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Raising Your Child to be a Champion in Athletics, Arts, and Academics
by Wayne Bryan and Woody Woodburn has many ideas about how to train that might be useful in markets and in life. They believe the main thing is to have fun. They suggest constant reinforcement with trophies, medals, and small goals. They recommend that you make the one thing you wish to excel at a passion, and that it be tempered with only one other passion. They schedule every second of every day, and never leave their kids alone in the house. They recommend playing with kids, and constant tournaments. They suggest going to events like high school and college games so that the kids can enjoy the feel of college and kids that are not that far removed from them. They suggest the importance of thanking all involved in any contest including the fellow competitors and the tournament organizers. Of course, they have taken their kids out of tournaments when they didn't behave as did Kramer and Borg. They of course totally ban all TV and computer games. They have a very successful program in tennis that they run, and their kids are the best doubles team of all time. (Both were national singles winners or close to it, and were called champ by their coach at Stanford). Do you feel that this has applicability to improving in our fields?

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

The Bryan TwinsThe Bryan twins were on 60 Minutes last Sunday.

Several things stood out in the interview. Lots of positives but some potential negatives. One of the brothers gave up a successful singles career in order to play doubles with his twin brother–always a possibility for future regret even though they are a great doubles team now. Other thing was the video game restriction–what they were denied in their youth they do now. So it would seem that too much discipline with children could lead them to rebel later in life in opposite directions.

There is always the survivorship argument that for all these successful kids there are a bunch of kids who become burned out on tennis, academics, and life in general. My guess is that one method fits all is not always going to work and parents would need to be very attentive to individual differences amongst their children. Too much praise (particularly if overdone and not genuine) and trophy hunting does not sound like a good thing either. Perhaps a need for balance is true for market participants also.

Rocky Humbert comments:

Waitzkin vs KasparovThe back cover of the book reads, "Byran has distilled his proven formula for success into a unique book that shows parents how to help their kids become champions in athletics, the arts, academics– and just about anything else they undertake."

A proven formula? I don't think so. (Or at least I hope not.) But early in the book the author's define "champion" in a broader way. They don't define it as being the best doubles tennis player of all time, graduating Harvard in two years, or having a ten-digit net worth.From the book: "The goal should be to raise a champion under a broader definition…. Being a champion means being fulfilled. Peace of mind and self-satisfaction."The authors continue, "There are endless definitions of a champion."And with that last sentence, I wholeheartedly agree. That recognition is applicable to every facet of our lives. 

T.K Marks:

In a recent working paper by Andrew Lo, "Is It Real, or Is It Randomized?: A Financial Turing Test", his colleagues and he conclude by vowing to consider in the future the null hypothesis of the video games are bad theory.

"…More generally, human intelligence is intertwined with pattern recognition and prediction (Hawkins, 2004), and financial pattern recognition is just one of many domains in which we excel. Our simple experimental framework suggests the possibility of developing human/computer interfaces that allow us to translate certain human abilities into other domains and functional specifications. For example, with the proper interface, it may be possible to translate the hand-eye coordination of highly skilled video-gamers to completely unrelated pattern-recognition and prediction problems such as weather forecasting or financial trading. We hope to explore such interfaces in future research…"

Regarding Professor Lo's financial variation on the Turing Test and proposed consideration of the pattern recognition abilities of video gamers, if a Bletchley Park were to have to happen today, the pattern developing and recognition talents of people who write and play at a very high level some of the more sophisticated versions of those games would undoubtedly be tapped into.

Alongside Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, in addition to the usual scientific suspects whose analytical skills were asked to break the German codes (e.g., mathematicians, logicians, physicists, etc.), they also had a host of Egyptologists, chess players, even a poet, anybody and everybody whose pattern recognition skill set would better lend itself to deconstructing a very complicated puzzle.

Nigel Davies:

The mix of chess players and mathematicians at Bletchley was interesting. Coincidentally I stumbled across this article today which differentiated the intelligence of mathematicians from that of chess players:

"Everybody was fairly impressed by this quick and crafty answer and the conversation moved on. The story illustrates something important about the nature of the chess mind– how good it is at short cuts (no pun intended) and tricky ways round things. Mathematicians are usually less devious in their thinking– it is important to find direct ways to prove things." If this is correct, which is the more valuable form of intelligence for markets? 

On another note, I would add that in our quest for 'love', 'approval' etc we can look for external approval within a particular sphere of excellence. Without reading the book (and I comment reluctantly without having done so) it looks to me like Wayne Bryan has found ways to link this ever more strongly to external performance. Is he to be congratulated for his efforts, as a parent?I am haunted by images of champions who go totally off the rails as they struggle with the ghosts of their childhood. In my own sphere I've met too many pushy parents making 'love' conditional on performance to join in the applause. Just this last week a kid in my chess class threw a wobbly and had a nose bleed when I enforced the touch move rule on him, costing him a rook. Needless to say his mum insists on him being the best at everything… 


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