15 Years Later
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It began with a whimper.
Okay, first blog so be patient with me (as if anyone is actually reading this). Check my profile section to learn a bit about me and please send me any comment you have on anything.
And with those thirty-seven somewhat pedestrian words published 15 years ago this week, the forerunner to what I now call the Lund Loop was born.
If only Hemingway had lived to see it.
Looking back on that opening gambit is to cringe, with so much to unpack from so little, not the least of which was my decision to go with the pre-populated WordPress title offered up to millions of wood-be writers over the years.
Stars across the Milky Way or orphaned “Hello world!” posts, I wouldn’t want to wager a bet on which is more numerous.
The first sentence, so forced in its nonchalance, yet simultaneously needy, is a passive-aggressive masterpiece only matched in dysfunctionality by the second, which assumes this electrifying prose would compel readers to learn more about me.
Those that did had their minds blown once they were introduced to someone I like to call “edgy Brian.”
You may think at times that I am funny, obnoxious, insightful, rude, or just an A-hole, but hopefully you won’t be bored.
God, that’s edgy.
Of course, it wasn’t “Brian” back then, it was “ADD Trader,” a moniker that despite its juvenile nature retains a soft spot in my heart, if only because the anonymity it provided allowed me to overcome the cognitive dissonance surrounding what I was attempting to do.
Up until that late-spring day in 2007, the odds that I would ever write another complete sentence after high school was as long as they were that I would still be writing with any regular cadence a decade and a half later.
But circumstances forced me to break that post-graduation drought.
After selling my business in 2005 and plunging headlong into the world of full-time trading, I found myself with a problem.
Two problems to be exact.
The first was that I was overtrading.
Coming from the entrepreneurial world where you worked non-stop, 16-hours a day, I assumed that success in trading was equated with activity. The more active you were, the more successful you would be.
The second was that I was lonely.
Well, perhaps not lonely, but in a pre-social media world, certainly isolated.
Realizing that I had to slow down, be more selective, and trade a better quality of setups as opposed to quantity, I figured that writing would give me an alternative to sitting on my hands, while also potentially connecting me with like-minded traders and investors.
You have to be twenty-one to buy alcohol or a gun, but anyone can start a blog. There are no Surgeon General warnings or background checks but maybe there should be.
Writing is an absolutely torturous process for most people, and I was no exception.
Looking back now it’s a wonder that I wrote a second post, let alone the thousands that followed, never to have seen the light of day if not for the intervention of the then stranger, now friend, Phil Pearlman.
For a few years I fumbled around on the blog, trying to write about trading from a different angle (it wasn’t), with a fresh approach (debatable), and with what I thought was a rapier wit (see: delusional).
Then one day in late-2011, I got a phone call from Phil who was the Executive Editor of the StockTwits Blog Network.
“Hey buddy, I like you’re writing.”
“You’ve got a unique voice, it’s edgy,” he continued as I wondered how he’d got my number.
“Thanks,” I said, waiting for the punch line that never came.
“How would you like to write on the StockTwits Network?”
I’m a lazy, lazy man.
And in 2011 I was a lazy, lazy man who had absolutely no confidence in his writing abilities.
There was no way that I was going to join a group of writers that included Josh Brown, James Altucher, Howard Lindzon, and a dozen other future brands.
I wasn’t in their league.
But even then, I knew that the only way I could hack my failings and insecurities was to commit. Commit to more than I thought I could accomplish, achieve, or aspire to, and let my sense of responsibility slay those lesser demons.
I saw the word “Sure,” forcefully eject itself from my mouth. Saw it from above as if I’d astral projected to the ceiling.
This is the montage part of the movie - think ‘Blow’ or ‘Goodfellas’ - where we see the protagonist go through a series of milestones accompanied by a soundtrack of early 70s FM hits.
Over the next few years, I wrote for a wide variety of financial services companies, including TD Ameritrade, Yahoo Finance, Fischer Investments, and too many others to name.
I wrote for free, for pay, and for pleasure, each delivering its own form of satisfaction.
I prefer pleasure, where you’re more likely to get an email or a tweet telling you that what you wrote touched someone, but I can’t understate the sense of accomplishment – and sincere shock – that I experienced the first time I was paid in cold, hard fiat currency for putting pen to paper, or in my case, cursor to screen.
What once started out as a blog, became a website, and now is a newsletter that incorporates aspects of the previous two.
Throughout the last fifteen years, my writing has been schizophrenic at times as I tried to find my true voice, one moment adopting the minimalist approach of the previously mentioned Hemingway, the next, trying (too) hard to add flourish, panache, and a baroque quality a la Christopher Hitchens.
I’ve vacillated, writing strictly about markets one moment, then the next saying, “fuck it,” and going full-on personal.
I’ve sold my soul for the cheap high of clickbait in the form of listicles, linkfests, and SEO tripe, posts stuffed so full of keywords they broke Google’s algorithms, then, trying to repent and purify myself, turning around and writing densely packed 3000-word epics of vainglory.
I’ve also written pieces that tens if not hundreds of thousands of people have read without ever knowing I was the author. Buy me a good craft beer at an oaken bar someday and I’ll tell you more.
I’ve written some stuff that sucked, a lot of things that are good, and a few things that are great. In the end, I figure it averages out to decent.
Over the last fifteen years, I’d like to say that my writing process has improved, but it hasn’t.
Though I aspire to be the writer who starts work long before deadline, iterates, revises, and polishes their pieces as the muse gently guides them towards perfection, more often than not I find myself waiting until the last minute, then panic writing, a process that inevitably leads to an inspired premise, an average midsection, and due to time constraints, an abruptly truncated conclusion – something you will experience in the next few paragraphs.
And yet, here I am, after all these years, a writer.
To bastardize the words of Jim Young - Ben Affleck’s character in ‘Boiler Room’ - when referring to his millionaire status:
I am a writer.
It’s a weird thing to hear, right?
I’ll tell you, it’s a weird thing to say.
I am a fucking writer.
Picking up the drumsticks has brought me the most enjoyment in my life.
Having kids has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
Getting married was great, then okay, then not so great, okay, bad, really bad, critically bad, unexpectedly better, good, great, and currently the best it’s ever been.
But writing those first 37-words began a journey that without question has been the most positively transformative thing that has ever happened to me.
I don’t know what the Lund Loop will look like fifteen years from now.
All I know is that it’s not what it could have been, but not yet what it will be.
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