Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Evening with Kosta-Browne

It's no secret that I enjoy wine and it's no secret I enjoy trading. So what does one have to do with the other? They're both a challenge, they both require study, both need to be practiced and they're both rewarding. They both can also be tedious and that's where you come in.

Like with anything we do, a large part of the enjoyment is in sharing the experience. Who we share with is often unknown when attending a wine tasting event or when together with a group of traders via the Internet. Serendipity however seems to always play a role as it did the other evening. Attending a special tasting of Kosta-Browne wines, I found myself drawn to sit with a couple at one of the large tables, although there was still ample space for any other choice when I arrived. It turned out that they are from Marin County, you know the place, the one that brought you Pelosi and Boxer. Pledging, as usual, to keep my comments to wine, I was later surprised to hear that in his travels many years back he visited Hungary while it was still under a communist regime and his clear comment that most Americans cannot relate to how suppressive that system is. Oh my! Turning my interest away from wine and onto conversation on the subject, I think I uttered something fascinating like: "We may soon find out" and wondered in quiet introspect how much insight most of us hold back for reasons of acceptance.

As tasters and traders we are often asked for our opinion and have the opportunity to share our thoughts about wines and the markets. Often there's silence until someone breaks the ice yet it's not necessarily followed by a lot of hands. Many of us don't share everything and most don't share anything about what we think or know, in an unfamiliar setting, even though we are drawn together by mutual interests. Yet in the same area, in private conversations, we feel safe to say our opinion. Why? What is the difference whether we share with one or many the same opinion? The wine will still taste the same, the market will still move up or down and politics will still be dangerous and maddening; or will it?

Wines have distinct flavors and nuances, indigenous to the varietal of the grape, which can be elusive especially to the novice but when a fellow taster shares, we can have an "aha" (oh that's it!) moment as someone points out the cloves, raspberries, roses, violets, cherries, smoked bacon, cedar, stems, dark chocolate (yes, I'm drinking Pinot) Likewise in trading sharing a possible trade and what setup we're looking at can create the same "aha" moment. So someone sharing their view alters our experience by teaching us what we can look for. Is it not the safest way to learn when we talk about our thinking; sharing so we can also hear, see and taste other views?

Putting out our thoughts to a larger audience, I think, has to do with confidence; or the lack thereof. Lack of confidence in our knowledge, of not being "masters" and fear of being wrong. Why? Ask yourself: why do we anoint some people as "experts" and how did they get there? As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it takes practice to be good at anything. It's not all study and education; it's a willingness to be "out there"; to put "ass on the line" "teats to the wall" or let it "all hang out". Is it not the best way to learn when we risk something? Yes, some may snicker, some may criticise, some may even call you names but you can only get better, not worse for the trying.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Matter of Trust (Part III)

Trust becomes a key issue when on a computer with others because the computer allows us to cloak ourselves and not reveal truly who we are if we so choose and/or deceive if we so choose as well. It allows us to appear larger, better, superior, or more modest, humble and meek. On the other hand associating through a computer also allows us to reveal ourselves more completely due to the ability to stay anonymous. It is probably safe to say that some of all of the above plays into most of the relationships online. It's also probably safe to say that as we interact more frequently, we reveal ourselves more completely and in time we can extend more trust in each other.

I was thus challenged with the thought when I joined a new room of traders; many it seems with great credentials and much experience; newbies, oldies, experts and mentors alike with diverse interests. I've been with a group of online friends for so long, that jumping into a "vat" of strangers I found myself wondering: It's been years where I've felt so much internal pressure to "show me".

Like anywhere else, the longer we know someone, the more trust we place in their abilities. Trust does not happen overnight it is developed over time. Therefore belonging to a group of traders over a longer period of time, by nature, allows us to learn intricacies and styles which in turn gives us more opportunities for good trades.

Ultimately it's not what we can do for each other but what we can learn from each other. It takes trust to learn. (to be continued)

So look for me at my new digs: and less formally at who knows where this may lead.