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The 5 Key Differences Between Elite Traders and Amateurs

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 10/26/2023 8 min read

When I started trading, my goal was simple: becoming a multi-millionaire—a feat I achieved in my early 20s.

Today, I aim to help my dedicated students achieve their financial goals.

More than 30 of them have gone on to become millionaire traders…

But I’ll be honest, the majority never taste that level of success.


I believe it concerns these five critical differences between elite traders and amateurs.

#1 Mindset and Psychological Strength

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Elite traders approach with a growth mindset. They understand that success doesn’t happen overnight. They embrace failures as learning opportunities and are constantly seeking improvement.

None of my millionaire students made large profits in their first year of trading. However, that never stopped them from studying, trying to learn, and get better each day.

On the other hand, the amateur is always looking for a shortcut or “hack.” They’re in a rush to get rich. They often get bogged down by losses, viewing them as personal failures.

#2 Commitment to Continuous Learning

Tim Sykes tosses his book An American Hedge Fund in the Alps
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I began trading in the late 90s… a lot has changed. When I first got in this game, I didn’t have to worry much about high-frequency traders, dark pools, and ECNs.  On the bright side, access to information is more level, commissions are cheaper (and in some cases free), and regular folks have access to Wall Street-level trading tools.

As the markets have evolved…so has my trading.

I started primarily as a short seller…but today, I’m playing the other side and squeezing short sellers.

Elite traders acknowledge that the market is always evolving and so must their strategies.

They dedicate time to studying trends, adapting to market shifts, and refining their techniques.

The amateur tends to find one strategy, get a few wins, and become complacent, thinking they’ve “cracked the code.”

# 3 Risk Management

how to use the moving average to trade stocks
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One of the main reasons why I’ve been able to outlast so many traders is because of my number one trading rule: Cut losses quickly.

For most of my trades I aim for a quick 5-10% profit. If that move doesn’t happen fast enough for me, I’ll bail. If I start to experience heat, I’ll cut my losses fast.

I’m a big believer of stacking small wins up.

On the other hand, amateurs are trying to get rich from one trade. Moreover, they’re always thinking about how much they can make on a trade. They never have a plan in case they are wrong.

When you don’t prepare for a loss then you’ll likely let your emotions drive your decisions.

One of the reasons why we’ve so many short squeezes lately is because short sellers have lost control of their emotions.

They are so stubborn…they disregard risk management.

You never want to put yourself in a position where one stock can ruin your trading account. And always, have a plan.

#4 Discipline and Consistency

frequently asked questions about penny stocks to watch
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Social media has glamourized trading over the years.

But here’s one thing you won’t hear from anyone else.

Trading at a high level should be boring.

You see, it’s all about routines.

Every morning, I layout my watchlist. At the end of each day I review my trades. I’m constantly looking at what’s working and what isn’t. I’m trying make adjustments in order to have success on my next trade.

When I put a trading plan together, I stick to it.

Moreover, I know consistency is key in long-term success.

Amateurs are always looking for “hot plays” and picks. They don’t like reviewing their trades, and they have no interest in refining their strategies.

Their results are inconsistent because their actions are. If you want to succeed in this game then you must be disciplined and stay consistent.

#5 Community and Mentorship

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I’m a big believer in trading for yourself and making independent decisions. I want all my students to be self-sufficient.

But I also understand the value of being part of a community. If you see other people in the community having success that will keep you motivated. Not to mention, learning from others, and gaining knowledge from traders who have achieved what you want to achieve.

Amateurs often try to go it alone. Or often find themselves in shady discord chat rooms seeking “hot plays.” They don’t get support, just toxic one-sided ideas.

Unlock The Elite Trader Within You! 📈

conclusion about penny stocks to watch
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It’s been a wild ride since I embarked on my trading journey, transforming from a rookie to a multi-millionaire.

Yet, what sets apart a select few who make it big from those who falter?

Through my decades of experience, I’ve distilled it down to five critical differences.

From the vital importance of a growth mindset and continuous learning, to risk management and the power of community, these distinctions are game-changers.

And it’s not just about knowledge; it’s about applying it in real, volatile markets.

🚀 Are you making amateur mistakes or are you on the path to becoming an elite trader?

🚀 Want to understand what it really takes to thrive in this ever-evolving market?

🚀 Ready to immerse yourself in actionable strategies that can steer you clear of pitfalls and position you for success?

Then, you can’t afford to miss this:

Join me for an exclusive live training session  where we’ll delve deeper into these distinctions, offering insights, and strategies.

🔥 Equip yourself with the techniques that have enabled me and my top students to stay profitable, even when the market defies logic.

🔥 Dive into real-time analysis, gaining clarity on the current market’s nuances and how to capitalize on them.

🔥 Embrace the discipline, consistency, and community spirit that’s the hallmark of elite traders.

It’s not just about trading. It’s about mastering it.

Ready to elevate your trading game and walk the path of the elite? Your roadmap to trading mastery awaits. Don’t be left behind!


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Author card Timothy Sykes picture

Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”