Full Disclosure: Reflections From the Front
Lessons learned and carried forward.
There is a certain ethos in Minyanville; all you have is your name and your word and honesty, trust and respect are the foundational constructs of any successful endeavor. I learned those lessons from my grandfather and they're the touch point of our community, a salmon to the stream of ever-increasing societal acrimony that seemingly surrounds the globe.
Through the years, I've written three columns of "Full Disclosure." The first was in January 2005 after I returned from a retreat in Arizona. It shared the story of a spiritual rebirthing, a shift in perspective from pain to promise. I wouldn't believe the particulars of that day in the desert if I didn't experience them; it was a powerful pivot point, a proverbial game-changer.
The second iteration arrived a year ago today when, after receiving a devastating phone call, I shared the following passage:
"Today is a profoundly sad day in Minyanville as we received word that one of our own -- one of our family--suffered a tragic accident. We are, above all else -- above the acumen, humor, humanity, education, insight or foresight -- a community. When one of our own hurts, we all hurt. When one of our own is in need, we are there to help shoulder the load.
"Out of respect for the family, I cannot communicate details and will ask Minyans not to inquire further on this matter. I will share more when I'm able and do my best to focus on the task at hand, heavy heart and bloodshot eyes notwithstanding. I will ask for your understanding, patience and empathy, as our greatest loss today has nothing to do with a P&L."
As I would post later that afternoon -- a full 365 days ago -- Professor Bennet Sedacca had passed. I remember that morning as if it were yesterday; I was loaded to the gills with upside exposure and anxiously awaiting the NCAA tournament. When I got the call, I immediately flattened my book and took the first flight to Florida. I missed a monster move and didn't care; the first round games began and I barely noticed.
On this anniversary of our fallen friend, I urge you to take some time and read the tributes posted on The Exchange below that column. Those who knew Bennet understand how much he would have appreciated those sentiments; as grizzly and gruff as he could be at times, beneath his exterior beat a heart of gold and a benevolence that underwrote his acumen.
The third disclosure column was scribed in October 2009 when I offered a nod to the cumulative consciousness and points of recognition as they spread throughout the societal spectrum. I spoke of the persistent fortitude, steadfast perseverance and proactive preparedness required of us all, from the inside-out, individually and collectively; society is simply the sum of its parts. While the market recovered in an astounding fashion, deep-rooted pain remained; much as it does today.
The Here and Now
One of our mainstay Minyan mantras is that we don't hide from our mistakes, we learn from them. While others brush errors under the rug in an attempt to save face, we put them on a pedestal for all to see. We're human beings with an interest in business, not financial robots programmed to print money. That is precisely why I told my tale; the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I recently received an email from a gentleman who expressed that he's been reading me since I agreed to fill in for Jim Cramer for a single session on Thestreet.com (TSCM) in July 2000. "You've really cost us a lot of money lately. I feel bad saying this because you seem like a good guy but your advice has been terrible; I'm a faithful and long-term reader but I'm not so sure I remain a fan."
I appreciated his candor and told him I own the thoughts I publicly share or privately trade. I also expressed, in a non-defensive manner, that there are two sides to this trade.
If he read me over the last decade, I said, he knew my aggregate batting average has been healthy -- calling the tech crash in 2000, maintaining "long energy & metals, short tech & financials" for a long stretch, predicting "a prolonged period of socioeconomic malaise entirely more depressing than a recession" in 2006 and strongly suggesting the financial industry was insolvent in 2007 before the wheels fell off the wagon. I left other examples out -- such as the seemingly obscene suggestion to short oil at $135 -- but reminded him I was one of the few bullish bents as we dangled in the abyss.
If that seems defensive or worse, like a post-rationalization, I assure you it's not. When trading, you're only as good as your last trade and when writing, you're only as credible as your latest words. I understand the path we arrive at pales in comparison to the destination we arrive at; heck, I've been scribing that particular vibe my entire career.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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