Our latest Trader Dozen interview is with an ex-Oil & Gas chemical engineer, Michael Rogan. Having noticed the Ruble tumbling every day after US put sanctions on Russia, Michael thus begun his journey into the markets.
A fortunate circumstance of being paid to voluntarily leave his engineering job because of company cuts, Michael then decided to take his trading full time in 2015, before setting up his trading mentoring company Mangrove Trading Academy.
Read on to find some really insightful words of trading wisdom that will be useful for new and veteran traders alike.
Would you perform surgery on someone after a weekend course in First Aid?Michael Rogan
1. Can you remember when and why you got into trading? (and what do you trade?)
My initial interest developed when I was travelling a lot and I used to wonder what made the currency conversion rates change. I’d been in Thailand seeing protests and seeing my money worth more or less and I got curious. In terms of actual first trades, here’s one that stands out in my memory:
I saw in the news that the US had imposed sanctions upon Russia and thought I’d have a look at the charts. I’d turn on my phone each morning and look at the Ruble chart. Every day, from around 8am until the mid-afternoon or evening, the Ruble was falling. I didn’t know much about trading, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of that and I just started jumping in. Before I knew it, I was making £500 on the morning commute just during the time I was underground (there was no Internet on the tube in those days). I started to think, “this is easy money”…
These days, I trade very differently. I use price patterns and price action combined with little-known techniques which could be classified as market geometry and time cycles to identify and manage my trades. I trade currencies, stocks (mainly US) and also some commodities like precious metals and grains.
It sounds like a lot, but I narrowed down my focus to just a small number of instruments within those categories that I have a record of success with. This is an important point for beginners – too often we try to trade everything we see. I see this even with some pro traders – they have a strategy that works, and although they notice that their actual results vary (perhaps one currency pair is their nemesis), they don’t take note of this. We all naturally have more affinity to certain trading instruments than others. Believe it or not, it’s just like people – some we just can’t get along with and some we click with immediately.
2. What’s your trading style and how do you fit this into your other life activities? Do you trade around your life or does your life/job fit around trading?
For me, trading is all about FREEDOM. So the purpose of me trading is about having more freedom in my life, whether that’s financial, time or locational. I could never be a trader that sits in front of a screen all day looking for intra-day setups. It wouldn’t fulfil the reason that I trade, but I’m also not made for it – I would get too stressed and emotionally drained.
I take a step back and look at the markets just once per day at the New York close. So I trade on the daily and weekly charts. I avoid looking at charts during the day as it messes with my decision making for later that evening. I find that I get a lot of clarity and a low-stress life this way, and of course great returns. The bonus of this approach is that it’s easy for anyone to start doing while they have a full-time job, which I how I started after all. In my case, I have the whole day free to enjoy my life and teach my students.
3. What would you say motivates you to constantly work on improving your trading and enjoy what you’re doing?
First of all, I’ve always been very driven. It’s in my nature. When I was working in an office as an Engineer, I didn’t feel fulfilled because my progress wasn’t dependent on my own improvement, but more on waiting a certain number of years to be promoted.
These days, I have two main motivations for improving my trading. One is to develop greater understanding. I have a very strong drive to understand more and learn more. So I never stop learning because it’s what I love to do. And two is to better teach my students. When you are teaching, you find that having students pushes you to improve so you can better serve and guide them.
4. Throughout your journey, are you able to pinpoint a moment or a routine that you start doing that then made all the difference to your trading and/or life?
Yes – when I stopped trying to use other people’s strategies and turned my attention to understanding the true nature of markets and how they really work.
Most people learn by seeing what other profitable traders do and then start trying to replicate that. That’s fine to begin with, but you will never have great success long-term with that approach. You can never be a better Michael than Michael is.
Instead, I believe that it is better to develop a sound understanding of how markets work, find out what really drives the price movements - study the fundamental laws behind the markets. For this you will have to open your mind a little and be prepared to consider things that most traders don’t. After all, most people lose money in the markets. If we want to be different, we must do things differently. Then, from that base, you can develop your own trading strategy that suits your personality.
5. I’m presuming that you’ve come up against failure in the past. What has been your approach on getting past these failures and has this evolved since?
I think the first thing that’s important to do when you encounter failure is to understand why. What went wrong? Why did it happen? Is this failure telling me that I need to change something? So just like anyone, when I feel that I’ve failed I might get a little disheartened at first. But once that’s passed, I try to work out what the lesson is and if I need to change something to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
In trading, our biggest failures always have big lessons for us. Often it’s that we were risking too much, that a strategy doesn’t work the way we had thought it did or something else that needs to be addressed. In terms of how my approach has changed, I think it has moved from a more emotional reaction (which can lead to a negative cycle) to trying to step back and ask myself the questions above. You can take the role of an outside observer on the situation or your life, perhaps imagining to be your higher or smarter self and you might find that the answers and truths (the causes of the failure) that you were afraid to admit come out.
6. What would you put your success down to? Just being lucky, your intellect and smarts or just consistent hard work? Or possibly a combination? Do you think your past career in Chemical Engineering has helped shape you as a trader?
I don’t believe in luck. I think my success has been due to finding the courage to commit to something that I truly feel aligned with or suited to do. Hard work is very important, but when you are doing something that you love, it comes easily as it doesn’t feel like work.
My past career and training as an Engineer has certainly helped me. Not least because, as an Engineer, you train your mind to solve problems (of any kind). I’ve always had an interest in understanding how things work and that’s partly what led me to want to crack the markets.
7. What do you think sets you apart from others who are trying to be successful?
I found this question difficult to answer as we are all different. But I think a major thing for me is that I like to do things differently from the crowd. I’m a bit of a free spirit and like to question things, to try to think a little differently to others and never accept things blindly, whether it’s an established idea, method or assumption.
Obviously this lends itself very well to the markets where going with the crowd will lead you to the (financial) slaughter-house.
8. What advice do you have for those who fail, give up or never get started? For either trading or something else in life.
For those who fail: congratulations. We are too often afraid of this outcome, but it’s actually the only way that we learn in life. So, well done for having the courage to try, now review what went wrong and find out what the lesson is to take forward. Pick yourself up and go again. Find the strength by knowing that it is only by failing that you can progress.
For those who give up: remind yourself of the reason that you started in the first place. Does it still apply? If so, surround yourself with it to keep up your motivation, for example as your computer or phone background or even post-its on the wall.
For those you haven’t gotten started (yet): What is stopping you? Do you have limiting beliefs that are sabotaging you? Such as, “I am not good enough”, “I won’t succeed” or “I don’t deserve it”. Examine yourself and find what it holding you back.
9. Do you set yourself goals? And do you feel that it is a good way to achieve what you want?
Yes, I do set myself goals. I think that it can be a good way to keep yourself in check and to monitor your progress. It’s too easy to drift (see the book “Outwitting the Devil” by Napoleon Hill) if we don’t pay attention…
I don’t set myself financial goals for my trading as it introduces extra pressure which can lead to excessive risk taking. I find that if I work well on my other goals, my trading results will take care of themselves.
10. Knowing what you know now and how you got to where you are today. Is there anything you would like to have done differently, maybe done something earlier in life (or later) etc.
Certainly there are things that I would not do again if I could go back in time, but I like to think that everything I have done has led me to where I am now. Since I’m happy and I believe moving in the right direction, I wouldn’t change anything.
11. Trading has been your full time income since 2015, have you found that there are ups and downs in terms of your monthly income? How did you come to the decision to make trading your full-time income?
Certainly there have been ups and downs in terms of month to month. But I was ready for this from the start – as long as you are making enough over time/on average, the month to month fluctuations aren’t a big problem. It evens out.
I made trading my full-time income sort of by chance – my Engineering job offered a nice pay-off sum for anyone who wanted to volunteer to leave (they were cutting costs after the Oil price crashed). I knew that I didn’t want to stay in that role forever so I took that money and put it towards my trading account. I wasn’t fully ready, but you never are… The situation gave me the opportunity and motivation to take action and to make it a success, so I grabbed it.
12. You’ve got your own Trading Academy (Mangrove Trading Academy) which has been running for a few years now. Can you expand on why you decided to share your trading skills? What do you see as your main value or selling point that you can pass on to beginner traders that you feel they can’t get anywhere else?
Yes, as I said before, trading for me is all about freedom. I strongly believe that knowledge that is not shared is wasted. So I am grateful that I have developed a platform through which I can share my experiences and skills to help others achieve more freedom in their lives. In fact, I have refused to manage other people’s money, despite the greater income potential because I believe more in helping others to find their own freedom than I do in helping people to make a lot of money with no effort on their part.
As for what makes the Mangrove Trading Academy different? Two things. We focus on teaching the principles and rules through which the market operates (as opposed to one specific strategy) which allow the student to make money in any market, in any time-frame and in any market environment.
And secondly, ongoing mentoring and support – I saw (and experienced) too many programs or training events where you are taught some things about the markets and trading and then left mostly to your own devices. Or perhaps you continue to receive some trading signals. But without on-going guidance and mentoring, you will quickly fail.
People usually underestimate how hard trading is. The reality is that trading is like any other highly skilled profession. It takes a lot of hard work and time to become a skilled practitioner. However, in trading we often don’t have the support system, checks and structure that professions like medicine have. Anyone (almost) can open a brokerage account and start risking their money almost immediately. This makes people think that it’s simple and results in a lot of pain and empty accounts. Would you perform surgery on someone after a weekend course in First Aid?
The reality is that you need on-going guidance, support and the benefit of experience in order to make a success of trading in the long-term. So at the Mangrove Trading Academy, this is the cornerstone of what we do throughout all of our different training programs. We continue to guide and mentor our traders for as long as they need us.
13. Do you have any interests or pursuits outside of the markets?
I like to unwind by surrounding myself with nature, whether it’s a forest or the sea. I also practise yoga, meditation and enjoy dancing and reading.
For more from Michael head to mangrovetrading.com