in the solar plexus.

Unlimited Power featured a story about director Steven Spielberg. His life changed when he took a tour of Universal Studios at the age of seventeen. The tour didn’t make it to where all the action was, so Spielberg took his own action. He sneaked off to watch the filming of a real movie. Later, he ended up meeting the head of Universal’s editorial department, who expressed an interest in one of his early films. For most people, that is where the story would have ended, but Spielberg wasn’t like most. He kept pushing by meeting directors, writers, and editors–learning, observing, and developing more and more sensory acuity about what actually worked in moviemaking (excerpt: Unlimited Power).

That Spielberg story was the motivation needed. I once flew to Berlin, Germany spending thousands of dollars not in my bank account just for the chance to possibly meet and learn from a few traders at a conference–a conference where no one knew my name. My credentials were a nametag and moxie, but that calculated gamble, that intuitive belief that I would find the unexpected, worked out enough to spend quality time with a former chairman of the CME.

Those early efforts continually allowed face-to-face access to legendary traders–enough personal contact to see that they put their pants on like everyone else and that what they were doing could be learned. Attendance at those secluded conferences triggered my confidence and passion.

Unfortunately, we have a culture where that go figure it out attitude is not the norm. Children grow up with soccer leagues and spelling bees where everyone gets a prize. On the playgrounds dodge ball has been deemed too traumatic. Some parents consider musical chairs dangerously exclusionary.

Those kids will never be curious. They will end up addicted to Xanax-Ritalin sprinkled cupcakes so they can cope. Am I being a pessimistic grouch? Far from it–just describing the playing field we all know as the status quo.

What are some ways that I have learned about the right direction?

  • Bring joyful, imaginative and impassioned energy every day. Don’t fake it.
  • You don’t need to be big to be good, you need to be smart.
  • When there is no one there, insert yourself. Take over.
  • Engage the world as if your life depends on it.
  • Nothing is more important than transforming someone.
  • Have a vision grounded in your uniqueness.
  • The race winner is often curious and slightly mad.
  • Dry obligation in life will figuratively kill you.
  • No one will give you permission. Seize the mantle.
  • If you can’t solve a problem you are playing by the collective’s rules.
  • Hard work, sustained concentration, and drive are the so-called secrets.
  • Winners understand sunk costs and opportunity costs.
  • Plan to win, prepare to win and have every right to expect to win.
  • It’s in your power to change your belief systems. No one is stuck. Be unstuck.
  • Winning is never about your limited resources, but rather always about your unlimited resourcefulness.
  • By not questioning the world you always lose.

These are not necessarily intuitive. Society doesn’t encourage and celebrate the unproven striver. It is much safer to beat up new thought or heap scorn. Too many are encouraged to take the safe path. This is awful and shortsighted advice. And for those who complain they were born without a silver spoon, who think they need more money to start, who say that they were not blessed to have trend following rules in their early twenties (like the famous TurtleTraders), money cannot compensate for a lack of talent, sloth, flawed vision or a pedestrian frame of mind.

Nothing can keep you from winning if winning is what you want. To think otherwise suggests a lack of imagination and a failure of the optimism needed for attracting good things. No optimism? Stop now. I will not be able to convince everyone to escape the grip of pandering politicians, manipulative media and a mostly decadent Wall Street, but for those looking for an alternative and honest way to view the world, an alternative way to make money, you can find it.

Never forget these wise words: “The phrases gifted musician, natural athlete, and innate intelligence are genetic prisons. Abilities are not set in genetic stone. They are soft and sculptable far into adulthood. With humility, hope and extraordinary determination, greatness is something everyone can aspire to.”

And remember, “Serendipity rules!”

Recommended Podcasts and Articles

Belief is Required to Win Big

Face up to the Facts

Playing the Game

Truth and Fantasy

Doug Casey and Charles Hugh Podcast

Insights of Trend Following

The Schooling of Trend Following

Feedback in:

Dear Mr. Covel, I am a First-Year MBA student at the University of Virginia and I am very interested in trading and trend-following. I enjoy your books and your podcast very much and learn a great deal from them. Ever since reading Trend Following four years ago, I have researched and developed trend-following systems and I currently trade a trend-following system for my personal account. After business school, I would love to conduct research for a quantitative investment firm while apprenticing under a fund manager/system developer. I would love to speak with you about what I could do to realize this ambition. Would you be available for a 30-minute phone conversation on January 9th at 11 a.m.? If that time does not suit you, please feel free to suggest another.

Thanks and I hope to hear from you!

All the best,

Once I get back to Asia in February we can schedule a call.

Universities Don’t Help With Trend Trading


Hi Michael, How have you been enjoying Saigon so far? I’m a new trader and I have been trend trading stocks and FX for a few months now. My style of trading is somewhat like Jon Boorman, who was on one of your podcasts. Recently, I have been thinking about getting a Master degree in Financial Engineering since I wanted to learn how to make my trading more mechanical, along with how to better control risk & position sizing. Money matters aside, do you think it’s worth it to go to graduate school for this? Or is there a better way to learn these specific skills? Also, may I ask how you came up with your trading system? Was it a solo work or did you need a programmer to work on it? Thanks a bunch! And have a nice day!

There is no formal school to help you become a trend trader. Do that (formal school) and you only delay progress. You can either code yourself or hire. Done both ways and there is no right or only way. My books, other books I recommend, content on my websites, podcast and my training at all help people get there quicker versus formal education.

College: A Debt Cyclone Engineered by the Loving State

Sure, college is good for some, but many entering “the system” just get ripped off. This excerpt mirrors many of my views:

“Since 1985, college tuition has increased at nearly 500 times the rate of inflation. (See: College tuition has jumped by 500% since 1985) Can you imagine the same jump in any other area? Food, housing, medicine, energy? If everything we need to live increased in price at the same rate as college tuition, there would be a national riot in about 10 minutes. So what really happened in the marketplace to allow college to get so expensive? Is it really all because Republicans want to raise the rates on student loans?

Think about it. Universities get to decide how much money to charge their students. Likewise, parents and students decide if they can afford to pay it. It’s a pretty simple proposition. But when the government suddenly makes hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans readily available — under the popular (and voter-friendly) theory that “everyone should go to college” — we see an unintended consequence. We see colleges suddenly motivated to charge more money. A lot more. And so they embark on their own PR campaigns to boost enrollment. They hire ad agencies and publicists and lobbyists and go about the business of persuading people to “invest in their future.” And most importantly, they provide an admissions department to help arrange for an affordable student loan. This is what’s been happening for the last 40 years.

If blame is your thing, there’s plenty to go around. Republicans and Democrats have both allowed a trillion dollars of public money to flow freely between students and colleges with no real accountability for the results. And millions of well-intended parents and guidance counselors are still pushing the idea that a four-year degree is the only viable path to happiness. This in spite of the fact that the vast majority of available jobs no longer require a diploma — they require the willingness to learn a useful skill. And that kind of training does not demand the type of massive borrowing that has put college graduates a trillion dollars in the hole.

To be clear, I’m not anti-college; I’m anti-debt. If you can afford it, by all means go for it. But I reject the idea that a four-year school is the best path for the most people. I went on Piers Morgan Live because I have a scholarship fund that trains people for jobs that actually exist, while rewarding the kind of work ethic I think we need to encourage. I want to spread the word.”

Shout to Cullen Roche at for the find.

Andrew Carnegie: the Keys to Success in Business

Below is an address to the Students of the Curry Commercial College June 23, 1885 given by Andrew Carnegie:

1.It is well that young men should begin at the beginning and occupy the most subordinate positions. Many of the leading business men of Pittsburg had a serious responsibility thrust upon them at the very threshold of their career. They were introduced to the broom, and spent the first hours of their business lives sweeping out the office. I notice we have janitors and janitresses now in offices, and our young men unfortunately miss that salutary branch of a business education. But if by chance the professional sweeper is absent any morning the boy who has the genius of the future partner in him will not hesitate to try his hand at the broom. The other day a fond fashionable mother in Michigan asked a young man whether he had ever seen a young lady sweep in a room so grandly as her Priscilla. He said no, he never had, and the mother was gratified beyond measure, but then said he, after a pause, “What I should like to see her do is sweep out a room.” It does not hurt the newest comer to sweep out the office if necessary. I was one of those sweepers myself, and who do you suppose were my fellow sweepers? David McCargo, now superintendent of the Alleghany Valley Railroad; Robert Pitcairn, Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Mr. Moreland, City Attorney. We all took turns, two each morning did the sweeping; and now I remember Davie was so proud of his clean white shirt bosom that he used to spread over it an old silk bandana handkerchief which he kept for the purpose, and we other boys thought he was putting on airs. So he was. None of us had a silk handkerchief.

2. Assuming that you have all obtained employment and are fairly started, my advice to you is “aim high.” I would not give a fig for the young man who does not already see himself the partner or the head of an important firm. Do not rest content for a moment in your thoughts as head clerk, or foreman, or general manager in any concern, no matter how extensive. Say each to yourself. “My place is at the top.” Be king in your dreams. Make your vow that you will reach that position, with untarnished reputation, and make no other vow to distract your attention, except the very commendable one that when you are a member of the firm or before that, if you have been promoted two or three times, you will form another partnership with the loveliest of her sex–a partnership to which our new partnership act has no application. The liability there is never limited.

3. Let me indicate two or three conditions essential to success. Do not be afraid that I am going to moralize, or inflict a homily upon you. I speak upon the subject only from the view of a man of the world, desirous of aiding you to become successful business men. You all know that there is no genuine, praiseworthy success in life if you are not honest, truthful, fair-dealing. I assume you are and will remain all these, and also that you are determined to live pure, respectable lives, free from pernicious or equivocal associations with one sex or the other. There is no creditable future for you else. Otherwise your learning and your advantages not only go for naught, but serve to accentuate your failure and your disgrace. I hope you will not take it amiss if I warn you against three of the gravest dangers which will beset you in your upward path.

4. The first and most seductive, and the destroyer of most young men, is the drinking of liquor. I am no temperance lecturer in disguise, but a man who knows and tells you what observation has proved to him, and I say to you that you are more likely to fail in your career from acquiring the habit of drinking liquor than from any, or all, the other temptations likely to assail you. You may yield to almost any other temptation and reform–may brace up, and if not recover lost ground, at least remain in the race and secure and maintain a respectable position. But from the insane thirst for liquor escape is almost impossible. I have known but few exceptions to this rule. First, then, you must not drink liquor to excess. Better if you do not touch it at all–much better; but if this be too hard a rule for you then take your stand firmly here. Resolve never to touch it except at meals. A glass at dinner will not hinder your advance in life or lower your tone; but I implore you hold it inconsistent with the dignity and self-respect of gentlemen, with what is due from yourselves to yourselves, being the men you are, and especially the men you are determined to become, to drink a glass of liquor at a bar. Be far too much of the gentleman ever to enter a barroom. You do not pursue your careers in safety unless you stand firmly upon this ground. Adhere to it and you have escaped danger from the deadliest of your foes.

5. The next greatest danger to a young business man in this community I believe to be that of speculation. When I was a telegraph operator here we had no Exchanges in the City, but the men or firms who speculated upon the Eastern Exchanges were necessarily known to the operators. They could be counted on the fingers of one hand. These men were not our citizens of first repute: they were regarded with suspicion. I have lived to see all of these speculators irreparably ruined men, bankrupt in money and bankrupt in character. There is scarcely an instance of a man who has made a fortune by speculation and kept it. Gamesters die poor, and there is certainly not an instance of a speculator who has lived a life creditable to himself, or advantageous to the community. The man who grasps the morning paper to see first how his speculative ventures upon the Exchanges are likely to result, unfits himself for the calm consideration and proper solution of business problems, with which he has to deal later in the day, and saps the sources of that persistent and concentrated energy upon which depend the permanent success, and often the very safety, of his main business.

keys to success in business
Painting of Andrew Carnegie, Photograph by Scotland 307, CC.

6. The speculator and the business man tread diverging lines. The former depends upon the sudden turn of fortune’s wheel; he is a millionnaire to-day, a bankrupt to-morrow. But the man of business knows that only by years of patient, unremitting attention to affairs can he earn his reward, which is the result, not of chance, but of well-devised means for the attainment of ends. During all these years his is the cheering thought that, by no possibility can he benefit himself without carrying prosperity to others. The speculator on the other hand had better never have lived so far as the good of others or the good of the community is concerned. Hundreds of young men were tempted in this city not long since to gamble in oil, and many were ruined; all were injured whether they lost or won. You may be, nay, you are certain to be similarly tempted; but when so tempted I hope you will remember this advice. Say to the tempter who asks you to risk your small savings, that if ever you decide to speculate you are determined to go to a regular and well-conducted house where they cheat fair. You can get fair play and about an equal chance upon the red and black in such a place; upon the Exchange you have neither. You might as well try your luck with the three-card-monte man. There is another point involved in speculation. Nothing is more essential to young business men than untarnished credit, credit begotten of confidence in their prudence, principles and stability of character. Well, believe me, nothing kills credit sooner in any Bank Board than the knowledge that either firms or men engage in speculation. It matters not a whit whether gains or losses be the temporary result of these operations. The moment a man is known to speculate, his credit is impaired, and soon thereafter it is gone. How can a man be credited whose resources may be swept away in one hour by a panic among gamesters? Who can tell how he stands among them? except that this is certain: he has given due notice that he may stand to lose all, so that those who credit him have themselves to blame. Resolve to be business men, but speculators never.

7. The third and last danger against which I shall warn you is one which has wrecked many a fair craft which started well and gave promise of a prosperous voyage. It is the perilous habit of indorsing–all the more dangerous, inasmuch as it assails one generally in the garb of friendship. It appeals to your generous instincts, and you say, “How can I refuse to lend my name only, to assist a friend?” It is because there is so much that is true and commendable in that view that the practice is so dangerous. Let me endeavor to put you upon safe honourable grounds in regard to it. I would say to you to make it a rule now, never indorse: but this is too much like never taste wine, or never smoke, or any other of the “nevers.” They generally result in exceptions. You will as business men now and then probably become security for friends. Now, here is the line at which regard for the success of friends should cease and regard for your own honour begins.

8. If you owe anything, all your capital and all your effects are a solemn trust in your hands to be held inviolate for the security of those who have trusted you. Nothing can be done by you with honour which jeopardizes these first claims upon you. When a man in debt indorses for another, it is not his own credit or his own capital he risks, it is that of his own creditors. He violates a trust. Mark you then, never indorse until you have cash means not required for your own debts, and never indorse beyond those means. Before you indorse at all, consider indorsements as gifts, and ask yourselves whether you wish to make the gift to your friend and whether the money is really yours to give and not a trust for your creditors.

9. You are not safe, gentlemen, unless you stand firmly upon this as the only ground which an honest business man can occupy.

10. I beseech you avoid liquor, speculation and indorsement. Do not fail in either, for liquor and speculation are the Scylla and Charybdis of the young man’s business sea, and indorsement his rock ahead.

11. Assuming you are safe in regard to these your gravest dangers, the question now is how to rise from the subordinate position we have imagined you in, through the successive grades to the position for which you are, in my opinion, and, I trust, in your own, evidently intended. I can give you the secret. It lies mainly in this. Instead of the question, “What must I do for my employer?” substitute “What can I do?” Faithful and conscientious discharge of the duties assigned you is all very well, but the verdict in such cases generally is that you perform your present duties so well that you had better continue performing them. Now, young gentlemen, this will not do. It will not do for the coming partners. There must be something beyond this. We make Clerks, Bookkeepers, Treasurers, Bank Tellers of this class, and there they remain to the end of the chapter. The rising man must do something exceptional, and beyond the range of his special department. HE MUST ATTRACT ATTENTION. A shipping clerk, he may do so by discovering in an invoice an error with which he has nothing to do, and which has escaped the attention of the proper party. If a weighing clerk, he may save for the firm by doubting the adjustment of the scales and having them corrected, even if this be the province of the master mechanic. If a messenger boy, even he can lay the seed of promotion by going beyond the letter of his instructions in order to secure the desired reply. There is no service so low and simple, neither any so high, in which the young man of ability and willing disposition cannot readily and almost daily prove himself capable of greater trust and usefulness, and, what is equally important, show his invincible determination to rise.

12. Some day, in your own department, you will be directed to do or say something which you know will prove disadvantageous to the interest of the firm. Here is your chance. Stand up like a man and say so. Say it boldly, and give your reasons, and thus prove to your employer that, while his thoughts have been engaged upon other matters, you have been studying during hours when perhaps he thought you asleep, how to advance his interests. You may be right or you may be wrong, but in either case you have gained the first condition of success. You have attracted attention. Your employer has found that he has not a mere hireling in his service, but a man; not one who is content to give so many hours of work for so many dollars in return, but one who devotes his spare hours and constant thoughts to the business. Such an employee must perforce be thought of, and thought of kindly and well. It will not be long before his advice is asked in his special branch, and if the advice given be sound, it will soon be asked and taken upon questions of broader bearing. This means partnership; if not with present employers then with others. Your foot, in such a case, is upon the ladder; the amount of climbing done depends entirely upon yourself.

13. One false axiom you will often hear, which I wish to guard you against: “Obey orders if you break owners.” Don’t you do it. This is no rule for you to follow. Always break orders to save owners. There never was a great character who did not sometimes smash the routine regulations and make new ones for himself. The rule is only suitable for such as have no aspirations, and you have not forgotten that you are destined to be owners and to make orders and break orders. Do not hesitate to do it whenever you are sure the interests of your employer will be thereby promoted and when you are so sure of the result that you are willing to take the responsibility. You will never be a partner unless you know the business of your department far better than the owners possibly can. When called to account for your independent action, show him the result of your genius, and tell him that you knew that it would be so; show him how mistaken the orders were. Boss your boss just as soon as you can; try it on early. There is nothing he will like so well if he is the right kind of boss; if he is not, he is not the man for you to remain with–leave him whenever you can, even at a present sacrifice, and find one capable of discerning genius. Our young partners in the Carnegie firm have won their spurs by showing that we did not know half as well what was wanted as they did. Some of them have acted upon occasion with me as if they owned the firm and I was but some airy New Yorker presuming to advise upon what I knew very little about. Well, they are not interfered with much now. They were the true bosses–the very men we were looking for.

14. There is one sure mark of the coming partner, the future millionnaire; his revenues always exceed his expenditures. He begins to save early, almost as soon as he begins to earn. No matter how little it may be possible to save, save that little. Invest it securely, not necessarily in bonds, but in anything which you have good reason to believe will be profitable, but no gambling with it, remember. A rare chance will soon present itself for investment. The little you have saved will prove the basis for an amount of credit utterly surprising to you. Capitalists trust the saving young man. For every hundred dollars you can produce as the result of hard-won savings, Midas, in search of a partner, will lend or credit a thousand; for every thousand, fifty thousand. It is not capital that your seniors require, it is the man who has proved that he has the business success habits which create capital, and to create it in the best of all possible ways, as far as self-discipline is concerned, is, by adjusting his habits to his means. Gentlemen, it is the first hundred dollars saved which tells. Begin at once to lay up something. The bee predominates in the future millionnaire.

15. Of course there are better, higher aims than saving. As an end, the acquisition of wealth is ignoble in the extreme; I assume that you save and long for wealth only as a means of enabling you the better to do some good in your day and generation. Make a note of this essential rule: Expenditure always within income.

16. You may grow impatient, or become discouraged when year by year you float on in subordinate positions. There is no doubt that it is becoming harder and harder as business gravitates more and more to immense concerns, for a young man without capital to get a start for himself, and in this city especially, where large capital is essential, it is unusually difficult. Still, let me tell you for your encouragement, that there is no country in the world, where able and energetic young men can so readily rise as this, nor any city where there is more room at the top. It has been impossible to meet the demand for capable, first-class bookkeepers (mark the adjectives) the supply has never been equal to the demand. Young men give all kinds of reasons why in their cases failure was clearly attributable to exceptional circumstances which render success impossible. Some never had a chance, according to their own story. This is simply nonsense. No young man ever lived who had not a chance, and a splendid chance, too, if he ever was employed at all. He is assayed in the mind of his immediate superior, from the day he begins work, and, after a time, if he has merit, he is assayed in the council chamber of the firm. His ability, honesty, habits, associations, temper, disposition, all these are weighed and analysed. The young man who never had a chance is the same young man who has been canvassed over and over again by his superiors, and found destitute of necessary qualifications, or is deemed unworthy of closer relations with the firm, owing to some objectionable act, habit, or association, of which he thought his employers ignorant.

17. Another class of young men attribute their failure to employers having relations or favourites whom they advanced unfairly. They also insist that their employers disliked brighter intelligences than their own, and were disposed to discourage aspiring genius, and delighted in keeping young men down. There is nothing in this. On the contrary, there is no one suffering so much for lack of the right man in the right place, nor so anxious to find him as the owner. There is not a firm in Pittsburg to-day which is not in the constant search for business ability, and every one of them will tell you that there is no article in the market at all times so scarce. There is always a boom in brains, cultivate that crop, for if you grow any amount of that commodity, here is your best market and you cannot overstock it, and the more brains you have to sell, the higher price you can exact. They are not quite so sure a crop as wild oats, which never fail to produce a bountiful harvest, but they have the advantage over these in always finding a market. Do not hesitate to engage in any legitimate business, for there is no business in America, I do not care what, which will not yield a fair profit if it receive the unremitting, exclusive attention, and all the capital of capable and industrious men. Every business will have its season of depression–years always come during which the manufacturers and merchants of the city are severely tried–years when mills must be run, not for profit, but at a loss, that the organization and men may be kept together and employed, and the concern may keep its products in the market. But on the other hand, every legitimate business producing or dealing in an article which man requires is bound in time to be fairly profitable, if properly conducted.

18. And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret: concentrate your energy, thought, and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it; adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it.

19. The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means that they have scattered their brains also. They have investments in this, or that, or the other, here, there and everywhere. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is all wrong. I tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.” Look round you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most eggs in this country. He who carries three baskets must put one on his head, which is apt to tumble and trip him up. One fault of the American business man is lack of concentration.

20. To summarize what I have said: Aim for the highest; never enter a bar-room; do not touch liquor, or if at all only at meals; never speculate; never indorse beyond your surplus cash fund; make the firm’s interest yours; break orders always to save owners; concentrate; put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket; expenditure always within revenue; lastly, be not impatient, for, as Emerson says, “no one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourselves.” I congratulate poor young men upon being born to that ancient and honourable degree which renders it necessary that they should devote themselves to hard work. A basketful of bonds is the heaviest basket a young man ever had to carry. He generally gets to staggering under it. We have in this city creditable instances of such young men, who have pressed to the front rank of our best and most useful citizens. These deserve great credit. But the vast majority of the sons of rich men are unable to resist the temptations to which wealth subjects them, and sink to unworthy lives. I would almost as soon leave a young man a curse, as burden him with the almighty dollar. It is not from this class you have rivalry to fear. The partner’s sons will not trouble you much, but look out that some boys poorer, much poorer than yourselves, whose parents cannot afford to give them the advantages of a course in this institute, advantages which should give you a decided lead in the race–look out that such boys do not challenge you at the post and pass you at the grand stand. Look out for the boy who has to plunge into work direct from the common school and who begins by sweeping out the office. He is the probable dark horse that you had better watch.

Shout out to Dan/Ian at for this find on the critical business skills for success address by Andrew Carnegie. My advice on the importance of reading when you are Starting out and having an Edge in your Trading.

Why Do I Have to Go to School?

Feedback in:

Michael, I have never contacted you before but have listened to all your podcasts. Great stuff! My wife forwarded this to me and I immediately thought of you, in addition to a number of other free thinkers …and just knew I had to forward it. Enjoy,

Give a big thanks to your wife for the find:

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