My Clique

“We slay all suckers who perpetrate, and lay down law from state to state.”
– Run-DMC

Something I wish I had learned a lot earlier in my life – surround yourself with winners and doers, not whiners and pessimists.

No one taught me this and for a long time I splashed around in the muck with self-defeating, miserable acquaintances. We wallowed together and used each other to make ourselves feel better. These were dark times of self-pity and susceptibility to failure.

But then my eyes were opened and I started seeking out people with positive energy and ambition. It rubs off on you, infects you in a good way.

One of the coolest things in life is to see your friends succeeding and making things happen. My clique is doing big things and they make me want to work harder each day. I want to shout some of these people out tonight for all the inspiration I derive from their winship.

Leigh Drogen, one of the early architects of the StockTwits network, split off and started his own company with nothing more than a big idea and a lot of drive. His idea was to democratize the estimates and forecasting business so that smart people could be recognized for their good calls and regular people could benefit from them. His company, Estimize, is now up and running. Last month he cut a major, game-changing deal with Bloomberg to get his company’s off-Wall-Street estimates for corporate earnings plugged into more than 300,000 terminals. Leigh worked his ass off to raise financing for Estimize and never backed down no matter how much resistance he encountered along the way. I witnessed his perseverance firsthand, he deserves everything that Estimize will become as more users log on and contribute to the community he’s building.

My pal James Altucher is now much, much more than a finance commentator – he’s become a phenomenon. From his blog posts to his books to his media appearances, James is preaching the most noble gospel there is. He is reassuring people that it’s okay to fail, that it’s okay to dream and have one’s ideas roundly mocked and to take an unconventional career course if you’re willing to hustle. Nobody hustles like James and no one is quite as honest and self-deprecating. If all the self-help gurus were to be shipped off to a desert island and James was the only motivational speaker left to fill the void, the world would be a better place.

When my good friend JC Parets used to talk about launching a hedge fund to put his trading ideas to better use than in a brokerage structure, he generally got two responses. The first was doubtful derision – “Yeah, okay, sure you’re going to launch a hedge fund, just like all the other traders talk about.” The other response was “Jeezuschrist man, are you crazy?!? Don’t do it to yourself!” The logic went that most people can’t get over the hurdles to actually get the fund set up and most people can’t run a a startup hedge fund anyway. Fortunately, JC isn’t “most people” – he is a single-minded, unstoppable force of nature. As a Chartered Market Technician, JC has a clear and specific view as to how money should be run in today’s markets. He’s gotten the thing launched against all odds and, along with his partner Alex, is off to the races. I’ve known JC for almost ten years and we’ve been through a lot together – when people would list the reasons why he wouldn’t be able to get things done, I used to laugh to myself because they had no idea who they were talking to.

And the list goes on and on – there are my friends the Alfred Brothers, Mike and Ryan from Brightscope, who are now dominating in 401(k) and mutual fund channel data, signing big deals left and right.

There is Aaron Klein at Riskalyze, who’s built an incredible tool for portfolio analytics that’s changing the way advisors work with their clients.

There’s Joe Weisenthal, who began blogging markets with me in 2008 and is now one of the most influential writers in all of finance.

Also, Stacy Marie-Ishmael, who works on product at Percolate and teaches entrepreneurial journalism to  the new generation at CUNY.

There’s Joe Fahmy and Frank Zorilla of the recently launched Zor Capital RIA, who know markets backwards and forwards and do as much education as any two traders I’ve ever met.

And Mebane Faber, my genius quant friend who’s out with his brand new book and ETF that capitalize on the dividend + buyback “shareholder yield” phenomenon.

Also, Carl Richards, who travels the country speaking with advisors and investors on a level of realism and calm otherwise unknown throughout the industry. I’ve called Carl “a Saint” and I mean it.

And there are many more winners and accomplishers and achievers I am blessed to know. They inspire me daily and set a good example for what happens when purpose and hard work meet opportunity.

These people believe in the future and are doing things today – in the present – to secure it. I’m proud of them and I’m lucky to have them as friends.

Willy Nelson turned 80 years old a few weeks back and has probably seen more in his eight decades than most of us. I’ll let him finish my thought here with something he said a long time ago: “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”

Go team go.