Check Your Ego At The Door: Notes On Stocktoberfest

We’ve all been to one of those clubs or events where you have to stand behind a velvet rope while some neckless goon decides who will get the supreme honor of entering the venue.  If you do finally get inside you then find that the room is endlessly divided into a series of “VIP rooms” and where the people you really want to meet are sequestered with their bottle service and Kardashian wannabes.

You end up drinking your watered down twenty-dollar cocktail and leaving with a “swag bag” which consists of mostly  of promotional materials for the next event.  That would be the exact opposite of how the Stocktoberfest event was this past weekend in Coronado, California.

One of the best things about the StockTwits community is not only the access it provides you to some of the brightest and funniest people out there, but how there is such an utter lack of ego present when you talk with those people, and that same vibe was in effect all during the event.

I went to Stocktoberfest not only as a StockTwits blogger and member of its community, but as a fan as well.  I was looking forward to meeting some great people, most of whom I only knew online, and to having an awesome experience. I was not disappointed.

Here are some random, stream of consciousness thoughts about the event and the people I met there….

Coronado Island (The Venue) – I am sure it has stuck many as strange that this little island community in the very Western corner of the country was selected as the Global HQ for StockTwits.  What about New York?  Chicago? San Francisco?  Heck, even a native Southern Californian like myself questioned it at first.

But a common theme I heard voiced by attendees this weekend was, “Oh…Coronado….NOW I get it.”

Coronado has a small town feel, but is right in the heart of an area that is home to a surprising number of financial professional, entrepreneurs, and start-ups.  It is the best illustration I can think of how technology allows us to create the life we want and live it wherever we want.

And believe me, the irony of standing on a beautiful beach with blue skies and cool breezes while the “right coast” was preparing for “Frankenstorm” was not lost on even the most hardcore East Coasters.

Suck It East Coast!

Sean McLaughlin (@chicagosean) – I do not generally do well at “networking” events, but from the moment I stepped into the “beer garden” at the StockTwits HQ, Sean made me feel right at home with his “B-C-Lund!” exclamation and welcoming handshake.

Sean is a great guy, the type that if theoretically he were to convince you to grab “one more drink” before heading back to your hotel, and because of that you woke up the next morning with a hangover, you would just say, “Eh, I was hanging with Seany….it was worth it.”

Phil Pearlman (@ppearlman) – I owe a lot to Phil.  He is the reason I’m a blogger with StockTwits in the first place, having reached out and plucked me from obscurity, and though I Skype with him on a regular basis, this was my first time meeting him in person.

What you immediately notice about Phil when you meet him is a wonderfully frenetic energy that is at the same time both engaging and infectious.  But Phil also has a “sage-type” vibe that kicks in and which draws people to him. Numerous times over the weekend I saw attendees chatting him up and seeking his advice on a range of topics.  It makes perfect sense to me now that Phil’s background is in psychology.

Ivan Hoff (@ivanhoff) – I’ve met Ivan once before, and even before that I liked him because anyone who can play the straight man to Howard with such grace is okay by me.  Ivan is so smart and if you are not following his work on the StockTwits 50, you are missing out.

Watching the way Ivan explained his trading style during his presentation, one could almost get the false sense that he is detached from his work because he just let’s it speak for him, which it does loud and clear.  But there was a telling moment when you knew that wasn’t the case.

Somebody during the Q&A session asked him how his screening process was different from IBD’s.  A previously relaxed Ivan came right to edge of the stage, and prowling back and forth, looked right at the questioner and gave him a focused, concise, and almost aggressive delineation on the difference between the two methods that you could see was rightfully driven by pride of ownership.

Fuck yeah Ivan!!!!

The Ladies of StockTwits – Everyone knows I like to play the over-the-top, tongue in cheek, Cro-magnon guy on the streams, but I have big respect for the women in the community. That respect is two-fold for those who attended this male dominated event, something I could see as being fairly intimidating for the fairer sex.

One of the ladies I enjoyed talking to was Lydia Idem Finkley who writes a forex blog on the StockTwits Networks.  Lydia waded right in with the guys at one of the after show venues and I found here to be charming and sharp as a tack.

My favorite moment was when we were talking about family and life in general, and someone brought up the question of when were the best times for liquidity in the currency markets. Without missing a beat, Lydia went right into an analysis of the optimal times to trade the different currency pairs.

Hopefully we will see more great ladies like Lydia joining the StockTwits community and attending live events in the future.

Julian Hebron (@thebasispoint) – For me Julian is a kindred spirit because our blogs were both added at the same time and I love his taste in music and knowledge of pop culture references.  Everybody who reads his stuff knows he is a monster in terms of knowledge in the real estate and mortgage markets.

But what I found out by meeting him in person is that he is also a very laid back and cool guy, the type you feel comfortable with the first time you meet them.  He is one of the people whom I wish I had more of a chance to hang out with.

Greg Harmon (@harmongreg)- Greg has over twenty thousand followers on StockTwits alone, which is a testament not only to his knowledge of stocks and trading, but to his willingness to share.  In fact he excused himself (relatively) early on Friday night in order to put together charts to share on the stream for Saturday morning…..twenty three of them.

Greg’s humor has always been a favorite of mine online, but it comes across even drier in person, which I love.  Though a veteran of the trenches in NYC and Boston,  he has a “Cleveland Zen” type quality about him that is just very calming and explains perfectly why he makes Ohio his home.

J.C. Parets (@allstarcharts) –  J.C.’s presentation was perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend for me.  I’d known J.C. as a good guy with a passion for technical analysis from the streams but I assumed his presentation would be along the lines of “let me show you some trendlines and moving averages.”  Boy was I wrong.

J.C. illustrated his “top down” approach to investing and technical analysis that was more comprehensive and more nuanced that I would ever have imagined.  The way he went through different macro charts and put the pieces of the puzzle together was fascinating.  There wasn’t an asset class that he didn’t touch on and it was very apparent how broad and deep his knowledge of the markets is.

The best part though was his enthusiasm for what he was doing.  You could see in his face and hear in his voice that this was his passion, something that he loved to do. J.C. is starting up his own shop right now, and I have no doubt that we will look back in five years and find that he has become a hedge fund star.

You can check his presentation deck out here.

Joe Fahmy (@jfahmy) – Joe is one of the few attendees at Stocktoberfest whom I had previously spent some time with and he is one of my favorite people.  Passionate, focused, funny, energetic, insightful, these are only some of the words to describe his presentation entitled “5 Qualities of ALL Great Traders.”

Joe is a student of history’s great traders and has a wonderful ability to crystallize their best traits and make them relevant and understandable in today’s market.  He is also a natural on stage and knows how to get the crowd engaged.  Joe will be speaking at the Traders Expo in Las Vegas on November 15th, so if you are going to be there make sure to catch him.

Brian Shannon  (@alphatrends) – Brian is one of the “big dogs” on StockTwits and I admit that I was a bit apprehensive in meeting him, although my friend Steve Gomez (@todaytrader) told me Brian was a great guy.  Steve was right.

Down to earth is the best description I could think of.  No pretense.  No arrogance. No aloofness seemed to be a part of Brian’s personality.  His presentation on using multiple timeframes for trade entries was so solid, so right on the money, and one that I heard many participants talking about at the break.  Brian will also be appearing at the Las Vegas Trader’s Expo on November 15th, and seeing his presentation is a must.

Dynamic Hedge  (@dynamichedge)- At this stage in my life I thought I was pretty much passed the point of having preconceived notions about people, but I admit, I had one about Dynamic Hedge.  For some reason I pictured him as a grizzled old-school quant, who sat in his computer lab all day writing algorithms.  Again, boy was I wrong.

Young, good-looking (no homo), and wickedly smart would be the correct description for Dynamic Hedge.  I was fortunate enough to see him do a demo in a breakout room of his new product for determining outcomes in scenario based trading, and it was one of those times where you say to yourself, “Oh, wait a minute……that is pretty frigging’ cool.”  Throw in the fact that he has a great sense of humor and he’s got the whole package going for him.

Josh Brown (@thereformedbroker) –  What can you say about Josh?  He is what all of us bloggers want to be when we grow up.  Author, investment advisor, rap connoisseur, CNBC personality, creator of ungodly amounts of quality content, these are all the things we already know about Josh.  But what struck me about Josh was the way in which he engaged people.

High profile people like Josh who have great demands on their time often limit their interaction to a few select people, but that was not Josh at Stocktoberfest.  I saw him talk with anyone and everyone that wanted some time with him.

What’s even more amazing for a person in his position is that when you do talk with Josh, there is no checking his watch, interrupting phone calls, or glances past you to see if there is someone more important he should be talking to.

I honestly think Josh would be as willing to talk with the President of the United States as he would the guy who vacuums up the oval office on the night shift.

Josh gave me some great advice regarding the direction of my blog, and although I probably won’t initiate the “bclund shower-cam,” some of his other insights I am going to take to heart.

Howard Lindzon (@howardlindzon) – Howard was the prime mover for Stocktoberfest and I suspect the reason a number of people came from so far away was just to get some access to him.  Well, if you wanted “Lindzon access,” man did you get it.

At the StockTwits beer garden, there was Howard.  At the pre-event meet up, there was Howard.  At the event, if you were in the lobby, there was Howard.  If you were hanging out front, hey, there was Howard.  At the post event get together, there was Howard.  I even ran into him myself while I was walking down the streets of Coronado looking to get slice of pizza.

By the end of the weekend, those same people who came from so far away just to get access to Howard were saying, “Jesus Christ, enough already……I’ve had as much access to Howard as I can take.”

As the host of the event, Howard didn’t just introduce a guest and then slink back to the green room, but often acted as onstage interviewer, and for those who had their own presentations, he would just hang out in the front row with the rest of the crowd.

It was there that you could see that this event was not a burden in the least to him, but was something he looked forward to as much as anyone, and that he was having just as good a time as everyone else at the event was.

Brian Lund (@bclund) – I came to Stocktoberfest with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.  Traditionally I do not “work” networking events that well as I have never instinctually felt like a social person.  But something funny has happened to me over the last year of blogging and being a part of the StockTwits community; I’ve found my social voice.  Who would have known that interacting in an online environment would have had such benefits in the real world.

I also realized that StockTwits is a much broader platform for ideas than I originally thought. Markets and trading might be the “gateway drug” but once you get involved in the community, you find yourself exposed to a much wider range of ideas and topics than could be imagined.

One of the best parts of the event for me was actually listening to the non-trading presenters whose topics ranged from bonds, to technology, to the role of data and content in our lives, to the incredible start-ups they were running and the products they were creating.

Being in the presence of so many intelligent and accomplished people reminded me that I am not as smart as I like to think I am.  It was reminiscent of when I first heard Neil Peart play drums.  I had been playing for a few years myself and thought I was pretty good, but hearing someone with such talent put me in a quandary.  I wasn’t sure if I should say “what’s the point?” and just throw my drums away, or keep them and woodshed even harder in order to raise my game.

This weekend at Stocktoberfest was an incredible experience for me on a number of levels, the most important of which was that it made me realize that I definitely want to “keep my drums.”

If you want to learn more about day trading and the markets, all while helping to kick pediatric cancer’s ass, check out my book, Trading: The Best Of The Best – Top Trading Tips For Our Times.  It includes over 200 market tips from 60 active traders and investors, and all proceeds go to the McKenna Claire Foundation to help support research for a cure.  Just click the banner below or go directly to Amazon by clicking here.

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