Linda Bradford Raschke is a financier, operating mostly as a professional commodity and futures trader. She was an exchange member of Pacific Coast Exchange and Philidelphia Exchange and a full-time professional trader since 1981, CTA since 1991. Raschke co-authored the best-selling book, Street Smarts – High Probability Short Term Trading Strategies.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in S Pasadena, California. Our house was on the edge of the Arroyo Seco Canyon so my childhood was filled with rope swings, tree forts, and sliding down the canyon wash with the neighborhood kids. Total unsupervised freedom! As long as I did my piano practicing and got good grades, I got away with murder. I idolized my piano teacher that I studied under for 16 years and my grandmother, “Oma”, who spoke 5 languages, had a wonderful imagination, and constantly corrected me on my posture.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That is a very good question! I don’t know because I am afraid if I altered an early path it might have changed the outcome as to where I am at now. I am a big risk taker who often leaps and then looks. I can’t begin to describe the nauseating, stressful losses I experienced trading in the markets. But in the long run, I have been wildly successful. Also, with people, I was always very trusting. Naively so. Not always a good thing…
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I try to ignore what people in my industry recommend to others. I do not wish to know anyone else’s opinions about the markets. Let me go into my office each day and play my game without distractions. The people in my business who listen to the recommendations of others are less likely to be independent thinkers, anyway.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I had many dark periods digging myself out of the holes that I created starting with my teenage years and lasting through my financial career. An early mentor regularly lectured me, “It builds character”. I built a LOT of character. I had so many catastrophic events happen to me, I wrote a top-selling book about them – “Trading Sardines – Lessons in the Markets by a Lifelong Trader”.
A depressing event happened the first year I entered a private university. My Dad and I had a falling out which resulted in the severing of our relationship. My parents were getting a divorce and he essentially disowned me, took all the family money, and hid it. So here I was my first year in college with no funds, no scholarships, no loans at age 17. I can’t remember how many jobs I worked over the next 4 years putting myself through school but it was a lot. Self-sufficiency was a satisfying feeling that shaped the rest of my career. No matter what the outcome, I could take care of myself going forward which probably encouraged even bigger risk-taking.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I have a laser, single-minded focus when I want to get something done. I am the master of concentration and tuning out distractions when I choose to.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine is boring…Alarm at 6:05 CST, lie in bed for another 5 minutes. shower, let the dogs outside, make coffee, put out berries for my husband, then am in my trading office at 6:45. When I am in Florida for the winters, everything starts an hour later. EST. For many years, I found the time to go to the gym for an hour very early in the morning. That was when I was single. Now, I need that extra hour of sleep more. I am finished in my office at night at 10:30, make it into bed by 11 CST. I’ve always run my operations from a home office. No commute time and it only takes me 1 minute to get dressed.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I worked out with a trainer for 22+ years doing bodybuilding. I have not gone to the gym since my trainer retired at age 84. I considered him to be my surrogate father and we shared inspirational emails daily. The frequency of our emails has sadly dropped off. We both felt strongly: never let a negative thought pop into your head. If it does, simply push it back out. Don’t waste energy on anything negative, including people.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I am not an efficient person. I am also a world-class procrastinator. If I sit at my desk long enough and piddle around, eventually the flow will come. Then I can sink my teeth into anything get it done. I am one of those people who works best when there is a deadline. I create too many projects and overcommit so there is a perpetual, daunting pile of work. On the other hand, I do lots of mindless activities to recharge my batteries. I love gardening and yardwork, I own two barns and ride my horses every day, I go on mad cleaning binges. It’s very important for me to find ways to relieve the incredible amount of stress in my business. Physical activity, my animals, and humor are the three things that keep me moving forwards.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. I like inspirational books. The other book is an old manuscript I found in a technical library in the World Trade Center before it was destroyed.
The Taylor Trading Technique by George Douglas Taylor. He was not a good author but the practical trading advice he offered is something I reread every year for 30 years. Do your daily preparation, rely on yourself, and don’t anticipate too far ahead, Then, use your best judgment at the time to manage the trade. I deal with decision making under great uncertainty so I find peace in this.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Work hard, play hard.” My motto. I work harder than anyone can imagine and at this point in my life, I don’t have to work ever again, but I love what I do. It is my lifestyle. The other quote from my first husband, “You know where you can find Sympathy…..between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” One needs a very thick skin to survive in my profession.