Louise Bedford is a full-time private trader, speaker, and author. She wrote the books The Secret of Writing Options, The Secret of Candlestick Charting, Charting Secrets, and Trading Secrets. Bedford is a behavioural finance expert and has degrees in Psychology and Business, and has trained thousands of people to maximise their own trading potential.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Effective learning is error-driven. Failures grab our attention.
In fact, researchers have found that the more wildly wrong our predictions are about the markets, the more quickly we learn. Our brain needs failure to create success. Heck, if I had have realised that earlier, I would have made a bunch more mistakes, at a younger age and ended up further ahead.
Failing with flair boils down to three aspects. It involves controlling our emotions, adjusting our thinking, and re-evaluating our beliefs about ourselves.
According to Yale psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the real difference between people who manage to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, compared to those who slip into a self-defeating abyss, involves one key factor. People who ultimately succeed nip “rumination” in the bud. Rather than continuing to be so self-involved with morbid, spiraling self-talk, they turn the corner and focus on what they can learn from the lesson. They force themselves to move on and set a goal for the future. This is essential advice for all traders who have faced a drawdown in their trading careers.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
There is a thought that there is a new, shiny trading system or market where all of the rules don’t have to be obeyed, and money will be flung at you with no effort. However, the sharemarket stays the same more than it changes. Sure there will be new instruments introduced, and new traders who are looking to trade effectively. But the core of our business isn’t changing. I’ve been trading for over 3 decades. I can tell you that all success in the markets is disguised as hard work. I’ve been running our Mentor Program for traders for 21 years. I’ve seen people come and go, but the ones that stick are the ones who realise trading is a business, and to get ahead, you must commit.
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?
Back when I started trading, I was a national manager for a US-based multinational company, and I was flying high. My professional ambitions had finally begun to come true. I started to trade shares alongside my job and then – just a few short years later… the unexpected happened.
Over the course of a couple of months, I progressively lost the use of my arms through neurological condition. I found that even simple tasks such as opening doors had become a day to day painful struggle.
One thing that I noticed – the multinational I was working for didn’t believe in ‘loyalty’. Oh sure, they expected me to be loyal to them to the tune of around 80 hours per week, but when it became apparent I needed a bit of support and care… well, that was a whole different ball game.
It seems I had no choice – I had to quit my terrific job. Even though I was sad to leave behind the company car, the frequent flyer miles, and the corner office, as I walked out for the final time, I clicked my heels in delight. You see… I had a secret weapon. Something that insulated me from the need for an employer’s paycheque. Something that I had been learning alongside my career position. And I was able to pull it out of my hat when I needed it the most…
I knew how to trade.
Sure, my body wasn’t co-operating, but I could still make money by trading, and over time, I came to realise it was my life’s work to teach others how to do the same. As I did my endless physiotherapy lessons at the public pool, I found myself surrounded by people in a much worse condition than I was. Amputees, people with brain tumours, and people suffering the ravages of cancer – they all became my friends. We inspired each other and didn’t allow excuses, as we struggled for freedom from our bodies that had let us down.
Fast forward a few years… I’m still struggling with various health issues, but I feel this has only helped me seek out others in need, and show them their path to freedom. I founded the Mentor Program in the Year 2000 with my business partner, and it’s a repeat for a free course that we’ve been running ever since. We teach our traders how to trade every type of market around the world. We have a beautiful community of like-minded traders, who are all intent on chasing down their higher purpose and achieving financial serenity.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
If I want the goal badly enough – I don’t give up, even when the odds are against me.
What is your morning routine?
I have noticed that the best traders have balanced lives and developed a high level of self-awareness that extends past the confines of the sharemarket. So I aim to be a good animal, and tend to my sleep, exercise, social and alone-time needs with discipline.
2020 has messed up my exercise routine as I used to go to the gym five days a week in the mornings. Now, my exercise is spread through different times of the day.
I wake up at 6.30 am, do a 10-minute meditation and then get my children off to school, and write in my Morning Journal. I have established a habit and a routine of writing and self-analysis that has lasted over 30 years.
This is an idea initially derived from a concept put forward by Carl Jung – a disciple of Freud. It is designed to access your unconscious mind by writing a special journal. The aim is for you to write a stream of consciousness text, putting down your thoughts first thing in the morning.
Stream of consciousness is a free form technique where you either talk or write, without any form of editing by your conscious mind. It is designed to delve into the depths of the unconscious. I swear by the technique.
After that, I’ll look at what’s been happening with my trading positions, and take any actions I need to take.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
It’s taken some time, but I no longer react negatively to people’s criticism.
“I wish you’d grow some breasts to give me something to look at in your videos other than your huge clown mouth”.
Yep – that was a comment I received from a succinct, yet brutal reader of my newsletter. Surprising the poo they fling when you stick your head up from the pack.
Sometimes, if I let someone know I’m a share trader, they say: “Oh. A trader” – where the description sticks in their throat like congealed snot.
Saying ‘trader’ as if they’ve described something revolting, like seeing maggots emerge from a steak they were intending to barbeque.
I’ll bet you’ve received your fair share of smacks when you’ve gone out on a limb and stretched as well. Especially if you’re striving to create a better life, build your own business, or hit that next goal.
Ayn Rand has a label for people like us. She called us ‘The Producers’ – ironically resented and disliked by the majority.
As a society, we take great care not to offend every other minority – like members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and 3-eyed mutant alien worshipers – yet, it’s still fashionable to proverbially swing a punch at a Producer. So, if someone has given you some lip, take it as evidence that you’re doing the right thing.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
The one thing that’s ticking away for everyone is their time. Although this runs contrary to what 99% of people would have you believe – You have to put yourself above everyone else. If you don’t take back your time and control your own time, you’re wasting your most precious resource. The truth of the matter is that we do have enough time, and we have enough to achieve everything we want to focus on – but what we lack is integrity with our own time.
So you’ve got to embrace that you need to put your needs, your goals, and your prosperity above everyone else’s goals. You cannot allow anyone else to waste your most precious asset. Your job in life is to be a visionary, a leader, and a creator, and your time is how you do that.
One of the ideas I teach is that you have a ‘focus day’ where you isolate yourself from the world and just focus on developing one core skill.
However, even though people do this, if they take their mobile phone with them, or check their emails, or don’t spend the allotted time doing the activity they’ve set out for themselves – then they don’t have time integrity.
Also, there’s no need for you to be a one-person show. For effective time management, you need to let other people carry some of the load. Find out what your spouse, children, or paid staff are willing/capable of doing, and let them do this for the next 6 months, while you complete the Program. Encourage them, and this will save you time over the long run.
The other thing is that I believe that people think they need very large segments of time in order to get anything done. However, the truth is that you need to get good at grabbing very small segments of time – 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Procrastinators are notorious for this.
Using 5, 10, 15-minute time slots, you can break down the task, get organised, and plan your big project. You’ll be shocked at how quickly you can churn through a project using this method.
I take little segments of time, break up my projects into tiny pieces, and use my little blocks of time to do a little part of the project.
People overestimate what they can achieve in the short term and underestimate what they can achieve in the long term.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
When I was an unruly, surly 15 years old, ready to fly off the rails and run away from home – at the urging of my sister, Valerie, I read one of Dr. Harry Stanton’s books – Plus Factor. His words soothed me and made me feel less alone. His book spoke to my heart.
Suddenly, I knew what I needed to do with my life. After the first 3 pages of his book, I decided I’d found my calling. I became determined to study psychology at University, so I could gain an insight into how people’s minds worked. And how my mind worked.
In 1997, my broker introduced us. I was overjoyed to meet Harry, and we clicked immediately. Little did I know that many years later, Harry would become my friend, and eventually we’d write a book together – Let the Trade Wins Flow.
Harry shared his views about options and candles with me, and our friendship deepened. Those topics are two of my hot buttons, that’s for sure. He bubbled forth his wisdom gathered over a lifetime of being an internationally famous author, a hypnotist, and Australia’s most recognised psychologist to traders. His insights flowed over me like a warm bath of unconditional support.
Dr. Harry Stanton passed away in November 2020, and he will be sorely missed.
Other books that I’ve been hooked on in more recent times – Grit by Angela Duckworth, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and The Art of Trading by Chris Tate.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus
This quote has been my mantra for 2020.
Also, it’s not so much of a quote, but it is a word that has also been significant for me this year. The Pali word, “Samvega”, refers to the stark realisation that death can happen at any moment. It’s not meant to scare us. It’s meant to wake us up to life’s preciousness, so we can revel in all that it brings, and we can commit to the priorities in our life.
We have a tendency not to think about our impermanence as the idea of death can be so uncomfortable. But we are here for a blink. A flash.
We may think that a good life is one where we are the sum total of our accomplishments. But from a mindfulness perspective, a good life is one that is experienced fully, with an open heart.
In the words of Steven Pinker “Nothing gives life more purpose than the realisation that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift.”