On Friday I saw Anvil: The Story of Anvil.

It was the most interesting movie I have seen in a long time. It is an independent film I saw at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Anvil was an up-and-coming heavy metal band in the early 1980s. I vaguely recalled the name… I myself was an Iron Maiden and Judas Priest fan. Anyway, unlike Maiden, the Priest, Scorpions, and others, Anvil never made it big time.

The lead two member of Anvil, however, never gave up, and they have been playing together for thirty years. They are broke and work regular jobs, yet they still think that one day they will have a hit album and become world-wide rock stars.

The film is a documentary about Anvil, and their quixotic quest to become world-renowned stars. At first it is amusing – almost like watching Spinal Tap as the lead singer and guitarist "Lips" lives in his fantasy rock and roll world. As they movie progresses, it becomes a bit depressing. The third part is the culmination of their attempt to launch a new album with a new producer, and an attempt to get a contract with a major label. The last scene is fantastic, but I will not tell the readers how it ends.

I spent most of my time thinking about my own life, and the lives of others that I know. When is the appropriate time to give up? Most second rate metal bands from the 80s gave up a long time ago. Are they better off for it? Or should they have kept living the dream? The same could easily be applied to traders and money managers. I for one gave up trading last year. Should I have? How long should I have kept at it before quitting?

This is of course an unanswerable question.

Duncan Coker recalls:

When I was 18 I had dreams of forming and being a part of the next Allman Brothers band and pursed this the first few years of college — much to the detriment of my GPA and class attendance. That dream ended in my early 20s. But I still play and enjoy guitar to this day and my musical friends of earlier days are still among my closest. So I will always be a guitarist, but never a rock star.

GM Nigel Davies analyzes:

There is an answer, but it requires thinking in terms of the journey rather than the perceived destination. As long as someone experiences personal growth as a result of his endeavours (and this manifests itself in a feeling of passion) then the activity is worth continuing. But when it becomes all about destinations (ambition, money, power) then the odds are high that an accident will happen.





Speak your mind

12 Comments so far

  1. Steve Leslie on September 13, 2009 7:34 am

    Having run a number of businesses, I am torn by these thoughts daily. It is one of the great challenges of working for yourself. In one of Trump's biographies he discusses the absolute lowlight of his life when he had to walk to Citigroup's offices in the freezing rain to work with the bankers on his distressed real estate in 1990. He had accumulated 9 Billion of real estate and 9.8 billion of debt. He walked over a bum in the street and realized that the bum was worth 800 Million more than he was. He goes on in typical Trump fashion to describe the shame and utter disgust that others cast upon him. There are hundreds and hundreds of similar stories from famous and not so famous people. This is the value of biograhies and the lessons that they offer

  2. NEWTON LINCHEN on September 13, 2009 9:05 am

    For me, the question is not the same.

    a) As an artist, you have (or depend upon) a public - they purchase your art
    b) As a trader, you don’t have a public - the outcome of your effort doesn’t depend upon public buying your work

    So, for me, trading is not comparable to music career in this terms.

    The musician needs the public, needs to be in the grace of the public. The trader doesn’t. The trader doesn’t have to have any contact with human beings (or few contact) - therefore trading is the perfect job for a misanthrope (wich I believe I am, in some way).

    As a trader, the positive outcome comes from never stop working, never stop thinking and never stop trading.

  3. Mike Olds on September 13, 2009 10:25 am


    Try this (I note the other response which is similar):

    Because it is the law of the land
    The word of the Elders
    The pronouncement of some authority
    Because hear-say say so
    Because it is traditional
    “The custom of my people.”
    Because it is the conclusion reached after thinking over reasons

    Only after careful consideration
    Of your own personal experience

    If Beforehand you think:
    “Bad conditions will increase
    Good conditions will decrease
    Going that way”
    Then Do not go further on that way

    But if you think:
    “Good conditions will increase
    Bad conditions will decrease
    Going This Way”
    Then Go This Way A little Further

    If During you think:
    “Bad conditions are increasing
    Good conditions are decreasing
    As I go that way”
    Then do not go further on that way
    Even if it means you must get up and go
    Without saying “goodbye”

    But if you think:
    “Good conditions are increasing
    Bad conditions are decreasing
    As I go along This Way”
    Then Go This Way A little Further
    Even if it means maybe having to work a little,
    Experience a little discomfort.

    If afterward you think:
    “Bad conditions increased
    Good conditions decreased
    Going that way”
    Then Do not go that way again

    But if you think:
    “Good conditions increased
    Bad conditions decreased
    As I went along This Way”
    Keep Going Along This Way A little Further


    Of course the trick here is determining what is and what is not a good or bad condition.

    The flexability of the formula is deliberate.

  4. Adam Sterling on September 13, 2009 11:34 am

    As a serial entrepreneur who now trades for a living, I’ve more than once had to close a start-up in which the investment was much more than financial. The feeling of loss that can accompany such failure can be wrenching and analogous to the despair that accompanies the end of a romantic relationship.

    We all know people living day to day in a condition of futility, their lives static and unfulfilled because they have refused to acknowledge when it is time to move on from a business, a love affair or even a political position.

    How do we know when it’s over? What can we do with the complex emotions that inevitably arise?

    Psychologist Dr Brett Steenbarger, author of the blog TraderFeed and three admirable books, recently wrote an insightful post about this very topic. Here is the link:

    It makes for a few minutes of interesting and worthwhile reading.

    Adam Sterling.

  5. Anonymous on September 13, 2009 2:49 pm

    I always see people talking about music in these terms. But there is a big difference between "music" and the "music business". One doesn't have much to do with the other. If you are a great musician, your odds of being successful go down. Your audience isn't there. And I have no compassion for those who want to be famous musicians. That's like saying I want to be rich for the sake of being rich. It means nothing. The process is more important than the result. And when you focus on the process in music, how could ever even dream of stopping?

  6. manuel bravochico on September 13, 2009 4:27 pm

    It's hard to compare being a rockstar vs a trader. All I can add is that an inlaw is a guitar mercenary for some of the biggest rock bands today, GnR, NIN, etc. It's alot of work and waiting around, sort of like trading…

  7. Jesse Liverspots on September 13, 2009 6:24 pm

    Have fun. And always have a go.

    But, have a back-up plan.

    And never give up your day job.

  8. david higgs on September 13, 2009 8:36 pm

    Everyone should have his own "unified field theory," remember we're not all "Einstens" and if you take the foolishness out of quixotic, you begin to see why some never give up. It often amused me to watch intramural sports and get a kick out of how some would take it so seriously, as if they are the next M Jordan, T Wood or you name it… you see it's just their own will " unified field theory."

  9. Matt Johnson on September 13, 2009 9:33 pm

    I’m going to give up when I’m dead, maybe…

  10. Tim Petz on September 14, 2009 3:18 pm

    I watched the movie half way through, and I really like it.
    It’s about men chasing a dream, the old story. Why are these dudes
    repeating the same mistakes over and over again? So frustrating. It’s like watching a fly crashing against a windows fot the 50th time. Reminds one of this quote “Insanity is to do the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.”
    Nevertheless, trying to be a rockstar that passionately is way more admirable than submitting to the neverending 9 to 5 routine. At least you die as a proud loser…

  11. reid on September 14, 2009 3:51 pm

    A recent movie, which I watched recently, “Red Belt” may add some insight. A purest, Mike Terry, martial arts dojo owner and instructor, is challenged by life to compromise his integrity. The time line, a month or two, is not 20 or 30 years as in Anvil. The movie leaves little doubt that he can endure the hardships for years if necessary. He is the artist, and the audience. The consumer and the provider. He is the ancestor and the heir. He is the embodiment and the diffuser. When you are so attuned, why give up? Very good movie which plot does not follow the expected path. When

  12. Steve Leslie on September 16, 2009 7:32 pm

    The Wrestler is a well made and introspective look into the life of a broken down professional wrestler trying to hold onto his fragile life as his health declines and his former stardom continues to fade away. Mickey Rourke gives a once in a lifetime performance as Randy "The Ram" Robinson who at one time was the headline for major wrestling events. 20 years later he is appearing in high school gyms and small auditoriums for 150 dollars a night. Marisa Tomei is Cassidy his only real friend and an aging stripper who scrapes out a living in a profession that has long since passed her by. Evan Rachel Wood plays Stephanie the abandoned daughter of Randy. Her performance is stirring and very emotional She like Randy and Cassidy is trying to hold onto something and is not sure what it is she is holding on to.

    The movie is filmed like a documentary. The camera angles are unique the message simple yet compelling and the set designs dark and gothic at times.

    In my view, Mickey Rourke deserved the academy award for his portrayal of Randy "The Ram". Anyone who has viewed the old style of professional wrestling will appreciate the genius he brings to the film. Marisa Tomei once again digs deep into her character and brings out the very best of the essence of Cassidy.
    Evan Rachel Wood gives a very profound performance as the lost daughter.

    This is not a feel good movie yet a very sober and compelling view of life and the challenges that these three face and how they might hold things together. I believe it is essential viewing for those who appreciate the lost art of film making.


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