Trader Habits is Born
Somewhere between feet firmly planted on the LaSalle Street Bridge and frantically treading the filthy water of the Chicago River, Eli Radke realized his life was about to change.
Now some folks who like to tell the story say that’s because it was the moment in which he learned his first great lesson of trading.
But Eli will tell you that thought didn’t come until long after he was out of the freezing water.
What was really going through his mind had much more to do with the “I think I might die” kind of life change.
You see, bridges are particularly symbolic for Eli. And yes, perhaps it is just because he once jumped off of one and ended up winning more than just a bet (He literally jumped into a new career. You can read the whole story over here). But it’s more than that. It also happens to be because bridges make a pretty great metaphor when it comes to visualizing the makings of a dynamic trader.
“I’ve had a lot of different interests and experiences throughout my life that have stretched me in opposite directions, but all of them have made me stronger and wiser,” he says. “It’s a lot like the way a bridge is sustained by the pulls of each of the support beams pulling from different angles. Without the beams, there would be no tension; without the life experiences, there would be no growth, no success.”
So that revelation that came after making it out of the river? In Eli’s words: “Success in trading is being able to trade tomorrow, that’s what real success is.”
Some days that means having the funds to trade. Other days, it means having the self-awareness to know your limits. And on especially tough days, it simply means remembering that as traders, we’re more than charts and numbers.
We’re human too, and all of us have many of the same challenges and experiences pulling at either end of the bridge, creating the tension and building the supports that keep it strong for each tomorrow. TraderHabits exists to be that reminder.
I literally jumped into trading. I got the money to open my first trading account from a bet involving the LaSalle Street Bridge and libations. I learned a lot from that moment about trading. First I negotiated the purse down from half the original amount; never give any of your trading account balance out of desperation. Secondly, never be in a situation trading when money becomes a factor. Most of the experiences in my life have helped me to shape my trading identity.
Playing college football has been the most significant force that shaped my trading identity. I am not one of those former athletes who say that if I had only not been injured I would have played professionally. Yes I did inherit my grandfather’s knees and after five surgeries there was not a lot of knee left. The truth is I was not good enough or more over I was not willing to do what was necessary to keep playing. That failure was one of the best things to ever happened to me. It was first time in my life that I wanted something and did not achieve it. When one door opens an infinite number open. After college, I moved to Chicago, it is probably similar to someone who does not know they want to be an actor moving to L.A. The truth is I moved to Chicago to work in the restaurant business and found trading in the best town to trade futures.
I stepped on the trading floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, it was amazing. It was like the first time I stepped onto the football field. The lights were bright, the energy was contagious, and I could see the emotion. Deafening silence followed by deafening eruptions, fear everywhere, not the type of fear from physical pain, it was more intense. I saw happiness, but that was bred from relief, I would understand later. The pain of losing, not money but their livelihood was everywhere. That should have scared me but it drew me closer. It was chaos but only because I did not understand it. It was like being in a dream. My initiation to the trading floor gave me a lot more information than I could grasp at the time. I was hooked; I knew that trading was going to be my singular focus. Unfortunately, it would all take a lot of time and cause me a lot of pain.
I was fortunate to be taken under the wing of some of the top traders at the CME. I later had an opportunity to pass some of that knowledge along to other traders as an educator. It turned out to be the perfect combination, trading and being able to teach others. I was able to give back, similar to the coaches that had helped me in my athletic career. Jumping into that river set me on the path to finding something that gives every fiber of my being purpose. Trading is not glamorous, it is not easy, it is scary, it can be taken from me at any time but there is nothing else I would rather be doing. If at any point you have any questions or do not understand something or question what I wrote please feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.