Saturday, October 13, 2007

my first posting

This is my first post, so I'll do a little introduction about some of the current interests that I've been focusing on. As you can see from the interests I listed in my brief bio, I am very much into science and business. My current job commute is 4+ hours per day by train (BART and Caltrain). Fortunately, this is a workable commute and I use it to get work done. I also use this time to listen to some great podcasts. The two main podcast topics I've been listening to are project management and investing. I list some of my favorites under the "favorite books" section in my bio. I highly recommend these to anyone interested in these areas as well.

My main career focus now is to build and strengthen my project management skills. I am now working towards obtaining my PMP certification, so if anyone out there wants to contact me about that, please do. I would love to hear from you if you are either pursuing or have a PMP. My goal is to become a project management expert and leverage that along with my scientific research training and background to help lead a company in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. If you have thoughts, comments, and advice, I'd love to hear them. I especially want to hear and learn about life science research and manufacturing management in addition to software development and IT managment. The latter two areas tend to dominate the vast majority of PM topics and tools that I see out there on the internet, blogs, podcasts, and books. I would love to hear and learn more about managing clinical trials, drug discovery, drug and medical device manufacturing, and other biotech/pharma topics.

Some management podcasts I think every manager should listen to:
Manager Tools: I think by far the best practical guide to day to day management and career advice. I highly recommend this podcast. Mike and Mark are a great duo. Each one is about 30 minutes long.

Ethan Becker's Speech Coaching Tip of the Week: I started listening to this thinking from the title that I might get some good tidbits of information about public speaking and presentation skills. However, this podcast is much more than that. It gives excellent advice on a wide variety of managerial topics. It's short (about 5-10 minutes). It doesn't go into nearly the detail that Manager Tools does, but it has great short bits of advice. Listening to Ethan Becker clearly enunciate every syllable and consonant of every word as he speaks is sometimes humorous, but really gets the point across that most of us mutter our words and don't speak clearly when we talk.

Project Management Podcast: This podcast is on the long side (45min - 1 hour) and does have a lot of chatter and reading of listener emails that I think you can skip over to cut it down to the main points. I listen to this regularly because it has some very good interviews with PMs and was my first introduction to the nuts and bolts of a lot of PM tools and terminology such as PMBOK, PMI, Agile, ITIL, scrum methodology, PRINCE2, etc. If you're already a PMP, a lot of those are second hand, but you'll still benefit from hearing the interviews and can now use the podcast as PDUs to maintain your PMP certification.

Switching gears now to investing: As a hobby, I have been learning a lot about investing and equity trading. I'm being smart about it and make sure to erase all debt and fill up my retirement and emergency funds first. However, with a little bit of the leftover, I have been doing swing trading. I'm fascinated by day trading, but realize that I would need to do this as a job, not a hobby, to be successful. Therefore, since this is a hobby (or maybe I'll call it a part time job), I stick to trend analysis and swing trading. I look to hold for days to several weeks. Anything longer than several weeks gets boring since it ties up cash and prevents the ability to take advantage of other opportunities that come up. I'm learning about but too hesitant to do options trading for now. I may eventually move into options once I feel I've started to better understand a lot of the equity trading.

Some podcasts I recommend:
Real Story with Aaron Task: This is my favorite daily Wall Street wrap-up podcast. Always about 30 minutes long, it is a great overview of how the major markets behaved that day, what stocks were moving, and some great interviews from insiders on where they think the trend is going. I'm sad that Aaron had to stop playing rock and roll songs because of copyright problems, but he used to do a great job of picking rock songs to reflect the mood on the street. I hope he can find a way to bring this back because it added a great touch to the show and it's not the same to hear Aaron sing "Warning!!" for the Jeff Tate zone segment without any background music.

The Dividend Investor: This has become a lot more self promotional (new book release) lately, but still has some good advice for the average person without a lot of the "Buy this stock now!" advice out there.

The This is kind of long and repetitive now that it's moved from just a podcast to a podcast/radio show format, but it does have good plain-speaking advice about your whole financial planning strategy. Brian gives good advice on retirement plans, 401ks, insurance, etc.

The Fast Money Machine: I listened to the Market Guys podcast hoping to learn a lot of chart analysis tips, but was overall very disappointed. Then I found this podcast. It started and still is an analysis of CNBC's Fast Money show to see how well that show's stock pickers actually perform. This was modeled after the Mad Money Machine blog that follows how well Jim Kramer's Mad Money show does for stock picking advice. However, what I really love are the "Tools in the Crib" sections of the Fast Money Machine's podcasts. This gives some great tips on chart reading and analysis. You should listen to them in order because he builds the tools up from the ground so that you can assemble them sequentially on your desktop or in your head to follow how he uses them. Great stuff.

If you have podcast recommendations for me on these topics, please let me know.


chronis said...

Well my original post was to ask what you thought happened to Aaron Task. He has been MIA for a short while. But he responded to my email and said he will return Monday. So I'd like to suggest another interesting podcasts.

Bloomberg on the Economy - great stuff.

Also, not that my opinion means much but after spending a few years playing with trading styles, I've settled in on swing trading. Day trading is overhyped. Much work for minimal profit. Holding for 5-10% swings yields just as much with fewer trades. Options = gambling. I've probably read through 20 books and countless blogs, but when all is said and done, it comes down to a style that you are comfortable with. I've given up my Level 2 screen and concentrate on the basics. Hope you are finding the same luck with your trading.

Tim Grammer said...

I was wondering the same thing about Task and am glad to hear he's going to be back soon.
I will definitely check out the Bloomberg podcast you recommend. I've also found the Fidelity Training Knowledge and the McKinsey on Finance podcasts to be very interesting as well.

As for trading, I completely agree with you on the swing trading. Doing some good research and holding for the short term 5% or so has been by far my best strategy. I haven't tried the Level 2 resource, but plan to stay away from it and the day trading scene.

My biggest problem right now is knowing where to put my stop loss levels. My past 2 trades have cost me because the stocks gapped down sharply at the opening bell, triggered my order, and then rose quickly again afterwards. It was painful to see. Any thoughts on stop loss/stop limit orders?

chronis said...

I think we all suffer with this problem - still, it's very chart dependent. My similar incident occurred mid May with Mattel (MAT). The chart closed below it's 50 day SMA in an up market. I decided to short the stock and it continued to go down before pulling up again. I think I shorted it at ~ 28.5 and was expecting it to hit 26. Well it bounced back up to 28.5 and I covered (silly me). It went back down the next day. My stop really should have been closer to 29.5 (it's previous high and just above the Bollinger band). Mind you, this was long before mention of lead in toys, so I really didn't understand why the stock was going down - but somebody knew what was coming. If anything, it should be going up heading into the holidays. If I had followed my advice, I wouldn't have covered. Thus, when do I cover? When the trend changes. And when does the trend change? Well, go to and set up a chart as follows.

Daily chart (1 year)
SMA 8 (color purple)
SMA 20 (color green)
SMA 50 (color yellow)
SMA 200 (color red)
Bollinger Bands - (color green - style dashed)

Now you can follow the trend. If the trend is going up, green should be above yellow and yellow should be above red. Visa Versa for downtrends. I like using these colors because it mimics every traffic light I've ever seen. I shoved an 8 day SMA in there based on a recent Task podcast (but it forced me to use a new color - oh well). Once you get used to asking, what is the short-term, medium-term, and long-term trend, covering becomes much easier. For us swing traders, we are following a medium-term trend. As long as the green line (20 day SMA) stays above the yellow line (50 day SMA), all is long and the trend is your friend. The purple line (8 day SMA) can tip you off early on when to cover. If I had properly stared at my trend lines, I would not have prematurely covered because MAT still closed below it's 8 day SMA (even though it crossed the 8 day briefly midday). The trend stayed intact until it hit 25.5. I personally don't set a stop - I just check each day and cover when it's gone too far out of whack. But then, I'm not bothered by taking a loss and moving on if it's not going my way - it helps if you are not using scared money in your trades. It really should be "expendable" income, if there is such a thing. is the only item I subscribe to and it's invaluable because it saves my various chart profiles. Simpler is better.

I'll check out those podcasts. It's nice to hear various views on where people think the economy is going - even though most of the time they don't really have a clue.

Tim Grammer said...

Hi Chronis,
Thanks a lot for pointing me to the Bloomberg on the Economy podcast. I'm really enjoying them and will pass the recommendation on.

chronis said...

Bloomberg podcasts are very interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing the podcasts you mentioned - probably do so during some flight time ~ Thanksgiving.

Did you try playing with setting the charts as I suggested. I find it really helpful. I find it much easier to stay on the correct side of a trend.

Perry Joel said...

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