Monday, August 31, 2020


Trading, like any great performance field, is an arena in which our self-development is an essential part of honing our craft.  Welcome to TraderFeed, a blog site that now also serves as a repository for nearly 5000 original articles on trading psychology, trader performance, and trading methods.  Within the extent of my knowledge, this is the largest single source of trading psychology material in the world.

The links on this page will help you navigate the database of posts to find the information most relevant to your development.

My coaching work is limited to trading and investment firms, so I cannot provide online advice or services to individual traders.  I do, however, welcome questions about the ideas in this blog.  You can email me at the address on my bio and contact page.  I'm also available via Twitter (@steenbab), where I'll continue to link new posts and articles.


I wish you the best of luck in your development as a trader and in your personal evolution.  In the end, those are one and the same:  paths to becoming who we already are when we are at our best.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

One Easy Way to Enhance Your Market Vision

I've spent some time this morning reviewing websites and Twitter feeds that are market related.  There are some really good things out there, and there are some really bad ones.

The broadest generalization I can make is that the awful sites are ego based.  They focus on the calls made by the guru, the services offered by the expert, etc.  Generally there are one or two pet ideas that are offered as the solution to trading and, of course, the writer just happens to be the go-to person for those key skills.

The valuable sites are truly idea based.  They don't just make market calls; they illustrate reasoning that goes behind the views.  A good word for these sites is that they are evidence-based.  They educate and illuminate.  They are not primarily pitching the writer.

Consider the Market Anthropology site.  You don't have to go too far into your reading to find interesting perspectives on interest rates and the big moves in a few asset classes.

Or how about Jeff Miller's Dash of Insight site, with well-documented perspectives on market sentiment and changes in economic conditions?

Take a look at Chris Ciovacco's site and its insights on market valuation and taking an evidence-based approach to charts and market views.

Note that these are not the most trafficked Twitter feeds and trading sites.  The most trafficked restaurants are fast-food joints, not gourmet eateries; shopping mall retailers, not designer boutiques.  Those who seek quality are generally not part of the traffic jams.

Which sets up a great way to enhance your market vision!

Find Market Anthropology, Jeff Miller, and Chris Ciovacco (or your favorite source of ideas) on Twitter or StockTwits and then look up their followers.  See who follows quality people who are relevant to your trading--and you're likely to discover quality people relevant to your trading!  The chances are good that, in tapping into the networks of people you respect and admire, you'll discover others who are worthy--and who can feel your head.

Imagine adding just two fresh sources a week from the networks of people you respect.  Over the course of a year, you will have greatly enhanced your vision.  Building the right network online is a great way of cultivating a rich cognitive network--and that's a great way of finding the creative ideas that go beyond consensus views.


Friday, January 12, 2018

When Your Passion Becomes Your Poison

A while back, I asked the question:  Does your trading psychology have a dark side?

It's an important question.  So many times, it's not our weaknesses that trip us up, but the misdirection of our strengths.

Consider the motivated, eager, passionate trader.  He becomes so pumped up that he pounces on the first "setup" or idea to come his way, only to lose meaningful money minutes and hinder his subsequent efforts.  That very passion has become his poison.  Enthusiasm, taken to an extreme and not directed, breeds impulsivity and overtrading.

The risk prudent trader can become risk averse.

The active trader can become overactive and distracted.

The competitive trader can become frustrated and unfocused.

The creative trader can flit from one idea to another, one system to another, never developing expertise.

The disciplined trader can become rigid and unable to adapt to a change in the market.

In all these cases, strengths can become vulnerabilities.

This helps explain why so many common approaches to trading psychology don't work.  When we try to reduce or eliminate our problems, we find it difficult to stick to those efforts because those problems spring from our strengths!  We naturally gravitate toward what we do well and what speaks to us, so it's not surprising that we find ourselves repeating problems despite advice to the contrary.

So how do we use our strengths and ensure we don't abuse them?  The key principle to keep in mind is that we best channel our strengths by cultivating their opposing, balancing qualities--and then integrating the two.  The more we draw upon a single strength, the more we need to develop a balancing strength.  A good example would be the aggressive trader.  He or she reaches a new level of development by blending patience with aggression.  The blending of the balancing strength--patience--with the original strength creates a new, higher-level capacity.  The potentially crazed warrior becomes a self-controlled, lethal sniper.

Yet another example of using a balancing quality to channel a strength would be for the introverted, analytical researcher to develop a social network and identify when positioning runs counter to tested models.  The blending of the research focus and the ability to read sentiment creates an entirely new opportunity set, where it becomes possible to take advantage of situations where the crowd leans the wrong way.

Notice in these examples, by cultivating a balancing strength and integrating it with a strength and passion we already possess, we create something new.  We create opportunity.  Strengths only have a dark side when they are overutilized and unbalanced.  Cultivating balancing strengths can literally take our game--personally and professionally--to new levels.


Saturday, January 06, 2018

How to Get the Most From Your Trading Practice

An excellent post from NewTraderU and written by Colibri Trader explains how 10,000 hours of practice typically goes into the creation of expertise.  As the post makes clear, there is a world of difference between repeated experience and practice.  Practice, in the sense of deliberate practice, means that we actively reflect on our experience, examine where we've fallen short, and then institute efforts at improvement.  The trader who trades for a month and merely jots notes in a journal is repeating one day of trading 22 times over.  The trader who makes daily efforts at improvement, using trading results as feedback to guide future efforts, compounds learning 22 times over.

This is how expertise is created.  We learn with each practice session, feed that information to the next practice session, and continually make incremental improvements.  If we simply target our one biggest mistake each day and figure out why it occurred and how we can prevent the occurrence going forward, we turn trading into a series of performance drills.  Practice can make perfect when we perfect the process of practicing.

One of the reasons the report card has become a major tool in trader development is that it anchors the process of deliberate practice.  When we grade ourselves on aspects of trading that matter, we create a framework for reflecting on performance and systematically pursuing improvement.  When we share the report card within a community of traders, the practice of others provides lessons for us.

In the spirit of my recent New Year's goal of using the blog to highlight the good work being done in the trading community, allow me to add one thought to the post from Steve and Colibri.

The worst, as well as the best, trading is the result of practice.

When we trade poorly and then go over and over and over our mistakes, blame ourselves for them, become frustrated with them, talk incessantly about them, and vent about them in our journals, we are engaging in a kind of reverse deliberate practice.  Just as reviewing our trading constructively can aid our development, reviewing our trading destructively actively builds and reinforces our worst habits.  

This reverse practice effect explains many downward trading spirals.  We ultimately live out the image of ourselves that is reinforced in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  Everything we do--from how we talk to ourselves to what we read to who we associate with--is a mirror, reflecting an image of ourselves.  Successful people create positive, constructive mirrors and thereby internalize that positivity and constructive attitude.  Unsuccessful people often practice just as hard as the successful ones, but with all the wrong mirrors.  

Take a look at your trading practice.  Reflect on how you end up feeling after a day or week of trading.  You're most likely practicing something.  Are you practicing the right things, and is your practice the kind of practice that will make perfect?


Monday, January 01, 2018

How You Make a Change is as Important as the Change You Make

One of my 2018 initiatives is to find good trading websites, blog posts, podcasts, etc.; highlight those as resources for readers; and hopefully add a few nuggets of wisdom and experience along the way.

So let's start with SMB's training blog, which captures many of the lessons that prop firm has learned in the course of growing successful traders.  This one is easy for me to highlight, because I've been working with many of those traders and have witnessed their development first hand.

In his recent post, Mike Bellafiore explains that the greatest spark for trader development in 2017 has been keeping report cards of performance.  The report card has been a daily routine that has anchored review of performance, goal setting, and efforts at improvement.  It's been a great way for traders to become more accountable to themselves.

Interestingly, Nate Michaud from the Investors Underground training network also cites the report card as a major contributor to performance in 2017.  My own observation is that it's not just the report card that furthers learning, but sharing the report cards within teams or trading communities.  This is a very important idea.  When everyone shares their grades, lessons learned, goals, and plans, each trader's learning expands exponentially.  This is called social learning.  We develop, in part, by learning from the experience of others.  This gives us multiple role models.

In one case, it has been particularly effective when the team leader has shared his report cards with all team members.  That way, the feedback that Mike and I provide goes out to the team, not just the trader.  Before long, all the team members began sharing their report cards in this fashion.  The static report card now became dynamic dialogues about improvement--every single day.

At Investors Underground and especially at their Traders4ACause conferences, shared report cards can anchor group-wide education.  It's nice to give back each year, but when traders share their learning each day and fuel each other's development, they are giving back every single day.  Before long, that giving reinforces traders' experiences of themselves:  they see themselves as possessing true value to give, not merely as empty vessels to be filled.

The big idea here is that how you implement a change in your trading is every bit as important as the change you're making.  A report card is great, but it's how you put it into practice--creating dynamic, social learning--that makes it a true difference maker in your trading.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Are Your Favorite Sources Of Trading Information?

It's sad to see how social media has become such an antisocial outlet.  Whether the topics are personal or political, we typically encounter more heat than light.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to use the TraderFeed blog to consistently highlight the best online sources of trading information.  There are many excellent sites, blogs, podcasts, videos, and tweets out there, but it's easy for them to get lost amidst the noise.  

Each day, I will retweet one or two excellent insights.  You'll find those on my Twitter stream.  Each week, I will devote a TraderFeed post to a worthwhile site or blog, crafting the post to highlight particularly valuable information.  In addition, on a monthly basis, I will use my Forbes postings to highlight major contributors to the trading world.

Do you have a favorite source of trading information?  If so, please feel free to email me at the address in the graphic above and send me the URL and just a brief indication of what you find particularly helpful.  I will then include those sources in my daily and weekly acknowledgements.

We can all become better in the new year by curating online information and focusing on the best of what's out there.  Feeding our head is one of the best ways we can feed our trading performance.

Further Reading:


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Overcoming the Triggers to Poor Trading

I've been doing quite a few end of year reviews with traders I work with.  Here is an example of something a trader might say as part of their review:

"I took too many trades this past year and didn't make the most of my best ideas.  I need to limit my number of trades in 2018 and size up my best ones."

That's great as a goal.  The question remains:  How are you going to make these changes?

There is much more to changing behavior patterns than simply stating goals.  Goal setting is only one step in the change process.  Creating a plan for making the change comes next.

Where traders fall short in planning is that they view their poor trading as *the* problem, when it almost always is the result of an actual problem.  If the trader is taking too many trades, the question becomes:  What triggers this pattern of overtrading?

It's the triggers that are the actual problems.

This is a key insight.

Here's another crucial insight:  Your best trading occurs in a distinctive state of mind and body.  Trading well is state-dependent.

Triggers sabotage trading by nudging us out of our ideal states for processing market information.

When we become frustrated or bored or distracted, we enter a different cognitive, emotional, and physical state.  In that new state, we often process information reactively, impulsively.  This is true whether we're in a heated marital argument, driving in heavy traffic, bored in a slow market, or feeling the pressure of performance on the final hole of a golf tournament.  The situation triggers a state-shift and that colors what we do and how we do it.

So back to our trader who wishes to overcome overtrading.  Good intentions and efforts at "discipline" won't cut it.  What is needed is a careful analysis of the situations that are triggering the overtrading, so that these can be anticipated and intercepted.  If I know that a losing trade to start the day can trigger fear and negativity and prevent me from properly acting on subsequent opportunity, then I can develop a routine for constructive self-talk after any early loss.  

In other words, we first become good at identifying our triggers and then we progress by pausing from what we're doing to reset our mindframe and return to the state in which we do our best trading.  Your edge in markets is never *just* your ideas and research.  Your edge is also your ability to clearly see those ideas play out and act upon them in the right way.  The right state of mind might not be sufficient for winning in markets, but it is necessary.       

Our triggers distract us from our best ideas and taking advantage of these.  Truly, we cannot accomplish big things if we're distracted by little things.  When we fear our triggers more than we fear missing market movement, we've taken a huge step toward gaining self-control and consistency in our trading.  There are skills we can learn to intercept triggers and state shifts and rapidly bring ourselves back to our trading equilibrium.  Developing those skills is one of the most powerful plans we can create for supercharging performance in the new year.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Below are posts that will be helpful for those encountering problems with trading psychology and looking for potential solutions.  If you don't see your particular challenge listed below, try Googling "TraderFeed" and a keyword for your issue.  That should yield several posts.  Alternatively, check out the pages for top trading psychology posts; the curated Forbes postings; and the page for the trading books and their topics.



Sometimes a blog post isn't sufficient to properly address trading psychology challenges and ways of overcoming those.  Toward that end, I've written four trading psychology books that tackle different aspects of trading performance.  Below is a summary of each book and links:

This was my first book on trading psychology and illustrates how the problems impacting traders are variations of problems all of us face in our lives.  That means that tools and techniques that work for our personal development can facilitate our development as traders.  The Psychology of Trading introduces the idea of solution-focused work, which involves identifying hidden strengths and building upon those.  The book also introduced the notion of state-shifts--changes in our states of consciousness--as essential to changing our mind frames and our trading.  Among the topics addressed are intuition/implicit learning; making the most of crisis; changing repetitive patterns; and the use of dreams and hypnosis in self-discovery.

This book was written to explain how successful traders make the transition from being newbies to becoming elite market performers.  Key topics include moving from being a beginner to becoming a competent trader; ways in which competent performers become experts; the role of deliberate practice in trader development; cognitive and behavioral techniques for enhancing performance, the role of trading journals in developing performance, and strategies for skill development.  A major thesis of the book is that structuring your learning processes the right way can greatly increase the odds of your trading success.

By the time I was ready to write my third book for traders, I had considerable experience on a medical school faculty teaching psychology and psychiatry trainees how to conduct brief approaches to therapy.  That teaching--and the books that followed from it--led me to realize that much of what passed for "coaching" in the trading world was not consistent with up-to-date practice in the field.  The Daily Trading Coach takes evidence-based approaches to short-term change and makes them usable on a self-help basis.  The book is written as 101 lessons that cover everything from cognitive, behavioral, solution-focused, and psychodynamic techniques for change to methods for enhancing well-being.  A section also tackles ways in which we can coach our own trading businesses and develop our edges in markets.

My most recent book in trading psychology was the result of the recognition that traditional approaches to trading psychology and coaching simply were not working.  In this reworking of the field, I drew upon research in positive psychology to show how traders could more effectively adapt to changing markets; build on their strengths; cultivate creativity and the generation of sound trading ideas; and develop best practices that anchor robust trading processes.  A major focus of the book is the idea that distinctive trading success comes from distinctive cognitive and personality strengths.  By understanding and leveraging those strengths, we can maximize the odds of our success in markets.

This is *not* a book specific to trading psychology, but rather is the third volume of a textbook I co-edited about effective short-term techniques for change and how to employ those.  If you have an interest in being a coach or counselor, this book is an excellent reference volume, with chapters written by top experts in their fields.  My own chapter describes solution-focused brief therapy, which is the set of methods that I have found most helpful for traders.  In solution-focused work, we look for exceptions to problem patterns and the strengths that underlie those.  In identifying and building upon our strengths, we can often accomplish more than by remaining problem-focused.



Below are top trading psychology posts from TraderFeed during 2015.  If you're looking for posts on trading methods, check out the Trading Techniques Page.  Other posts on trading psychology can be found on the page for early posts, as well as the pages for 2016 and 2017.  If you can't find information on your topic in the posts, try Googling "TraderFeed" and the name of your topic.  That will usually result in pulling up a few of the nearly 5000 posts on the blog.  For greater depth on a given topic, you might check out the curated Forbes posts and the trading psychology books page.

While I cannot provide online coaching to individual traders, I welcome questions about the posts at the email address that appears on the bio page.




Below are early top trading psychology posts from several sites.  For more recent trading psychology posts, please go to the pages for 2015, 2016, and 2017.  If you are interested in posts dealing with psychological issues impacting trader psychology, please check out that home page.  For greater depth of coverage of trading psychology topics, please check out the home page for the trading books and the page of curated Forbes posts.  For top postings on trading techniques, this page will be helpful.  If you don't see a topic of interest in the sources below, try Googling "TraderFeed" and the topic you're interested in.  Usually a few relevant links will come up!

While I am not able to offer online coaching for individual traders, I can be reached for questions about the posts at the above email address.  See also my bio and contact info page.  


Good place to start: Links to a Series of Posts on Core Themes in TraderFeed can be found here.

Earliest posts on trading performance can be found here.  

Earliest trading psychology articles can be found here.

A wealth of pre-2010 posts on trading techniques and trading psychology can be found here.

Best of trading psychology posts from early 2010 can be found here.

Best of trading psychology posts from later 2010 can be found here.




Brett is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY and a trading coach to financial firms, including hedge funds, investment banks, proprietary trading firms, and asset managers.  He graduated from Duke University in 1976 and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas in 1982.

After years of student counseling experience at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, Brett found that the evidence-based brief therapy methods used for helping high performing students significantly benefited traders in financial markets.  This led to the first of his four books in trading psychology, the TraderFeed blog, and a full-time career working at such settings as Kingstree Trading in Chicago and Tudor Investment Corp. in Greenwich, CT.  

Brett has also co-edited three editions of a textbook on research-supported approaches to brief therapy and written over 50 peer reviewed academic papers and book chapters in the field. For the past three years, he has also written columns on performance psychology for Forbes online.

Brett's coaching work is with trading organizations only, not individual traders, but he can be reached for questions at STEENBAB AT AOL DOT COM.  Brett is also active on Twitter and Stock Twits (@steenbab).

Brett's most recent project is a book on life coaching that integrates evidence-based psychology and traditional spiritual and religious concepts and practices.  He lives in New Canaan, CT with Margie, wife and soulmate for 34 years, and three loving rescue cats.  They enjoy travel, especially to spend noisy and fun time with their five children and six grandchildren.  



Below are top trading psychology posts for the 2016 year.  Other posts can be found on the pages for 2006-2014; 2015; and 2017.  For posts specific to common trading problems, check out the posts dealing with trading psychology challenges.  If you're looking for a more in-depth treatment of the topics, you'll find resources on the page for trading books; the curated Forbes posts; and the page for trading methods.  

Although I cannot provide coaching to individual traders (my work is limited to trading and investment organizations), I'm happy to answer questions about the posts via the email address that appears on the bio page.


How to Be Your Own Trading Coach

Three Essential Elements of Effective Trading Processes

The Real Reason Psychology is Essential to Trading

The Greatest Mistake Traders Make

Becoming a More Confident Trader

Pausing From Trading and Emotional Intelligence

Separating Frustration From Your Trading

Making the Most of Confusion and Clarity in Trading

Three Trading Best Practices

Three Questions to Ask About Any Market - #1 Post on TraderFeed

Trading Psychology for Experienced Traders

Evaluating Yourself as a Trader

Overcoming the Ego in Trading

Five Keys to Making Big Life Changes

The Question to Ask When You're in Drawdown

Emotional Creativity and Why It's Important to Trading Success

An Important Question All Traders Should Ask Themselves

A Quiz:  Are You Operating in Peak Performance Mode?

What It Takes to Trade in the Zone

Working on Ourselves Can Be the Best Way of Working on Our Trading

Two Modes of Trading: What Kind of Trader are You?

Trading With Focus

Trading With Peace of Mind

The Power of Doing Nothing in Markets



Below are top trading psychology posts for 2017.  Other trading psychology posts can be found on the pages for 2006-2014, 2015, and 2016.  Posts specific to common trading psychology problems can be found on this page; posts on unique trading techniques are available here.  If you have trouble finding posts on the topic of your interest, a good first step is to Google "TraderFeed" and the topic.  That usually brings up several posts.  If you would like to go into greater depth in your topic, the trading book page will help you figure out which text might be most relevant.  See also the curated Forbes posts.

My coaching practice is limited to trading and investment firms, so I am not able to offer coaching advice or services to individual traders.  I'm happy, however, to answer questions about the TraderFeed material, so feel free to contact me at the address on the bio/contact page.