Coaching lessons and a glimpse from the most elusive mentorship

Picking students for MasterClass isn’t as easy as picking stocks. There are no probabilities or historical DNA we can pick apart, the most we can do is make them fill up a form and screen it.

The first MasterClass Zee and I had (aside from the prototype batch Erudite) was tricky. A lot gave their best vying for the slot. It wasn’t enough that they were willing to pay, it had to be the right people. The personality and location was crucial.

What we’re forming is a group of people who must gel together. They aren’t just classmates, they’re going to be a team.

On the first day of classes, I laid it down on them.

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“Your profitability depends on your individual skills, but your survival will depend on one another.”


 

We met some of them before classes begun. One of them traveled 6 hours for a dinner that lasted 30 minutes.

W dropped by after a chance business trip, because he’s normally based abroad. L traveled all the way from the North. G did as well.

I was silently praying that they get along before we even drop by. Science don’t lie, their relationship with one another will inevitably affect their performance.

People are often very different from their spreadsheet responses. W displayed his firm personality, something I had expected but it was different seeing it in person. G was more laid back than what I had originally assumed. L is a far cry from the person who wrote his heart out in his application– in a good way. He was light and cheery.


 

The classes felt like it lasted forever.

Until it was over.

It didn’t help their cause that classes are cancelled if someone fails to submit the requirements… and every class has atleast 2-4 requirements each. It was something we devised to make them count on one another. The point was to make it impossible without cooperation.

 

But before we knew it,

it was done.

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And the real work, the world without padded Styrofoam, begins.


 

During our minicompetition after course, Neil, one of the more chatty students wondered out loud how one ZFT caught a stock early on.

“I’ve checked for any hidden divergences”, he said.

It was $ABA at 0.86. It looked clear as day for me.

“But aren’t they quietly consolidating on top of the 100 MA?”

“Yes”, he said. “But this isn’t a downtrend.”

I shifted my gears. Neil is an academic who needs evidence, and I know I wanted to resolve this by making him find the answer by himself.

“What’s your A grade set-up, Neil?”, I gently asked him.

He answered in less than a minute.

“Great!” I typed back. “That’s my A grade set-up too, ABA’s set-up is my B grade set-up, along with bounce plays.”

I let that sink in for a while. “How about your B grade set-up? What would it be?”

I didn’t get an answer. I forgive him. It’s only been a month since the end of formal lessons, they’re now soaking in niche-finding exercises with Chester Cheng.

“My point is, I saw it clearly because I’ve seen it many times before. You’ll see it too next time, specially if you’re willing to risk a lower high set-up like that.”


 

Obviously it wasn’t enough. Neil like any typical trader wants to ride all the big moves of stocks, but unlike typical traders, he wanted a black and white guideline for each.

Yuri offered his sympathies, “I didn’t see that set-up too. It wasn’t even in my watchlist. I just don’t like trades like that. It’s a hard pass for me.”

But unlike Neil, Yuri had the quiet confidence of sticking to his strategy. It didn’t matter he didn’t get this fish, he knows how to repeatedly catch another one.


 

I offered Neil one more lesson, “Neil, you haven’t seen this set-up yes, but with whatever you currently have, you’re already leading the class by atleast double the second placer. My point is, you don’t have to know everything, just a few key ones will help you take the lead.”


 

The point I was trying to make was that mastery did not come from the involvement of each and every stock movement. It was enough to know a handful and then deploy it much better than the rest of the trading populace. The energy spent on endlessly pursuing more techs will never end, there will always be another indicator, another timeframe, another hot set-up. The real task lies on the smooth execution.

 

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It’s in the tiring battle between greed and fear.

Against analysis-paralysis.

Winning against FOMO.

Engaging in trade ideas without feeling pressured to do what everyone else is doing.

Pulling the trigger and keeping to your proper position size.

Staying out of the market once your monthly quota is hit.

Remaining in neutral emotional territory even when the crowd is going wild.

That’s what Mastery needed.

By the time you figured out where the support and resistances are and how to properly plot lines, you’re almost done with techs. The rest is just frills to reassure the worrying trader.

It’s the self-mastery portion that will last a lifetime.

To go against your very nature of facing risk and danger without flinching, and sticking to your plan. To have solid confidence when placing a trade, and then to eat all that certainty up when the trade reverses, admit the mistake and take the loss without identifying with the failure and hurting the ego.

Of course adapting to market trends is important,

but you rarely should do so in the middle of the trade.

That is something you get the numbers on, study, and then plan.


Neil lost his top position when M (the batch’s admin) overtook it through strong conviction with the CEB trade. It didn’t help that it was a whipsaw market the day before.

He laughed about it and told everyone, “Now I understand why we were told that our first goal is a mere breakeven. There’s still so much more to learn.”


 

Dear Readers,

I had a lot of messages telling me I’ve come a long way! I coach now and I love what I’m doing. There is magic in seeing another person unfold to become a better version of themselves. It was amazing to see their potential, but even more amazing to see them fulfill it.

As I write this, Batch Infinitum drinks their morning cuppa while they lazily watch the market. W is on a bounce play, while some took a CH.

It’s our first official day in the camp, and I couldn’t be happier seeing the class act like old friends.

All the hard work paid off.

 

Forever yours,

Celeste

Congrats, Infinitum. I will always be rooting for you.

My dreams made me lose people and that’s okay

I lost a lot of people on my ongoing journey to reach the top.

I lost opportunities to become friends with people who are kind and simple… because I was worried that they would slow me down or worse, make me forget my goals.

I lost people who could have been good team mates if I weren’t a threat to their own ambition, because they believe there is room for only one victor.

I lost people who I thought were my friends, I loved as my friends, protected as my friends… but were only there for what I can do for them.

I haven’t even counted the times I  lost the opportunity to be carefree because I’ve spent my time and energy on building my dreams.

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But the law of the universe is abundance, and I believe that.

What I have lost has been replaced.

I gained people who think the same way that I do. They have the same principles and integrity too.

I gained people who aren’t driven by fear and lack. They too went through the same circumstances of being used as a tool by those who are fearful of scarcity.

I gained people who have been betrayed as well and therefore swore to never allow history to repeat itself. We flock together and protect one another.

I gained mentors who saw the long and trying journey I have ahead. They are willing to help me get through it just like the way they did.

I gained a network I never would have if I stayed inside my comfort zone. I never would have reached out far and wide if I was coddled and comfortable and not rejected.

I gained opportunities present only to those who are wide awake searching.

I gained skills that could help me build over and over no matter how many times I fall.


Everything I lost was worth it because something better replaced it.

Whenever you wonder if you’re on the right track, take an honest inventory of what you have. If the people surrounding you now are more supportive, have better principles, and walk the talk, then no matter how uncomfortable it was to let other people go, know that it was NECESSARY for your own good.

Don’t be afraid of LOSING people. Very rarely will you die alone, being recluse is a choice you make, not an accident that happened. You are only clearing the time and energy so the things that will energize you can have the space it needs.

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Anything that costs you your peace of mind is too expensive.

It is adversity not comfort that will show you which way to go.

It is adversity that will give you the opportunity that comfort never will.

And it is triumph against these adversity that will give you satisfaction.

It is not in the absence of obstacles but in the victory

will we find happiness.


Easy for me to say now that some of it are over (until the next one comes).

It’s hard to think about these principles while it’s happening.

But you can only connect the dots in a month or in a year or in a decade from now. For the time being, we feel the pain and bravely face it. At times of uncertainty, when the lines are blurred between right or wrong, it is enough that we just do what we can at the best of our abilities.

Trusting that the Fates will steer us to the right direction.

What matters most, is we keep going.

Forever yours,

Celeste

About the girl: What’s the worst that could happen?

What’s the worst that could happen?

I thought of this frequently before I handed my resignation letter. We were in a particularly stressful streak at the hospital. We had patients that needed help to do even the simple things. Their food and medication must be crushed and fed through tubes, they must be manually turned in the bed by their nurses, they need help to even breathe, and their body had so many contraptions, that sometimes I have to stare at an open chest, rising and dropping, as I  dress it for drainage with a  black foam.

Obviously, as the work stacked, but the staff limited, the quality suffered. There was just so much we could do even after we have sacrificed basic human needs for 13 hours like being able to sit down on a chair or going to the bathroom.

In the end, if the work wasn’t done, it didn’t matter how much we tried— it was undone.

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Every morning, our manager would call us and make us stand right next to each other. A group of professionals from 20 years old to their 50s. We had to be 30 minutes earlier for the shift so they could throw a pop quiz about the new rules and regulations or on science and medicine. After that, another manager would come in to tell us either about another rule the management has decided to implement and/or the best part, what work we did wrong again.

The worst that could happen in my job is that I accidentally kill somebody. That was it. It sounds unbelievable for the civilians or what I fondly called back then, the soft office types. But on my first 3 months of nursing, a batchmate got fired because he almost injected a baby with a syrup that the infant was supposed to drink. It happens. It can happen.

Out of all the worst things that can happen, it was that. I could kill somebody’s mom, dad, child, or bestfriend.

A close second is I contract an infectious disease from my patients. There were anxious nights of refreshing lab result pages at the infranet wondering if the man at room 8 really did have tuberculosis.

Thinking about my crazy fulltime trading plan and realizing that going broke was the worst thing that could ever happen if I chose that path, I took a deep breath, straightened the paper, and knocked on my manager’s door to hand in my resignation.

 


 

I thought it was just being broke that could break me but there are many things that can happen. I plunged into the corporate world with no background other than shadowing a unit’s charge nurse, and got into business with my only experience in complicated math is computing how much epinephrine per microgram per ml must be given per hour to a patient whose BP has reached 80/60.

I couldn’t stand hospital bureaucracy but I jumped right in the middle of squabbles between ambitious people. But the game is different, no one shouts, no one confronts, but they conspire.

In the hospital, people can shout at one another during high-pressure situations and then come back as professional buddies the next night. It can be easily fixed with food and apologies. A sympathetic smile that says we’re all just doing our best here, we march on together to save lives and get through our day.

In business, it seems to be the other way around so far.

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I am beginning to understand why the successful kept their circles small.


 

A random man who lived a fantabulous life messaged me one night. He was a stranger. I do not even know his face.

He figured it was safe to tell me his story.

2 years ago, he was 50 million pesos in debt on a business that thrived but ultimately failed because of betrayal. He has a wife and 2 toddlers.

He recovered, and became overwhelming victorious, earning over 7 digits a month easy.

“I learned that trust is nice.”, he wrote. “But control is better.”


 

Money can be recovered but the innocence I once had could not. Now I know what was the worst thing that could happen.

But since it did, and no one died, I have come to a hopeful realization.

The moment of betrayal feels like the beginning of hell, but no. It is rather the crescendo. The final drum roll.

The feverish high of the virus that has slowly crept in the crevices of my body has finally revealed itself. Wondering where it started and how I have let such things in, I realize that all is fair.

Viruses do not think about such. They just do what virus do. As they have done before, they will do now.

After the initial blow has taken full impact. On the way to recovery, just like any victim, a full immunity to the same virus will be acquired. Never to be victimized again.

Every person who climbed out of that deathbed shows the scars, and we find each other.

Friendship and trust is forged to those who survived the same trial.

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I did not necessarily like it, but I now understand why it was necessary to go through.

 


 

Dear readers,

Life is creative. Obstacles will happen no matter where you place yourself. Life can find a way to move you, disturb you, push you, so you can grow. Very rarely will it be comfortable.

It’s hard to listen to this the moment disaster strikes, but keep the faith. One day, you’ll understand why it had to happen.

 

Forever yours,

Celeste

(c) art ba annamachtan — hope I got this right.

Smooth and suave. I can’t stop listening to this, makes me want to drive all night with the person I love.

What does it mean to be Celeste now? 4 years and 2 months. (A journey update)


It’s been 4 months since I let the public know my private identity.

It was after Rift.

We were riding the high from the successful event, so we ordered food and room service. I tucked myself in Zee’s comfortable bed while waiting. Robert Sy was already napping on the bed next to me.

Zee stood in the middle of the room saying, “I’m going to reveal my identity.”

“Are you sure?”

That question is my last line of defense. It doesn’t really change his mind.

“Yes.”

I wedged myself further down the blanket and flashed a peace sign up the air just in time for his selfie.

I did not know he was posting it on his private account AND THEN sharing it on his page.

Here’s the catch: Months before that, he changed his profile photo…

I was his profile picture.

So a few weeks later, harried to reveal myself as well, I did.

I explained, quite humorously, that the public and I can’t pretend we still don’t know who the real Celeste is.

After all, my picture is all over Zee’s account.

 


THE UNREAL

Cebu’s old airport wasn’t very crowded that night. I was sitting at the terminal gate, freezing, just like everyone else around me so I stood up and turned the aircon off, hoping i was not crossing any airport regulations upon doing so.

That’s when I saw a friend waving her hand at me.

We were together just a day before. G opened her business in Cebu and we were there to support it. In tow was a large convoy of prominent people. The best wedding photographers, the best make up artist, an established fashion stylist, and media personnels.

She pulled me towards the media personnels, nudging me to introduce ZFT’s mission to them… But I was still adjusting to the role.

I was awkward, fumbling with words, and unsure of how to introduce myself and ZFT.
I was painful to watch.

Before the greetings even ended, I was presented with a calling card by one of the top editors of a local press.

G looked at me, and asked, “O nasan calling card mo? Wala?”

I sheepishly smiled.

Calling cards.

From a nurse who introduced her name to every patient by writing it every shift on white boards in their room to someone representing a corporate entity with a special mission.

Miles apart.


THE REALITY

Henry Tan walked in the meeting room with a brown bag containing a sandwich. He wore a gray athlete’s jacket, a cap, and jeans.

“I’m on intermittent fasting.”, he declared as he sat down next to me.

It was our first meeting after the Rift and everyone is still adjusting to the role.

Corporate role.

Corporate.

When did that term get demonized? If I had to hear that term a year ago, I would probably cringe.

I feel so naive now that I became a part of those who made it happen.

The hatred for the term has been misdirected. I realize that it was bureaucracy and the leadership that did not care for the people that we did not like.

I see it clearer now: Corporations are God-sent in a world that punishes ambition and dreams. The liabilities will be off the shoulders of the innovator.

We can now focus on creating.

But it’s not easy. It was obvious when Hanzo stood up to talk about much of what I (admittedly) did not understand. I was fighting hard not to space out.

Circulatory system, neurology, and pathophysiology? I can handle that. In fact, it excites me.

But accounting and law…? It was an alien language.

I’m learning though, and that’s what matters the most.

“If you walk away – if you quit – quitting will become easier and easier for the rest of your life. Don’t quit. Rebuild.”

— Osman Minkara

I will learn more by staying through the trying and vulnerable times, with the additional perk of being guided by someone like him. It’s a chance I’ve been praying for years ago. How can I ever be become one of the great men and women who built empires but not speak their language? This… business-nese.

I no longer want to sit at a lunch conversation with a CEO or Board Director and ask, fully clueless, what they do and how they do it.

There is a deep learning curve, a dip, for every great thing. And as problems arise from every situation, I know for sure that this was meant to stop those who weren’t committed.

So those who are, can be clear to build their legacy.

Because everyone else was too afraid of the hurdles and the drama,

they quit.

I want to be able to learn to swim by jumping right in and placing myself in a body of water.


THE NOT WORTH IT

The way I view people changed now.

In the beginning, it hurt a lot and I was be devastated by the countless times people I know have deceived me.

I was no longer a human being some would protect, like their sister or their friend.

I became a means to an end.

It justified the actions of those who believe they needed to put their own interests first.

Less of a human, and more like a strong and rising machine, it shouldn’t be bad to use me, right? After all, what would it matter to someone unstoppable?

At first I fought it.

I fought the idea with fire and passion. I took offense. I would get mad.

I would search for someone I could talk to and yearn for the genuine people I met who aren’t involved in the market.

Those who understood that I’m a person, and not just a connection. I would rant and ask them, “How could they do that?”

Eventually, I learned to take it quietly. Learned to create space built from unchangeable apathy, than from pain and disappointment.

Any means that try to hurt me became my very own weapon.

It reveals those who support it, and ultimately, it reveals those who I should be careful from. It reveals those who I can not trust and I must not bring with me higher.

I will not stop growing or achieving. No. Despite the constant disappointment of figuring out the intentions of some of those who try to surround me.

But this time I have been numb from the shock of discovering who is true and who is not.

I hastily leave behind those who are false.

I no longer need an explanation.

I no longer need to understand.

I stopped asking.

There is so much more I am going to do and to make…

I will just keep moving without them.

“I hope you and Celeste knows you guys are small celebrities in the stock market now and I hope you’re ready for that.”

– a random trader messaging Zee

There was blatant hatred from people I have never even met. It didn’t make any sense. There were some who made it their favourite past time, like it meant their time better to frame me or find something to hate about me than to work on their business, their career, or spend time with their family.

Hating a person they never met, never talked to who, doesn’t even know their name was a bigger priority than their personal self-development, wealth creation, and family.

For someone who writes about trading psychology, success principles, and an ongoing autobiography, I garnered more than my fair share of critics. It makes me think, how much more those who wrote about politics or religion?

Late December, I ended up buying a book from the bookstore because it was being sold at the price of a cheap ice cream.

Pages were missing, the cover was almost ripped out, and lastly– it was written by celebrities.

Oh, those celebrities. What do they even need to write about?, I thought, years ago.

I used to cringe at celebrities until I handled 1/10 of the attention they have to. You have to be superhuman to withstand that!

So I picked it up and bought it to see if I can learn a thing or two because here’s the thing: I’m a really private person. I talked about my struggles so easily back under the protection of knowing that no one knew who I really was.

But things have changed.

So I got home that day and started reading the book written by Solenn Heusaff and Georgina Wilson– women I look up to for their business acumen, talent, and beauty.

To my delight, there was an entire section dedicated to how much hate they had to deal with.

Solenn Heusaff, a goddess of beauty in my opinion, was criticized by haters saying she looks like a man.

Georgina Wilson was criticized by haters saying she looks like… an alien.

A what? Where did they even get that?

I was floored.

If women at that caliber were criticized for “not being enough”, then I give up all hopes of escaping it!

But the plan worked.

I closed that book vindicated from all I felt because they felt it too. Comforted with the fact that the dirty discarded book written by ‘stupid’ celebrities (according to their haters) has taught me a lesson and empathized with me the cost of making my name.


THE WORTH IT

I can’t count how many channels in Discord I have now. It doesn’t help that I’m a gamer, which is originally what Discord is for, so there are about 3 channels of Overwatch gamers around the world there too.

Traders have migrated to Discord because the segregations works well.

It was just another day at the stock market, so I was back reading the channel a bit.

Trader K, one of the earliest people I have coached, was talking about his wife giving birth soon. It’s been a trying time for him, he told us. Just like any other trader going through a life event, there was immense pressure to perform. But he’s an amazing guy with the resilience and positivity I would never have on my own. I know this for a fact.

After some friendly banter between the boys, they asked him, “What are you going to name your daughter?”

He laughed and said he couldn’t name her now, it’s no longer his turn, since because he named the first.

But if he could he would name her “Pauline”

— interesting. That’s my second name, I thought as I paused while reading it.

“Because Celeste saved my life.”

I had tears in my eyes after.


The Unreal, The Reality, The Not Worth it, The Worth it.

Dear Readers,

What is the life of a person hurrying to fullfil her personal mission?

“I want to leave the world a better place than when I found it.”

There is so much to learn,

so many to contribute to,

thousands of miles to take.

I’m convinced that in life, just like in trading, things rarely go according to what we plan.

I learned so many things and I still am.

But it is best that we keep our confidence not on the outcome, but on ourselves to win the moment.

Yes, things rarely go according to plan, because most of the time, if you’re faithful, ambitious, diligent, and relentless even against the face of adversity and nonbelievers– something better comes.

Forever yours,

Celeste

Smooth. 🙂

You Can Now Sit At the Adults Table: A story of networking, influence, and high-caliber people


The dice rattles against the thick cardboard game called Cashflow. I sat in a large hotel room, shivering from the room temperature, regretting very loudly about forgetting to bring a jacket.

There were about 20 other round tables playing the same game. No one knew what time it was. The walls were draped with heavy red curtains, properly maintained, letting no light in except for the artificial ambient lights above us. We could be playing for hours now, waiting for every turn, trying to leverage from each dice roll.

I could hear people all around us.

Silence is nonexistent.

11.

I took my board piece and tapped it eleven times on the squares of the board.

It was a good roll, and looking down at my reserves, I realized I have graduated from lemonade stands and small petty investments.

It’s time for the Big Deals.


This is a story about two people. Two separate, very different people. Colorful individuals. One who is just beginning, and another who has climbed his own Everest. They crossed paths with mine and I don’t see it as impossible for us to cross again.

But I thought, why not tell the world about what happens at this stage of the game? At this level?

No one usually does.

The stories may serve as examples or fair warnings, but ultimately as tales that will disturb your mind at rest.


The devil is deceitful. It is the very manifestation of manipulation and lies and deceit beyond what any man can do or comprehend.

If man can do twisted and evil things, how much more the Devil?

And Sin is what it serves, on a platter full of consequences, coated with pleasure, dripping with deceit.

So subtle, so terrible, that often the aftermath of one’s action will reap the full force of the ramifications… long after the deed is done.

And we think we were safe.

We think there will be no consequence.

So we act in a privileged high, one action after another, until one day it catches up and weight of our ‘freedom’ rains on us.


The first story is the story of a girl named A.

I still wonder about how people from this digital age would come to a halting conclusion, and often in great conviction, over something they have no idea about.

Entire debates were wasted on clickbait titles. Campaigns to choose a side between two opposing forces. Rumors made and created by the delusional or those who simply wanted to burn the world and manipulate people.

There are those who did what everyone else is doing, at this cycle, at this moment. To be accepted. To be heard. To be cool.

Forming solid conclusions, unquestioningly submitting to untruths, declaring it the irrefutable truth like their Bible! And their source is at the comments section of fake people with multiple accounts.

Because it is comforting. To believe that what they have not become, someone else has, and so it must be lies! A fabrication! It must be stoned. It must be dragged down to spit on.

How Dare You Do Better Than Me.


Those Who Had The Guts to Receive the Torch

It was dinner with one of the legends of the stock market industry in the Philippines. He did what we do clumsily with grace and experience. Take the entire table’s attention and entertain us while he teaches.

“Oh, I saw that video posted by X!” he said, half-laughing. “It’s one of my favourites. I like that guy, he isn’t like the others.”

He’s watching.

And if I was in a dinner table with him, I must have passed the test.

A year later, Zee was introduced to another man. A recluse, high-caliber, influential man who was only personally met by the people who are neck-deep in the stock market industry.

“I saw Celeste’s video. She talked about the concept of floorings and ceilings well.”, he told him.

He’s watching.


Story 1:

A is new in the markets.

She said it multiple times to different people and it’s true so there’s that. But even then, she knew she wanted to play a bigger part in it. She had to be… something.

So, she decided to find a place for herself.

Women traders are a rare breed. Stock market traders are rare in itself, but being a woman in this field is enough for you to be different.

But that’s a slight problem. There were already other women traders who were slaying it. Instead of reaching out to them, she decided another path.

Take a certification exam.

This should suffice, she thought, I’m the legit.

The process wasn’t even over when she started to publicly declare against other stock trader educators. Particularly ZFT. Name dropping me.

“How saddening” she wrote. “That the newbies have no idea what these people are up to.”

She was so sure of herself.

Listening to fabrications that demanded further proof upon every proof because they could not replicate it themselves. ZFT did camps, tradecations, live trading with one another and yet those who are desperate to believe lies will be blinded by only what their insecurity will allow them.


About a month later, A sent a friend request to Zee.

Zee would rarely seek a fight, but I’ve never seen him back down from one. It must be a trait from the South that I secretly admire– How they have the balls to face people head on.

Admittedly, not everyone is the same as him. There were instances where he would ask a person what their problem was with him, but with tucked tails they run away, never to respond, piggybacking on his name.

Zee then messaged A.

“Weren’t you the one who said these things about us?”

A was stunned. No, she replied. It wasn’t me.

She denied, denied, denied.

But screenshots don’t lie and Zee has one.

“Don’t worry, I don’t judge. I’ll accept your friend request then, but behave here.”

Mortified she unfriended him and deleted traces of her public and online defamation.


One week later, A found herself at a round table with Zeefreaks in person, discussing sheepishly the issues she faces in trading.

How did I end up here?

She thought she was lucky. She found another trader who was willing to teach her. She was invited to an exclusive group of amazing people who built a community of diverse traders. New breeds that will blaze their own way. How lucky! There in that hotel function room, she saw some of the prominent names. How lucky!

And then she saw Zeefreaks.

The room was divided into two. One for Zee, and one for another champion trader. She sat at Zee’s table, quietly hoping he doesn’t remember. I hope he doesn’t, she thought, he hasn’t reprimanded me yet…

How could I ever know? She thought.

That he… is watching?


A tribe of traders who churns trades more than the average. We were an easy 6-7 figures worth of monthly commission for any broker. They know that. Every smart CSR leveraged on it.


I learned, upon meeting more, that the elusive, busy, high profile people are not stupid. Of course.

How could they be? They did better things, accomplished more, built empires larger than I have. Still it was easy to think that they are so far away, and outside of my radar, that whatever I do will never reach them.

But how could people believe they will be dumb enough to not know who the players are?

“Who is in the field? What do they do? AND CAN I ASSOCIATE MYSELF WITH THAT PERSON?”

The Legends of yesterday will inevitably look for who is next in line and they watch, and watch, and watch as some of the young ones lose their dignity just for the chance of being recognized.

It’s so much easier to background check now. It takes 3 seconds for someone with wisdom to decide to block a person, resolve to never get involved with a person, and cut that person off from leeching for any kind of leverage from him or his network.

It was the high profile people who are always watching and the best business people in the world would turn down a good offer, no matter how big, because they do not trust the hand that offers it.


Story 2:

The lecturer’s voice boomed in the small room.

“Today, more than ever, if you are not networking, you are not working.” He declared. “More than ever, do people have the same information but do not know the same people who can leverage them into heights. It’s no longer JUST about what you know, but also, who do you know that help you?”

In that room was an Ambassador, a movie producer, 2 celebrities, multiple CEOs of different fields (electronic cars, make-up, Solar Industry, etc.), a father-and-son from the marketing dynasty, prominent basketball players, a vice president of an international bank, and other noteworthy trailblazers.

The pressure was on.


He wore a light white polo, top buttons undone, with his notebook clasped on his right hand. I was having a conversation with someone I was trying to make friends when he jumped in.

“Can we talk now?”, he asked, but it was not a question. His tone arrested a demand that we must.

“What can I help you with? You wanted to learn how to trade?”

It was the end of a seminar I joined, majority of the participants hurriedly packed their bags and left. I stayed behind to form relationships with the few people I connected with.

The guy I’ll call O “asked” that we have coffee. He stood beside me, a little smaller than I am, but defiant and in a rush.

He was obviously trying to control the situation.

“What do you do?”, he asked me, in a manner of a person conducting a job interview. He smiled trying to make it look light, his lips curving, showing his teeth. He was faking it. I was obviously placed in the middle of a test.

I felt underdressed and underprepared for the situation. I wore a Birkenstock sandals, an orange casual dress, and I was hurrying to connect to a few elusive people before they left.

“I trade primarily, and I help others perform their best trades.”, I told him quickly. I know the answer to this because I asked it a million times before to myself.

“You mean like that girl in Billions?”

“Wendy Rhoades, yes.” I smiled and nodded, sort of relieved he knows the show at least.

My eyes were darting to the people leaving.

A guy stepped in our perimeter of conversation.

“Hi.”

It was Zee. He hurriedly dropped my workbook and notebooks on the desk beside me. “Here are your stuff.”

It was the perfect opportunity.

“Oh! O here wants to ask us about what we do and how we can help him. Maybe you guys can go talk somewhere? I have to stay in a bit and ask the lecturer a question.”

It was the perfect escape. I couldn’t handle a man like O, commanding my presence, at that state of urgency trying to connect other people than him.

The lecturer is one of the most prominent men in his field. His output and credibility is unquestionable, and his heart is at the right place.

The most revealing thing he did was how he handled everyone with respect. Shaking our hands the moment he walked in, giving us his calling cards, and then for two days, delighted us at how he REMEMBERS who we are. Even, surprisingly, doing his own background check for some of the attendees.

He would often walk by one of us and ask, “Are you not the ___ of __?” Introducing us to the rest of the room.

Yup. He’s also watching.


About half an hour later, I joined their table at the lobby. O sat at a lush chair with the coffee table in between them. Zee sat at the edge of his seat, politely giving the man his attention.

Zee has always been more patient with people. I’ve never seen him raise his voice even when he comes face to face with men who doesn’t share the same values.

O crossed his legs as he continues to talk about what he wants. He smirked, turned his head to the side haughtily, and declared having 8 figures in the market. He waited for an impressed reaction but was plainly disappointed when we only congratulated him. He was beginning to ask if we would handle his funds for him.

Careful not to offend, Zee told him that he could help him find people who might be willing.

“Well,” I interjected. “Our philosophy is, we’d rather teach you how to trade your money than trade it for you.”

He seemed happy and challenged. He’s a young, rich, hotshot who made a name for himself in his business. Obviously, arrogance was easy to come and he doesn’t seem like the person who would back down from anything a woman calls a ‘challenge’.


“Would you handle his funds?”, I asked Zee. We were walking along Makati, enjoying the chance to be in the area.

“That would be problematic.”

I knew what he meant.

A few minutes with O and I understood the power play. He’s the client that wants to be in control.

If displeased, he has the money and power to make other people miserable… and surely he has all the time.

The better proposition would have been an X deal. Zee and I are heavily seeking business opportunities we could put our funds into. It has become top priority in our life, and O runs a profitable business.

“What if he wants to learn from us instead?”

He considered it. We did want to learn much about the import and export business. It was in the cards.

After a quiet contemplation, he said “that would still be problematic.”

What O doesn’t understand is that we turned down bigger offers. Profit is an important measurement, but at what cost? The moment the deal is made, the outcome is already predicted. Both hands shaking has to connect. If business is war, then choose carefully who will be in your squad.

Trading has its own risks, but what it can ultimately give you more than anything is the freedom.

The freedom to say no.  The freedom to choose.

But how do you choose?

By knowing yourself,

And then by watching.

————————————————————————

Dear Readers,

Opportunity is everywhere. Before I started meeting high profile people, there were opportunities in my world although admittedly not as big as this. Looking back now, maybe it was practice.

In the Cashflow game by Kiyosaki, I have moved into the Big Deals deck. The money involved is bigger, the opportunities huge, but it’s still the same game. The same principle applies.

The Big Deals are here. The stakes higher than before, the trials punishing. If you haven’t learned how to properly play before, then you risk losing everything.

But that’s okay, because even as you fall, by now you must know how to rebuild.

And I quote:

Forever yours,

Celeste

What I learned while “wasting” my time watching a game stream

It was late December and the city is quiet. I don’t remember now if any office asks their employees to work at this time of the year, but it did feel like the world has toned down.

Maybe it’s just me.

The floor has been meticulously scrubbed and polished. My clothes all folded, segregated, and pressed. Every single thing at home has been dusted and organized. Scented candles filled the room with the smell of watermelons.

I propped down my bed and have almost forgotten what popular site to go to be able to watch a gaming stream.

A quick Google fixed that.


2 unholy hours later, I was fixated on my phone, half-amused by what I see.

I have not allowed myself to watch Twitch for a long time. There always seems to be something more productive to be done and I have no desire to become a professional gamer anyway.

I was watching an Overwatch stream. For those who don’t know, Overwatch is a popular team-based game with first person shooter characteristics. By now, gaming is a multibillion industry and though I do not necessarily agree that the future of sports is in e-games and no longer the usual athletics, I do think that it has its place in the future. A huge one.

A guy nicknamed as Dafran was streaming his performance live. He’s a celebrity in the gaming industry and was often called the best Tracer (a character) in the world.

That’s a compliment by itself. Tracer is one of the most difficult heroes to play, and being dubbed as the best at it, even over the Koreans is a feat.

He teamed up with Pine, another popular gamer, who is exceptional at sniper heroes.

I was supposedly gearing up for a great game of domination, but 2 hours into it, I was half amused at how much Dafran and Pine, supposedly the world’s best, were tilted, losing, and in despair.


“Yeah, man, I lost a lot of easy shots there.”, he said, talking to his subscribers, while furiously clicking on a few things at the menu. It was obvious that he was starting to lose his cool. There were comments he had to read live from people sarcastically referring to his skills as a professional gamer.

I’ve only watched Dafran’s highlights on YouTube. It was amusing to see him play on his regular streams. Even Pine did a better job as DPS (or the attack hero) than he did. He started to play Tracer, out of desperation to win.

But despite two all-stars teaming up, they were being furiously steamrolled by a bunch of enemy nobodies.

Nobodies. Those guys didn’t even have a stream, never have been in a competitive gaming league, has not uploaded a single YouTube video of their games.

Yet when one of the enemy snipers named B was on the next game at the opposing team again, he muttered profanities under his breath.


I applaud Dafran. Gaming in itself, specially in a fast-paced action-intensive one like Overwatch, the matches inevitably makes the players emotional. Like trading, it was a game of inches. Every minute counts. Every single flick matters. And in the end, even after how much we tried, we can still lose. We can still be outplayed.

Yet, he had to sit through criticism and trolling live. It was WHILE he gamed that they told him he sucks.

He’s dubbed as the world’s best Tracer, yet there he was losing.

It made me think, I was watching right before my very eyes, the very definition of compiling and highlighting someone’s best moments, and comparing our skills to them, versus seeing them perform on a quiet night in December continuously losing, missing their shots, making the wrong decisions in a competitive game… Just like every mortal soul.


Dear reader,

So much has been said about comparison. We can’t even escape it anymore. Social media makes it easier.

But this year, as hard as it can be, try– Just try– not to compare someone’s highlight trade to your losing season. You do not know what they have to deal with when the inevitable season comes when their niche has no edge to hold on to.

Forever yours,

Celeste

Everybody’s worried (A Bear’s menace)

Time’s up.

It started March this year when every trader was invincible. The foolish made more money because they were fearless, and Miss Market took form as a coquettish seductress who flirted with all the risk-takers. Like a siren, she called the sailors, underwater towards her embrace.

It was a dream that no one wanted to end. Finally rewarded for the illogical idea of trading hard-earned money, the traders relished at the opportunity. Every day was a chance to make bank half of their treasury. It was a dream that no one wanted to end.

So when it did, so many decided to stay half-asleep in their stupor, hoping they survive the bears.


 

I was walking the bridge 10 minutes away from the gym. It was a hot tropical morning and I was dazed from the commute. Like every person in the country, I carried with me an umbrella to shield myself from the sweaty, sufferable afternoon I had to face eventually.

Once I was safely under shade, I walked like I always have, half-jogging while folding my umbrella. It was one of those expensive, retractable kind that promised to have strong resistance from winds. A blue, well-used tiny thing I could tuck in my bag.

After a swift motion of pushing it back, a movement so automatic of me I didn’t even pay attention, it bounced back to my face. The hard plastic of the handle. So solid I have previously joked I could use it to fight wrongdoers back.

A split second later, I was dizzy from the hard hit to my chin. I walked slower this time, feeling the blood drip down my neck. A few people reverted their gaze.

I went on to finish my business for that day, the deep cut pathetically covered by band aid but 3 hours from the incident, I sat down on the uncomfortable plastic chair and freezing cold area of the Emergency Room.


 

I was ready to get it stitched, but I hoped I didn’t have to. It was going to be time-consuming to return for the removal.

Science has a better idea though– Glue. There are glues available for clean straight lacerations like mine. One glue was half the size of my pinky, and it cost me a whopping 3 thousand pesos. There were other things, of course, like the emergency room fee, the doctor’s fee, the gloves, the tape, the gauze piece. I had a tetanus shot too, just in case.

After the commotion was over, I sat in shock at the Billing desk staring at three pieces of paper.

I had to pay almost 7,000 PHP for my chin gash.


 

On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the number of people whose life I do not fully understand. I hear a summary of their stories, I hear about the overwhelming fear, the cry for help. All dampened with the Filipino jokes. I hear the worries that kept traders like me wide awake at 3 in the morning.

How did I have the guts to tell these people to relax?

Can an ordinary family man, full-time trader, father of two young children be able to pay 7,000 PHP for 3 hours in the E.R. and then feel no fear of being unable to provide?

Of course not.

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During the bear market, only the pickiest warrior survives. You will never have enough funds to catch all the falling knives. But still, there are those who mean well. Those who have to hunt for their family, out in the jungle trying to find a killing.

More often than not, at this season, the predator becomes prey.


 

The realization made me think and made me respect those who carry responsibilities bigger than mine. How much they try to stand with their spine straight against the weight of their world? It’s easy to ask people to be brave when you only had to jump from a cliff a few meters deep.

 

There are those who have lives tangled on every step they take and their decisions cause very real consequences to those they want to protect the most.


 

I have so much to learn, and this season may look like a big bang on the surface, but underneath it, I know it’s nothing but a prequel. Preparation for THE preparation. It’s a slow build-up to a climax we never know when. I’m not even sure I want that. A series of boring, steady inclining peaks and plateaus is better than fast, excitable boom and busts.

However, on long lazy Sundays, where time stretched too far for me to consume, I wonder if I’m going anywhere.

Fulltime trading does not make you ‘successful’.

If anyone thought that being fulltime meant you have arrived, then we are up for a rude awakening. We have merely changed the dynamics, but we are still taking the test. The show is not over, but the music has changed.

surreal-illustration-elesq-elliana-esquivel-41-57286cf604411__605

You do not need to be a fulltime trader to become a successful trader. The truth is, trading income is cyclical. The more specialist you are, the truer this principle. Markets invariably change. Adapting does not happen in a snap of a finger.

As part-time traders, you can still make money from the markets. All you have to do is to master your routine.

I apologize if I made anyone think that fulltime trading was the ultimate Happy Ending.

I am here now, and let me tell you from this side of the fence, in here we have to sleep with one eye open. We have no safety net from the dangers lurking below. There is poison for both the grind (when is enough?), and during rest (complacency can sink in).

I thought the story was over, but it isn’t. So I hope even after the long journey you’ve accompanied me, that you’re still rooting for Celeste.

We’re all still trying to find our place in this world.

Sincerely,

Celeste

 

 

A little something. Thanks to Arme Villar for introducing.

 

About the Girl: Blessings & Betrayals

I can’t sleep.

It’s been weeks now since the incident happened, and I’ve planned to write about it ever since. I debated if I should or if  I should not.

I decided, finally, that this is my journey and I’d like to keep it real.

I want to let the readers know what lies in this chapter.


 

I hated posting my day change and my gains. If anything, it only made me feel fake. I knew the truth behind those. I was no superwoman of the stock market. Any trader worth their salt knows what our industry really is. There are more punches than victory.

The final straw was when someone said, “Ikaw na ba ang babaeng version ni Zeefreaks?“. That did it.

The more I learned about trading psychology, the more I realized how port snapshots do not sing the harmony I must presume. But by then, I was positioned to be in close proximity to people I look up to and there are certain perks to that.

Perks that led to betrayals.


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My father was driving me home late at night from one of ZFT’s After School talks. I was trying to keep the atmosphere light and cheery because he was in one of those sour moods that only I can pull him out off.

I cheerfully told him about the charity drives ZFT were going to run this year.

He heaved and grumpily asked, “Are you getting paid for any of these?”

No, I told him as I turned the air conditioning off the back seat.

His voice instantly changed. “Dapat ang gumagawa nyan yung billionaires na, sila Henry Sy.”

I was caught off guard. I grumbled my response before I found the right words to say. “We shouldn’t wait for anyone else if we can do it ourselves.”

He was driving through a dark portion, with sharp turns, and very often filled with 16 wheeler trucks.

“The people you help will forget you the moment they get what they want.”

I didn’t reply. It sounded like a tired old man. An old man who cared for his child. So for that, I allowed my father to parent me even as I thought to myself that I did not do any of this just to be remembered.

– But still. –

About a year or two ago, a man messaged me. He was pouring his heart out.

I was standing in line at one of the remittance centers in Riyadh. It was payday and I always, without fail, send my salary to my Philippine bank account the same day I get it. I was already waiting for the day to file my resignation.

Everything was according to plan.

The man who messaged me had the obvious signs of academic intelligence but his heart was soft and emotional. His message was long but interesting.

His name is J.

He told me how much he struggled. He told me about his job. He told me about the long walks he takes and his burning passion and losing portfolio.

It didn’t take too long.

I was in a much better position to help. So of course, I did.

It wasn’t even a full month later that he got more than he ever asked me for.


 

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We built this sort of friendship.

I rarely ever open up to anyone, but I thought J was genuine. I thought he was one of those who understood kindness.

One night, he asked me a question. And, for the love of anything holy, I could be talented in various things in life but not in lying.

It was a question about another man, fairly known in the stock market as well.

I thought I was helping.

I gave out fair warnings.

I told him my views.

An opinion limited to what I only knew back then– and it was very limited indeed. I’ve only met him once and heard stories thereafter. I trusted him to understand that. It was personal, and as secretive as I am, had only verbalized it to two other people I trust.

I thought that was the end of it.

But it was not.


 

About a year later, J somehow made a name for himself. He got positioned under the care of someone who was close to me. I was entirely happy about that. Things went well, my promise well-delivered.

A woman messaged me this time.

It was 3 AM.

I was awake and was having my round of fun in Facebook with the other ZFT accounts. She and I got to talk about the same man who I had an unpopular view on years ago.

“Well we don’t really talk, so I really don’t know.”

“You didn’t like him.”, she said.

I was puzzled. “What made you say that?”

“Well,” she continued. “He said you were each others’ bashers.”

She proceeded to tell me the exact same things I told J years ago. The man I helped to climb up to his position.

I was stunned.

There was no one else who would.


 

“Ambitious people are only loyal to themselves.”, Zee told me one time.

It all made sense. He was a disarray of things. One minute praising other people, the next minute vowing to topple and rule over them. During moments he felt invincible, he had the gall to tell me how he would crush and dominate the exact same people he messages, “Hello po, sir. Thank you po wala po akong idea pa po dyan, eh baka po matulungan ninyo ako.”

J would message me sometimes to ask me ‘interesting’ things I would most certainly know the truth about. It was almost like the press who wanted to interview a house speaker so he can eagerly misquote for a sweet headline on the primetime evening news.

I knew he knew the actual truth of some of those stories, but he wanted to make sure it was I who “said it”.

For whatever purpose.

He brokered secrets to gain trust from one person who already did to another who questioned his motives. If it worked, he establishes an access on both. 

His personal helpline.

People he could use at the press of a button. People who could give information, people who could help out with his technical questions, people who could coach his mindset and psychology, people who had powerful networks they can connect him to. Opportunities he can never create for his own.

“The people you help will forget you the moment they get what they want.”

My father’s voice ring.

I naively still wish it was not true.


 

Make no mistake about it. People do not have the same meaning of winning. If they can not outperform you, they will try to top you in another way to compensate.

I am gaining more clues of why those who were at the very top remained elusive.

The circles small, but the network vast.

The more blessings you receive, the more betrayals you may suffer.

C’est la vie.

I do not know if I have learned my lesson.

But Life taught me one thing. How we win matters— at some point, the house of cards such cheapshots to fame and power have built will fall down to the slightest gust of wind.

Very often, I am permitted to watch.

The higher a man climbs, the more cunning individuals who would willingly use him as a step to spring up the ladder. The very people he lends his hand to can be the same who would not think twice to plant their foot on his face if that would provide the boost they needed.

“There is always a lesson of a lifetime to learn in every betrayal.”

Edmond Mbiaka

I would still probably end up helping someone who does not deserve it, but no longer this man.

I have learned about what he is doing for a while now.

I played along.

Not anymore.

I’m no longer playing these games, J.

Forever yours,
Celeste

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