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Memoirs of a Minyan: Foul Play

By

The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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Jim was still a central player in our fund, which continued to struggle in the wake of 9/11. Not once during this period did he and I connect. We were still up for the year but the slow, steady grind of the fourth quarter took its toll, both on the fund and its stewards.

I didn't discuss TheStreet.com with my partners. They, like I, had more pressing responsibilities. I tried to let the situation settle despite my growing unease with the way it was being handled.

Each time I saw an advertisement that promoted "Todd Harrison's Trading Diary," I looked the other way.

With every email I got from a concerned reader who asked for the date of my promised return, I internalized the aggravation.

I actually convinced myself that I had put the entire experience behind me until I dialed into TheStreet.com conference call after they reported earnings.

After discussing top-line results, CEO Tom Clarke, fielded questions from the audience. Marc Cohodes, a well-known hedge fund manager and a large holder of TSCM stock, finally asked the question that everyone seemingly wanted to hear. "What happened to Todd Harrison and is he ever coming back?"

Tom paused before answering as I sat up in my seat and pressed the phone to my ear.

"Todd went through a lot and is experiencing emotional difficulties. We hope to have him back soon."

Trading Places

I was managing a $400 million dollar portfolio through a tsunami of terrorism. The last thing I needed was the CEO of a publicly traded company telling the world I was emotionally unstable.

I tried to focus my energy on trading which was a battle unto itself; the frustration was palpable as we clung to single digit returns. After eleven months, we had little to show for our efforts. I still had a hefty base salary to fall back on but that was supposed to be a buffer.

That's the fatal flaw to the Wall Street persona, the personal high water mark. Once you make five million dollars, anything less feels like a failure.

It's outrageously silly with the benefit of hindsight and the wisdom of experience but at the time, the mindset was gripping.

The junior staffers on our desk weren't as secure with their financial standing. I took that personally as most good managers do and promised them they would be taken care of.

Insiders at TheStreet.com whispered to me that subscriptions were considerably lower after September 11th and I couldn't help wonder if some of them wrote letters to my grandpa.

I felt guilty -- not happy, not validated, not vindicated -- but guilty. The welfare of those around me -- my traders, my readers and my family -- weighed heavily on my psyche.

I missed my column but didn't admit that to anyone. I set out to explore alternatives, another venue that would take the place of my once stable stage.

I was in need of a solution, a new beginning, something to stop the intense pain.

I wanted to create an alternative reality as an escape from the pain that seemed to saturate my soul and spirit.


Click here for next chapter of memoirs, "The Genesis of a Dream."

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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