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Methods of Learning: Making It Stick

always trying to learn more about the gray stuff between my ears, i was listening to a presentation on Accelerated Learning this weekend. the concepts themselves were not all that earth-shattering (i.e. different learning styles, involve senses, etc.). however, it wasn't long before i:

1. was working to apply the knowledge to trading
2. was thinking of a sports analogy

second things first.

i love NFL football. but the sport is not important. what is important is how these guys learn and hone their craft. they watch hours and hours of film. they read playbooks. they read charts. they listen to hours and hours of coaching and feedback. they talk about it all with their team-mates. they visualize the plays, the moves, the games. they get suited up and physically run the plays. i've read guys go on and on about the different smells, from field to field and from city to city. these guys are in a state of perpetual learning. they involve nearly (if not) all their senses and they use all the different learning modes. and they are the best in the world.

what about trading? first thing everyone wants to know is "What book should i read?". trading can be very isolating and pursuing a purely text-driven education doesn't do anything to break that routine. who are some of the best traders? former pit traders. they talked it, heard, it watched it, felt it, smelled it, tasted it. i think in order to really excell, to really propel your game to new and possibly unthought of levels, you have to soak in and process what you are learning on as many levels as possible. i don't think it is as important to learn more as it is to learn deeper. if you can learn, truly learn and master, a single concept and build it up, i think you are miles ahead of someone only scratching the surface of a dozen ideas or strategies or setups.

some things i thing are useful:

trading groups / rooms - really good ones though. there has to be a level of achievable excellence available in the room. if you want to emulate success, it has to be present to begin with.

playback - record trading sessions and review them. even if you didn't trade them. especially if you didn't trade them. curious how you should or would approach a Fed Day? record one. or a few. or find data for previous days and step through it.

interviews - find interviews with traders. listen to what they are saying and listen to what isn't being said. you can find all kinds of traders out there (LBR, Tom Alexander, Buzzy, Larry Williams, PTJ, Vic, etc).

draw it, write it - since being on the floor isn't an option for most retail traders (hence the retail-ness of their title
), involving the physical component can be challenging. but, you can write out stuff. you can draw stuff. you can note stuff. you can underline or highlight stuff. longhand. you can trace stuff. whatever it takes. you can go a bit further than just page-turning and mouse-clicking.

smell it, taste it - hone in on your surroundings. you may not have the different scents of 1,000 traders in the pit (a la Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka: "Ewwwww."), but you have scents and tastes in your own trading pit and place of learning. find them. link them. what do you eat before you trade? drink? smoke?
take a few minutes and learn your surroundings. integrate it into your trading world.

okay, that's enough for now. you get the idea. add dimensionality to your craft. use more and different areas of the gray stuff.

All excellent stuff omni!

You need to put in thousands of hours - quality hours - to get to the point where you're an average trader and then thousands more to get to the point of super-trader.

Quality hours would include all that you've mentioned including conversations with other traders via chat rooms, forums and email. Don't expect to get something from everything you do. Expect a 10% hit rate like I mentioned in another post and quote from Bob Rotella. For every 10 bits of information that you hear or read about only 1 will be of use to you.
thx DT, good points as well.

btw, a good place to go for all kinds of presentations is:

good stuff. now if i could just figure out a way to download the streaming content into a WMV file ...

Excellent link - thanks!
Another thing for your list is a Trading Journal.

I find it useful for capturing new thoughts and ideas. And also for recording actual trades. I like to write down the specific reason/rational the trade is based upon. This helps me stay focused on my method, and re-enforces the specific details of the method in my mind.

I write my journal out by hand in a bound composition book. I do this because I think writing by hand helps with the learning experience, rather than typing it in on the computer. Also, it gives me a break from staring at the computer screen
I have yet to buy myself an MP3 player but the day is drawing close. The reason that I haven't bought one is because I still don't know what I want and if I want to combine it with other toys like a PDA, cell phone, GPS, etc.

Anyway, I have not heard of anybody keeping their trading journal in audio format. Assuming that your audio player also has a recording function (do they all come with built in mic and recording function?) then speaking notes into the recorder would have the advantage of letting you play it back when you go for your evening walk/job or run errands or go shopping.

Just an idea. Never heard of anybody doing it so no idea what the utility in this would be.
thx, PT and DT, for the great contributions. i agree, keeping a trading journal can be a HUGE asset to your trading. even if you just record entries and exits, you will likely find useful information to use forward. oh, that, of course, assumes you review the journal.

regarding an audio journal, what i did for a while was do an A/V capture of my trades. i called setup, entry, reasons, and exit strategy. then i recapped at exit. it was short-lived though. i still think it is a great idea. i just happened try it out too early in my trading education to really know what i was on to. if that makes any sense.

again, journal review is an important part of journaling.