Visit With a Mentor

3 years ago I visited my trading mentor, Kunal Desai, down in his Florida getaway for a week. Wide-eyed and naïve, I thought this one trip would transform me into an overnight stock sensation. Although that obviously didn’t happen, I did come to understand how rare an opportunity it was to trade side by side with a mentor.

The following are my most memorable moments.


Side by Side Trading

The learning process from the market can be long and drawn-out, with lessons imprinted only after a string of brutal losses. And as a newbie trader, that trade idea you have can actually be.. quite dumb.

But a mentor can provide profound insight in seconds. What better way to learn from your mistakes than by instantaneous, quick-witted, verbal slaps to the face.

“Hey Kunal, what do you think of this trade?”
“No man, what’s wrong with you. That’s not even a setup.”

A month of my life saved.

 

Trading Psychology

But it’s not just what I was told; it’s also what I saw. The subtle mannerism that you observe in your mentor can speak volumes, particularly on psychology and emotional control.

On my very first day, Kunal was losing. But with each successive trade, his robotic demeanor never changed. By the end he actually smiled and said, "Oh man that sucked. I should've done this." No blaming, no anger, no depression. Afterwards, we went to the beach and he bought beers.

The next day Kunal and one of the other students (there were 3 of us visiting) were in the same trade. But after a few minutes the price stagnated.  The student got fed up, closed his position, and stormed out. Not 2 minutes later the stock exploded. Of course when he came back we immediately rubbed it in his face. Kunal merely looked at him and said,

"You let your previous trade dictate your next, not the market, making you miss out when the time was right."
 

3 vs. 1

Later on at some point, all 4 of us were in the same stock. But while we students were short Kunal went long. So what did we do? We ganged up on him in a cacophonous display to plead our case. Until finally he said, “yeah you guys could be right.”

But he also stayed long.

And then it popped.

One by one our stops were hit and we sheepishly covered our positions.

 

Mi Casa Su Casa

            But the most lasting impression was his hospitality. He welcomed us with open arms, gave us each our own rooms, and gave us free food, beers, the works. Every question he answered patiently and thoroughly. It wasn’t his stuff that impressed me. Not his Porsche or big screen TV, but his generous attitude to a bunch of dumb kids.

 

I didn’t become a rockstar trader overnight. But I did become someone who wanted to give back after receiving so much. I guess that’s what happens when someone Spreads the Love.

By the way that other student slept there for an extra month.