Wizards: minds over markets
by Van K. Tharp
Jack Schwager, commodity trader and confessed system skeptic, has been a familiar name in commodity
trading for a number of years. His 1984 book, A Complete Guide to the Futures Market, laid out most
tested techniques along with other methodologies.
His latest book, The Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders (Simon & Schuster, New York) might
be considered a companion to his technical tools book. Wizards brings home some of the more
important, and often, overlooked elements of successful trading—not magical systems, but the beliefs that
have made the most successful traders what they are today. Appropriately, trading psychologist Van K.
Tharp interviewed Schwager while he was in the process of writing Wizards. What follows is a
distillation of their six-hour discussion and follow-up questions.— Ed.
You've completed The Market Wizards . You've spent a lot of time talking with different top traders and
you've had a chance to think about their responses. At this point, what do you think it takes to be a top
The following are not in any particular order, just the order that I think of them. To begin, confidence in
your ability to consistently win as a trader over the long run is absolutely essential. Admittedly, this is a
bit of a Catch 22 proposition: in order to be a winning trader, you need to have confidence; but in order to
have confidence, you need to be a winning trader. That aspect, however, does not diminish the
importance of confidence. The one absolute common denominator among all the traders I interviewed
was a confidence in their continued ability to win over the long run. Everything else stemmed from this
Another critical factor is discipline. While this may sound like a cliche, it is probably the single most
mentioned word that cropped up when the top traders tried to explain what made them so successful.