Memoirs of a Minyan: Foul Play
The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.
Chapter 13: Foul Play
Following the dislocation after September 11th, our makeshift offices were located next to a small airport in Rye Brook. Every time a private jet took off, we instinctively ducked as the engines reverberated our temporary trading desk.
It was an anxious and tenuous time but there was no quit in us despite the freefall that occurred in the market and, by extension, our performance.
I wrote all day, every day, while at the same time, trying to steady our fund. Jeff never said a word about my dual role -- he knew Jim wanted me to write and perhaps that had something to do with his patience.
When I wasn’t trading, I wrote; when I wasn’t writing, I thought about what to trade or what I should write.
I told my readers that we would get through it together and carried both roles for a few weeks before the load was heavier than I could bear. I slept three or four hours each night, if that. Given my persistent nightmares, I wasn’t sure that was a bad thing.
I had a fiduciary responsibility to my investors and that, more than anything else, prompted me to pick up the phone. I called TheStreet.com editor-in-chief, Dave Morrow and told him we needed to talk; I desperately needed to make a change.
“This is difficult for me to say,” I said, “But I can’t write ten to twelve daily columns anymore. I give you my word that I’ll do whatever I can but that probably means no more than four to five columns each day.”
“No problem,” he assured me with a southern twang, “We understand and appreciate whatever you can do.”
I hung up the phone and felt relieved yet guilty as I knew my readers would be upset. I went home that night and wrote a heartfelt, honest column called “The Passing of the Torch.”
I wrote hundreds of articles for TheStreet.com but that column was a particularly tender message. I spent hours manicuring the vernacular, combing through each word so that the message would come through loud and clear: I’m here for you but I will ask for patience as I get my life, my firm and myself to a place of relative balance and stability.
The column carried a difficult message with truth and trust. I sent it to the editors and prepared for the influx of emails that would surely arrive the next day. But the article never posted, the first time that ever happened.
I called Dave and he told me the readers couldn’t handle another loss. “They already lost Bill Meehan,” he said, referring to my friend and co-columnist who was in the North tower and died in the attack, “they can’t afford to lose you as well.”
Bluffing with Jokers
Jim wrote in his first book, Confessions of a Street Addict, that I was wildly emotional except when there was money to be made, at which point I was as cold as Saturn. The same mindset applied to this time in my life when despite valid reasons for incoherence, I was as lucid as I’ve ever been.
I gave my heart and soul to TheStreet.com and expected some latitude in return. Given where my head was at the time, I was in no mood to play games. I explained to my editors “This is life -- this is the world we live in -- I want my column posted as it was written and the readers deserved to hear it.”
It wasn’t simply a function of respect; it was the right thing to do. I forged trust with my readers through good times and bad and prided myself on my name and word. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom in a year and a half without communicating it to my readership.
Morrow wouldn’t budge and repeatedly told me that the column wouldn’t post. My patience wore thin and I told him that he had two choices -- post my column as it was written and I would continue to write whenever I could. Or he could sit on my column and I would tender my resignation immediately.
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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