The other week I got to indulge in two of my favourite activities – catching up with someone who I had not seen since Uni days and watching blokes on a boat ramp. It was fortuitous that the café we had chosen overlooked a boat ramp and boat ramps are my favourite form of free entertainment. In a stroke of happenstance this café also sits on a bike path so we got to watch all the lycra clad fat blokes struggle past on their vastly overpriced bikes. To steal from Clive James they really do look like condoms stuffed full of walnuts.
However, I digress. During my catch up with my friend a group of leather clad bike riders descended upon the café. It turns out they were from the Dykes on Bikes MC Club. They did have a reasonably cool array of bikes but they were more of the make a statement sort of bike rather than the go fast, brake hard and corner type that I have always preferred. Nonetheless, each to their own and it seemed as they were having an excellent time.
Our conversation turned to the nature of community and its role in not only shaping the individual but also offering them support. Particularly when their lifestyle is not what could be called mainstream.. Fortunately, traders have never been persecuted or thought to be evil simply because an antiquated book of fairy stories says so.
Trading is a wonderfully solitary profession, which is why I like it. However, this brings a certain isolation from others and for those who need contact and validation from others this is problematic. It is an issue when individuals need support from others. The combination of isolation and a sometimes stressful existence does cause some traders trouble simply because they have no one to share experiences with. Unfortunately, there are few true venues for traders to get together and in effect share stories and experiences. Online forums are simply a haven for dickheads and share trading clubs are generally populated by people who are doing so well at trading they still live at home with their parents.
When we kicked off the mentor program decades ago I did not envisage that it would become a meeting place for experienced and not so experienced traders. My thoughts were simply tell people what they need to know and off they go. I didn’t work out that way. The capacity to repeat the course for free meant that traders were constantly in touch with one another. They then form buddy groups that catch up on a regular basis. These catch-ups and groups have grown over the years to the point were our annual dinner is a packed out affair.
I have pondered why the community that the mentor program had developed thrived in the way it did. The graduate forum we have is full of hundreds of traders sharing experiences, posting trades they are undertaking and offering support to those just starting out. My feeling is that it boils down to a few simple things, things that are missing from a lot of traders lives.
A traders journey is not unique, everyone treads the same path, makes the same mistakes, faces the same obstacles and needs the same encouragement. Having others around you who are a few steps ahead of you is extremely comforting. The other simple reason it is so successful is because of a profoundly simple rule we have – no dickheads. I have a stunningly low threshold for dickheads and if you exhibit dickhead tendencies you are immediately refunded and booted from the course. You don’t get a say – the needs of the group are far more important than a dickheads ego. Over the years we have booted many from the course. Some people just do not have what it takes to be adults.
However, I think upon reflection it is successful because it is a community of like minded people who dont have to exist in isolation from one another.