I came across an interesting concept while listening to The Portfolio Life Podcast with Jeff Goins. The episode was called Three Simple Steps to Starting a Writing Career. I didn’t expect there to be anything that could apply to trading, but to my surprise there was a big chunk at the end that could definitely be looked at from The Trader’s Perspective.
Towards the end of the podcast, Jeff addresses a question about being labeled a copycat. Apparently, many writers are concerned with their tendency to rip off their mentors and idols early in their careers.
Jeff points out that this is only natural, and that as they gain more experience they will combine their attempts to copy many different mentors and develop a style that is uniquely their own. He uses the example of U2, who has said that their incredibly unique sound is simply a result of their poor attempts to copy musicians that they looked up to.
As traders develop their approach to the market, they will learn and grow from reading about hundreds of different approaches that have been successful over the years. Most traders will gravitate towards a few different mentors over the years and will end up taking parts from each and folding them into a strategy that is uniquely their own.
For me, that process started with trying to trade like Bill O’Neil and all of the other great CANSLIM traders I have met and learned from. At the same time, I wanted to develop the discipline to follow a simple trend following system like the 10/100 Crossover strategy that is profiled by Michael Covel in the back of Trend Following. I have also taken pieces from Jesse Livermore and many of the Market Wizards.
By doing a pretty bad job of attempting to emulate all of these great trading role models, I eventually reached a point where I developed a style that is uniquely my own. It suits my personality and is a testament to the time I have spent studying each of the traders I have learned from over the years.
Don’t be afraid to copy another trader. You almost certainly won’t be able to exactly duplicate their performance, but there is a good chance that you will end up finding your own style in the process.