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Memoirs of a Minyan: Sign of the Times

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The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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Editor's Note: "Memoirs of a Minyan" is a first-person account that follows Minyanville founder Todd Harrison as he weaves his way through Wall Street and beyond. This e-Book will publish each Wednesday over 18 weeks. Click here to read previous Memoirs chapters.


Chapter 10: Sign of the Times

It was late 2000 and we were riding high at Cramer Berkowitz when Jim Cramer asked if I would join him at TheStreet.com conference, followed by dinner with Gene Hackman.

I jumped at the opportunity to break bread with one of my favorite actors and told him I would go if I didn't have to make a presentation. Writing was one thing but speaking in front of thousands of people wasn't something that interested me. He promised me I wouldn't have to and so I happily tagged along.

The grand ballroom at the Marriott World Trade Center was packed; I had never seen anything like it. Investors swarmed Jim during the cocktail hour looking for stock picks. My nametag remained in my pocket as I tried to remain invisible.

Jim gave the keynote as the audience furiously scribbled tickers on their notepads. I watched him work the room. He's good, I thought to myself, a masterful marketer.

During the Q&A that followed his speech, someone asked a question about option pricing.

"You know," he began, "I can answer that but I have someone in the room who trades options better than anyone. You all know my head trader, Toddo "Cookie" Harrison, right? Why don't we have Todd come up here? Whataya say, Toddo?"

My stomach tied in a knot as a few people began to clap. Before long, the entire audience gave a standing ovation. I had no choice-I was no longer invisible-I slowly walked on stage, answered the question and fielded several more before returning to my seat.

When the conference concluded, I desperately had to use the men's room but quickly realized it would be tough to get there. Within minutes, I was surrounded. There were eight, ten people deep, circling me like a bulls-eye on an archery target.

"What do you think of Cisco?"

"What's your favorite financial short?"

"Where will the S&P end this year?"

I was overwhelmed -- I didn't have time to digest one question before being pelted with another; and I still had to pee.

I looked over and saw Gene Hackman checking his watch. When a two-time Academy Award winning actor is standing alone and a head trader is mobbed like a film star, there's something very wrong with the mainstream mindset. The stock market movie was not going to end well.

The Moment of Truth

Jeff was at the First Boston conference in late November feeding us tremendous insight. After ten years of friendship and eleven months of close-knit interaction, he and I arrived at a place of instinctive intuitiveness where I often executed upon his thoughts before words were ever exchanged.
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