My story – your inspiration

Growing up I actually wanted to be an airline pilot (I’m a private pilot now, which helps get the ‘airline pilot wannabe’ out of my system), but as it turned out, on graduating from university with a degree in Aeronautics (there it is again… the flying bug), my late father’s long standing persuasion influenced me to learn the ropes and take over his successful financial advisory practice so that he could retire.

So, advising private clients on long term investments in mutual funds was what I did, and for the 15 years I did it, became quite successful. One thing bothered me. In the financial services industry, all we were taught to tell our clients was “long term, long term, long term” and “it’s time in the market, not timing the market” which was supposedly meant to reassure clients during periods of volatility and market corrections. I always felt that this was an excuse to cover up poorly performing funds. Clients frequently calling to ask how their investments were doing also added to the stress of the job, particularly during those market corrections.

I always wondered ‘what if one could time the market’? It was an idea that always intrigued me, but I had no idea how to put it into practice. Mutual funds, which was all I knew at the time, were of course long term vehicles, and not suited to timing short term moves in the market.

Then came along long/short and leveraged ETF’s which rapidly expanded following the financial meltdown of 2008. Of course being a financial advisor for the prior 13 years or so, and therefore ‘thinking’ I knew a lot about investments and by extension trading, I set about investing some of my own funds in some ETF’s. One of my first trades was a Silver ETF, which did spectacularly well. I almost doubled my money in 2 months, and of course felt on top of the world – I was simply not used to such spectacular gains in a short space of time. No doubt you can already see the next part coming… in the months that followed, not only did I lose all the profit I’d made on the spike in silver, but by the end of that year, my trading account was less than half of what I started with before I even took my first trade. Sound familiar? Also, at around that time, my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so it was a somewhat depressing time.

But, not one to give up easily I went on a quest to find a trading website that could teach me how to trade.

Initially excited about the first website I subscribed to, after a few weeks it started to dawn on me that the service is spewing out useless daily analysis videos, simply for the sake of it, and the guy himself is hardly taking any trades… but when he does he’s losing far too often, and any gains made were pretty small. I didn’t hang around for long…

There was another stock alert service that I did watch in the background for some time, not for the accuracy of his calls, (which were poor to say the least), but more for the entertaining articles he wrote. This service occasionally traded options, which I had very little knowledge of, but again I didn’t really take notice of his trade alerts, as I was not a paying member.

Then suddenly one day this guy scored big. Silver which I was still keeping an eye on, crashed over a period of a week. He was raving and ranting that he made his members gains of 1,000% trading options on a silver ETF. Up until this point, I was aware that options gave you the right to buy or sell something at a pre-determined price, but I never understood how that could be translated into actual profits. The article on his site showed in clear detail that he bought options on SLV (the ETF which tracks silver) for something like $0.70, and then sold them a week later for $7.00 when SLV crashed 30%. And that was when the penny dropped. You never had to exercise options – you simply sell them when they go up in value. The prospect of making 1,000% profit, and only risking 100% of your investment was a no-brainer to me. I remember I was so inspired/excited/mesmerised that I couldn’t sleep that night!

But I still had a problem. I still hadn’t found a site that could teach me to trade consistently.

Shortly afterwards, as if by chance, I stumbled across a website that immediately stood out from the crowd. Their technical analysis videos were straight and to the point, were unambiguous, were clearly high calibre and unlike anything I’d seen before. The site taught both day trading and swing trading. I was immediately hooked…on day-trading. The prospect of making quick gains, with no positions held overnight was particularly attractive to me. By this time my father had sadly passed away, and I had inherited some capital.

So, thinking I could master day trading in no time at all, I set about plotting my exit from financial services and all those those concerned clients…as a day trader.

However, over the months and couple of years that followed it became obvious that day trading wasn’t working out. For whatever reason I couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. After about two years and gaping losses, I realised that I should also devote my efforts to swing trading.

It was only then that it dawned on me that I actually enjoyed swing trading much more than day trading. It was considerably less stressful and intense, and it meant you didn’t need to be glued to your screen all day. Oh my…if only I’d taken swing trading more seriously at the beginning, and not devoted too much time to day trading. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

But I came unstuck again. To make any swing trade gains meaningful, you need a big account, which I didn’t have after all those day trading losses. I still fondly remembered the prospect of making 1,000% on options, and so I traded options on a swing trade basis. This was a wise move in one sense (and is the basis of the trading we do here today at tradingwithzach.com). What was not so wise was that I was a total novice and blinded by amazing potential gains – the stress being on the word potential! In an attempt to profit spectacularly on each trade, I made every novice mistake in the book which you will read all about in the Mistakes To Avoid section of the site. I lost 100% far too often, and in a certain sense my pace of losses were even faster than when I day traded! Ouch.

Now, I did make some good trades, but they were few in number, and any profits were duly wiped out by the trades that followed. I couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong, and I was just too stupid to give up. I was still subscribing to the technical analysis website – but I wasn’t sure if it was them letting me down or just me who had the problem.

I was running out of time, busted practically all my inheritance, and by this time I had passed on my clients from my financial advisory practice to someone else so had no business left. Things came to an abrupt and sudden dead end. I emptied the little that was left in my trading account. I was left with no choice but to give up – give up swing trading, give up day trading, give up any trading related to the markets.

I had to swallow a very large humble pie. I had failed.

All I could do was go back to what I knew and made a living from before. At around this time, I had a bit of capital come through from an unexpected source. I used that buffer to take a back seat for a couple of months, before having to face reality and go back to financial services and build up a new client bank, practically from scratch.

At this point I had not seen a stock chart for a few months. If I was to go back to advising clients, then I needed to know a bit about what the markets were doing, even if I wasn’t going to trade.

Now, if there was one thing I learned in 4 years as a failed trader, it was how to read stock charts. At this time crude oil was crashing, and I was watching the charts with interest. I was also watching the trading website that taught me technical analysis and I was intrigued to see that they were trying to pin the bottom, but in my opinion, they were far too early.

Then one day I saw the ‘stars align’ with the S&P 500 and oil together give me a bottoming signal. I remember texting a friend that this was likely the bottom in both oil and S&P. He laughed and said nobody could make such a prediction as he was convinced the markets were still headed lower.

Now with this capital that became available, I rushed to get that money into my trading account. All of a sudden, having had a break of around 5 months, I felt I was approaching things without the emotional baggage of the previous losses, and was looking at things with a completely new perspective – and considerable experience in reading charts.

Lo and behold, I pinned the bottom in oil, and bought options in a completely beaten up oil stock, that I just knew was going to bounce big. Now, I wasn’t sure where all of this would take me, but as the volatility was high – volatility is of course a (good) trader’s best friend, I suddenly found myself entering one trade after another, without having to think twice, and with a new found confidence I just never had before. I made nearly 850% on that oil stock in just over a week!

In the next 8 weeks my trading account doubled over 15 swing trades – options were now my faithful best friend.

Over the following weeks, that profit did erode somewhat, but I reasoned that if I’d come this far, there was definitely no turning back, and all I needed to to was hone in on where I was slipping up, avoid those type of trades and sharpen my skills.

Now I was still following that same trading website, when my friend suggested to me that I obviously don’t need them anymore if I can double my account in 8 weeks – they certainly didn’t make the good calls I had made in the prior weeks when I pinned the bottom in everything – I was watching them daily, and I was now doing better than them!

So, I pulled the plug on them. And then it dawned on me. They were a double edged sword. Their technical analysis was good. But in an attempt to hook members to their services, they constantly hyped up the market promising that it would collapse. They even broke their own rules, and were even going against the very principles they taught. They were shorting far too much, which was their ultimate downfall.

Unbeknown to me, this blinkered my thinking all along, so I was always looking at the market the wrong way up. Shorting in the current environment is going against the trend. Once I stopped subscribing to them, I stopped shorting, and my win ratio dramatically improved.

I was starting to make consistent profits from the markets. After all those losses, after all those low moments of staring failure in the face, I was most unexpectedly… making it!

A few months later, I met another friend who was looking for a job. I told him I was willing to teach him trading, and all he needed to do was come over to my place regularly and learn from me. For one reason or another he wasn’t able to often enough, but he was very keen. I had an idea. I would create a YouTube channel and put out trading videos and option alerts – basically teach trading from scratch. The channel took off somewhat and I had a number of subscribers follow my trades learning to trade successfully. That channel was profit4life – the the embryo of… tradingwithzach.com.

As they say… it’s darkest before the dawn.

Come join me as a member, and I’ll teach you too, how to profit for life!

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