10 Traits of Successful Students Turned Traders


Since starting this site in 2008 I have talked to literally thousands of traders.  Ive had over 1000 students complete our 60 day Bootcamp  and tens of thousands take our 4 day starter course.  I get the question all the time on what are the traits that my students who are successful have.  All my great students turned traders all had these traits in common that separated them from the pack and it showed not just while they were learning how to trade but are still prevalent while they are doing this for a living.    Chris, Theo, Harsh, Tim Weintraut all these guys share some very important traits that showed when they were students and fledgling traders on their first accounts.

Path to Profitability Maribeth

Path to Profitability Chris Zielinksi

Path to Profitability Harsh Patel


1.  Passion

This seems easy enough right? Its not! You have to love this to be great and to get through the ups and downs.  I found that the people that get into trading just for the money never end up successful.  There are a ton of other and less stressful ways to make money in this world.  Every time I get a student who says they always saw themselves working for themselves some day so they got into trading tend to fail or say they are doing this as they want to make a lot of money they like the lifestyle.  Those guys never make it.  If you don’t live and breath this stuff all day all night its very tough.  You ever had a doctor , lawyer, teacher who just went through the motions like it was a job?  THEY SUCK! The passion is priceless.

2.  Unique Market Perspective

Every great trader has their own unique perspective on the markets. None of my students who are great trade exactly like me.  In Bootcamp class I trade my style of trading but we dig into everything.  We learn about trends & price action all the components that make stocks move in certain ways.  All these guys trade vastly different then me even though the core of what they do is what I taught them!  Tim and Theo are both swing traders of small cap stocks,  Maribeth is a heavy scalper who trades much more size then I do but with quicker entries & exits, Chris Z doesn’t even use indicators on his charts! He tends to trend trade with a mix of swings on stocks that are on bottoms.  A great student will develop a unique signature that fits their personality and risk profile they develop an edge that they can execute constantly.

3.  Process Driven

All these students never counted money.  They develop and refine routines non stop to build great habits. Then they can execute without thought everything becomes 2nd nature to them.   You see in our chat room all the time Harsh preaching its not about the cash its about the process.  If you do all the little things right at the end of the day you will have a nice profit.   When Maribeth was new and she had just been shellacked for a week straight in her trading when we were reviewing her trades Sunday as we always did she had this huge smile.  I asked  her “what the F-word are you smiling about?”  she replies back “if i can develop a process to fix my position sizing issue so I don’t go all in on certain trades, I’m going to be rich!”

4. A Goto Setup

All these guys have an Old Faithful –  A goto setup that is their own that they can count on day in and day out.   They know every single aspect about this setup and how to find them.  If you ask Maribeth anything about pr/earnings breakout she can even tell you the probabilities and variances of different intraday techniques to apply on the setup depending on the time of day.  She has hard stats on all of it and then depending on what she sees she knows exactly when to put the hammer on it.   Having a goto setup is also truly necessary as its a slump buster.  Great traders rarely slump and need to keep periods of draw-downs to a minimum.  One of the reasons you never see me have losing weeks or back to back losing days is that as soon as I have 1 losing day.  The very next day you see me fall back on Old Faithful to get me straight again.   One of the biggest reasons I see so many new traders struggle is that they jump around way to much before every spending enough time to master anything.  They go from guru to guru, website to website, scan to scan , indicator to indicator always searching for the holy grail.  Master 1 method , find 1 teacher and then learn every single detail you can about that before you move on.  Its the only way this can work.

5. Data Driven

My best students were masters at collecting data.  They collect data on everything from the probabilities & risk for their Goto Setups to their metrics in certain trading environments.  Chris Zielinksi is fantastic at this.  If you ask him at 10am what setups he trades the best he will have every setup that he trades well in the morning and its metrics along with which ones he needs to stay away from and why. He keeps spreadsheets and logs of all his trades and you can filter it in numerous ways so that whenever he is in a slump he can literally go back to his data and pinpoint the exact thing he is doing wrong and how to fix it.

6. Epic Worth Ethic

I know what your thinking “yeah I’m a hard worker” .  Every one of my students tells me that.  But when its really time to get to work a majority of the people always let life get in the way.  There is always a class, or a date, family event something that derails what you need to do.  And yes you need balance and to be well rounded and your family is important.  But in the beginning you need to live and breath this. When Maribeth first started to trade out of college she worked the night shift at a hospital so she would have her days free. She would work through the night and then drive straight home and start trading, I would every single day talk to her on the phone as she was driving back as I was worried she would fall asleep while driving. She would then trade all day then study with me after the market. We would run scans she would do her homework then she would sleep for a few hours then go right back to hospital! Guys there are going to be days you run 24 hour shifts, I still do to this day sometimes.  In the end it all comes down to HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT.

7. NO Excuses

I had a student this that trades inside CliqueFundLP  tell me on Friday he only made 300 dollars because the market was slow due the $baba ipo coming and there isn’t going to be much going on till that happens.  WHAT WHAT! huh?!!!!  Every week there are dozens of stocks flying around you only need a few! $nete $rwlk just on Friday alone you can make a weeks worth of profits it just takes 1 play.  One of the great things Maribeth does each week is go through all the top gainers of the last week and figure out which ones she missed and why she wasn’t in that stock.  As traders we have a responsibility to be in the best stocks.  If your not or missed them go through your scanning process and figure out where the leak is.

8. Act From A Position Of Strength

All these students they had their lives together. They didn’t have the desperation that so many do when they trade.  So many people want to get into trading because they NEED to make money and do it right away.  That causes an unbelievable amount of mental errors and pressure that makes most people fold and make account busting emotional errors.  A big part of being a great trader is being opportunistic when you trade out of need when you HAVE to have a stock do something to pay your bills that’s when your most vulnerable and can never make the right decisions.  When your PRESSURED to make trades to make money you take out the biggest advantage we have as day traders which is being nimble and opportunistic waiting in the bushes for the right play. If your learning and have a job…KEEP IT!   If you can’t make money while you have a job its going to be nearly impossible without any income.   When I had a job all I could think of was when I stop working and trade full-time I’m going to make a million dollars that first year! No my trading was a disaster that first few months I lost my position of strength and needed to make adjustments.  Chris Zielinksi same thing he was making 1-2000 dollars a day while working and as soon as he stopped it took some time to adjust to not having that fallback


All great traders need to be resilient.  Every Bootcamp I tell my students the same thing.  At some point your going to want to quit.  You will be so overwhelmed and frustrated by how hard this is.  In the beginning it will be from absorbing all the information you’ve learned. Then you will go on simulator and trying to transition from coursework to seeing things live will drive you bonkers.   At some point you will go live and nearly blow up your account or blow it up. It will depress you and make you hate the world and yourself! 99% of the time when you lose its always mental or emotional errors that take you down. Its your own fault and that will eat you alive. You will want to quit and probably be pissed at me some point too.   Its at that moment that will be your inflection  point…how do you make the comeback that is the moment that defines you.  Same thing goes on a day to day basis. In our hedge fund where our students trade CliqueFundLP  one of the things I notice is that when a trader is new if they lose their first trade of the day or first couple traces of the day they unravel and hit their max loss.  Short memory is a must and each trade has to be taken on its own accord.

I think this is probably the most important trait I see.  Harsh is very resilient.  He blew up his first trading account while in college using his tuition money.  He literally lost his 10k in weeks! It was gone. But instead of dwelling on it he hit the books hard, came back in class and started over and did everything right.  Now he is killing it every single day.

Chris Zielinkski wasn’t hitting his goals recently and was so frustrated with his trading he bugged me everyday to come to my house and stay with me. When I finally gave him the OK he didn’t leave for 3 WEEKS! He literally let me bark at him nonstop for 3 straight weeks.  He sent me a text last week saying all his mojo is back and he is back to winning everyday of the week.

Theo- Blew up his first trading account in weeks that I gave him!  he was so bummed for a day and then just went back to work working on his process to fix his mental errors.  2 weeks later he sends me a text saying he had the biggest trade of his life making 13k in 1 trade.

Maribeth she took her account from 10k to 80k in such a short time it was such a big bull market.  Then she had 1/2 her account stuck in a stock that got halted for weeks and then crashed when it opened.  then crazily enough she actually got stuck in another halt and almost busted up her whole account.  With just a few dollars left she buckled up and went back to the grind taking the whole year to rebuild what she lost in a matter of days.  She never gave up.  The only thing you can control is your own attitude and both Harsh

10. They ALL Have A Mentor

Whether its me or someone else get one!  I was fortunate to find a great mentor, if it wasn’t for Paul J. Singh I’d probably still be a headhunter working in a cubicle. He runs the awesome swing service right here, you can find him on twitter too! There are tons of great teachers out there, find someone you mesh with that is willing to give you months of their time as that’s how long its going to take to get started.  Make sure they are accessible in some manner so that when those hard times come you can lean on them.  Don’t go for the guy that makes the most money that’s meaningless. find a guy with a big heart and a lock down method for developing skills in people.   You can’t learn this in 10 hours or even 20 hours.  This is a multi month journey that requires feedback and a community if you find that guy hold onto them for life!


GO GET IT FOLKS! The rewards of making this your career are life changing for you and your family. It will take work but there is nothing else like it. This is the best job in the world.

7 thoughts on “10 Traits of Successful Students Turned Traders”

  1. Great article. I am going through all of these things you mentioned. A year after taking bootcamp my life is just now allowing me time to trade everyday. I went live way too quick because my simulated trading was giving me false confidence. I think your first experience on a simulator is just too fake because you don’t know what emotions you feel in live trading. Live trading is so much different and more scary. I lost some money going live, but now I know what it feels like so I am back to simulation trading but with a knowledge of live trading I can emulate the feeling of live trading which is more realistic. My simulated trading is much different this time with the live experience. It is still so very hard to figure out what works for me consistently. It’s been a month of everyday trading and I’ve realized how much there is to learn. It will take many more months or more at least and I am sure of it. I’m so very glad to have found Kunal and this team to work with. WHen I have more time and trades under my belt, I will be hitting you guys up for advice. Thanks for the opportunity to learn from you everyday in the chatroom. Looking forward to making you all proud to have taught me!! It might take some time, but I will get there.

  2. ALL of these are absolutely fundamental, and every trader will have different ones they will need to work on at different points in their development.

    When I first started out I would watch KD with amazement and think “I’ll NEVER be able trade like that, I may as well give up now!”…For me, the answer to this dilemma was #2 – I realized that I didn’t HAVE TO trade like Kunal to be successful! There are so many different paths to success in this game. So for the first 3 months of the year I focused almost exclusively on long swings of nano/micro-cap biotechs from areas of strong support, and had huge success.

    But then the biotech pullback happened and I was at a complete loss – nothing I was doing was working anymore, and in fact I was giving back a bunch of gains still trying to trade within that paradigm. Believe me, that tested my resiliency to the EXTREME!

    I then went into a phase where I had really mixed results while I was trying to re-orient my perspective. After a while I realized that another one my my GO-TO setups, the parabolic short, was still very potent. I also started to focus more on trading options than equities, and realized this was an area where I had a lot of potential. I love options because they force you to focus more on strategy than quick executions, which always was a part of day trading that made me nervous! At the same time I realized that doing a bit more work on understanding fundamental valuations would be helpful to me with this ‘slow-trading’ approach I was developing.

    The point is you need to understand your sticking points at different times, stay humble, and always be ready to adapt and learn. And when you find something that works, capitalize on it!! This past week I didn’t have a single day where I wasn’t realizing 25 – 90% gains on various options trades, repeatedly making the same types of trades on overinflated stocks like SCOK and others. This ‘re-orientation’ of my skill set culminated on Friday, when I realized my 5 figure gain on put options on MBLY, a trade I 100% for sure would have completely missed earlier in my career, before I took the time to truly re-evaluate the points in this list that I needed to work on to move forward.

    Hang in there guys, be willing to constantly question yourself on these points, and you CAN and WILL be successful!!!!!

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