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Memoirs of a Minyan: Foul Play

By

The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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After a tense exchange, Dave would not relent. I watched the crimson array of flickering ticks on my screens, weighing his words.

"Dave, this isn't about my ego or page views. This is about trust. If I go, I'm not coming back."

I didn't want to leave and secretly hoped he would back down.

I could tell the pressure was beginning to get to him. As the editor-in-chief, he was responsible for content and measured by the traffic it generated.

For me, in the midst of million dollar swings, nervous employees, stressed partners and lost friends, bartering with an editor -- who had no leverage because I never signed a contract -- wasn't a source of stress.

"You won't resign," he said boldly, "you want to be the next Jim Cramer!"

"No, Dave," I said matter-of-factly, "all I ever wanted to be was Todd Harrison."

The phone sat silent as he weighed his options. "Listen Todd," he said, "don't make an emotional decision. This has been a rough few weeks for you." He was right but I didn't respond, opting instead to wait for his next move.

"We're not going to run the column. I'm the editor-in-chief, it's my decision and this is what I've decided."

"I quit," I told him without missing a beat, "I wish you the best of luck."

His response was one that I'll never forget.

"Congratulations, Todd," he said, "you'll never write in this town again."

He slammed down the phone as I turned to Jeff and locked eyes. I was a pure trader again and a part of me was considerably relieved by the lesser load.

Somewhere in the back of Jeff's mind, I'm quite certain he was as well.

The Jedi Mind Trick

I only wrote for a year and a half but the process was part of my daily routine. No matter the mood, regardless of circumstance and without interruption, I shared my thoughts each day on TheStreet.com.

Some days were easier than others but there was steady consistency. Every move I made and every shift in my outlook was communicated with the world.

My photo remained on the website above the words "Todd Harrison's Trading Diary" for weeks after my resignation. It bothered me but I had bigger fish to fry in the form of a bleeding book that suddenly gave back the better part of our year.

I missed writing but there was plenty to keep me occupied. White powder found in a post office, fresh threats of imminent attacks, those damn planes shaking our office every fifteen minutes. It was a surreal sequence of events during a dark time for the world.

My inbox filled with emails from concerned readers. I had an unwritten rule that if someone took the time to write, I would give him or her the respect of an answer. As it turned out, that was my only connection to the audience, a microcosm of the subscribers that read me daily. I was silenced without so much as opportunity to say good-bye.

My readers forwarded me exchanges they had with TheStreet.com where the editors assured them I was on sabbatical and would soon return.

After digesting my earlier discussions, I understood why they did what they did. They made decisions they believed to be in the best interest of their company. It's not what I would have done but it wasn't my business and I normally wouldn't get involved.

But this was different -- these were my readers and I viewed what TheStreet.com did as ethically unacceptable and morally askew. I didn't want to be associated with their brand.

Not with regard to my name and not when it came to my word.

True Colors

I called Dave Morrow to vent my frustration and found a new attitude on the other end of the line. "You just need some time to relax," he told me, "take that time and come back when you're ready." I could tell he was catching heat for the rift but it was a moot point.

"I told you Dave, I don't work with people I don't trust." I left it at that, despite the nagging realization that my readers were getting the short end of the stick.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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