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Memoirs of a Minyan: The Genesis of a Dream

By

The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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Full Steam Ahead

As 2001 ended, my relationship with TheStreet.com died with it. They came back a few times with lucrative offers -- a lofty six figure salary and multiple six-figure stock options -- but the numbers didn't register. I told them that I don't associate with people I didn't trust and knew if I worked with them again, I would only have myself to blame.

Our fund finished the year slightly above the flat line and I breathed a heavy sigh of relief that my performance anxiety had a new shelf life. That was the way it worked on Wall Street -- the registers were cleared at the end of December 31st and everyone started from scratch.

I was emotionally spent after September 11th, battling the market and discovering the ugly truth behind the media landscape. I was also fighting the demon of depression, although I wouldn't realize that for a few more years. Seeing what I saw -- the jumpers, the impact and the fireball -- took a heavy, subconscious toll on me.

The year 2002 was a new beginning and I embraced it with open arms and confidence that I could shoulder the load and shed the baggage. I knew TheStreet.com gave my position in their new product to fund manager Doug Kass. Doug and I were friends and spoke about the offer before he accepted it.

I had bigger fish to fry as I eyed my immediate future. My primary focus was the fund, where I was entering the second year of a two-year deal. The other was Minyanville, which encapsulated my hopes and dreams. It was more of a mission than a business venture; it was entirely personal and very much an escape.

On weekends and during nights, we worked incessantly on building wire frames that would bring Hoofy and Boo to life. I told Casey I would spend $30,000 on the project but that quickly proved conservative. My intention wasn't to build TheStreet.com -- the ambition was much larger than that, perhaps grandiose.

I envisioned a community that bridged Wall Street and Main Street, a world-class platform that educated, entertained and engaged. I wanted to change the world and nothing was going to stop me. Not Jim Cramer, not TheStreet.com and certainly not money.

I had a stash of cash and spared no expense. We enlisted the help of John Bell, who was nominated for an Academy Award for visual effects, to illustrate Hoofy and Boo. Casey worked from her Santa Monica home office and created the Minyanville platform.

Profits at the fund were elusive, due in equal parts to the new market dynamic and our admittedly frazzled psyche. I awoke at 5:00 AM each day and managed the fund with Jeff, Matt and our shaken but steady crew before returning home at night to brainstorm on my newfound passion.

Dinners and weekends with friends had to wait. I worked 20-hour days and locked myself in my apartment, turning off the phone and closing the curtains. I wasn't aware I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

I hid from it in Minyanville, a parallel universe with animated critters.

It sounds strange, I know, but it saved my life.

The mood within Cramer Berkowitz was strained as we attempted to forge ahead. I wasn't privy to conversations between Jeff and Jim but assumed they were tenuous. Jim understood I was creating Minyanville and was entirely displeased.

Cramer needed an enemy to motivate him and would create one if necessary.

I wasn't intimidated, which seemed to bother him, but was aware he had influence with our investors. It took a toll on our staff, particularly after experiencing horrors that nobody should be forced to endure. The freewheeling fun that was the hallmark of our corporate culture was gone in no small part because we were no longer beating the Street.

Our sudden mediocrity wasn't a function of Jim's absence. In fact, I would argue that the firm was more functional without his wild, emotional swings. It was simply a new world and we were in the middle of a confused conduit of emotions, alliances and geopolitical agendas.

Our innocence was gone and our country was preparing for war.

Internally, I readied for the exact same thing.

R.P.

Click here for the next chapter of memoirs, "The Abyss."

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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 todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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