Trader Interview: Sean McLaughlin @chicagosean

I’m starting a trader interview series. The series will not be a long form, exhaustive list of questions about how and why the interviewee got into trading or how their upbringing did or did not contribute to their success. There will be just three simple questions designed to reveal how the trader separates themselves from the trading herd.

There’s a lot of trading advice floating around out there. Some of it’s great, some of it’s terrible, and a lot of it is so ingrained in the collective trader psyche that it becomes meaningless or cliche. Some of it applies only to a certain type of trader (“sell in May and go away”) and some of it is so common that no one would dare question it (“add to your winners, cut your losers short”).

The first two questions apply to the collective trading advice that is present all around us. What is the most overrated trading advice? What is the most underrated trading advice? I expect I’ll get some pretty contrarian takes on these questions even for the already contrarian bunch that traders are.

The last question is designed to bring out a learning suggestion – a book recommendation. Not the same tired question (“what’s the best trading book to buy?” – it’s One Good Trade by the way) but a different and much more interesting question. What’s a non trading book you’ve read recently that INDIRECTLY helped your trading? In other words, a non trading book that you were surprised to find lessons that you could apply to your trading or just improved your life or understanding of the world in some way.

Who is Sean McLaughlin?

I appreciate my friend Sean McLaughlin (@chicagosean) for agreeing to participate and being the inaugural interviewee. I don’t remember the first time I actually met Sean but it feels like I’ve known him a long time. He’s brutally honest about his trading and that comes out in his blog and his tweets. Sean has a great voice and hosts at least two podcasts that are worth checking out. He hosts a Denver traders’ meet up which I understand is awesome – I wish there was something like that in my area. Sean came to Trade-Ideas via StockTwits and he’s been an awesome addition. Here are Sean’s answers to the questions…

What is the most overrated trading advice?

Journaling. Yeah. I said it. 

Look, I journal. But I don’t do it every day. And I certainly don’t do it for every trade. I do it when I’m called to do it. I don’t set a timer, and I don’t force myself to eat spinach whenever I don’t journal. Deep introspection is important for traders. But the means in which we all get there varies widely. For some, its meditation. For others its exercise. I might like to hike. Or maybe inspiration hits you best when you’re in the shower or on long drives? Whatever works for you, do more of it. At the end of the day, we all need time to think and strategize and re-energize away from the screens. Whatever that means to you and however that works for you — rock on with your Spirit Animal self.

What is the most underrated trading advice?

The X’s and O’s of trading are important, no question. But no matter how efficient you are at learning how to be a better trader, and no matter how quickly your assent to trading mastery, none of it will matter — NONE OF IT — if you don’t get your personal financial house in order and establish systems and best practices to systematically save money, minimize tax impacts, aggressively pay down and ultimately avoid debt, and live within your means with a sensible budget. No amount of income you might derive from the markets will matter if you don’t take care of this stuff first and make it a priority throughout your journey. Take it from me. I’ve lived the nightmare.

What’s a non-trading related book that’s influenced you recently?

I TEACH YOU TO BE RICH, Ramit Sethi. Terrible title, but life-changing approach to personal finances for me. The introduction to YNAB within this book alone was worth the $10 cost. This one book has opened my mind to so many new things to be aware of and be systematic about and can be directly linked to an ever-increasing positive slope to my personal net worth, self-esteem, productivity, health, family relationships around money, and ultimately my success as a trader. All these things are linked. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we thrive in all facets of our careers and life.

Questions for Sean?

Ask them in the comments or hit him up on Twitter. Thanks Sean!

Do you know someone who you think would make a good interviewee? Contact me!

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