For some reason, Jim Cramer has come up a lot in recent conversations. After having watched Cramer on CNBC and reading his articles on TheStreet.com, for several years, his name has only been brought up a handful of times in my post trading life. However, in the last several weeks, I have been in social situations with individuals who work in finance in some capacity (all independent of one another), so I guess it makes sense that Cramer has resurfaced.
I’m writing this article because I think it will help options traders and investors. I am also writing it because Cramer is one of the most misunderstood people in the financial and larger sphere of media. I hope Jim doesn’t get upset by us using his name in a headline. However, I’m hoping he won’t see it that way in this context.
When Cramer’s name comes up, people often react with a combination smirk/raised eyebrow. From here, I find myself wanting to defend him against what I perceive is their perception of him. This perception — that Jim is all style, no substance, and made up almost entirely of shock value– couldn’t be further from the truth.
While Cramer isn’t perfect (I’m sure he would be the first to admit this as no one is), he is a guy anyone in finance, including options traders, can and should learn from. The way he functions speaks to several general areas that will give you a fighting chance to make money trading. For anyone who has read Todd Harrison’s book The Other Side of Wall Street, you will already know this as Harrison was once Cramer’s Head Trader and speaks in detail of Cramer’s prowess as a trader an investor. Not too mention his insane worth ethic.
The thing I remember most about Todd Harrison’s book is how hard Cramer works.
Former writer at the TheStreet.com Rocca Pendola told me how he traveled from California to Wall Street several times a year when he was full-time at TheStreet. Rocco would get to the office super early. Early as in, there’s nobody else in the office early. But nine times out of ten Jim was already there, prepping for his morning appearances on CNBC and videos for TheStreet, writing articles, doing work for his subscription service, and managing his fantasy football team.
After spending several hours at TheStreet’s offices, Jim would go across the street to the NYSE for his CNBC hits. After that, he would come back to TheStreet, do his videos, write, and work more, presumably prepping for that night’s edition of Mad Money. From there, he would hop into a car waiting for him at the corner of Wall and New Street. (Apparently, Jim’s driver is the only person the cops permit to park illegally on Wall Street, it seems). He would cross the river to the Jersey side (credit: Bruce Springsteen for those words). Do Mad Money, go home, sleep for a few hours, and do it all again the next day.
So, he’s a hard worker. But that’s only part of what can help you as a trader. More than anything, Jim has a routine and sticks to it. I presume he’s still that way. It’s easier to know what to expect on a day-to-day basis, what to expect from yourself when you set a schedule and commit to it.
Along similar lines, if you’re not routine-oriented, you might not make a good trader, given that successful traders devise plans and methodically stick to them.
For as much and as hard as Jim worked, he also made time for other things. He exercises most mornings, is an avid gardener and likes to cook on weekends, and even opened a bar in Brooklyn. Having interests outside of your work schedule is crucial to fostering and owning the frame of mind that can make you a better and less-stressed trader.
Jim has a mind like a steel trap. I am not sure you can teach anyone to remember things (everything) the way Cramer does, but we can all strive to work on our brains in an attempt to get somewhere in the vicinity.
Anyone who watches Mad Money will notice the countless times you see Cramer rattling financials off the top of his head. It’s like a musician reciting her song lyrics. Jim knows and loves the stock market like nobody I have ever seen.
This requires something inborn, but also incredible focus. We can’t all come by it naturally the way Jim appears to, but we can work to get there. For a while, I was taking free online coding classes, even though I had no intention of being a software engineer. It helped me use my brain differently. And I’m convinced it made me better at everything else I was doing because it helped spike my cognition, mental sharpness, and ability to think quickly in a variety of contexts.
Rocco told me another great story about Cramer. He said he never forgot the year he went to TheStreet’s Christmas party. A young freelancer for TheStreet wanted to meet Jim. He was nervous and excited to meet Jim. So, Rocco let Cramer know, and he came over to introduce himself. But not only did he introduce himself, he put on a wholly genuine show.
The most amazing thing he did was talk specifically about this writer’s work, both complimenting it and considering where it might go in the future. There’s that mind like a steel trap again. However, it’s more than that. Jim made this freelancer’s day by taking a sincere interest in what he was doing. By making the interaction more than a handshake and smile.
I’m not sure this will directly make you a better trader. However, it will make you a better person. And that’s a worthy goal as well.