All hype and misconceptions aside, trading happens to be one of the fairest and most unbiased professions of them all. Consider this: Does the market know (or for that matter, even care) who you are, where you live, or how old, rich, or experienced you are? Of course not!
That’s a big part of why people’s dreams can—and do—come true in trading. Moreover, it’s why people from all corners of the globe, from every possible background and various walks of life, can all just as readily achieve trading success.
In the markets, all the other things don’t matter, and trading success is brought on by sound strategy, unwavering discipline, and the determination to conquer adversity and continually learn and improve your methods.
To further support that, and to give newfound or perhaps just renewed hope that you, too, have what it takes to be successful, here are the stories of some “ordinary” people who have all become extraordinary traders.
The well-known and multi-talented Kathy Lien is a renowned trader, currency analyst, and TV personality in her own right, and although this particular trading success story is not about her, Kathy is largely responsible for telling it.
You see, in her book, Millionaire Traders: How Everyday People Are Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game, Kathy and co-author Boris Schlossberg tell the “rags to riches” story of Hoosain Harneker, a businessman from South Africa who entered the world of trading only after a devastating failed partnership erased much of his life savings and forced him all the way back to “square one.”
Armed only with a simple-moving-average-based strategy and the recommendation from a friend, and with not even the $1000 he needed to open a live account, Harneker paper traded for 6 months while he raised additional capital. He promised his wife that if he lost that money, he would stop and never trade again.
So there you have it: one chance to find success in a world where even the best traders who have ever lived have blown up (at least) their first accounts.
Harneker, though, quickly defied the odds and found lasting trading success, largely due to a masterful combination of selective scalp set-ups that yield as little as 10 pips per day, and careful risk management.
His advice to aspiring traders is rather simple: Trade a demo account for as long as it takes to double it three times in a row before making the leap to trading real money.
While little or no formal training and very limited access to capital is not typically a formula for trading success, Harneker’s story is one that proves how far preparation, discipline, and exacting risk management can elevate any trader, from newbie all the way up to the most grizzled veteran.
Allow me to share with you one of the more memorable and fascinating success stories I’ve heard of late. It is the story of Rob Wilson, as told in the book, Traders at Work: How the World’s Most Successful Traders Make Their Living in the Markets, by Tim Bourquin and my friend and colleague, Nick Mango.
Now, many part-time traders will naturally draw on skills that serve them well in their day jobs, but perhaps none more so than Wilson, who himself (at the time of writing) was a Commander in the British Royal Navy!
Obviously, that’s a profession that’s all about discipline, strict adherence to protocol, and where confident decision-making in the face of limited or imperfect information truly can be a matter of life or death! Sounds a lot like trading, doesn’t it?
Well, Wilson masterfully applies those very same skills as he exclusively trades fast-moving, intraday set-ups in EUR/USD early each morning—right from the destroyer—before reporting for duty. His work in the markets and the remarkable balance he strikes between his trading and demanding life outside them can certainly impress and inspire other traders, who, amid the inevitable struggles, may begin to wonder “Can it really be done?”
They couldn’t script this particular trading success story any better in the movies, and believe me, they’ve tried! It was the early 1980’s and legendary, self-made futures traders Richard Dennis and William Eckhart had a debate to settle. The rest, as they say, would go down in history!
You see, Dennis himself had achieved miraculous results, turning a $5,000 stake into a $100 million fortune trading commodity futures. He believed, however, that he could teach any non-trader his methods, and they could then go on to achieve those same exemplary results. This was how the fabled “Turtle Traders” came to exist, as Dennis aimed to grow traders just as quickly and efficiently as they did turtles at a farm he had recently visited in Singapore.
In short, Dennis personally mentored two classes of 14 traders, teaching the specific trend-following strategy that he himself was using. It was reported that these two classes of traders went on to earn $175 million in just 5 years following their training, proving beyond a doubt that beginners can be taught to trade successfully.
Now, while “turtles” themselves maintain that the Turtle Trader method still works today, it is certainly not for everyone, as it is infamous for big drawdowns and a large percentage of losing trades (40%-50%). However, the legend of the Turtle Traders is one of the most remarkable trading success stories in all of history. If nothing else, it proves that sticking to a proven strategy can—and will—get results, even for a “ragtag” bunch of novice traders with no prior experience.
(By the way, if this story doesn’t get you revved up and ready to learn a proven trading strategy, nothing will!)
Too many people out there mistakenly believe that it takes an endless supply of money and resources, or some special pedigree to become a successful trader. Even worse is the trading myth that the “average person” doesn’t stand a chance of beating the “big boys” like hedge funds, banks, and automated systems. In the end, none of that is true!
It’s not to say that achieving trading success is easy, either, but these remarkable success stories do convey some fascinating things. Perhaps most notable is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where in the world you come from, the tools to succeed lie naturally within, in the form of discipline, determination, and good financial sense, i.e. risk management.
Finally, we have the legend of the Turtle Traders, whose lesson is not necessarily to copy their trading method, but to learn a proven one of your own, and even more importantly, that it can be done!
See also: Testimonials of Lazy Traders who come from all backgrounds and are dotted around the globe.