Shut The BleEp Up Until…

…you know what you are talking about. Even though this quote of a teacher made the most impression on me, I don’t remember his name. I’ve never forgot this and until the day of today I always try to keep that in mind when it comes to situations where people can experience any harm. Be it physically, mentally or financial.

A couple of years back I was day trading in stock options. I had a real-time connection with the AEX and when the stock market opened, I sat in front of my computer with my on-line trading application in front of me. At the same time I was watching the financial news that was broadcasted on the Dutch channel RTL-Z.

I had studied all kind of books and manners to analyze the markets. Had made diagrams and spreadsheets to optimize the moments to jump in and out of my options. I knew everything about it.

Sometimes I was laying awake in my bed, starring at the ceiling, unsure how long the ceiling that I’m starring at would still be mine. This where the days when I made commitments to deliver stocks I don’t even owned but where I wrote call options for.

Every time when someone asked me if that wasn’t risky, I told them that I’ve had a calculable risk. As long as I knew what I was doing I was for the full 100% aware of the up- and downside of every deal. This was nice to know for the people who seemed to be worried about my activities. What I didn’t tell them was that sometimes the calculated risk was just easy as that: losing my house overnight or not.

According to my calculations this couldn’t happen of course and it didn’t. Sometimes I lost a little. Sometimes I earned big. In de end everything stayed just the same. Without betraying myself I was calculating one day that I hadn’t earned and hadn’t lost anything. This was the day that I stopped.

You could wonder why I didn’t went ahead doing this. There are a lot of people who succeed (think in pre-crisis times please) and a lot more who just losing their money. When I look back nowadays I can say that I exactly knew what I was doing and I didn’t exaggerate when telling so to anybody. But afterwards, when I thought about that I had earned nothing, it wasn’t more than logic to stop this shit.

Sometimes I earned 500 bucks a day. The price for this was laying awake with sorrows. And as I said, in the end I didn’t earned anything. There are not many brokers who would admit that. Most of them just tell you when they won a couple of thousand bucks in a week. Otherwise they won’t tell you anything.

However, in the meantime you could ask yourself why I’m telling you this and what has this to do with shutting up until you know what you are talking about.

Occasionally there where people on forums or people I met in private who knew about my skills in the option market. They could afford much higher risk than I could and they wouldn’t lay awake starring at the ceiling. At least not with the thought in mind who was the owner of the ceiling in the next week. They maybe would have lay awake due to a frustrated sex life. But this is maybe a item for a future post.

Some of this people asked me if I would do some option-magic for them with their money. They said that they had trust in me and my abilities. Of course I had certain abilities but I always denied by saying: “If I make money for you, I’m your hero. If I make you lose money, I’m the devil.”

Was this all about my reputation I feared to lose? You could see it this way if you like but I just saw it as responsibility. People, even if they say that a loss of a couple of thousand bucks wouldn’t mean much to them, could get harmed financial. I couldn’t do that. There was no magic involved, even though I studied all this books and I knew the exact rules of the option market and how everything worked. I just couldn’t predict the future. My analysis could be totally wrong. Reality could care a shit about my graphics and numbers. In fact I wasn’t for the full 100% sure if I knew what I was talking about, as it would have involved real magical skills. If you know me a little you know that I don’t look like Harry Potter.

It is very important not to give advice or a helping hand without knowing for sure what you are talking about. You have to know the outcome. OK, a surgeon never knows if the patient will wake up from the narcosis, but he always attend his patients on the risk before they undergo a surgery.

A while back I had tenants who hired rooms in my home. One of them was a woman who earned money by laying Tarot-cards for people and predict the future for them. It was amazing how many people came to her for this. No matter how I think about this, I found it OK as long as she paid her rent and didn’t harm anyone with what she was doing. What could go wrong with laying Tarot-cards on a table and tell somebody about his future?

In first instance I would have said that nothing can happen. Just as you would. I have to add here, that this woman had suffered in the past (and probably still does suffer) from a psychosis. She thought that she had higher powers than normal human beings and was kind of enlightened. OK, if she believes this, that’s great for her, even if I think that she’s just insane and somebody should take care of her. She also suffered from a depression in the past and stopped using her anti depressive medications from one day to the other without talking to her doctor. But, oh yeah I nearly forgot, she had higher powers and her doctor was just a normal human being.

So far you could tell that she was at maximum a danger to herself, but she wasn’t. More than a year back I made an end on her contract and she moved to another place. I heard that she went on with laying Tarot-cards for people and predict the future.

Nothing wrong, but one day there came a manic depressive client to her. After a couple of card-laying sessions she had his full trust and he seemed to be convinced that everything she told him was the right thing to do. Thus he stopped using his medication immediately when she told him to do so. The result was that this guy committed suicide short after that.

This was the last time I had to think on my old teacher saying: “Shut the fuck up until you know what you are talking about!” I hope that more people remember this little sentence and realize what impact a wrong advice can have. It’s not just a big compliment when people trust you, it also lays a certain burden of responsibility upon your shoulders. Consider this!

Have a nice day ahead!

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