Investing lessons learned from a floor trader

Ever wondered why your business idea or someone else's failed to get traction, even though you did things the same or better as people that followed or those who came before? People will tell you that the execution may have been lacking, they may be somewhat right or even a 100% correct, but chances are there was something else that went wrong.

What may have gone wrong is that you were missing the knowledge of one missing ingredient, without which the notion that "an idea is only as good as it execution" in all it's brilliance is flawed.

tl;dr: The timing of when an idea is executed is just as/or more important than the execution itself. It is possible to be too early, early, on time, fashionably late or too late. Each can make or break the idea and its execution.

In 2007, I did a relatively short stint on a trading floor focused on financial and technology equities. We were working with a well tested strategies, the (risk-)managers stressed the importance of discipline aka good execution.

Even though the success rate depended on the market timing, which is unpredictable; When paired with good downside protection/risk management the strategies were in a sense considered infallible. So far, the flaws with the notion that "idea was is good as the execution" were not yet clear, because even though (market) timing mattered it was not the deciding factor.

The success of the philosophy on the trading floor led me to use in various aspects of my life and work. It greatly helped my work helping businesses embrace the web. This is where the patterns surrounding the 'timing aspect' started showing up.

The flaws with the notion that an idea is as good as its execution are not evident when there isn't a possibility to breaking the bank.

Simply put, in life the importance of the execution is not quite as simple as it was at the trading desk; In trading much like a baseball batting average, the disciplined execution of a trading(speculation) strategy was designed to aim for a .300 win average (30 percent ) to be excellent. A .100 win average (10 percent) was enough to break-even.

At 10 percent lower than break even point, you exhaust your capital. On the trading desk this was the cost of doing  business, the risks in life and business are not always as black and white.

Disclaimer 1: While predicting the timing is already tricky, what's trickier is the outcome of not timing well.

There is always the possibility that you may not get another chance to execute the same strategy. If another party is involved an idea executed too early may make them vary of trying it again when the time is right.

Even when you get the timing right, it's possible for someone or something to sweep in before you and steal your glory.

Disclaimer 2: It's tough to deliberately have perfect timing.

Disclaimer 3: You will fail; often.

If you get a chance to make similar decisions again in similar circumstances you may fare better.

If you haven't done "it" before reach out to people who have