Life lessons can come from literally anywhere. For expert day trader Ross Cameron, even maple syrup and Antiguan flowers have provided lessons in not only life but also how to trade the markets.
A native of Vermont and now a resident of Massachusetts, you could say maple syrup is in Ross Cameron’s blood.
“I absolutely loved the stuff when I was growing up,” he said. “I would put it on literally anything — but especially pancakes. Today I put it in my green tea.”
Cameron loved it so much that after becoming a successful day trader, he started making it in his spare time. Not one to do anything by half measures, Cameron one day found that he was making so much maple syrup that he didn’t know what to do with it.
Maple syrup is made by collecting the raw sap from maple trees and then reducing it down in large pans to make the thick, sweet syrup everybody loves.
“Once, I got so involved with my maple syrup that I had cooked and cooked for four straight days, boiling down 400 gallons in one batch,” said Cameron. “I found myself staring in disbelief at these gigantic pans. I had other things I needed to do but there was still more cooking that needed to be done. If I’d stopped the process right there and then, I’d lose the whole batch, because the cooking process is not something that you can easily go back to after a time — you could potentially lose it all. All that work and all that raw sap, I simply wasn’t prepared to lose a whole season’s worth. Stopping then and there would be creating infinitely more risk. I could try to keep a little, but I’d lose a lot.”
Ross Cameron kept going. And the syrup was delicious — all the more so because he had committed to finishing what he started and didn’t give up.
“It occurred to me that this was a life lesson — and a lesson for my trading, too,” said Cameron. “You need to finish what you started and make the most of the resources you have.”
Ross Cameron has managed to become a very successful day trader — so much so that he arguably doesn’t need to trade another day of his life, if the markets continue on trend over time. He could simply keep his account dormant and watch it grow.
But that’s just the problem, thought Cameron. The only predictable thing about the markets is that they aren’t predictable. If a committed trader has the capital, he needs to use it to make more, or he could lose it all.
“You might think that your portfolio is full of sure things that will all grow over time. But anything can happen, so you need to keep trading.”
Everything Is a Trading Lesson
Ross Cameron spends so much time with the lens of trading on, that he now sees the whole world through this lens.
“At this point, I tend to be able to relate almost anything back to trading,” said Cameron.
A few months ago, Cameron was in Antigua on vacation, and he and his wife were walking along a serene path by the beach. The side of the path was lined with a bush with stunning and sizable pink flowers.
“I said, ‘Wow, these pink flowers are so beautiful — and so huge!’ And my wife said, ‘Well actually that plant’s an imposter, pretending to have large pink flowers. But the pink part isn’t a flower. It’s the plant’s leaves.”
Cameron looked closer and saw that what he thought was a gigantic pink flower was actually pink leaves in the shape of an oversize flower, with only a tiny white flower in the middle of them.
“It immediately made me think of some elements of the trading community, because there’s a lot of traders out there that are imposters. They put up a big front. They’re very flashy. They drive a fancy car, fly in a private jet, and live in big mansions. But it’s all rented. And to me it’s like, why are they trying so hard to project such an image? Why not concentrate all that effort and money into their trading?”
Maple Syrup Has a Lesson About Scale for Warrior’s Ross Cameron
Cameron’s fascination with maple syrup has been a constant source of reflection on trading.
“After I’d been doing it for about a year, I was collecting more sap than I realized I could process with my current set of pans,” said Warrior Trading’s Cameron.
He discovered he would not be able to cook all the sap without staying up 24 hours a day.
“I was trying to work out what to do. Buy a bigger pan?”
Warrior Trading’s Ross Cameron surfed the net to find out how professionals cooked sap. In the process he learned about a method called reverse osmosis — a process used for water purification that can also be used to reduce sap to maple syrup.
“These folks weren’t simply getting infinitely bigger pans. They were increasing the efficiency of their evaporation by increasing the sugar density before they started the boiling process,” said Cameron. “It made a lot of sense.”
Then it struck him that there was a trading lesson to be had.
“I’ve heard so many traders tell me that while my trading strategy obviously works for me, it won’t work for people with less capital. They say, ‘I don’t have $500,000 to trade, so I can’t afford to buy 1,000 shares of a stock to make 20 cents a share and hit my $200-a-day target. I need to get at least $1 out of the market to get $200, so I’m just going to focus on the type of stocks that I can get $1 out of the market.’”
That rationale is why many day traders trade popular stocks like Tesla every day.
“But to say that an effective trading strategy doesn’t apply to you, because you have a small account is a mistake, I think,” said Cameron. “It’s like me saying ‘I can’t do reverse osmosis for my maple syrup, because reverse osmosis systems are too expensive, and I’m a small hobbyist.’
“There are plenty of backyard maple syrup producers who have figured out how to retrofit a reverse osmosis system for a micro scale,” said Warrior Trading’s Ross Cameron. “The point is that reverse osmosis is a system that works, and it can be scaled to suit both small and large syrup volumes. So, too, a good trading strategy doesn’t have to be dependent on the volume of stock and the money you have. If you have a good system, you just have to find the right stocks to execute it, and you can find success and build volume over time. The only difference between making 20 cents a day with 10 shares and doing it with 10,000 shares is ultimately just having more buying power. You can use the same strategy for both.”
Maple syrup and Antiguan flower (imposters): Life — and trading — lessons are everywhere, for Warrior Trading’s Ross Cameron.