timothy sykes logo

Mentor Updates

5 Key Rules From 20 Years of Trading Stocks

Timothy SykesAvatar
Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 1/27/2023 14 min read

It’s been over 20 years since I got into trading stocks. Over that time there have been bull markets, bear markets, and bubbles. There’s been a financial crash and panic in the streets.

The crazy thing is, the same penny stock patterns keep playing out. And the rules that helped protect me 10 years ago still help me trade conservatively today.

Hot markets come and go, and you’ll always have to adapt. But there are key rules that don’t change no matter the market. Keep reading for the five key rules I learned from 20 years in this niche.

But first…

Karmagawa Proudly Announces…

72nd Karmagawa-Sponsored School Opens

Post image

Get my weekly watchlist, free

Sign up to jump start your trading education!

I’m so proud to announce the opening of our 72nd school/library worldwide. It’s also our 22nd school working with Bali Children’s Project. Our goal is to build 1,000. We have a long way to go, but one school at a time we’ll get there.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Timothy Sykes (@timothysykes)

How crazy are the before and after photos?

I’m also proud of our work with Partners Relief & Development in Yemen…

500 Families Fed in Yemen

This is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world right now. If you’re in a position to help financially, please do so. If not, share that tweet. Let’s spread the word and make the world a better place.

Let’s talk trading stocks…

Trading Mentor: Trading Penny Stocks Requires Discipline

Trading stocks isn’t rocket science. But it does take discipline. It’s a slippery slope when you start breaking rules.

One of the big problems in this niche is promoters luring newbies into thinking it’s easy. Then they get stubborn and ignore the process. There’s no shortcut to becoming self-sufficient and profitable. It takes time and dedication.

And it takes discipline. Which means you have to set rules and then FOLLOW them. It’s not enough to have or know rules. If you don’t follow them, the market will make you pay. It can only lead to disaster.

With that in mind, I want to use this week’s trade review to set up the five key rules I’ve learned from 20 years of trading stocks…

Trade Review

The riot in the nation’s capital last week was horrific. My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives.

When civil unrest breaks out, certain stocks tend to spike. Last week was no different. When it kicked off, I was giving a Trading Challenge webinar. During the webinar, StocksToTrade Breaking News alerted the protest outside the Capitol building.

Then the Breaking News guys sent this alert:


I actually stopped the webinar for 10 minutes to watch the news and see what was happening. Once I saw the videos and pictures coming out of Washington, I understood how serious it was. It made me think civil unrest plays would spike.

Before I review the trade, I want one thing to be crystal clear…

Civil Unrest Plays Bring Conflicted Feelings

I’m not rooting for civil unrest or for these stocks to spike. It’s better for our nation, and for people’s safety, that this kind of thing never happens. 

That said, part of my job is to help my students understand catalysts. So when I saw the protest turn to a full-on riot, I checked to see which stocks were on the move.

Lamperd Less Lethal Inc. (OTCPK: LLLI)

Lamperd Less Lethal manufactures specialized riot gear. It focuses on products and training to help police reduce the likelihood of injury. That applies to both rioters and law officers alike.

Here’s the LLLI chart showing my alerts from January 6–7 (click the chart to see an expanded view in a new browser tab):

trading LLLI with entry and exit comments
LLLI chart: January 6–7, 1-minute candle, OTC FGD, civil unrest play — courtesy of StocksToTrade.com

As you can see, I actually chased a little as it was spiking very fast. When it hit my goals on the first trade, I sold for a solid $4,175 win.* That trade capped off a $21,550 profit day.* And it also made me a little too confident.

(*These results are not typical. Individual results will vary. Most traders lose money. My top students and I have the benefit of many years of hard work and dedication. Trading is inherently risky. Always do your due diligence and never risk more than you can afford to lose.)

Looking at the chart, you can see where the stock pulled back. That gave me the opportunity to trade it again. But I took a slightly smaller position than the first trade. When LLLI held near its highs, I added into the close.

My thinking was that in the past, when riots like this start, they often spread. And when they spread, it can take a few days for things to calm down. And that’s where I got greedy and broke one of the five rules below. Thankfully, it wasn’t rule #1…

5 Key Rules From 20 Years of Trading Stocks

My second LLLI trade ended up being roughly a $10K swing overnight. I was up around $4K going into the close. I shoulda, coulda, woulda, followed rule #3 below when it hit my goals. I didn’t and lost $6,391.

Let’s use that one big loss to drive home the rules. AND to show you how breaking the rules can really mess with your head.

Stock Trading Rule #1: Cut Losses Quickly

If you’ve been reading the blog or following me for any time you know that rule #1 is to cut losses quickly. This trade is a perfect example of why that’s so important. I was dead wrong about this stock gapping/spiking at the open. Instead, it gapped down and then tanked. Why? Because the civil unrest was over.

But I didn’t hold and hope for a bounce. I didn’t think, Oh, this will run again because more riots could come.” I got out fast. And it’s a good thing because the stock dropped all the way to the $0.02s.

Stock Trading Rule #2: Expect the Worst

tim sykes grand canyon
© Millionaire Media, LLC

This is such an important rule. It can really mess with your head if you trust a company, a promoter, or another trader’s alerts. (See rule #5 below.)

Penny stocks aren’t long-term investments. They’re trading vehicles. And there’s a big difference between trading and investing. The chance of a penny stock company becoming a legitimate long-term investment is very low.

(New to penny stocks? Start with this FREE penny stock guide.)

Also, promoters who say, “This one is going to the moon,” are full of BS. The same goes for so-called trading teachers who say it’s gonna be easy. It’s not. 

So always expect the worst. On my LLLI trade, as soon as I saw it was gapping down, I got out. I didn’t try to predict, I reacted. That’s it.

The one rule I really broke on this trade was…

Stock Trading Rule #3: Take Singles, Not Home Runs

To be honest, I got greedy. I was aggressive and confident because it was a breakout. But at the same time, if you were watching my Trading Challenge webinar you heard me say, “Don’t break out. Don’t break out…”  Why? Because if it broke out, it would hit my goal….

And if it hit my goal, which was the $0.07s or $0.08s, then I’d have to sell. It did. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

penny stock checklist

This trade is a really powerful example — everything lined up well. I couldn’t predict the riots and protests would be put down so quickly. And had they carried on, it would’ve likely been one of my biggest wins in a while.

This was a classic OTC first green day, former runner, big percent gainer, with big volume and a catalyst. So based on my experience, I put myself in the right position.

But when it hit my goal, instead of taking the single, I swung for a home run. In hindsight, I should’ve sold some to reduce my position size. That would’ve locked-in some profits and reduced my risk.

Stock Trading Rule #4: Ride the Hype But Never Believe It

It’s human nature to love stories. They shape our lives from a very early age. But hyped-up BS is dangerous when it comes to trading stocks.

So don’t believe the so-called due diligence and the stories about “world-changing tech.”  I’m not saying there aren’t outliers. Some companies do have world-changing tech. But most don’t.

When it comes down to it, most penny stock companies don’t survive. Or they constantly dilute shareholders through stock promotion and toxic financings.

Breaking this rule leads to bag holding. It creates the hold and hope mentality. It’s OK to ride the hype train … just get off at the nearest station.

Stock Trading Rule #5: Never Follow Alerts or Rely on Someone Else

I’m just training wheels…

My goal as a teacher is to help students become self-sufficient. You can’t do that by following alerts. It doesn’t matter if the alerts are mine or anyone else’s. You MUST focus on the process.

Sadly, a lot of so-called teachers actually encourage students to follow their alerts. Some on social media run ‘free’ chat rooms and say: “buy now.” Then they sell into their followers.

So say this out loud and repeat it three times: “I will NEVER follow alerts. Alerts are ONLY to help me learn the process.” Then put it on a post-it note next to your trading setup. Repeat it every day.

Millionaire Mentor Market Wrap

You can choose to wait for solid setups and opportunities. And you can follow rules meticulously. Or you can choose to ignore rules and take random trades. But your choices have consequences. Would you rather become self-sufficient, or be one of the vast majority of traders who lose?

I’m not saying you won’t make mistakes or take losses. My LLLI trade is a pretty clear example of making a mistake and breaking a rule. But had I not applied rule #1 it would have been a lot worse.

Again, trading stocks isn’t rocket science. But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows, either. Stay humble or the market will humble you. That’s a wrap.

Trading Challenge

Are you ready to immerse yourself? The Trading Challenge is the most comprehensive trading education I offer. It’s not easy. To become self-sufficient you’ll have to study. Maybe more than you’ve ever studied in your life.

Are you willing to put in the effort? Can you follow rules and focus on the process? Do you have patience and a strong work ethic? If so, apply for the Trading Challenge today.

What do you think of my 5 key rules for trading stocks? Comment below, I love to hear from all my readers! 

How much has this post helped you?

Leave a reply

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”