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The Vail Trail Chronicles: Part II

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As I surveyed the tables scattered throughout the tent and watched our community manifest, I'm certain that a slight smile crossed my lips.

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Click here to go back to The Vail Trail Chronicles: Part I

I walked into a packed breakfast tent at
7:00 AM on Friday to find hundreds of Minyans sporting black MV fleece vests. We take care of our own in the 'Ville and this year's shwag bag was chock full of goodies. The vests seemed to be the fan favorite as the mountain mist rolled up the hill and the morning content approached. As I surveyed the tables scattered throughout the tent and watched our community manifest, I'm certain that a slight smile crossed my lips.


(President Fish and Toddo sporting black MV fleece vests)

Jeff Saut started the first day's festivities with a fantastic keynote on the investment landscape and deciphering the market's message. I've known the savvy soothsayer for a few years and have always been struck by his foresight and ingenuity. I occasionally snuck a peek at the crowd in the packed theater and they were transfixed. I can't blame them-as Jeff walked through his themes (including homeland security and water plays), Minyans scribbled furiously in their conference handbooks.


(Jeff Saut)

Jeff also circled back to some vibes he shared with me when I first started Minyanville. To quote:

"The seventies were the decade of the product. We got out of school, bought our first house, our first car, our first television. We bought stuff. The eighties were the decade of the image. We wanted the bigger house, the boat, the Mercedes Benz. The nineties were the decade of experience. We went to Europe and brought back experiences rather than things. And now, this is the decade of relationships, be it the mechanic, the doctor or the financial advisor. Todd calls this 'community' and we are indeed speaking the same language."


The technical panel then took the stage and offered that we've got some near-term issues to contend with. I found it interesting that the panelists each use different methodologies but arrived at a uniform opinion. One of the snazzy panelists, a fellow I've got a slew of respect for, offered that he was looking for a meaningful bottom this coming autumn. We opened the room for Q&A and the theater morphed into the definition of an interactive experience.


("Charting the Course" featuring Scott Reamer, Rod David, Steve Shobin, Kevin Depew)

We broke for back-to-back breakout sessions. Laurie McGuirk and Greg Weldon held court for the metal heads. Woody Dorsey hosted a fascinating lecture on behavioral science. Bennet Sedacca packed the room with his asset allocation discussion. Neal Dingmann and Adam Michael walked through the energy patch. And Dr. Quin Mallette joined David Miller for some unique biotech buzz and banter.


(Laurie McGuirk with physical gold)

We returned to the main room for the second panel of the day, "Trading to Win" with Dr. Jon Najarian , John Succo , Todd Deutsch, David Perlin and myself. We talked about adapting your style to the market, measuring reward relative to risk, synching your time horizon and risk profile, the shifting dynamics driving the tape, compression in the marketplace, opportunities in sector rotation and stylistic approaches to making money.


("Trading to Win" featuring Jon Najarian, Todd Deutsch, Todd Harrison, John Succo, David Perlin)

Jeff Macke, Minyanville's West Coast Editor and the budding star of CNBC's Fast Money, delivered the closing remarks with some specialty store insights and witty, engaging prose. The toughest aspect of this retreat has always been balance and you could tell that the room was split as we finished up. Some wanted more dialogue, others were itching for afternoon activities. But we were all happy to be there, surrounded by people we trust and opinions we respect.


(Jeff Macke)

The afternoon offered a bifurcated agenda in honor of my pal Scott Reamer. Alotta folks holed up with Dr. Tom Hanson to learn how to trade in the zone and mentally prepare for success. Many others drilled down with Tom DeMark for a three hour seminar on his indicators. The feedback on both sessions was amazing as both left an indelible impression on those in attendance.

After a quick lunch, I dressed for MV Hoops and headed to the gym (yes, our squad won the round robin tournament). The duffers grabbed their clubs and teed it off, a golf tournament won by Neil Dingmann, Adam Michael, Alan Millstein and Farley (who somehow managed to play despite a multitude of mountain injuries). Others sunned, biked, hiked, rafted or spent the afternoon getting pampered at the spa. This was the other side of the trade, I thought to myself, the balance that is so very necessary in both business and life.



As the basketballs morphed to dodge balls, I had to hit the showers for a live segment on CNBC. Santoli, Macke and I (along with our fantastic publicist Keleigh) drove to meet the satellite crew atop Vail Mountain for some live coverage of the event. After Michael delivered his Barron's round-up, Macke and I were queried on the themes from Vail. Jeff spoke of the technical panel and some individual insights before the camera turned to me.


(Michael Santoli, Todd Harrison, Jeff Macke, Keleigh Thomas)

When asked what the "brightest minds in finance" were thinking, I offered that "to fully understand where we are, we must understand how we got here." I then offered that "there is a massive difference between legitimate economic growth and debt induced demand," a theme that is all too familiar to Minyan faithful. I'm not sure that it was the sound bite they were looking for but that's entirely alright. The market machination is an involved, multi-linear, complex dynamic and I'm not smart enough to sum it up in a single minute.



With the TV spot behind us, we four-wheeled it back to Cascade to ready for the evening activities. Thirty minutes later, the Minyanship arrived at the 4 Eagle Ranch and the thousand acres that surrounded it. We bound off the bus like kids at camp, some heading to the bar, others to the BBQ corn, others with their families to the horses, others to the quick draw competition, others for some roasted pig and many others to hear the band, which was spitting out Grateful Dead tunes on command.



Life was good, despite the storm clouds in the distance. We could see the rain as it approached, fork lightning and all. It was the first time I've ever seen a double rainbow-not one, but two prisms of light side by side. As the skies opened up, I walked to the middle of the ranch ala Lt. Dan sitting atop Forrest Gump's Shrimp Boat. "Is this all you've got?!?" I screamed with my arms in the air, "Is this the best you can do?!?"


(Double Rainbow)

As it would turn out, it wasn't-the storm thundered and dumped massive amounts of rain on the
Colorado plains. But, as luck would have it, the dinner triangle rang as just as the skies opened up. Serendipity? Perhaps--nobody seemed to care as we filled our plates with BBQ chicken, ribs, rice, veggies, corn bread and cookies.



With the band now inside and Minyans safely tucked under three large dining pavilions, I stood at the far doorway and enjoyed my first mindful moment of the weekend. There were Minyans for as far as the eye could see as laughter and conversation filled the air. Vanessa walked beside me and held my hand and I squeezed it in return. No words were exchanged, nor were they needed.

We won't discuss the particular details of the late night travails-what happens at MIM stays at MIM!-but suffice to say that 10,000 feet, three open bars, a great band and old fashion western costumes make for some strange memories. In particular, I can't seem to shake the image of Bennet Sedacca for reasons that may (or may not) find their way to the Minyanville archives.



Upon returning to the hotel, many opted for a night cap at the Cascade. Still others mustered the energy to head to Vail Village for some live tunes and local vibes. Minyan Paul Forsyth told me the following day that, as he sat in the lounge (sans badge), he overheard the management opine that Minyanville was the best group they've ever hosted. Initially, I thought they were talking about the bar tab but it soon became clear that they were pointing to our human capital.

Click here to read The Vail Trail Chronicles: Part III


R.P.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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