Ep 567: Uncomfortable Parallels Between Traders and Serial Killers

Halloween might be around the corner, sure, but of course, serial killers are no laughing matter. In Episode 567 of The Traders Podcast, your hosts Rob Booker and the producer Jason Pyles don’t intend to make light of how much traders have in common with serial killers, but as you will hear in this episode, the similarities are uncomfortably numerous…

Serial killers can do unspeakable things and still feel totally “normal.” Much like traders, serial killers tend to live outside of typical societal norms (in some ways), and they do things that tend to separate them from others. And they are completely at peace with this fact. We trust that all our listeners are fine, upstanding contributors to your respective communities, but if you’d like to hear more out of morbid curiosity, listen to Episode 567!

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Links for this episode:

Subscribe to Rob’s YouTube channel here: https://youtube.com/robbooker

Rob on Twitter: @RobBooker

The Traders Podcast on Twitter: @TradersPodcast


Trader Interviews.com

Jason’s movie podcasts:
Movie Podcast Network A group of eight movie-related podcasts covering new movie releases and many genres: sci-fi, horror, western, etc.

Full Episode Transcript:

Rob Booker: Okie dokie artichoky. Mr. Pyles.
Jason Pyles: Hey, Rob.
Rob Booker: Have you watch Mindhunter on Netflix?
Jason Pyles: No, I haven’t, but I’m curious about it. Tell it.
Rob Booker: All right, so Mindhunter, without spoiling anything, is the story of a fresh off the boat FBI agent who tightens his tie so tightly it’s shocking that he can breathe. It’s the story of how he ends up on the hunt for serial killers, which they call sequence killers because it’s 1977, and they don’t know the word serial killer yet, I guess. Didn’t realize that. It is a David Fincher show actually. He directed the first episode and produced it, so you know it’s kind of twisted.
Jason Pyles: Yeah. Love it. Okay.
Rob Booker: I love David Fincher, so anything that he produces I really enjoy. What the story ends up becoming is the story of how in order to catch a serial killer, you have to get into the mind of a serial killer. It brings to mind, for me anyway, this idea that in order to become a successful trader, you have to get into the mind of a successful trader. The mind of a successful trader, I’m not going to compare it similarly to serial killers, that would be terrible, but I’m just going to talk about some of the characteristics of serial killers and tell you how that’s similar to traders.
Jason Pyles: Okay. Great.
Rob Booker: All right, so serial killer, in the show anyway, a sequence killer is unable to factor in or in some cases detect the emotions of others. I don’t know if you would call it lacking empathy or just being completely narcissistic. Some of the best traders I’ve ever met, some of the traders that are willing to take the most risk and make the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time, if that’s what we’re talking about, really making a lot of money, they have some kind of way to turn off the connection between choice and consequence. These individuals in some cases sort of have this blank stare when someone else is criticizing their way of looking at the market. They are truly wrapped inside of their own world and their own point of view. It’s not just that they disagree. There are a lot of good traders that get into arguments about what’s best and what works and what doesn’t. I’m saying these individuals appear to not even have processed what you just said at all.
Jason Pyles: Wow, so there’s like a real stoicism about them. They’re stoics.
Rob Booker: Okay. Yeah. You could say that. That’s right. Yeah, really stoicism is right on the verge of sociopathic behavior.
Jason Pyles: They’re stoic about it. Okay.
Rob Booker: Okay, yeah. We can call it that. I’m game for that.
Jason Pyles: Okay. All right.
Rob Booker: Another characteristic in this show, in many cases a sequence killer had a complicated family relationship. I don’t want to spoil anything, but that wouldn’t come as much of a shock. In many cases, a killer has something to prove. A killer is expressing that something to prove in an anti-social, disgusting, and horrible manner. Let’s now talk about traders.
Jason Pyles: Okay.
Rob Booker: A lot of the most successful traders I’ve ever met are individuals who became redundant at work, made redundant or laid off at work, who have a spouse or a partner who is unsupportive of what they’re doing, and they have something to prove. They take it personally, and they act with an energy and determination that otherwise they wouldn’t have in the same way that many children brought up in very difficult circumstances for whom you would feel a great amount of sorrow and empathy actually grow up to accomplish great things or creatively express themselves in totally unique and amazing ways because of the difficulties in their childhood.
In that same way, traders who have something to prove and that desire to prove something is directed at someone close to them, either living or dead, those traders are on a mission, and they do great things. They do amazing things. There is something about that desire to prove something, get back at, that can express itself in anti-social ways. You can channel that as a trader into getting up earlier, cutting off your losses because you certainly don’t want to get caught, that sounds very much like a serial killer, that your goal is to persist in what you were doing and not get caught. Next on the list, Jason, once caught or once found out, a serial killer, a sequence killer, might be effusive in a description of unspeakable acts of terror that seem very ordinary to them.
Jason Pyles: So they’ll go on and on, talk about it a lot.
Rob Booker: Clarice.
Jason Pyles: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Rob Booker: Right.
Jason Pyles: Very nice.
Rob Booker: To this individual, what is unspeakable to anyone else seems ordinary, and they can describe it in great detail without emotion. I’m talking to people who have turned a small amount of money into a lot of money. When I talk to those individuals and they describe what they have done, they do it very matter-of-factly, even though the things they are describing are just outrageous. For instance, and I’ve told this story on the podcast before, but someone asked me about it the other day. They said, “Well that guy you used to travel around with in 2009, he would regularly turn a $3,000 account into an $80,000 account.” What would happen, he would hit the wall. He couldn’t go any further than that. Sometimes he’d keep the money, and sometimes he’d take $80,000 all the way back to 3, fast. He had this meteoric rise and just volcanic eruption at the top and then come back down. Sometimes he’d keep the money, and sometimes he wouldn’t, but he was just this driven individual, driven to prove something and unable to understand why what he was doing seemed so exceptional to other people.
He would stand in front of a group of people and show his trading account. One morning it would be up $25,000 from the day before, so he’d make like $25,000 in a day. The next day he’d wake up, and it would be drawn down or open losing trades of $50,000. It would be so obvious that this was outrageous behavior, which was making money in the end, but it was just outrageous. To him, he just couldn’t understand why people thought it was a big deal. He would just say, “Well, I was just doing what it takes.” It was just so different than anybody else that’s out there learning to trade, who are taking notes and all those kinds of things. Do you have any comments here?
Jason Pyles: I do because what you’re describing right there kind of reminds me to drive the serial killer analogy. He apparently must have had a stomach for risk. He wasn’t really worried one way or the other about that. Just like when serial killers do horrible things, they have a stomach for those horrible things. They can do things that most sane people would think, yeah, I’m never going to do that, or I should never do that, right?
Rob Booker: Yeah.
Jason Pyles: Stomach for risk.
Rob Booker: In the act of doing it, they would feel some kind of a thrill or whatever that would just be terrifying to anyone else.
Jason Pyles: Right, right. Yes.
Rob Booker: Yeah. This is terrible because now I have friends that have made a lot of money that they’re probably thinking that I’m comparing them to serial killers, but whatever. The fourth thing is they take a lot of notes. Their notebook looks like the diary of a madman, the obsessive scrawlings of a tortured individual.
Jason Pyles: Like all the notebooks in the movie Se7en, also David Fincher.
Rob Booker: Yes. Exactly. Yeah, right. Exactly. That’s a great point. As I say this, I’ll just use myself as an example. My offices now, I have these 3 foot x 2 foot post-it notes. We should take a picture of this. I put them on the whiteboard, so there’s no glare when I do a video. I’d make my notes in that, and then I stick those notes on the walls. Now my office walls are surrounded by these notes. I mean, I’m looking around now. I’m frightening myself. It does look kind of scary and weird. I have these notebooks. When I become obsessed about a certain business type project or whatever else, I’ll have these notes. I would say that I share a lot of these characteristics when it comes to just online business and being obsessive about it and whatever else. Not so much in the world of trading. I feel like I’m not obsessive in that way about trading. My results are not spectacular sometimes because of that. I’ll make a consistent amount of money, but I don’t do things that turn $3,000 into $80,000. I just don’t do those things.
Jason Pyles: Right. Right.
Rob Booker: I feel like in order to do those kinds of things you end up sacrificing your personal relationships and your inclusion in regular society, which I have done from time to time with the business type projects that I’m passionate about. That’s happened for me. It’s never really happened with trading, but I’ve watched individuals basically exit society and dive into their work as traders in order to grow those accounts. They become separated from the rest of the world.
Jason Pyles: That’s interesting.
Rob Booker: Yeah. I don’t know if you can even voluntarily choose to go down that path. Turning $3,000 into $80,000, I don’t know if that’s a okay, I’m now going to become crazy and do that. I don’t know if you could even consciously decide that you’re going to go down that path. I think that you can have consistent returns and compound gains, but it seems unlikely to me that someone could ever consciously set a goal to become crazy enough to make those returns.
Jason Pyles: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so it just kind of happens then. Okay.
Rob Booker: Yeah. You’re either crazy or you’re not.
Jason Pyles: Right. Right. Well, it does seem like it’s some sort of a trap though that people could fall into if they’re not careful.
Rob Booker: Right.
Jason Pyles: I mean, slippery slope kind of thing where you could get a little obsessive, I guess.
Rob Booker: Yeah. That’s a good point. Maybe there could be a learned obsession. I mean, people get obsessed all the time with people or projects or jobs or works of art or musicians.
Jason Pyles: Yeah. It’s amazing. It’s kind of weird. Have you ever wanted to kind of take a look at obsession from an outsider’s perspective? There’s a documentary called I Think We’re Alone Now about that ’80s pop singer Tiffany about a couple of her biggest fans. It’s very fascinating. I don’t know. It reminds me of what you’re talking about a little bit where people just allow themselves to go down this road. That’s kind of troubling, I guess.
Rob Booker: Yeah. I don’t know. I’m kind of fascinated, Jason. I wonder if there can be a guidebook to insanity. It sounds like something I would get in trouble for.
Jason Pyles: Yeah, probably.
Rob Booker: It sounds like a great documentary. The only way to make a great documentary about trading is to watch someone descend into the madness necessary to make a spectacular return.
Jason Pyles: I think you should do that, Rob. I’m serious. I think you should do it.
Rob Booker: Does it have to be real, or can it be a fictional?
Jason Pyles: Well, if it’s fictional, then I guess it technically might not be a documentary in the true sense, but you could do a mockumentary that depicts that.
Rob Booker: You think Eugene Levy would be in it with me?
Jason Pyles: Yes.
Rob Booker: He’s in all the great mockumentaries.
Jason Pyles: That’s true. That’s true. That’s funny.
Rob Booker: Oh, man. All right, everybody. How can everybody listen to your movie related podcasts, including movies starring Gene Levy?
Jason Pyles: Absolutely, yeah. They can go to moviepodcast.network. We have a whole network of eight different podcasts about movies, all types and genres. Just check us out there.
Rob Booker: Excellent, and if you want to reach the show, you can send me a text message to 304-281-8332. You can hit me up on the Twitter and say hey, I just listened to the episode, it was great, sort of, @robbooker on the Twitter, and we’d love to hear from you. I’m Rob Booker. On behalf on Jason Pyles, the producer, you’re listening to The Traders Podcast.

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