You may have seen the story on 60 Minutes, or seen the stories throughout the media all week. There has been a big conversation about the idea that the Stock Market is being “rigged” by high frequency trading. That is the thesis of the new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. In short using technology, artificial intelligence, and other clever strategies, Lewis purports that these high frequency traders are doing things to gain micro advantages and make big profits.
I have no idea if he is right, or how much difference it makes (a quick search will gain you lots of agreement and some commentary to refute his point – or at least the importance of these strategies).
Here is what I do know – and what is more important to you as a reader of these words. . .
You can use specific clever and intentional strategies to create the kinds of small advantages for yourself and your career – and get massive changes in your results.
And I know they will work.
Here are five ways to “rig” your market.
- Know your goal. The high frequency traders are looking for ways to make more money for themselves or their clients. They are crystal clear on their purpose. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve (personally, professionally, for your team, or for your organization), you have the taken the most important first step to improving the odds in your favor.
- Find the levers. Every skill, every system, every process and every problem has a few vital items or pieces that are the keys to success, turnaround or solution. We’ll call those the levers. Once you have a goal, look for the things that are the biggest levers to create the change or results you are after. Then, ignore the noise and the shiny objects that others suggest and focus on your levers. Here is a big hint – these levers might not be what others think are most important.
- Master the levers. Once you know what the 1-4 levers are in your market, master those levers. Be diligent and disciplined, but mostly be intentional. If you have done the first two steps you have the clear intention, which makes it far easier to change the habits, do the study, ask for the feedback and practice the hard stuff to begin to master your levers. Note that you don’t have to master everything and every skill, just the levers that will make the biggest difference for you. (Tweet that)
- Do it fast. At the core of this “the market is rigged” thesis is that some traders are finding ways to get information nanoseconds before others, and then they are using that speed difference to their advantage. For you it may not be nanoseconds, but speed always matters. Notice that this isn’t the first point on the list though – the key here is urgency and speed, but directed speed, based on better knowledge and clear priorities. Once you know what the opportunities are, you’ve got to move.
- Think little things. The popular book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff had it wrong. It is the small stuff that often matters most. It isn’t necessarily all of the small stuff, but some of the small, little things will have the biggest impact of all. When you have done the other four steps in this list, you will know how to sort the small stuff and determine what you must sweat and master in order to get the highest return on your efforts and the greatest overall result.
Is this work?
Yes, it is (and a lot of it).
But when you do take these steps, you will create massive advantage for yourself, your team and your organization.
Take these steps and it will be like creating an “unfair” advantage over your competition.