Trading stocks for a living is often just like the market upon which the career is built, boom or bust. The fear behind delving into stock trading is always the fear of the gamble. No one wants to risk it all and lose it all. But yet, the allure of fast money, of a dollar making two, and winning your financial freedom, brings many of us back to Uncle Sam’s poker table.
But any poker player will tell you that their poker skills have a lot less to do with luck, and a heck of a lot more to do with their intuition, preparation, and knowledge of the game. Kunal Desai is known as one of the market’s best traders, and he built his career from nothing to a globally recognized brand. He shares some of his insights on how to approach the market, as well as how to prepare for becoming a “player” and the practice it requires to become a champion who can truly run with the Bulls (that’s a market pun guys).
The Guy Society: You’re known as one of the major players in the day trading game. How and why did you get into day trading?
Kunal Desai: I have been in the markets since my freshman year of college. I graduated high school in 1999 and after went to Michigan State University. This was right during the time where colleges started to wire the dorms with broadband internet and students started to carry laptops. In college you have a lot more free time than in high school, you don’t have the daily structure of always having to be in class. This is when I started to read about the markets and started going on MSN Money and Motley Fool and reading about stocks. My dad always talked about stocks and, this being the last year of the tech boom, stocks were an everyday conversation. So I opened my first account at buyandhold.com and put 500 dollars in and bought my first stock. During this time I started to really soak up everything I could and my dad, hearing that I was interested in stocks, would send me tips and ideas all the time. I started to grow my account and then when the tech bubble busted I lost all the money. After taking a break for 6 months, I got right back into it and started to try different strategies. I made and lost money for a few years till I started to really hit my stride between 2006-2008 after I met my mentor Paul. From there my consistency really picked up and with the advent of Twitter I started to post ideas and really picked up a following. From there we launched Bulls on Wallstreet. This has been my life’s passion. It’s all I have ever thought about. It was tough though, after college I still wasn’t very good, so I had to go get a job and continue my education in day trading. I was ready to do it as long as it took. When you live and breathe something you, eventually, are that something.
The Guy Society: For someone with no experience in trading, where should they start?
Kunal Desai: For someone with no education in trading. Think of this like a business. What would you do if you wanted to be a doctor or lawyer? What if you wanted to open a business or get into real estate? What is involved? You wouldn’t go into a bank and ask for a loan for a business without a business plan. Trading is the same way. You need to learn and get mastery over the subject just like in any job. Think about how much work a surgeon goes through before they ever do a surgery. All that work. Trading is the same way, you need to get educated. Then practice trading. Use what you have learned and develop skills through repetitions. You ever see anyone that is considered a genius in their craft, whether it’s a basketball player or a quarterback, musician etc? They have thousands of hours of repetitions to build that mastery over that subject. As traders we need to start building up those reps. There is an article I wrote on how to start a trading business, I recommend you read it. Once you get these basic things down and you’re making money on a trading simulator everyday, you know you’re ready to trade live money.
The Guy Society: There’s always risk when it comes to trading, what do you think makes a successful trader?
Kunal Desai: I think being resilient is the number 1 trait I have seen from training thousands of students. After a loss or a setback what happens next? Can you shake it off and push forward? Most people do not deal well with failure. The ability to come back to work and grind it out after a setback is key. That shows your character and your ability to be successful long-term.
The Guy Society: Trading can be instant win or instant loss, what has been your biggest win to date? Similarly, what has been your biggest loss and how do you personally bounce back from a loss?
Kunal Desai: I have had weeks where I make 20-30k and months where I can really be hot. But hot streaks cool off, then what? When the tide turns and you start to lose can you nip it in the bud. So many of the times in my life, when I was a newer trader, a couple bad days turned into huge slumps where I lost 10k in a day and 20k in a week. One of the things that has helped me over the years is to really document all my trades and my statistics on what I do well. So then when I get in a slump I narrow my focus on my “Go To” setups, my best type of trades, to bust my slump. I simplify my process and start just looking for a few different types of plays that I know I always do well on.
The Guy Society: What advice would you give to someone that wants to give up their 9-5 to become a full time trader?
Kunal Desai: Make sure you love it. If you just want to make money there are thousands of things you can do to make money. In this business, where you only eat what you kill, you need to love it and have passion for it. That’s the only way that when you get knocked down you know you will get back up. You have no choice, as it’s your passion!
The Guy Society: Your Instagram shows a life of freedom. When did you finally realize you’d “made it”?
Kunal Desai: I still don’t feel like I’ve made “it”. I am trying to be my best self and be better each day than I was the day before. Some days I’m not and it’s a step back but I’m still hunting. I work more now than I did even ten years ago. I have more passion for trading and teaching then I did five years ago. I am in better shape, work harder, and love this more now then I ever have. I can do better and I will. I study more about trading and more about developing myself as a CEO than I ever have. I haven’t made it yet. Maybe I never will. I want to be the best that I can be.
The Guy Society: The world of trading can be filled with pressure. How do you handle that pressure?
Kunal Desai: Pressure is the name of the game. Any job with high pay equals high stress. That’s with any profession. I moved to the beach just to clear my mind and it’s awesome. No matter what happens in the day I step outside and I can see the ocean and hang out on the beach. I know life is good. I go for a swim in the gulf almost everyday.
The Guy Society: You founded Bulls on Wall Street, how did that come about?
Kunal Desai: Bulls On Wall Street came about at end of 2008. It really came with the advent of Twitter. At the time nobody really understood what a game-changer it would be for the spreading of information and news; how regular folks can become personalities and gain following. I accidentally stumbled on Twitter and just started to post my stock-picks on there. At the time there were a few people doing it but even less people actually posting their trades -the good and bad trades. There is a certain credibility that you can build over time doing that, as with Twitter if you stink or post bogus stuff people will just un-follow you. From there, rather than just having tweets and random conversations, I wanted to really centralize the flow and have everyone in a room where people could talk and share ideas. Something that was free flowing. So that’s when we built bullsonwallstreet.com
The Guy Society: You’ve traveled to some incredible places. What’s been your favorite destination to date?
Kunal Desai: Costa Rica is my favorite. It’s like Jurassic park out there! I went in 2012 with my three best childhood friends from grade-school and we lived there for 3 months. It was the best experience of my life. You don’t realize how little you really need till you get out of the country. We had a tiny place on the beach with a bag of clothes and our computers. It was incredible just living there going and getting fresh food everyday and not having access to American luxuries and foods. You realize all you need are a few good friends & family, some good waves, great wine and life can be pretty amazing. I’ve been out there four times in the last two years it really feels like my second home.
The Guy Society: What’s next for you?
Kunal Desai: Next for me is taking my students to the next level. Till they are all where they need to be I am not satisfied. We work day and night to provide the support and education that they need. I have, already, a bunch of my own students with their own trading sites now. I want a hundred of them over the next couple years, then I’ll really know I’ve done something.
The Guy Society: We really appreciate your time and our readers will no doubt learn a lot from you. If you have any last pieces of advice, I’m sure or readers would appreciate it.
Kunal Desai: Never stop hunting guys. Every day think about what your “perfect day” should look like. What I mean by that is, what are all the little things you must do each day to make sure you have a great day? So many times we get focused on the results of life. How much money we make or what we get etc. You can’t control your results. The only thing you can control is the “process, process, process.” Everyday, attack the process and make sure that you hit your “perfect day”. And if you hit that “perfect day,” each day, what will happen is that over the course of weeks to months you will start to see incredible results. You were not put here to be average. All people have greatness inside them. But greatness has a cost. You have to be on the hunt each day attacking the process. Remember you can not expect, from a string of ordinary days, extraordinary results.
To connect with Kunal Desai, follow him here