Oct

9

 Counting is great, but without trading ideas to test, it will go as far as a Ferrari without gasoline. Let's number "Generating trading ideas" as step zero in the "Counting in 11 steps" manifesto, a variation on Dr. Steenbarger's Opus.

With this in mind, I took up the study of idea manufacturing. One of the shortest books ever published is James Young's "A Technique for Producing Ideas". It is only 48 pages. It was written in the 1940s by an advertiser. Predictably, it is about generating ideas for advertising. But the process is the same in other fields like science or speculation.

Interestingly, the author starts by drawing a distinction between two types of people. Borrowing from Pareto , he presents the "speculators", creative people with ideas, and the "rentiers", unimaginative people thriving in routine. He wrongly translates "rentier" as stockholder when in fact this word means "bondholder". But this is a minor peeve. The translation might not be so wrong: I believe the word stocks was used for bonds in England in the 19th century. This mention of speculators in a book dedicated to idea production is interesting, but not central. The main thesis is that new ideas are a combination of existing ideas. Since existing ideas are needed to produce new ideas, one must have a big store of existing ideas. There are two sources:

- A deep knowledge of the subject under consideration.
- A knowledge of as many other unrelated subjects as possible.

One needs to be both a specialist and a Renaissance man.

Victor is widely recognized as one of the greatest trading idea generators ever, and this site is a reflection of his personality. It deals with a wide variety of subjects, from hunting to BBQ, while displaying a depth of financial knowledge and experience. It took me a while to understand the greatness of this modus operandi. Young's little book helped me pin it down. I am forever grateful to Victor for his teaching by example, showing how by being both an Homo Universalis and an Homo œconomicus, one can create the ideas that are a prerequisite to counting.

Nigel Davies adds:

This echoes the advice of Alexander Kotov, in Think Like A Grandmaster, that the best way to study openings is to know something about everything and everything about one thing. And I am also very grateful to Victor for his lessons on such matters.


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