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A little personal nonesence.

11/10/2010

I haven’t written a personal statement for a little while. Every now and then we may find it useful to evaluate ourselves, where we have been in life and where we hope to go. I don’t want to make a protracted post about mundane daily details or grandiose Soros and Trump like goals. But rather, I hope to put my life in a little context. This will hopefully be a little personal brain dump.

Have you ever noticed, the world likes to break things up into time periods and groups? In history we have the Renaissance, The Middle Ages, The Era of Good Feeling. We have baby boomers, generation x y or z ers. We have Taurus, Scorpio, Cancer and the age of Aquarius. We have Roosters, Dragons and Rats. We have Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Bhuddest and Muslims. Humanity likes groups and classifications. Not only do we like belonging, but we look to excuse ourselves and our actions because we belong to some subculture. I’m not saying this is bad, I think introspection is important. Limitation, however, is bad. We can explain ourselves by analyzing these things, but we should not excuse ourselves because of these artificial perceptions. We need to come to grips with our past if we are to understand our present and make efforts for the future. So, what I’m saying is the key to life is not to artificially restrain ourselves because of our background but rather overcome our inherent and perceived shortcomings by taking a long hard look in the mirror.

My life is no different. I had my school years, my college years, my early work, my business and life experience. Google tells me I am the last year of generation x; a rooster, a cancer. Among my three siblings, I am the eldest, and have the syndrome to go with it. My friends and girlfriend affectionately say I am difficult to deal with and can be an opinionated bullheaded arrogant asshole. At the same time, I am very loyal to my family, my friends, and (when I had them) my employees. I am incredibly competitive and can be unforgiving. Once crossed, I seldom forgive and think it is dangerous to forget. Why is any of this important? Because this is where I am. And, this eventually leads back to my trading. My upbringing and world view dictate who I am as an individual, and who I am dictates what I do. (that’s either pretty profound or incredibly stupid… But I’ll go with it)

I was born and raised in San Diego. I love the city. I went to the University of San Diego, graduated in 2004 with degrees in Business, History and minors in Math and Theology. Pretty diverse huh? I have traveled quite a bit. I studied in Oxford for a semester. After graduation, I even had a job for a short time. For a grand total of 12 weeks, I worked as a mortgage broker. I saw firsthand the lending policies that got us (and by us I mean the world) into this financial mess. I can honestly say I never pushed someone into a loan that I, in good faith, thought was bad for them. That being said, I know a lot of people impacted from this economic downturn.

Once my 12 weeks were up, I ventured into real estate. My family has dabbled in this business for the better part of the 20th century. Right at the wrong time, I took the business to an entirely new level. At the age of 24, I negotiated the purchase and financing of a 112 unit apartment complex. I moved to Memphis Tennessee and oversaw a huge renovation project. At times I probably had 50 people working for me, between direct employees and contractors. The property was 10% occupied when I bought it and 90% occupied at the peak. At 25 I bought a second 98 unit property – assuming the existing financing. This one was already pretty well occupied. At 26 I took a step back and bought a house. Well, half a house. The other half I had to hire contractors to rebuild.

In 2010 I sold both apartment complexes. Let’s just say, it was quite a ride. In many other economies, I would have been brilliant, in this economy, things could have turned out better. I have heard every excuse in the book. “The dog ate my homework” has nothing on “I can’t pay my rent because I have to pay my cable bill”. A lot of good that will do when I pay lawyers to let me put your 52” tv and air mattress out on the curb. I have had to scrape to make a payroll. I don’t recall how many people I’ve fired. I know how many good people I have hired. I am not only an observer in this economy, but have been an active participant, a victim and benefactor. There is no better feeling than seeing a project come together. There is no worse feeling than fighting every inch of the way. (sort of like trading right).

I have seen success turn into failure, and failure turn into success. For four years, from June 2006 until May 2010, I was at work. No, I didn’t work the entire time, but I was always at work. I couldn’t turn my phone off because there was always the possibility of getting another midnight phone call saying we lost some units to a fire, or a call from a bank requiring updated paperwork for the loan they were ultimately going to turn down because they were busy imploding financially. I was self employed. More than that, I was my work. I defined myself, my self-worth, my success by things out of my control, by 211 apartment units, 3 managers, 5 maintenance employees, over 400 tenants. Starting to sound familiar here folks?

Much like the currency market, I learned to separate myself from my work. I had to quit taking things personally. I learned to treat and run my business like a business. I learned that if I wanted to collect a paycheck, I could find a job. If I wanted to control my life, I had to accept the things I couldn’t change, and change the detrimental things I could. In forex, we can’t control which way the $ will go any more than we can control moving in some drug dealer. But we hedge accordingly, we take calculated risks. We mitigate our losses. But most importantly, if we want to be successful, we have to accept that we don’t have a 9 to 5. We have to live and breathe our work. We spend our free time reading and keeping up to date.
Somewhere about two years ago I stumbled across forex trading. I began trading actively the beginning of this year, and only after having sold the properties in Memphis, found time to do this “full time”. I use my experience in my prior life as a real estate investor to help me make decisions every day in the market. What I have done and accomplished and failed in life has brought me to where I am today. I can either complain about the losses and bury my head in the sand, or I can learn from them, combine them with my successes and keep going. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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