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The Incredible True Story of the Real Life ‘Trading Places’

Recently, I joined Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway on thier podcast, Odd Lots, to talk about Trading Places and the Turtles:

If you have any interest at all in finance, then it’s mandatory to have seen the 1983 movie “Trading Places.” You remember, right? Two wealthy Philadelphia commodity brokers bet on whether anyone, even down-and-out Eddie Murphy, can be trained to become a successful trader. What you might not realize is that something very similar happened in real life. In this week’s Odd Lots, we examine the amazing tale of the Turtle Traders. In 1983, successful commodities speculator Richard Dennis took out a full-page ad looking for novices to train in the art of trading. His novices — who did spectacularly well — studied for just a few weeks and were dubbed his “Turtles.” Joining us to tell the story is Michael Covel, who wrote a book on the Turtles, and Jerry Parker, a former Turtle who still trades using the same technique today.

Check it out here.

Recreating the Turtle Experiement in the Information Age

A recent interchange:

Listener: As you know most new Macs don’t have DVD drives. Do you have a download to buy Broke?

Covel: It’s on Amazon and iTunes.

Listener: Thanks. And how about the DVD you send to people who sign up for your newsletter?

Covel: Here.

Listener: Thank you.

A few days later the same listener writes:

Listener: Michael, one of the best trades I make is listening to your podcast at night instead of going out to bars with my friends that don’t understand the value of time. I’ve had email conversations with Jerry Parker, [name] and a response from Salem Abraham. Wondering if you have any suggestions on how I may make a trade with them to take me under their wing and teach me as Richard Dennis taught Jerry and other Turtles? At 26-years old I don’t have as much to offer a billionaire as the value they’d be adding to my life and future income [is far greater].

Covel: No secrets on meeting people. Do read [Seth] Godin book, “Linchpin“. But you need to think carefully about the time needed to become an employee versus just being the boss from the beginning. The Turtle experiment will never be repeated as it was.

Listener: I’ll order it now. I’ve always been my own boss. I don’t want to work for them, I want to be mentored by them. But I can’t ask for value without offering them value. You know them. What could I offer them in return for mentorship? Never say never. You wouldn’t be where you are if you believed in never. Doesn’t mean we cant orchestrate a different version of the experiment.

Covel: DIY. The time wasted chasing the boss, or mentor, can be great. Much of the information and insights and mentoring you want is in front of you. But you want something else–so you don’t see it.

Listener: Your podcast is nothing but people who believed in themselves and didn’t listen to others when they said they couldn’t do something, including yourself. Really surprised you are so quick to discourage me from seeking mentorship. I know the way the experiment was done is extraordinary and rare. Doesn’t mean we can’t figure something out that could persuade Jerry or Salem or at least intrigue them.

Covel: You are not the only one to contact all these great traders in the day of the information age. They only have so much time. Best advice: DIY.

Trend Following Little League: Spreading the Word

Michael Covel Trend Following Little League Team
Michael Covel Trend Following Little League Team

Feedback in:

Was in Ashburn [Virginia] for a youth hockey game this morning and one of the Reston [Virginia] players walked out of the locker room with a Little League T-shirt on and I had to do a double take. Thinking, wait I have seen that T-shirt before! LOVE that small world stuff!


The Neverending Debate: Nature vs. Nurture

Feedback in:

Nick: Michael, And another thing – have you read this book, English top ranking table tennis player who challenges the regular view of natural talent for the 10,000 hours of hard work and experience? I saw him present on Friday evening, very inspiring.

Covel: Video?

Nick: I will see if I can get one, it was videoed.

A few weeks later:

Nick: Mike, Sorry for the delay. Link attached [is] for the introduction to the presentation that I attended, you will see he is very eloquent and [a] polished performer, this video is disappointingly short, if you are interested I will dig out a longer version.

Spread the Trend Following Word

Trend following in Canada feedback:

Greetings Michael, My name is Abbas xxx and I am a 27 year old trend following advocate from Mississauga a small suburb just 20 miles outside of Toronto in Canada. Since I was 14 years old I knew I wanted to be in control of my own destiny and I developed an obsessive passion to learn as much as I could about the markets and what it would take to become a successful trader. My journey led me to the story of the turtles and the bet between Richard Dennis and William Eckhardt on whether or not trading was a learnable skill or if it was a special talent you had to be born with. I was so fascinated by the story that I wanted to learn as much as I could about the turtles and more importantly trend following. Trend following was a subject that was not covered by many resources and trying to learn more about the subject appeared to be quite the challenge until I found an author by the name of Michael Covel. My quest to master the body of knowledge that is trend following led me to your books and materials. Michael the work you have done to spread the word of trend following has changed many lives including my own. You have shed so much light on trend following that you have become to trend following what the sun is to our solar system. Every time I listen to your podcasts I always get goose bumps when you make your plea to your listeners to spread the word of trend following and help you assemble your team. Listening to you speak I wanted to do my part to spread the message of trend following and I see first hand how your voice has not yet even scratched the surface here in Canada. Then an idea came to me on how I could do my part to spread the message of trend following while being a part of team Covel. Michael I want to be an ambassador for trend following here in Canada; I want to spread the message through your materials…The message of trend following is almost non existent in Canada and I know there are many people whose lives could be changed in the same manner that mine was. Michael I would love to hear your thoughts on my proposition. Any feedback is welcome, I am not afraid to hear no, but I want to hear what you think.

Kind regards,
Abbas xxx

Thank you for your nice feedback. Let me consider options!

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