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The Minyanville Mission: An Interview with Todd Harrison


People who are good at what they do, but better at what they are.

Todd: Later that year I started talking about my grandfather because he was very sick. I would leave for Florida every Friday at 2 o'clock to hold his hand. I eventually mentioned my experience because I was getting enough emails from people who thought I was a slacker and skipping out every weekend to go enjoy myself.

To correct them, I communicated what I was doing and my feelings about my grandfather. The amount of feedback was astounding! We had gotten messages from people I had never known or spoken to. We would print out and read thousands of letters to my grandfather on his deathbed.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, that was the genesis of Minyanville. It was just a very powerful medium that emerged from a very difficult experience. Fast-forwarding to the next year, my grandfather had passed away and then 9/11 hit me right between the eyes. After 9/11 we went out and created a home for Hoofy and Boo [the Minyanville mascots].

Our goal was to effect positive change through financial understanding. And that came from 9/11. It is hard to believe that it's been 8 years ago already! But our mission has been a labor of love and it's something I'm very passionate about -- luckily, because if there was one less ounce of passion, I don't know if we would've made it through what's been a very difficult economic environment.

Damien: I recently did an interview with Mike Bellafiore at SMB Capital. He said he remembered you taking time off to be with your grandfather during the wild markets of the dot-com era, and he especially remembered how you were a person of character who reminded readers that the markets will always be there no matter what was happening in your personal life. Can you share more about that time and the importance of remembering that the markets will always be there?

Todd: Absolutely. This is the subject matter of my e-book Memoirs of a Minyan that publishes every Wednesday at Minyanville. I discuss the false idolatry of money, how I was programmed as a child to believe that net worth was very important, and that validation could be found at the bottom of a bank account. That was what I aspired to growing up as I went through college and found my way onto Wall Street. I was just chasing that cash register for the first part of my career at Morgan Stanley, Galleon, and Cramer Berkowitz. When I got to where I wanted to be, I realized there is a very big difference between having fun and being happy. I had a lot of fun, but I wasn't necessarily happy.

Many times at Minyanville I talk about things in a stream of consciousness. After losing my grandfather and experiencing 9/11, I created Minyanville as a parallel universe void of any pain -- a place to where I could escape. I often forget people are on the other side of the screen reading my stream of consciousness.

You can't say money doesn't matter because it does. But I can tell you from experience that if you're looking for validation at the bottom of a bank account, you're missing the bigger trade. The knee-jerk reaction for a lot of people would be, "Well, that's easy for you to say because you've got money. Once you've made your money you can have that perspective."

What a lot of people don't know, but will ultimately learn as more chapters of Memoirs of a Minyan get published, is I actually made a lot of money. I had those multiple-figure paydays. But I also lost a lot of money. I took my life savings and poured it right back into Minyanville. I got to the point where my advisors told me to shut everything down because I was going to be insolvent. But I had tenacity, perseverance, and a will to succeed. Failure was not an option.

So, I've arrived back at a place where I don't make the type of money I used to -- not anywhere close. However, I'm wealthier in many more ways than ever. It has nothing to do with the car I drive or the house in which I live. It has to do with the meaning of life being a life of meaning.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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