More Interviews

Shana Sissel – Interview

ShanaQUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?  Do you actually trade, invest, etc.

SHANA: Sure. My name is Shana Sissel and I am the Chief Investment Officer of Spotlight Asset Group, an RIA located in the greater Chicago Area. I am originally from Worcester, Massachusetts and relocated to the Chicago area in 2016 with my husband Jason, our son Gabriel, and our dog Teeko. 

As Spotlight’s CIO, I oversee all aspects of the firm’s investment platform ranging from overall strategy, implementation, and communication to clients and prospects. As part of my role I am responsible for leading the Investment Policy Committee and implementing enhanced due diligence for investment selection.

I have been in the investment management industry for nearly two decades. Prior to joining Spotlight, I served as Director of Investment Due Diligence & a Senior Portfolio Manager with Orion Advisor Solutions. At Orion, I was tasked with building the firm’s in-house due diligence group. Establishing the framework on investment strategy review & analysis for the Orion Portfolio Solutions Turnkey Asset Management Program & Model Marketplace. In addition, I served as co-manager for the firm’s tax-managed direct indexing suite of separately managed accounts & was the firm’s subject matter expert on Alternative Investments.


QUESTION: You have an interesting Twitter profile.  What actually is a masshole? What are your goals (if any) on social media?

SHANA: 😊 A masshole is generally considered a derogatory term used by outsiders (usually northern New Englanders) for people from Massachusetts. It’s usually in reference to our very aggressive and some might say “wreckless” driving and tendency to be loud and outspoken. Native Massachusetts folks wear the term as a badge of honor. While intended to be an insult, we consider it the ultimate compliment. 

In terms of social media, the way I leverage the various social media platforms has evolved over time. In 2018 I was abruptly laid off from the job that actually brought me from Boston to Chicago. I spend 7 long months unemployed and it was a very dark time in my life. When I finally landed my role at Orion I swore to myself that I would use the opportunity to build my personal brand within the industry to serve as a way to reduce the risk that I would experience that type of career setback again. Reputational equity was important for me. In addition, it has really helped me build my public profile. Influencers are growing in demand and media outlets and corporations look to work with those who they believe have significant reach and influence across their target demographics. 


QUESTION: What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

SHANA: I have experienced plenty of failure in my life and career. In my opinion, failure is the key to success. Failure allows you to learn, keeps you humble and helps you develop resilience. There is a big difference between regret and failure. As I look back on my career, I regret nothing, not even the decisions I made that led to failure. As I eluded to earlier, being laid off in 2018 was probably the biggest failure/setback I’ve faced to date. My husband is an entrepreneur and runs a charity called the Endure to Cure Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The stability of my employment and income is the key to his ability to take risk as an entrepreneur. As the primary breadwinner supporting the family, I struggled with feeling like I was letting them down. At times I wondered if I’d ever get the opportunity to be in the investment industry again. I felt like the career I loved and that I had worked hard to progress in had been taken away. At a time when the unemployment rate was at all time lows, I struggled to get even initial interviews. I felt really lost. That said, had it not been for that experience I would not be where I am today. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given at Orion and the way it helped drive me to focus on building my personal brand.


QUESTION: How would you describe what makes a successful financial professional. Good traits, bad traits?

SHANA: Hubris is the absolute worst trait if you want to succeed in the world of finance. The markets are unforgiving. No matter how smart you think you are the markets have a way of humbling you whenever you think you have it all figured out. Another bad trait for success in finance is being close minded. The most successful investors in the business seek out opposing views to help them better understand the weaknesses in their approach and make them better at assessing risk.

On the flip side, having a short memory and a resilient attitude is a key to success. Like the very best athletes in the world, you can’t dwell on your mistakes as an investor. Being willing to learn from every mistake, and not let it hinder you from moving forward is key. 


QUESTION: What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. 

SHANA: Honestly, I don’t believe work-life balance is a real think. For me there are times where work takes priority and there are times where other aspects of my life take priority. Realizing that has significantly reduced my stress levels. 


QUESTION: What advice would you give to your younger self as it relates to your personal life. What about advice for your younger trading self?

SHANA: My advice would be the same in both cases. Don’t worry or stress too much about what the future holds, everything will work out the way it is meant to. 

My early life was not easy, if you had told 22 year old Shana that I would be the CIO of a major investment advisory firm who makes frequent media appearances and travels the world speaking at financial industry conferences, I don’t think I could have grasped that. It’s beyond what I ever thought could be possible based on the world that surrounded me then.


QUESTION: Outside of works, what are some of your hobbies? How do you escape from the real world during these crazy times?

SHANA: I really enjoy horseback riding, yoga, downhill ski racing and genealogical research. During the quarantine I’ve actually started coloring, as weird as it sounds, adult coloring books are really calming.


QUESTION: Where do you see yourself in 5 years – then 10 years?

SHANA: It’s hard for me to even think about where I could be 5-10 years from now honestly. I hope that I’ve continued to progress in my career. On a more personal level, I’d love to have a house I love in the next 5 years and hopefully get back into horseback riding more regularly. I’d love to own my own horse again.


QUESTION: When you have lost your mojo or focus, what do you do to get back on track? 

SHANA: There have been so many times in my life I’ve felt lost. As I’ve already mentioned when I abruptly lost my job in March 2018 and spent 7 long months looking for a new opportunity was particularly difficult. I had only moved to Chicago 18 months prior and was still recovering from a very bad car accident that occurred in June 2017. Most of my family and friends were still back east and I was deeply depressed. I spent a lot of time soul searching, rediscovered my faith in God and did a lot of meditation and yoga. It helped to remind myself that I had a little boy to look out for and I had survived multiple terrorist attacks and overcome other significant obstacles in life before. I knew eventually I would look back and understand why I had to go through that. Looking back now, the entire period made me stronger and I wouldn’t be where I am today had that not happened to me.


QUESTION: If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be. 

SHANA: Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena Quote is my personal mantra. I think it’s an important reminder that taking risks is important and failure is the key to success. 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


QUESTION: Thank you Shana for taking the time for this interview. How can our readers contact you, including on social media? And is there anything else you like for our readers to know about you?

SHANA: Well I’m excited to be the reigning Mrs. Illinois International and will competing at the Mrs. International pageant in a few short weeks! The opportunity has been amazing. I’ve really earned a valuable platform to help further one of my great passions in life: Improving financial literacy rates for women and underserved minority communities. I’m really excited to continue to bring financial literacy education to more communities, especially those beyond the major city financial hubs. I know pageantry is associated with some many negative stereotypes, but I’ve found competing to be a tremendous source of personal growth even as I’ve gotten older. I’m not sure if people realize the amount of impact and influence titleholders can have and a focus on service to others is a huge component of pageantry. I would not be where I am today had I not discovered pageants. When I was in my 20s, I used to try to downplay my participation, but honestly as I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped caring about people judging me about it. People will always find ways to try to cut you down, if someone decides my voice isn’t of value because of it, that’s not really a reflection of who I am, it says more about who they are. Embracing all aspects of who I am is something I’ve gotten better at doing as I’ve gotten older. 

If people are interested in following me on social media, my twitter handle is @shanas621, they can also find me on Instagram @financequeen2020.

More Interviews, Valerie Sanchez

Valerie Sanchez – Interview

ValQUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?

VALERIE: Of course! Thank you so much for the opportunity. I am thrilled to be here. My name is Valerie Sanchez and I am a proud Latina, born and raised on the west side of Chicago. I am a mom, I love to volunteer and serve the Lord, I love music, cooking and being with family. My husband and I currently reside in Union County, NJ. I am an advisor; a financial education warrior and I am co-founder of Divine Asset Management.


QUESTION: What is it like being in management at a Wall Street woman owned trading firm. Care to share any positives, as well as negatives you experienced over the years up until the present?

VALERIE: I joined the Capital Markets division of Divine in 2014 and since the first day the experience has been like nothing I have ever experienced during my 29 years in this industry. We are like family. There is a top down culture of inclusivity and true respect and care for everyone at the firm. Any negatives I experienced were before I got to Divine. Starting out incredibly young, I never felt like I had very many female role models while I was growing up in this business. I had a couple exceedingly early on and then It was not until later in my career that I had another female boss who I felt was someone I could emulate. I admired and respected for her work ethic and tenacity. That is not to say that I did not have amazing male bosses and/or role models who guided me along my career, but the women were few. And now of course, my partner, Danielle and I have become like sisters! We have known each other since we both sat on the trading desk at MH Meyerson in 1993! It is wonderful to have such a like-minded and strong partner on this journey. We aspire to be the role models we did not see early on. I have to say that I have been incredibly blessed while on Wall Street because the positives have far outweighed the negatives.


QUESTION: What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

VALERIE: In 2010 I suffered 2 tragic losses back to back. My 13-year-old nephew was shot and killed in Chicago, and 10 days later my grandfather (who had helped raise me) passed away. The pain was unbearable and added to the already tumultuous personal struggles I was experiencing. I had to take a leave from my high-paced career to finally focus on my family and my health. When it was time to return to work, I realized that I could not stay in that position and maintain a healthy lifestyle and home. So, I resigned. At the time everyone thought I was crazy (including me!), but it set me up for the journey I am now on. I would have never joined Divine Capital and I would have never co- founded Divine Asset Management had I not paid attention to the tug on my spirit and stayed on the previous path.


QUESTION: How would you describe what makes a successful Trader. What do you look for in a new recruit at your firm?

VALERIE: I believe a successful trader or sales trader, or any employee, is someone who understands their craft but is still teachable. Whatever you do – do it well but know that you always have room for improvement. Someone will always know more than you and that is ok – learn from them. It does not have to be a competition. It is not a zero-sum game – we can all “win”. When we look for a new hire we want someone who has industry knowledge and expertise, and/or a strong desire to learn. They must be likeable, trustworthy, a self-starter and problem solver.


QUESTION: What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

VALERIE: I think it is a challenge to have overall balance. I feel like some days I am amazing at my career, some days I am amazing at being a mom, wife, or friend. The days are few and far between when I am killing the game in BOTH. However, I do not beat myself up for having off days at either one. I also must remind myself that self-care is critical. Whether that is reading a good book, reading a devotional, resting, or creating one of my DIY projects. I need me time because I cannot pour from an empty cup.


QUESTION: What advice would you give to your younger self as it relates to your personal life. What about advice for your younger trading self?

VALERIE: Personally, I would tell younger Val – “Trust yourself. You are doing great, keep going!” I am such a detail-oriented person that I can get sucked into a place where I need to know everything about something before I act, or I question myself to death even when I know what I am doing. I realize afterward that my initial gut reaction is always right. I must remind myself that I am an expert at some things and what I say and do matters, it carries weight. I can be confident and stand in that truth.
I would tell my younger sales trader self – “Do not let anyone make you feel inadequate, you are exactly where you belong.”


QUESTION: You are part of an impressive Women in Finance Initiative. Can you share with our readers exactly what this is about?

VALERIE: Absolutely! Divine Asset Management is a full-service financial firm with a focus on women and education around money. We want to guide women to be their best, most enlightened financial self and align with their desires. We want all women to understand that they are the engine of the economy and we have so much financial power. Women are in control of more financial decisions than ever before, but they are also locked out of the bigger picture of wealth. A lot of women feel left out from conversations about financial decisions and isolated because of the shame associated with facing the unknowns in our finances. We work with our clients to change that. Change the narrative and harness our financial prowess. And how we do this is through an online educational program, blogs, Youtube videos, weekly virtual group meetings, one on one planning, and asset management.


QUESTION: Where do you see yourself in 5 years – then 10 years?

VALERIE: Personally – I see myself enjoying all the things I enjoy now. God, family, food, travel, DIY projects and friends. Professionally – I see our firm building our client base, growing investable assets, recruiting amazing advisors, and continuing the mission of transforming people’s relationships with their finances and creating their legacy.


QUESTION: When you have lost your mojo or focus, what do you do to get back on track?

VALERIE: Any time I am out of sorts or need to recalibrate I go to a place of gratitude. I immediately think of 3 things that I am grateful for and it helps realign my mind and spirit.


QUESTION: If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be?

VALERIE: “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” -Maya Angelou


QUESTION: Thank you Valerie for taking the time for this interview. How can our readers contact you, including on social media?

VALERIE: Thank you so much for having me!
We can be reached:

Phone: 212.344.5867.
Our Website
Twitter: @gathergrowgive or @divinevalsan

Readers can also sign up for one of our weekly “WealthWise Wednesday chats with Dani and Val” HERE.


Beyond The Trades is now sponsored by EquitiesETC Educational Trading Room  at 

…….and their sister site Microefutures Trading Room at 

Jessica McCarthy, More Interviews

Jessica McCarthy – Interview

EFC39D16-B661-4405-95C5-039BCADB3933QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?

JESSICA: Thanks for reaching out! My name is Jessica McCarthy. I live in Nova Scotia Canada with my fiance Mike and our adorable pup Winston. I’ve been a registered dental hygienist for almost 10 years but since the pandemic started 3 months ago, I have started my own little journey into learning how to trade.


QUESTION: We understand you are getting married to Michael Nauss, a recent guest on the Confessions Of A Market Maker podcast (as well as a previous interview here at Beyond The Trades last year). How has Michael played a role in your development as a trader. We Understand that using backtesting strategies is a major focus in your trading

JESSICA: To be honest I never thought I’d be giving the trading thing a go. Mike has tried and tried over the years to get me interested in the financial markets but I was always intimidated and overwhelmed by what I saw. All that data, so many numbers and so much risk I just always thought of it as another way to gamble! Mike does a lot of work on building algos and backtesting with Trade Ideas and he takes his work almost everywhere, so I’ve been able to see A LOT of it. He is a total nerd with all the math that goes into building all that and it totally goes over my head. I’m actually more interested in the technical side of things. I like looking at charts and patterns, it just makes more sense to me. Once we get further along he will be teaching me the rundown on the backtester and you can be sure we’ll have all the hows and why’s posted to my channel.


QUESTION: What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

JESSICA: One of the biggest ass-kickings of my life was when I decided that I was going to run my own mobile dental hygiene clinic and service mostly nursing homes and long term care facilities. It was an awesome idea! Low overhead, little competition, scaleable, and something I knew I was good at. So, once the financials looked good I started buying equipment and contacting facilities that I knew needed me. Although I was gaining traction the job itself was way more mentally and emotionally taxing than I could have ever imagined. Most of my clients were riddled with cognitive decline and extensive medical issues and it was SAD. I thought I would get used to it after a while but I would cry every single day I left. Had I done any kind of research on what it was like to work in long term care or perhaps decided to visit one for more than 5 minutes I might have known that it takes a very special type of person to work with this population day in, day out. Instead, I was blinded by what I thought was my perfect opportunity to become my own boss without truly getting into what running that type of business would take. My ego and heart are both bruised on this one.


QUESTION: You appear to be documenting your journey as a trader on your YouTube Channel called “Trading with Jess”. What are you goals and ambition for these videos

JESSICA: My main goal is to be a resource to those just starting out. Social media is so flooded with the “trade like me and make a million dollars in 15 minutes” videos that I just wanted to make something real. I’m hoping that my journey might resonate with the people who are just starting to look into the markets or starting to look at charts and are thinking what the f* is going on? What do I do? Just like I was! I am still so very very far from being steady on my feet but I am certainly more confident now. If anyone is following along learning with me and they also get to experience these little moments of hey! I can spot that pattern and I know how I am going to trade it! I totally think that’s mission accomplished.


QUESTION: What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

JESSICA: I think balance is the key to a happy life. Taking care of yourself so you can function at your personal and professional best is very important. I just started gardening and I have found it has been great for clearing my head. Winston is always down for a hike or walks in the woods so I spend as much time as I can outside. Also, drinking wine, I’m really great at that!


QUESTION: What advice would you give to your younger self?

JESSICA: Be patient! With everything! Life, career, yourself, and others.


QUESTION: If you had to give up to three books as gifts to someone. What three books would they be (and why)?

JESSICA: Hmmm… I have to be honest here. I’m really not much of a reader and the only time I pick up a book is to read something about serial killers or some true-crime scary stuff. I’m more likely to gift a bottle of booze instead!


QUESTION: Where do you see yourself in 5 years – then 10 years?

JESSICA: Oh my, what a question! In 5 years I’d like to be able to work from home 100% of the time. I have a few little projects I’m working on to hopefully accomplish that and trading would be an awesome supplement. 10 years? I’ll guess I’ll wait and see! I’d love to be settled down with a career I love and be surrounded by lots of family. But who knows what the tide will bring!


QUESTION: When you have lost your mojo or focus , what do you do to get back on track?

JESSICA: If I have a task that needs to be done that I’m not super pumped about I actually have a really hard time focusing. I actually consider this one of my biggest personal flaws. I need to take breaks (sometimes lots and lots of breaks) and switch to other tasks I find easier or more fulfilling before I can come back and say ok let’s do this.


QUESTION: If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be.

JESSICA: The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.


QUESTION: Thank you Jess for taking the time for this interview. How can our readers contact you, including on social media and your YouTube channel.

JESSICA: You can find me on twitter @tradingwithjess or on Youtube at Thanks!!


Beyond The Trades is now sponsored by (Educational Trading Community) & their sister site at 

Aaron Miles, More Interviews

Aaron Miles – Interview

image0QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?

Aaron: My name is Aaron Miles, I’m a Data Scientist based in Columbus, Ohio. I live with my wife, two sons (5 and 8), dog, and rabbit.


QUESTION: You have a very unique background as a data scientist now getting involved in retail trading. I sense you will be incorporating both skill sets in the near future. Can you explain?

Aaron: The two skills I think apply best to trading are distributional modeling and automation. With distributional modeling (as detailed in some blog posts here), I can get insight into the expected range and skewness of a security, and trade in such a way to profit from it.

Another skill I hope to use is automation. There are thousands of securities traded on the major exchanges, with the software skills I’ve learned throughout my career, I can set up a system where stocks are automatically scanned, profitable trades identified, and those trades executed, all at the touch of a button. In a nutshell, I hope to be able to identify and execute profitable trades in an automated way.


QUESTION: What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your personal life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

Aaron: One of the most disheartening things I hear in my career is ‘you build exactly what we told you to, but we can’t use it for [reasons]’. In these cases, my team and I built what we thought was an awesome system with exact detail to client specifications, but some barrier that nobody anticipated prevents the system from actually being used.

In trading, I’ve built models that estimate a security’s movement from one day’s close to the next, and they are fairly accurate for a trading model. However, this is no guarantee of profitability at all, you have to think about after and before hours movement, entry points, etc. in order to actually profit. In my career, it’s easy to just think about a model’s accuracy, but that’s only a small part of the picture.


QUESTION: How would you describe what makes a successful Trader as it relates to making correct decisions based on statistical math probabilities?

Aaron: Two things, seemingly contradictory. First is a trust in your model. If you don’t trust your model, or the probabilities you’re working with, you shouldn’t be using them at all. One paradigm I’ve heard is that a good model is better than no model, and no model is better than a bad model.

Second is an almost paranoid attitude to your model being wrong. Every model is based on underlying assumptions, and you need to have a critical view of whether those underlying assumptions are still being met. The 2008 crash is a great example. Renaissance Technologies is the gold standard for quantitative funds; they definitely produce good models. But when some of the underlying assumptions of financial markets stopped being valid, Jim Simons had them halt trading, according to Greg Zuckerman’s book. Always be thinking critically about your model, this will both allow you to quickly identify and act on changes, and also build your own belief in your model when things are going smoothly.


QUESTION: What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

Aaron: You have to have balance. Your brain simply cannot focus on one thing all the time. My main hobbies are golf, exercise and weightlifting, video games, and wrestling with my kids. Many of my breakthroughs in work have happened when I’m doing these activities and not mainly thinking about work.


QUESTION: As a data scientist, what attracted you into the world of Trading?

Aaron: Conceptually, one thing I love about my data science in general is when I’m able to systematically predict the future, or the outcome of an event. There’s nowhere that’s more profitable than in trading. It’s also REALLY hard, and has kind of become my white whale. Whenever I learn a new technology for my job, I think about how it can be applied in the trading world.

How did it become my white whale? A few events kind of pushed me toward where I’m at now. First, we met with a wealth management firm for work, and I was fascinated by the data they were using, how they were making predictions, and what they were doing in general. Shortly after this, I went to the ODSC conference in Boston and attended some financial modeling workshops. Sitting in these workshops, I remember having the thought that ‘I can do this.’ and I got work that night.

Another pivotal event was the Big Data Bowl held by the NFL. The goal of this competition was to predict an entire distribution of possible rushing outcomes. This wasn’t a type of modeling I had done before, and thankfully I work with some awesome people who taught me a lot about it. I immediately saw an application to trading and have been working on a distributional modeling system ever since.


QUESTION: What good or bad advice do you hear often in life?

Aaron: I might just be an ornery contrarian, but I kind of cringe at how often I hear ‘Focus on process over results’ when it comes to trading. I get the idea of this quote, a trader who struck gold on a single YOLO trade is likely a worse trader than the person who is systematically extracting a half a percent from the market, even though p/l might way otherwise. But you always need to be focusing on whether or not your process is a good or bad process. If you’re following your process and consistently losing, then you probably need to ditch the process and find a new one!


QUESTION: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Aaron: Still moving along in my data science career, and having trading be a consistent supplementary income. Other than that, wherever the wind blows me!


QUESTION: When you have lost your mojo or focus , what do you do to get back on track?

Aaron: Some kind of exercise, it helps me focus and slow down all the things going on in my mind. Most of the time when I’ve lost my focus it’s because I’m restless and I need to get that energy out. Yes, I’m kind of a 5 year old in that regard.


QUESTION: If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be?

Aaron: ’You have to play to win.’ I don’t know if trading will ever be as consistent a money maker as I want it to be, but I know it WON’T be if I just sit on the sidelines.


Question: Thank you for taking the time for our readers to get to know you. How can our readers contact or follow you on social media?

Aaron: I’m most active on twitter at @_aaronmiles. I’m also on LinkedIn. I try to regularly write at my blog, where I post about things I’m learning about probability, data science, finance, and fantasy sports.


Beyond The Trades is now sponsored by (Educational Trading Community) & their sister site at 

James Vogl, More Interviews

James Vogl – Interview

IMG_7650QUESTION; Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?

JAMES: Thanks for having me. I’m James Vogl and have always lived in London, (there are worse places I guess). I started out as a pro backgammon player, then transitioned to poker in which I was lucky enough to win a World Series of Poker bracelet on my first attempt at 23. This opened the door to switch to another form of gambling – the markets – when Goldman gave me an offer to trade equities. I only spent two years there before moving to the buyside where I worked for two US macro funds (Moore and Graham Capital) as a portfolio manager for the bulk of my career. The past two years I’ve traded for myself and have just finished writing a book called “51% Certain – Risk, Reward and the Pursuit of Edge” which will be coming out soon. 


QUESTION: What exactly is your 51% book about?

JAMES: After 20 years as a professional risk taker, I saw so many similarities between the way games players and traders think, in contrast  to the layman. So I tried to write a book explaining some of these concepts and thought processes and how they can be applied – from whether to wait for a bus or walk to whether to take our insurance or not. So the book looks at the fundamentals of risk reward to employing strategies and tactics to psychology (eg how to cope with a $50 million swing in a day). But it’s written in a far more street than scholarly tone. There are no academic references just some of the experiences I’ve had playing games and trading  and how they may be applied for better or worse.


QUESTION: What’s your take on Covid-19 and how markets play out from here?

JAMES: I know no more than the next man when it comes to Corona so I’m not sure I can add much value on how if plays out from here. But from a macro perspective I’m not too bearish because unlike the GFC I see it as an exogenous event – there is no underlying issue as there was during the credit crunch of 08 say, and (fingers crossed) the crisis will play itself out. That said, it’s like the governments and central banks have gone on stimulus steroids, printing trillions like confetti. We’ve already seen bond yields go negative, oil go negative and their policies will have all kinds of unintended consequences in the years  ahead so it’s fascinating from a macro perspective. I’m very long the gold miners as I think they are a clear beneficiary from these policies and very “cheap” here considering gold is near an all time high and the gold producers’ costs are through the floor given the commodity price falls, yet their share prices are still half of their all time high. 


QUESTION: What failure/setback have you experienced in your personal life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

JAMES: I’m by no means a contrarian investor, but am going to give you a contrary answer here to kick things off, sorry… I honestly can’t think of a single setback that has set me up for later success. Setbacks by definition SET YOU BACK. I think the “learn from your mistakes” and “what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger” platitudes are drooled out to make people feel better when things aren’t going well – yet the trait I’ve seen from every top poker player and trader, bar none, is an ability to put the inevitable mistakes as far out of your mind as quickly as possible and get on with the next hand/trade. Don’t spend too much time learning from them, forget them and focus all your energy on the things you are good at. Analyse why things went well, and try and replicate the secret sauce. If pushed, I guess not winning a single match on the pro tennis tour when I took a year out to play full-time at 18 was a total failure but allowed me to move on with my life to play in games where I had a chance! 


QUESTION: How would you describe what makes a successful Trader as it relates to making correct decisions based on statistical math probabilities. 

JAMES: There are by no means just one way to skin a cat, but every successful trader has a good feel for probabilities. Some are more quantitative than others. As an example, a good friend of mine doesn’t even know the Black Scholes formula yet is one of the best options traders you will ever meet – he is totally intuitive, and told me once he feels the market like a heat map. Perhaps there are few “correct decisions” in trading where there can be so much randomness around an uncertain future – but the best traders, as opposed to investors and the general population, are great at having a view on the price rather than having a view.  


QUESTION: What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

JAMES: I am literally the worst person to ask about balance! I do everything to extremes. Not because I have goals and drive, I just get caught up in whatever I’m into and it comes at a big expense for the rest of my life (ask my ex). One thing I am religious about now, and should have been when I was trading 60+ hours a week is to get in at least an hour of fitness a day – running number one for my mind, weights two, yoga three. Hobbies, I’m a voracious reader (fiction as well as non-fic), if that counts as a hobby and still play a fair number of games: backgammon, bridge, poker and gin, but mostly with my kids these days. 


QUESTION: You hear all the good and bad stories from people working at Goldman Sachs, Can you share the positives and negatives. 

JAMES: Well I only worked there for two years, fourteen years ago. But I doubt much has changed… On the plus side, everyone at MD level or above is just exceptionally brilliant – you don’t get there if you aren’t. On the minus side, they care about business more than people. When I moved to a small commodity prop shop on leaving Goldmans, it was so refreshing to actually work with bosses and colleagues that I consider close friends to this day. Don’t get me wrong, you had to produce, but you were never just a number to them. 


QUESTION: What good or bad advice do you hear often in life? 

JAMES: For me “the good advice” I hear, or what works for me is to play to your strengths rather than be something you are not; read, read, read; but importantly, just follow Naval Ravikant on Twitter or listen to his Shane Parish interview, “the Angel Philosopher”, he will blow you away if you are not familiar with him. The bad. Well, my favourite quote is “Taylor Swift telling you to follow your dreams is like a lottery winner telling you to go and buy tickets”. “No pain no gain” also sucks – it’s amazing how much improvement you can make in the gym just being consistent working within yourself, and that spills over to any area in my opinion. Run your winners and cut your losses is probably bad advice – you can die from a thousand cuts too! 


QUESTION: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

JAMES: Sorry you’ll have to ask me in five years. I don’t really believe in goals or visions. I do what I’m into at the time (usually lasts for about a 7-year cycle, not sure why), and I end up where I end up. (As an aside, goals have never really worked for me. Any time I set them I usually fail and when I have occasionally achieved them, I am usually left feeling, “now what??”). 


QUESTION: When you have lost your mojo or focus, what do you do to get back on track? 

JAMES: For me, breaks are the best, (others can work through bad periods), and usually in direct correlation with how much mojo has been lost. Sometimes a walk around the block will do it, sometimes a two-week vacation is needed. But if you keep losing your mojo, again you are probably playing in the wrong game – I don’t think I took more than 10 days off total in the first five years I was a professional games player. 


QUESTION: If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be. 

JAMES: “Don’t plagiarize Tim Ferris!” Kidding. Hmmm I guess I can be quite tough on myself, so perhaps: “Look for the best results possible, not the best possible results”. 


QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time for our readers to get to know you. How can our readers contact or follow you on social media? 

JAMES: Thanks for having me. Market Wizards by Jack Schwager is my favorite trading book of all time by far, and even though I am no wizard, this format has been a thrill. You can find me @jamesvogl on Twitter and I’m actually just putting together the originally titled, for my writing related stuff which should be up and running in the next month.


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Michelle Nguyen - Interview 2020, More Interviews

Michelle Nguyen (aka Mish) -Interview

DFBF80E2-C4E5-477D-BFAB-7AA889ABD832QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time to come back and give us an update on your trading and non trading progress in your life. I cannot believe it has been almost a year. With that said, how have you been and how are you and your family holding up with the Coronavirus situation. Is it as big of an issue in Australia as it is in the rest of the world?

MISH: Thanks for having me, it’s absolutely my honor to be back! Technically, I believe it’s been almost 1.5 years but I’ll let it slide (because I know one’s memory can slip as one approaches middle age and beyond). All things considered, life has been pretty good. We’ve been building a new house which is in the final stages of completion, and should be moving in another month or two!

The Coronavirus has definitely started to make its presence known in Australia. We’re currently in Stage 3 (i.e. a soft lockdown with some hefty fines) and have been told to expect and prepare for further restrictions. Whilst other aussies have been panic buying toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I’ve secretly been building up my alcohol stash with bottles of SoHo (a lychee flavored spirit liqueur). I’ll survive this lockdown as long as I have SoHo, running water and soap. Oh and my trading laptop too, we can’t forget that!


QUESTION: How has the trading been going. I have noticed from your Twitter feed that you are no longer trading equities long and short and now trading the futures. Care to share your evolution as a trader and how has it been going for you of late in this crazy market?

MISH: As much as I loved trading equities, the lack of proper sleep was killing me. Working full time during the day and trading for most of the night was starting to mess with my health. I developed heart palpitations and high blood pressure. One time I was driving the kids to school and had a micro second blackout whilst stopped at the lights – that scared me enough to realize something had to change. So I started looking to see what I could trade that was more timezone friendly for aussies. I found myself drawn to futures because they’re open 23/5 which was perfect for me.

When I was trading equities I thought I knew “enough” but after becoming a futures trader I realized I knew jack all. I had my eyes opened to tick, range and renko charts and learned in depth about market makers versus retail traders. The market is designed to make most people lose money most of the time – I was determined to find a way to be an exception to this rule. So much of the market is computerized now with algos and bots… so I needed a way to level up and bring more than just a knife to a gunfight!

It was only quite recently through a series of serendipitous events that I discovered AlgoBox (an algorithmic trading software which can be fully automated). AlgoBox helps me to see and predict market maker patterns before they happen so I can be on the right side of the trade. With the crazy volatility, massive spreads and epic range we’ve been having lately, it’s easy to get your ass handed to you even if you’re only trading with small size! So if you’re choosing to actively day-trade during this time, you might want to have more tools at your disposal – something to give you an edge.


QUESTION: Tell our readers something about you personally that they may not know?

MISH: My second toe is longer than my big toe. I googled what that means and this is what I found: “People with long second toes are qualitative leaders. They are dynamic and creative, and can be bossy. Dominance comes naturally to them”. To be honest, I’m not quite sure whether to be flattered or offended by this.


QUESTION: We have yet to have a guest answer this question. And it is okay to say NO COMMENT so do not feel obligated… But lets play “Married – Sleep with & Kill”…. In the trading community, who would marry, who would you sleep with and who would you kill?


1) Marry – Warren Buffett (because he is very very rich but also very very old).

2) Sleep with – Warren Buffett (I imagine I’d have to, in order to consummate the marriage).

3) Kill – Warren Buffett (this kinda ties in with number 1, and the whole reason why I’d marry someone that old in the first place).


QUESTION: What are your goals and ambition for trading and in your professional career as we understand from your first interview you are in the medical field.

MISH: Goals as a day trader: make enough money to supplement my lifestyle. Whether that be as my main income or just a small 3rd side income remains to be seen. Time will tell as I refine and perfect my trading skills, as well as master my emotional demons.

Goals as a physiotherapist: after almost 15 years as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, I’ve now stepped back into more of a consultancy role – I do a lot of online assessments via video chat these days. My ambition is to train other physiotherapists on how to do thorough assessments without being in the same room as the patient, which seems very fitting given the state of the world right now.


QUESTION: If you like, can you tell us about your kids (or little monsters you like to call them jokingly)

MISH: My little monsters are Claire (7 years old) and Harvey (5 years old). Claire is your typical first child, a type A personality. She is a perfectionist, diligent, reliable, cautious and an over achiever. Harvey is your typical youngest child – a free spirit, uncomplicated, outgoing, attention seeking and a tad self-centered. Harvey has high functioning autism and struggles with communication and social interactions – he attends a specialist autistic school and is improving with each week that passes. They are both my greatest achievements whilst simultaneously being the bane of my existence… it’s a conundrum I’m sure all parents experience!


QUESTION: Your husband must be a Saint. Can you share how you both met. Tell us a funny story that made you realize you loved each other.

MISH: I met my husband at a mutual friend’s birthday party – it was a setup that everyone knew about, but they all neglected to inform me! By the time he arrived at the party, I was properly drunk off my face… to be honest I’m surprised he wanted to marry me after that first impression! I’m quite extroverted (I’m sure that’s not a surprise) and he is more of an introvert… I guess opposites really do attract!

On our first date, he casually rested his hand on my knee. When he removed it a couple of minutes later, there was a wet imprint of his hand on my jeans. He must’ve been so nervous to be sweating like a hooker in church, and I found that very endearing!


QUESTION: Who do you look up to and admire in the trading industry?

MISH: In the trading industry, I admire anyone and everyone that can pick themselves up after a devastating loss and keep going… keep trying to improve themselves. Day trading is the hardest thing I have ever done – and that includes giving birth naturally to 4.06kg and 3.88kg babies without epidurals. The easy path would be to give up and say it’s too hard. But nothing worth having in life comes easy.


QUESTION: Name a recent under $100 purchase that you cannot live without now (keep it clean Mish. lol)

MISH: This is going to sound gross… but with all the extra going out that I’m NOT doing, I’ve been watching “pimple popping” videos on Instagram. I also follow the hashtag #extractions. It’s disgusting but I can’t look away… human bodies can be so gross! I recently invested in the Dr. Pimple Popper “99 Problems Toolkit” which has special tweezers and an extractor for all of my pimple popping needs. The problem is I don’t have a lot of pimples or blackheads on my face to work on, so I’m trying to bribe my husband to let me work on his. It’s a work in progress, let’s just leave it at that.


QUESTION: If you could place one of your favorite sayings on a big billboard, what would it be?

MISH: The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where YOU water it.


QUESTION: Thanks Mish again for taking the time on this interview, is there anything else you like to share… and how and where on social media can our reader find you?

MISH: It’s been my pleasure. I’d like to tell all the new daytraders just starting out… there is no point in having a holy grail indicator / strategy / setup if you don’t have risk management skills. Concentrate on mastering yourself and your emotions and I dare say you can make ANY strategy work. For more wisdomous advice and inappropriate memes and GIFs, follow me on Twitter @mishtix888


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More Interviews, Troy Prince

Troy Prince – Interview

53565333-61AA-4206-B024-1D9A0093A3CBQUESTION – Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?

TROY – Hello to the Beyond the trades community, it’s a pleasure to share this forum with you today. My name is Troy Prince, I’m 48 years old, married with an 8 year old daughter, a Bronx, NYC native, former 20 year institutional equity trader, former Vietnam angel investor and now Founder & CEO of Wall Street Bound, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to connect urban youth to careers on Wall Street and proprietary trading. I am based in NYC, NY.


QUESTION – You have created a very special and much needed non profit program called “Wall Street Bound”. Can you explain exactly what this is…. and how our interested readers can get involved?

TROY – Yes, thank you for asking. The Wall Street Bound mission is profoundly important to me as a person of color who found the stock market and Wall Street at a very young age. For all of my years on Wall Street trading desks and trading floors starting at age 20, it always struck me as odd how little diversity there was given the abundance of smart and hungry urban talent I knew existed. So for 15 years or so, I’ve had this idea to create a program that through rigorous recruitment, 16 weeks of technical finance and soft skills training, and provision of social capital (ie firm introductions via formal partnerships) would connect urban college students to finance front office roles through summer internships and “prop” trading firm risk capital. What I have found since I began this journey about a year ago has been that the greatest hurdle is making young people of color aware not only of the existence of opportunities on Wall Street but importantly that they DO have what it takes to get in the game and succeed. For anyone that has ever felt their talents were overlooked or anyone who would just like to get involved and support our mission as donors, volunteers, corporate advocates making introductions or other, please do check out our website at and of course feel free to email me directly at


QUESTION – What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

TROY – Boy, where do I start…Lol. There are actually two instances that stick out to me and both might be attributed as great and early lessons in HUMILITY and PATIENCE. The first happened was when I was about 21 years old and working in Tokyo for Credit Suisse First Boston (now Credit Suisse) as a Topix and Nikkei index arb controller/trading assistant and feeling a little too full of myself, I got myself fired from my first job out of school. I learned the hard way the importance of teamwork and team harmony vs the naive idea that outstanding work mattered most to success in the workplace. The second was looking back a gutsy but silly decision at around age 24 to quit my next job as the sole trading assistant on the U.S listed equity desk at Salomon Brothers when “Sollie” was at its peak. After being on the desk for less than 2 years, myself and a high school buddy of mine who was a convert trader at Bear Stearns thought we were ready to go into business managing money. Between our parents we raised less than $30,000 and thinking the leverage gave us real buying power, decided to trade futures. To say the least, that venture lasted for less than a year if I recall correctly.


QUESTION– How would you describe what makes a successful Trader?  Especially in the crazy times we are in now in the markets?

TROY – Warren Buffet was quoted saying “To invest successfully does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding the framework.” We know for a fact that markers of trading and investing success have everything to do with innate behavioral traits like emotional control, humility, patience, discipline, dedication to the craft and intellectual curiosity and little to do with socio-economic strata, race, gender, schooling etc. I believe these desired traits remain constant and hold up irregardless of market environment, present included.


QUESTION : What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

TROY – Having balance is everything, how else do we keep things in perspective? I can’t say that I’m always the best at maintaining a positive work-life balance, sometimes I worry that I might even be a workaholic BUT I am very, very conscious of and believe in the principles of mindfulness, harmony and balance as taught by the Tao and importantly release from attachment that help me keep things in proper perspective. I’m an avid tennis player, a student of both shotokan karate and pekiti tirsia kali (Kali is a phillippino martial art, if you’ve watched any Jason Bourne movies, you’ve seen it in action), I love to sail when I can, the water and certainly a whiskey and cigar every now and then with the boys.


QUESTION – What advice would you give to your younger self as it relates to your personal life. What about advice for your younger trading self? How did such play a role in you forming Wall Street Bound?

TROY – As I noted in the response to the professional failure/setback question, I would DEFINITELY advise my younger self to be humble, to be more patient, to value money less and additionally to consider the opinions of at least 2 people in ‘your’ life who’s thinking you respect before making any major decision. All would also apply to my younger trading self except for the last part regarding seeking the opinion of others and I might add to focus more on doing the right thing, ie the ability to stick to your trading plan vs focusing on the p/l. I think it’s pretty obvious that we all carry our internal and unique behavioral strengths and weaknesses around with us irrespective of the time of day, activity of the moment etc such that if able to address our behavioral challenges we almost automatically address our trading challenges. These beliefs led me to trading psychology and therapy for myself and as an integral part of any true trader training program. What is the point of being skilled technically in analysis, trading mechanics etc only to be shaken out of the market, adding to losing positions or picking tops or bottoms when you know you shouldn’t? This is where the not oft discussed but all important head game analysis comes into play.


QUESTION – What good or bad advice do you hear often in life (or trading – or both)

TROY – This may not be the answer you expect but I believe that good or bad advice doesn’t necessarily exist, I like to think in terms of optimal or suboptimal advice. When you think about it, advice is just the opinion of other people, which in itself is neutral and whose value may only be a function of the credibility of the person giving it. We’ve all learned lessons from “bad advice” and have been hurt by “good advice”, no? I am most moved by any words that encourage us to take chances, don’t take “no” for an answer if your internals are screaming “yes”, become comfortable with being uncomfortable, dream big and to be kind to each other.


QUESTION – Where do you see yourself in 5 years – then 10 years?

TROY – The 5 year vision for myself and Wall Street Bound is one where the mission will have been scaled with university and corporate partners outside of NYC and storefront proprietary trading rooms (envision the ticker tape next door to the bodega) with talent sourced and trained by Wall Street Bound are established in inner city “hoods” across America. In 10 years, Wall Street Bound and our “prop shop” social venture sister company, Prometheus Capital will be national and international organizations with Wall Street Bound continuing its mission to recruit and train underutilized and under-represented talent wherever it may be and Prometheus Capital trading rooms serve as community investment platforms that reinvest trading profits into the mission and local businesses, startups, real estate etc.


QUESTION – When you have lost your mojo or focus , what do you do to get back on track?

TROY – Take a break. For me, it’s where detachment becomes important and I’m reminded that it’s better to walk away than to try and force results.


QUESTION  – If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be?

TROY – “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle & “Just do it”


QUESTION – Thank you for taking the time for our readers to get to know you. How can our readers contact or follow you on social media?

TROY – Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a bit of my story and that of Wall Street Bound with your community. Everyone should feel free to reach out to me at, on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter at @wallst_bound

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More Interviews, Silvia Bellrock

Silvia Bellrock – Interview

460DFADE-4336-4AE8-836A-852614CD9F4AQUESTION – Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are, where you live and what is your current occupation?

SILVIA: Hey, sure, thanks for inviting me. My name is Silvia, and I am originally from Bulgaria but currently live in Germany and the United States. I stay active with real estate and other projects in all three countries and travel between those destinations most of the year.

Also. I am a full-time swing trader and investor in the stock market. This gives me a lot of flexibility to work around my other projects and allows me to earn an additional stream of income.


QUESTION – What and who got you into trading. How often do you trade?  And is it more day or swing trading. I guess what is your style and what do you trade?

SILVIA: Thats a good question 😊

A while ago I attended a lecture at business school, and the professor was telling us a story about George Soros and how he made Billions by trading against the British pound. I found the story so fascinating that same evening when I got home, I started researching for information about George Sorros and stock trading. For some reason, I knew right away I wanted to explore this avenue, so from that point on, I put together a plan to learn as much as I could about the stock market and see if I had the ability to earn an income from trading stocks.

I mostly swing trade stocks combined with some options trading for hedging purposes. I sometimes will day trade but not often. I found out this is not my strength. Not to mention it wasn’t conducive to my lifestyle like swing trading is.

My strategy is looking for strong stocks experiencing light volume pullbacks into multi-month support. I stick with high market cap stocks with substantial earnings growth that are favorites among Hedge Funds and Institutions.


QUESTION – What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

SILVIA: Regarding to my personal life, I grew up in Bulgaria, a place synonymous with economic hardships and a lack of financial growth and opportunity. People from that region have very little, and growing up, so did I. I knew my only chance at having a better life was to leave. It was a tough decision as my heart has always belonged to Bulgarian, and my family is there still, but it was a choice I had to make. So when I was 18 I migrated to Germany alone. I was so scared at first being in a foreign country with no friends or family unable to speak the language but it was an opportunity to better my future. It was a challenge as well to adapt and prove my qualities as a woman. Eventually, things came together for me after a few years. I think those times set me up and defined me as a person and the trader I am now. I never give up and keep working as hard as I can to achieve my goals.

From this experience, I learned that I might fail many times, but if I keep moving forward, I will ultimately succeed. As with most traders, when I started, I did lose money, I did get frustrated, I did wonder if I was cut out for this, and I did get stressed at times. However, I knew if I kept going and lived to fight another day, I would succeed and that I did.

I also had hard times giving up trading styles that are not working for me and focusing on strategies that are better fitting for my personal lifestyle and strengths. I am consistently swing trading but at the beginning I gave everything back while day trading. So I was basically swing trading to cover my day trading losses. It took me long time to realize, accept that and focus only on my swing trades.


QUESTION– How would you describe what makes a successful Trader?  Especially in the crazy times we are in now in the markets?

SILVIA: There might be too many to list, but for me, it is risk management and dealing with emotions.

If you fight with positions too much, you expend a lot of mental energy that leads to missing out on other quality trades. Not to mention, it kills your mood and motivation. I don’t think any trader can survive without a proper risk management plan in place. You may experience years of bull market success then encounter a correction like the one we see now, and there goes all that hard work you did. There go years of gains in a matter of weeks. Nobody wants to live that way. You also have to have a plan for that because you never know. I think you see now none of the so called experts predicted the coronavirus. Again, you never know.

Also, the way you react to losses is essential. New traders can easily take losses personally and get frustrated, and sometimes they may try to revenge trade themselves out of it, which makes it worse. This leads to even more losses and to not being able to trade without fear after a losing strike.For me, its just business. I have to take the risk to enjoy the gain. So I am okay with small manageable losses. It is the dumb losses that are unacceptable to me


QUESTION : What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

SILVIA: To be a successful trader, you have to have a balance in life. Too much screen time won’t bring you the clarity you mentally need.

I enjoy being out in nature, hiking, traveling, and I spend a lot of my time at the gym 😊. This helps me to detach from the markets and come back recharged.


QUESTION – What advice would you give to your younger self as it relates to your personal life. What about advice for your younger trading self?

SILVIA: A lot of people get into trading because they are not happy with their personal lives. They see trading as a way out – ironically trading starts to show results as you start to organize your personal life first.

My advice to new traders is to start small, take your time, and don’t rush it. The market will always be open. Trading is a process and a long journey, not an overnight success 😊


QUESTION – What good or bad advice do you hear often in life (or trading – or both)

SILVIA: Good advice. If you do something, you love you will never work a day in your life.

Bad advice- When someone tells me I can’t do something because they are hiding behind their insecurities.

I hear all the time trading is “too risky,” or it is gambling. I don’t look at it that way. I feel if you have a process, you are not gambling; therefore, the risk is calculated.


QUESTION – We understand you love Las Vegas. What are some of the hot spots (or hidden spots) that you recommend to our readers?

SILVIA: Haha, that is true, I love Vegas 😊

I am there often. I am not sure if I can recommend some hidden spots but I love the Restaurant “Cut” and also the Clubs “Hakkasan” and “Light”. Vegas has some very nice outdoor spots too like the Valley Of Fire, Lost Creek Falls and White Dooms Loop.


QUESTION – When you have lost your mojo or focus , what do you do to get back on track?

SILVIA: I always get my mojo back when I am in nature, and while I work out. Any form of physical exercise helps me to readjust. A girl needs that 🙂

Meditation helps me too. I meditate daily for at least 10 minutes, and this helps me to be more aware of my emotions and trading decisions.


QUESTION  – If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, what would it be.

SILVIA: Everything about life is a matter of probabilities. Don’t aim to be right, aim to be less wrong.


QUESTION: Thank you for taking the time for our readers to get to know you. How can our readers contact or follow you on social media?

SILVIA: Thank you, a lot it was my pleasure.

I am happy to connect with other traders on:

Instagram: SilviaBellrock

Twitter: @SilviaBellrock

StockTwits: SilviaBellrock


Silvia has just recently become a member at the Educational Trading Community…. where readers of this interview can get a FREE 3 day trial.   

Use the code: 7W607z16  for the 3 day free trial & if you then decide to join the community save 10%. Access via


J.J. @VwapTrader1 - Interview 2020, More Interviews

J.J. @Vwaptrader1 – Interview

F9D92229-917A-4BDB-94A2-478E479425E3QUESTION:   JJ so much it seems has happened in your life since you last completed your first interview with us. I do not know where to start. How about you explain your popular podcast you co-host with @AllxDayxRay called “Confessions Of A Market Maker”?

J.J. :I think people enjoy the podcast because I really don’t hide what goes on in the business. I think people appreciate knowing what goes on behind the scenes when their hard-earned money is at stake. Also, we like to use humor and keep things light while educating and bringing on some incredible guests thanks to Steve our producer. These guests bring a wealth of experience you cannot find in a book.  People like Linda Raschke and her husband Damon.   Harmel, who started in the mailroom and then built an empire.  That kind of insight is what I wanted to bring to the public.


QUESTION: If the podcast was not enough, we see you are also are part of the launch and unbelievable growth of the “Micro E-mini Educational Trading Room. Can you explain the concept, your target audience and future goals of the room?

J.J.: The concept of the micro futures room is to educate folks on how this whole beast works. I use the concepts of market structure to show people how markets are actually traded by size time frame players.  This is what moves price and we get some wonderful trade locations, risk and target locations from the market structure.  We are also able to tell a lot about who is in the market that day, what their intentions are so we can make intelligent trading decisions.   My goal is to keep the barrier to entry on trading education low and really help people make good common sense trading decisions. Trading is a business and a good understanding of things like inventory, front running, etc are very useful to traders in taking higher odds trades. My target audience is anyone who wants to trade with some good old fashioned common sense.  An example would be I was warning people NOT to short TSLA when the stock came off 900 down to the 735s.  The market structure was SCREAMING BUY not short.  The price rallied from 735s to the low 940s.  The profile showed how the selling just shut off.


QUESTION: You are a disciple of Market Profile. Many of our readers who are new traders may not understand Market Profile can you briefly explain why traders should take the time to learn. And is it good for equities (stocks) or just Futures & Commodities?

J.J.: Market profile is just a way of organizing order flow that has transacted.  To put it another way, look at it like looking at the sales in a store while the store is open.  You know who is buying or selling what and where.  It’s fascinating and the accuracy of it now given the algorithmic nature of execution is oftentimes to the tick.  Hey, if I can use this thing to find great trade location, anyone can. How handy would it be to know if you are short if there is going to be no more selling? If you are long to see when the buying dries up?  What if you could see when the crowd was trapped? Sounds crazy but like they said in the old days, “The tape never lies”.  Well same with market structure you can’t spoof, poof or moof it, TRANSACTIONS, not orders are what tell the tale.


QUESTION: For those who did not read your first interview. You have some background as a 20 year maker maker, now turn retail trader. Do you feel your background on the “other side” of the trade helps you now as an individual trader?

J.J.: I think my background on the other side has helped immensely.  I was shocked to learn how many people actually trade this market without having a clue of the mechanics of the system let alone the AGENDA that CREATES order flow.  Having taken or assisted in taking over 200 companies public, I have experience in actually CREATING order flow then feeding it into the market via the market makers and by generating retail interest.  When you have built a market whereby a client can sell two hundred million dollars worth of stock into, you get a good understanding of the mechanics of the system. Things like clearing and settlement are never discussed but have everything to do in equity trading and deal running.


QUESTION: What is one piece of advice you would give to new traders about trading low float penny stocks, considering you were often on the other side of those trades in the old days.

J.J.: My piece of advice to new traders who want to trade penny stocks and are looking for offshore brokerage firms to avoid the PDT rule is to drop that nonsense and learn to trade a real market using the micro futures.  There is no PDT rule, there are no borrows, (or fake borrows those OS firms charge you for) You simply click to short.  And you have the US government policing the markets and the firms.  The CFTC runs a clean shop.  The order flow and fills in the micro-market are wonderful, also there is no selling of 0 cost stock into the market from mysterious offshore companies(causing dilution).   Learn to trade the micro, a bad day is a 50 dollar loss.  You can basically learn to trade with training wheels.  Once you switch to Emini then you can build your account once you have learned how to trade well.  The low float game is a trap.  My old clients are buying 20 million dollar houses and flying around on private jets thanks to penny stock traders.  They thank you for being so careless with your money.   Keep trading the otc stuff, my clients can always use another beach house or Bentley, they are not shy!


QUESTION: What advice would you give to your younger self back then. Care to share one or two of your scars that have made you a better trader and person today.

J.J.: The advice I would give my younger self is unfortunately not to trust 99% of the people I did business with.  As the guy in Scarface says “Never underestimate the other guy’s greed” Let’s just say a LOT of people out there owe me more money than most people will make in a lifetime.  I am a very easygoing person and I trust my ability to generate revenue in whatever environment I am in.  So I just keep swimming like a good little shark is supposed to!  It’s all made me a better person, I have 0 regrets, it’s been a hell of a ride!


QUESTION: You seem to be a Wall Street history buff. If you had to have lunch with three characters from the past on Wall Street. Who would it be. And briefly why.

J.J.: Oh, I love Wall Street history,  U.S. Financial history is fascinating, the deals, the drama.  Vanderbilt vs Fisk with Erie Railroad, Harriman, Morgan. Diamond Jim Brady, Livermore of course, Baruch breaking into his own office to trade on European news when he forgot the keys.   But I would say, Jesse Livermore, James R Keane, and the Commodore, of course, Cornelius Vanderbilt.  Livermore just because he is our patron saint of retail trading.  Keane as I would love to sit down with the man who made a market in US Steel so Morgan and the crew could dispose of 500 million in stock in 1901! And of course, Vanderbilt who built the railroads, and ran the most beautiful stock corners, trading on just slips of paper he kept in an old cigar box.   More modern figures too such as  Sidney Weinberg who started at Goldman as janitor’s assistant cleaning spittoons then rose to CEO.   Ace Greenberg who I grew up admiring and of course Lewis Raneri, the reason I became a trader!  And a list is incomplete without  Steve Cohen.


QUESTION: Tell us something about your co-host and partner @allxdayxrayx (Ray D)that the general public may not know. You guys seem to be like the Odd Couple but with great chemistry together.

J.J.: Ray and I are an odd couple but the thing people don’t know is that underneath the jokes, he is a very insightful guy.  He has really helped me learn what people want in regards to learning.  For some reason, I thought everyone knew this stuff and he keeps me from forgetting the true needs of the people we are trying to help. Also despite the fresh prince of Bel Air exterior, he is very disciplined and picked up risk management first because of his poker background.  A huge advantage as everyone thinks about how much they are going to make, but never about the risk.


QUESTION:What motivates you both professionally and personally?

J.J.: What motivates me personally has always been a love of the markets and how we can learn from history and what these great men and women taught us before.  I have always in doing deals love the action of taking something public then afterward making a market for the stock.  Creating markets is what I love to do.  I love the process of creating demand then introducing supply. Since I no longer can take stocks from a dollar to 300 anymore I really enjoy helping people get the process, pretty cool when someone who has never traded after watching profile and learning the mechanics of the market start to pick out things I missed.  Helping people to get that first lightbulb moment when things start to click is a great feeling.  Trading is a marathon so it’s nice to have a few moments of clarity along the way, helps energize people for the next step.


QUESTION: What are your hobbies outside of trading?

J.J.: I love classic cars, motorcycles, boats, sailing, etc,  but lately I haven’t spent any time doing those things.   Also, I love all sorts of music especially Brazilian music, I am slowly learning Portuguese through music.  I speak French so it’s in the neighborhood.


QUESTION: What little known fact about you would people be surprised to know

J.J.: I think people would be surprised that I have friends from all walks of life, one of my buddies since we were 5, is a folk musician,  I have friends who are artists as well since I have no talent myself I appreciate art and music.  Huge opera buff, Wagner, etc.


QUESTION: What are you goals for the podcast and Educational Trading Room that you teach in?

J.J.: My goal for the podcast is to bring insight to our trading community from respected leaders so they share their insight with retail traders.  I was very lucky to have some really smart people teach and help me along the way. In the Trading Room, I really want people to have a fair shot. At least if they come in and see it’s going to be work we can get them on the way.  We don’t sell dreams but if you want success and are willing to put in the time, I will do everything I can to help out.  And if I don’t know the answer to something I will go find someone who does. I think if more people actually understood the business they would save themselves a lot of heartache.


QUESTION: Thanks JJ for taking the time for this follow up interview. How can our traders reach you on social media or your educational room website.

J.J.: Thank you for the interview,  My Twitter is @vwaptrader1 and you can visit us at

Brian Rivera, More Interviews

Brian Rivera – Certified CPA and Managing Member of Trader Tax CPA

9BBEE932-B5C8-4DE5-B8CB-72BAA77C52F8QUESTION – Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Q & A session. Before we start in detail. Would you like to share with everyone who may not know, who you are and your background.

BRIAN – Sure!  I’ve been a CPA for over 13 years now and love to trade the financial markets.  Both of these passions have led me to want to serve active traders in helping navigate the often confusing tax code!  The value Trader Tax CPA brings is we understand the day to day grind it takes to trade!  In addition I also actively serve in the US Army Reserve at the rank of Major.


QUESTION – What and who got you into accounting and specifically tax preparation for trader and investors?

BRIAN – When I enrolled in college I wasn’t 100% sure what exactly I wanted to do.  I attended college on an Army ROTC scholarship so my plan was to go active duty and travel overseas.  My junior year of college I interned at PWC in Los Angeles and this was my first taste of public accounting.  I eventually ended up requesting to go in the reserves to fulfill my military obligation and also jump start my career at one of the top firms in the country. I launched our CPA firm many years later but at its early stages our focus was mainly on small businesses and individuals.  Not to long after I also began to explore the financial markets for passive income and slowly began to learn about day trading.

One of my good trading buddies use to bounce tax questions off me and was like man a lot of traders could benefit from this knowledge!  Most CPAs and tax professionals are not educated on the complexities of trader taxation issues.  That was when the first seed was planted and it’s slowly grown to where we are today with Trader Tax CPA!


QUESTION – What personal or professional failure/setback have you experienced in your life or professional career that has set you up for later success?

BRIAN – I will never forget my first year working at a big 4 public accounting firm.  For those not familiar with big 4 accounting firms it’s essentially the “mecca” for CPAs and a place where many go to gain exposure to large public companies (Ernst and Young, Pricewaterhousecoopers, Deloitte, and KPMG).

My starting class was maybe 30 new staff and a question was asked during our training session on who we thought would “leave the firm first”.  Oddly enough my name came up first as most likely to leave first (which put a chip on my shoulder).  The turnover rate at these firms for first year associates is around 50% mainly because the significant hours worked (50-70 per week on average).  Needless to say, I ended up making it to manager and lasted 7 years.  On my last day with the firm there were only 2 people left from my starting class. Throughout my many endeavors in life I always strive to build a solid foundation. With proper foundation you can persevere through any storm.


QUESTION– Do you personally trade? And if so, what asset class (equities, options, futures, etc)?

BRIAN – I’m a firm believer that in order to be an expert or authority in any area you must immerse yourself in it.  I personally trade almost every day outside of peak tax season both equities and options. I have been doing this actively since late 2014.


QUESTION  What do you feel is the role in having a balance all around life in your day to day activities. What hobbies do you enjoy?

BRIAN – I recognize that there will never be the perfect balance in life but we strive to find the right equilibrium.  I like to make sure I’m sound mentally, spiritually, and physically.  What I can say through my personal experience is that discipline flows in all aspects of your life.   If you can start with one area it will spill into other areas; an example as simple as attending church every week or consistent daily exercise.

I try to treat every interaction with my wife, kids, and friends by being “in the moment”.  Often times we can be there physically but mentally somewhere else.  My favorite things to do are workout, travel, and spend time with my wife and kids!


QUESTION – What advice would you give to your younger self as it relates to your personal life? What about advice for your younger trading self?

BRIAN – Specific to life

Life throws many peaks and valleys your way.  Every valley you experience is not a bad thing.  The many trials and tribulations you face test your faith but ultimately produces perseverance.  We can always point back and reflect on the bad times because we “learned something” which makes us wiser and stronger.

Specific to business/trading:

I use to think the best learning experience is your own.  But now that I’m a bit older and wiser the best experience is learning from someone else’s experience.  Lean on the expertise of those who you consider a mentor.


QUESTION – What good or bad advice do you hear often in life (or trading – or both)?

BRIAN – This is great advice that was shared with me by a very successful business owner:

“Sometimes we start with a passion and settle for a paycheck.”

“If you’re not passionate about what you are doing then you bring passion into it.”

“If you can’t find passion in what you are doing it’s time to do something else. “


QUESTION – If you had to give a book/books as a gift to someone,  What would you recommend and why?

BRIAN – Most recently the last book I’ve read/listened to is Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins.  Very great read on self-discipline, mental toughness, and overall hard work.


QUESTION – When you have lost your mojo or focus, what do you do to get back on track?

BRIAN – That’s a great question!  I remember some years back at a military training exercise I remember going on a long ruck march with 40+ pounds in my rucksack. I recall my back hurting, blisters on my feet, sweating, and mentally ready to take a break.  We all have that “switch” that allows us to dig deep and “push through”.   So whenever I’m off track I just remember “one step at a time” and this moment will pass.


QUESTION  – If you could have a big billboard with your favorite saying or message on it, What would it be?

BRIAN – “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”


QUESTION – Thank you for taking the time for our readers to get to know you. How can our readers contact or follow you on social media?  And feel free to mention your tax preparation services and how traders can reach you directly to learn more.

BRIAN – Our firm can be reached at or tradertaxcpa on Twitter / Instagram/ Youtube.