Emotional Control for Success When Trading Currencies

Forex Foreign Exchange Rate
Stranger in a Strange Land, photo by A Syed, Midland, MI, United States

Guest contribution provided by Forex Traders

For many investors, learning the intricacies of investing is a continuing effort that focuses on expanding personal knowledge of the principles involved and on gaining experience at the craft. Unfortunately, many of these individuals tend to be unaware or just plain forget that the most important ingredient for success, the third “leg of the stool”, is emotional control.

Understanding the psychology of trading and acting upon its precepts are often easier said than done. Not only must one react properly to the “socially-driven” movements of the market, but one also must be aware of his personal tendencies and how to prevent his mind from undermining his well-thought out trading strategies.

Studies in the field of trading psychology have confirmed time after time that our subconscious mind, programmed from birth by our personal external experiences, can often become our worst enemy when trading in a stressful environment, especially when real money is on the line and the fear of loss is present. These conditions exist in all investing markets, but the intensity is heightened when trading currencies in the forex world. Time frames are compressed. Market reversals can be swift, and successful traders must be technically nimble and decisive in asserting their trading plans.

If truth be known, behavioral dynamics actually are the contributing factor that make our markets tradable in the first place. When major currencies were allowed to float back in the seventies after years of regimented central bank control, finance officials reacted with amazement to the level of volatility in the forex markets. Each currency pair developed its own personality, fluctuating daily well beyond previous standards that had been maintained for decades following World War II. The interpretation of fundamental and technical factors can vary by individual, and these varying opinions are what lead to wavelike market patterns before a consensus equilibrium is reached.

For the individual trader, psychological factors manifest primarily in an inability “to pull the trigger” before opening or closing a forex position. This “hesitancy” can result from several causes, but the most probable reasons fall into two categories. First, a lack of confidence when applying trading principles to react to various patterns and trade set-ups can stop a trader in his tracks if he lacks experience in how he trades and in the methods that he has been taught. More practice trading on free demo accounts is the recipe, as most experienced and successful traders swear by their practice regimens.

The second reason can be termed “performance anxiety”. Fear of loss or accountability can wreak havoc on a trader’s mind. Your subconscious mind is a storehouse of many uncomfortable experiences, accompanied by coping responses that will prevent a recurrence of the previous trauma. Opening a position can generally be a more positive situation, invoking hope for future gain and displaying assertiveness when confronted by a particular market situation. Closing that position can be quite the opposite set of events. Should I or shouldn’t I? When do I pull the plug? Why now and not later? Suddenly, the threat of poor performance results in hesitancy and procrastination, a recipe for failure in the world of forex trading.

So what is a trader to do? Trading simulation systems are the only way to gain the necessary confidence and consistency with your individual training plans, but the “cure” is more about extensive practice routines to “habitualize” your step-by-step trading plan. Creative visualizations also help to define exit “triggers”, but a trusted and disciplined routine is the only known method for preventing unwanted mental intervention in the course of trading positions. And keep in mind that, even if practice accounts and theoretic trading are great for learning, they have many limitations and do not necessarily reflect real market conditions.

Google Analytics Track Adsense

Bottom line up front: Create a new Google Analytics account for every website domain, unless you want to track your Adsense clicks in Analytics.

After attending Affili@SYD 2011 last week, I decided to review all my web properties.

I don’t consider myself an affiliate marketer, I’m more an e-commerce and traffic guy. But I’ve had moments of success over the years.

The first step of the review is to benchmark my properties and get a picture of their current state. Some have been sadly neglected over the years so I’m dusting them off and giving them a lick of TLC. Google Analytics provides some wonderful benchmarking tools for this.

Βest-practice is a one  Google Analytics account per domain. Any subdomains can then be set up as a filter or a profile under that account. My old web properties were created with a new profile under my main account.

Analytics profiles cannot be moved between accounts. A separate account for each property lets me sell a property and “unhook” its Analytics without losing all the historical data.

I also want to run  Google Adsense on the revitalized domains and track ad effectiveness through Analytics.

Unfortunately Google currently allows only one AdSense account linked to one Analytics account.

So for now it means the smaller properties must reside in my main Analytics account if I want to track Adsense with Analytics as I don’t want multiple Adsense accounts.

Once a property gets traction and significant traffic on it’s own I will then create a new Google Analytics account for it. I’ll disconnect the history and lose the ability to track it’s Adsense data in Analytics, but I’ll be better able to use the reports in Adsense with more traffic.

Making excuses

My daughter is 11 and it seems she is always complaining or making excuses about why she didn’t do something perfectly. I think she is a perfectionist and the complaining acts as a relief valve for her emotions.

I want the best for her, and tend to “coach” when I should just listen and be empathic. However complaining to me is fingernails down a blackboard. I react first then think about the true message next. There must be some fear that my kid will grow up making excuses for failure.

This piece could go that success has on no excuses. I believe that. But do I also believe “No pressure honey – just be perfect”? We succeed through failure. Making mistakes is what leads to success.

Instead I wonder about the excuses I make. Surely if children do it, we all must. And I must be really good if I think I don’t.

Well I’m 10kg overweight. There’s plenty of excuses in that part of my life.

What excuses am I making in my marriage? My business? My friendships? My professional life?

So I’ll give myself 45 seconds to be bummed out by the realisation I’m not perfect. Now I pick myself up and choose 3 things I will make no excuses for in January 2011. Today I will do something about 1 of those 3.

Hat-tip to Rich Stoner at Elite Basketball Training for blogging about Thinking of Making Excuses.

Warhawk Matt Scott in Nike “No excuses” commercial

Finance for SME’s

Many people complain that banks don’t support Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. However don’t expect politicians, economists and bankers to come up with the solution to problems besetting SME finance.

Residential mortgages are cheap because the risks are relatively easily defined and standardised. Except when they were securitised into some bastard demonic child and sold off without any link to their underlying risk or value.

Each business owner would say her business is unique. Thankfully trade and receivables finance has grown and is “not your father’s factoring” anymore.

SME’s must seek out these smaller financiers whose skill and systems allow them to move faster and understand SME risk better. While receivables finance costs more than a residential property secured loan, that is because Australians will do almost anything to avoid losing their home. Therefore the risk to the financier is lower.

Dick Smith sold out the first time to Woolworths because he didn’t want to put his house on the line, again, to fund another round of expansion.
At some point every entrepreneur must resist putting the family home on the line for access to the cheapest funding. If your business can’t afford business finance then improve the business don’t take the cheap funds.

Waiting for any “pillar” of the economy to step into this space is a long shot.

Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR)

I want a Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). That’s an electronic record of my current and historic health status, under my control and private to me and the health carer’s I select. Think of it as all your health records in one place in case you ever need it.

It turns out my family needs it. My medical records are scattered in the archives of various specialists and GP’s over the years. I used to believe doctors were the experts and they’ll let me know when I need something. Unfortunately, that means they know as much about me as they can assimilate from a quick scan of my file whenever I drop by. Being male, they don’t see me too often. I’m told I suffer from high cholesterol, but I don’t know the pattern of my tests over the years. Now I take some medicine to fix it, but it’s hardly an integrated, holistic and preventative care plan.

My mother is aging, my daughter has an undiagnosed chronic condition. In both cases we’ve left it to the experts to guide us. But as keepers of the medical records I’ve allowed doctors to cater to the lowest common denominator of health care.

So the first step is gathering all my records to one GP. Then I’ll want a copy of my records. While I’m at it I’ll get my family’s records done.

The federal Australian Government has funded NEHTA National E-Health Transition Authority to get this process going. Like most bureaucracies they seem to take forever to get something everyone is happy with. So we’re looking at 3 years to implement the “government’s e-health strategy”. I don’t want to wait that long.

What’s wrong with release and revise? Quick constant beta-releases. I understand privacy, interoperability, and transmission issues. But the basics of what a PCEHR should like and a standard to allow tools to be built shouldn’t take 3 years.

I’ll write more on this as the journey continues.

I’m almost tempted to launch a startup to deliver this stuff.

Trademark, Copyright and Intellectual Property

People get confused between copyright and trademarks. The area of law is called Intellectual Property (IP).

Copyright protects the expression of an idea. This includes spoken, written and audio-visual expressions. Hence books, movies, documentaries, photos, recordings, paintings, articles, drawings, poems, songs and music are all covered by copyright (subject to the creators jurisdiction).

Trademarks (and service marks) are a distinctive sign, logo, word,  phrase or indicator used to indicate a good or service comes from a specific individual, company or group as opposed to some other source. It is designed to give consumers confidence in the quality and reputation of a good or service.

Many people say “Monster cable” is copyrighted when they actually mean it’s trademarked.

Trademarks were invented to prevent unscrupulous merchants passing off an inferior tradesman’s work for a more reputable work. So master tradesmen would make their mark on the item they’d made indicating they had approved it’s quality and finish, much like a master painter signs his work.

Really good and expensive work attracts counterfeits. Wanna purchase a watch?

Trademarks don’t have to be registered, but it’s a good idea. Then other similar trademark holders can object and everyone does the intellectual property dance.

It is supposed to be nearly impossible to trademark something generic such as the word “Elite”, but large IP practices seem to get them registered. Often a registration is canceled  on appeal for being too generic or if found to be in broad use by many people.

If the name is a range identifier as opposed to the main brand, and it is not attempting to pass itself off as another brand, then trademark registration is either not worth defending or too generic. So Kogan is releasing the Elite range and Panasonic also has an Elite range. Nobody is going to think they come from the same company.

My preference  is brands, ranges and models be uniquely named as it makes searching for them so much easier.

Serving on Community Service Boards

Many business people give back by serving on community service boards. This is a great way for worthy organizations to gain from your enthusiasm, skills and talent. It also helps grow your network of advice and support people.

Board members of community service organizations have legal responsibilities just like for-profit corporate boards. If you want to be effective, learn the rules. For most service organizations the rules are laid out in the constitution and applies to formal board members or “committee” members. Too many people don’t look at this document until it’s too late. I’ve seen active Not-For-Profits that have not held an Annual General Meeting for 3 years because the board blindly followed what the previous guys did. But someone forgot to have an AGM.

Some constitutions are hard to read, in that case consider updating the constitution to plain English. The existing constitution should have provisions for making changes.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the contents of the constitution.

I am advising a non-profit organization on a internal members dispute. That’s one advantage of my background in Alternative Dispute Resolution and consulting. Sadly it means I spend too much time with people who are in the middle of arguments. Getting the emotion and heat out of a dispute is the best way to win a satisfactory resolution. That outcome may be Win-Win, Win-Lose or even Lose with damage mitigation.

This nonprofit organization had to spill its board but encountered two problems. Firstly most board members relied on their Chairman to explain this board removal process outlined in the constitution. Not enough of them checked the details themselves. Secondly the process they followed was mostly right. Had they read the constitution, they could have quoted the clause under which they acted and worded their resolutions better. Now they’ve got a vocal and unhappy minority who are threatening legal action because of some unclear wording.

Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing

Bill Wyman wrote a wordy, erudite and brilliant two-piece article at splicetoday.com entitled Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing (and part 2). While I haven’t blamed editors and journalists in my post Business Model for News, I do agree with Bill’s assessment of their culpability.

Bill’s piece has received some play and is well worth a read to see what excess playing to Wall Street’s demands can get you.

The major take-home for me was his suggestions for the future. This part has been pretty much ignored in the discussion so I’m reproducing it here. I’ll remove it if Bill or Splice Today want, but it’s a great manifesto to build any business by.

If I were running a chain of papers, here’s what I’d do:

1)    Go hyper local; devote all resources, from reporting to front-page space, to local news. No one cares what the Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch has to say about Iraq.

2)    Redesign the websites to present users with a single coherent stream of news stories and blog entries. Create simple filters to allow them to tailor the site to their preferences.

3)    Tell the union you won’t be touching salaries, but that all work rules are being suspended, including seniority rights. Tell all reporters that they’re expected to post news if word of it reaches them in what used to be thought of as “after hours.”

4)    Get out of the mindset of “nice” coverage. Tell the reporters to find the “talker” stories in town—development battles, corrupt pols, anything with a consumer bent. Monitor web traffic to find out what people are interested in. If a particular issue jumps, flood the zone. Make each paper the center of every local debate, no matter how trivial, and make finding and creating those debates the operation’s prime job.

5)    Create chain-wide coverage of all areas where it can be done. It’s sad, but it means laying off a lot more film critics and dozens of other duplicated positions. For such positions, do this. Hire two people to cover the beat for the chain. Make them into sparring partners, arguing about each new TV show, movie, CD, traveling Broadway show, concert tour etc. Get out of the business of being promotional. Give your readers sharply argued opinions, something fun to read they can’t get anywhere else.

6)    Create local listings second to none. Create them from the users’ point of view. Don’t use abbreviations. Overwhelm users with insider information that only locals know; where to park, where to sit, when to go, etc. Get rid of all the site navigation levels no one cares about. Put the information people want front and center.

7)    Devote as much manpower as possible to creating must-read local news blogs. Tell the bloggers to work the phones and IMs, finding out about every personnel change, every office move, any tidbit. Support and cite local bloggers in the same areas. Yell at staff members if they are consistently being scooped by (unpaid) competitors.

8)    Create and maintain a wiki designed ultimately to function as an encyclopedia for the town, from neighborhoods and politicians to every retail establishment. Let it become the ultimate guide to the area. Like Wikipedia, it will inevitably contain information that is controversial. Cover the controversies with alacrity.

9)    Serve the community. Don’t publish crap. Tell folks stuff they might not want to hear. Grow a pair.

Bill Wyman is a cultural critic and author of the blog Hitsville. He can be reached at hitsville@gmail.com.

Business Model for News

Rupert Murdoch has created a stir with his intent to charge for content. Dave Earley wrote a great piece at Earley Edition explaining how it won’t save news media’s business model.

What is the core business of news media? They are not in the business of “reporting the news”. News media’s business is to aggregate an audience to deliver to advertisers. That is why celebrity tabloids sell – the perceived quality of the “product” only affects the demographics and size of the audience. But in reality the audience is the “product”, journalists and producers are the manufacturing team. The sales team are supposed to be the rain makers. But news media believes their own manufacturing-oriented PR that their business is “the news”.

If news media companies are to thrive under a pay-for-content business model they must now do two new things well for sustainable competitive advantage. Firstly they must deliver compelling content, now mixed with rights management and security that does not interfere with the reader experience. Secondly they must become expert subscription marketers – better than Time Life or Readers Digest. Because the internet is littered with the corpses of companies who believed “if you build it, they will come”. If your business depends on paid subscription you had better become outstanding at the skills to deliver subscriptions. Dave Earley said

It is worrying that users will now be made to pay for news simply because marketing departments are unable to make online advertising work.

Sadly this is typical of sales and marketing reactions in a mature market, it always looks easier to chase the next big thing rather than get great at your core business. If their marketing departments can’t sell online advertising (B2B) how are they going to develop the skill to convince people (B2C) to pay for something they’ve previously got for free? I wouldn’t take that bet.

News media is like the buggy whip manufacturers complaining their markets are shrinking because cars have replaced horse-drawn carriages. Nobody promised newspapers a perpetual license to make money. Evolve or die.  Get good at your real, core business.

Rupert, baby, deliver an audience to your customers.

Wealth is created between your ears