Talking With "Turtle" Russell Sands by Thom Hartle
We talked with "turtle" Russell Sands about the importance of risk management, following the trend and understanding crowd behavior.
How did you end up becoming one of the turtles?
Believe it or not, I was reading the help-wanted section in The New York Times and I saw this ad. I don't
think it was very specific at all. It just said "prominent Chicago trading firm looking for people that they
can train in their methods" and went on to say that they were willing to train and bankroll you. So I sent
in a resume and they sent back this question and answer test. I understand they got about 1,500 or 2,000
resumes, and they asked about 50 people to come to Chicago for interviews. I don't know why I was
chosen, because I didn't do so well on the testsólike I said, I didn't know a lotóand so I got a lot of the
test questions wrong.
So how did you manage?
Well, when I went out to Chicago for the interview, the three partners interviewed me and we talked
about the commodities market for about five minutes or so, which exhausted my knowledge. Then we
talked about backgammon and probabilities for about half an hour. We talked a lot about probabilities in
blackjack and backgammon, and they said it was the same thing in commodities trading. I guess they thought that the combination of my MBA, education and my backgammon and blackjack successes was
what they were looking for, with some mathematical aptitude, games playing type-oriented people. I fit
How long did you stay with the firm?
About a year, from the end of 1983 to the end of 1984. They taught us in a classroom for a couple of
weeks; he and a couple of his partners lectured about their trading methods, a lot of chart patterns,
technical analysis, money management concepts. After about two weeks of classroom instruction, they
put about a million dollars in each of our accounts, turned us loose and said, "Okay, go trade." For the
first two weeks or so, we were only trading single lots just so we could get the mechanics down. Then
they said, "Okay, trade full speed." And that's how I learned about trading.