6am, World Trade Center.
You exit the subway, walk over to Broadway and make the left onto Wall Street at Trinity church, noting the labryinth and graveyard where eventually, you'll spend some time. You pass the NYSE and across from it, the old Federal Reserve building with the heroic statue of George Washington. It begins to rain and you're hungry. You enter the atrium of the JP Morgan building which stands further down Wall Street, to seek shelter.
This is where you'll spend every morning for the next couple of years.
It is filled with metal garden tables and chairs. It is a good place to sit and have breakfast. It's bustling but hushed; the room is too large and devoid of objects to collect sound. Instead, you realize as you look up, all those voices and clicking heels, swishing coats and scraping chairs are lost to the ceiling.
But there is one man trying his hardest to be heard. You notice him standing next to an empty table speaking loudly, shouting even, to another man. He smells strongly of cologne and, like his friend, is wearing a blue shirt with a white collar and a yellow tie.
He doesn't notice you as you take a seat at the empty table and shake the rain from your coat. He's telling a crude joke about a girl he spent the last evening with who apparently, works with him.
He banged this chick; she was drunk. Somebody's sister. Somebody's daughter. Instinctively, you hate this man. But it's cool, you know who he is and you know what he's about. He doesn't know you.
You're invisible here as you settle into the belly of the beast and you slip an IBD out of your knapsack.
He banged the chick, he fucked her, left her place at 3am and ignored her the next day at work. Now he's laughing with his friend and he says he's going to fuck her again this weekend.
His friend has lots of gel in his hair. He's shaking his head. He's laughing at his friend. "Fuck her," he says and then changes the subject to golf.
It'd be so easy to fit in with these idiots, you think. The code is so simple: Follow.
But there is a different way. You put on your headphones and start reading the paper.
On this morning, your first morning since passing the Series 7, you feel very much like an outsider dressed in your casual clothing of jeans and a flannel shirt. It's okay, being an outsider suits you and you're not selling anything. Compared to the well dressed and oiled people streaming by, you look not only like a kid, but like a poor scruffy kid. What are you doing here?
You're competing. You're going to make your first trade today.
You circle symbols and highlight relationships you find in articles. You decide to check the profiles for AVY and RDN when you get to the office. Early on, these will be two of your favorite stocks to trade. You're looking for an edge here, in these printed words.
But your edge isn't in the IBD or WSJ.
You take a moment to zone out and look out the revolving glass doors at the front of the building. The loud guy is out there, confident like he's standing in his own backyard. But he's not the "best and the brightest." He's just a well-connected shit who's not humble enough for the stock market. A chauffeur opens a car door and he's gone behind the black tint. Probably off to the airport. Temporary sounds.
No, you think... your edge isn't in the IBD or WSJ. Your edge is in your desire to beat these guys. Indeed, there is a different way.
You read for another hour before walking down the block to the office on Water Street. You're thinking about the uniform, the loud guy, the girl, the game. You stop into an independent coffee shop next to your building. In a year, it will be bought by Starbucks. The followers are weak and strong at the same time. Crowds have power.
You need to learn how to take them apart.
You enter the office building, take the elevator to the fifth floor and step out into an antechamber. Looking to your right, you see a door that opens to a dark, quiet, mahogany-lined and brass-knobbed, Wall Street office. A soft chuckle escapes, a phone rings and then a man in a blue shirt with a white collar, wearing a yellow tie, slips out. The door to your left opens to a dusty, just sheetrocked, flourescently-lit space that is echoing and alive with the sounds of yelling and clacking keyboards.
The new trading floor opened only days ago and your computer is finally ready. Two guys speaking Russian exit smoking cigarettes. They look like gangsters and probably were just a short time ago.
You take off your headphones, walk into the impossibly bright room., and realize that you're never going to have a boss ever again... ever.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
6am, World Trade Center.