[Case Study Part 1 of 2] Nate vs. J.D.

​Nate vs. J.D. is a concept I came up with to help demonstrate the two camps or categories (or models) that us traders operate within.

Although Nate and J.D. are not their real names, they are real “flesh and blood” people I have had the chance to work with through our coaching at TradeSmart University – their traits are absolutely real and based entirely on their actual cases.


​Odds are, YOU are currently one of them.  

Which one? … well, you’ll need to read the rest of this page to discover that.

But know this … one of them makes no money trading (nothing meaningful anyway).  The other one crushes it.

One last thing … I’m not selling anything here.  Nada. So get a coffee, get comfortable and relax.

​Meet Nate

That’s Me Nate (59)
​ - I’m a sales manager from San Diego, California
 - And I’m a “part time” stock trader

​Well, I say “part-time”, but I’ve really been “dabbling” in online trading since 2008.  That’s what? … about 10 years now I guess.  Which is like forever in “compounding interest” years.

I do many different types of trades.  Difficult to explain really.  I’m what you’d call a “jack of all trades” (pardon the pun) LOL 🙂


​Meet ​J.D.

​That’s Me ​Jimmy (​66)
​- ​My friends call me J.D.
​- Ex-Firefighter from Atlanta Ga
​- I pay for my retirement with profits from my trading (all online)

​Like my buddy Nate, I’ve been doing this crazy online trading thing since 2008. The beginning was like walking into a raging fire, but soon I realized a few “truths” – it got a whole lot easier.

I now trade a couple of hours a week and make enough income to provide a nice standard of living for my wife and myself.

I don’t do super risky trades, but it is fairly active. And my account size isn’t huge, about $150,000.  Not bad.  Just a fireman.

– J.D.


​Between 2012-2014 I had the unique opportunity of traveling around the world with the success guru himself - Tony Robbins.

I learned a lot during my time with him.  One of the things I learned is worth mentioning here.  Tony used to always say:

​“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result they get better answer, and with better answers comes the opportunity to make better decisions.”

​Tony Robbins

​Success Coach

​​I’m going to circle back to this quote at the end.  Why I’ve written it will make perfect sense then. It’s important… for you.

But let me first continue to explain the difference between Nate and J.D.

​Brief Backstory

​You see… Back in 2009 when I first started working with trading students, I was faced with a peculiar situation. (the curious case of Nate vs. J.D.).

I had two students who sat through the same class, were taught at the same time, ​and learned the same information.  One could not seem to make a consistent $1,000/month with his trading and the other was suddenly making $10,000-$15,000/month, consistently, every month. 

I was perplexed which led me down the road of studying these two personality types.  I really wanted to know “what is the difference that makes the difference”.

I soon discovered I had the answer all along… after all I had lived the very same story of Nate vs. J.D.  

​A little more backstory...

​If you could go back with me to 1999 when I first started trading, you would discover I had myself been operating as Nate.

I was a young college student at the time trying to find a way to make money and remove the burden of the monthly “financial rat-race”.  

To make matters worse, I was a music student.  (aghm… it’s HARD to make a living as a musician… but that’s another story).

I had the good fortune of meeting a man who would introduce me to trading.  He was the uncle of the girl I was dating at the time.  

We went to visit one weekend and over the course of 2-3 hours in his office, he explained to me all the income I could make trading the stock market.  

Right then and there… I made a decision that completely changed my life forever.

I did not take the safe road, like everyone else I was in school with. You know, start looking for a “job” – the kind that snuffs all of your creativity and leaves you gasping for air as you punch a clock and sit at a desk wearing checkered bowties and khaki pants… 

I’m certainly not passing judgment on my school buddies. But for me, I wanted to Live Life. I wanted a way to support my dreams and live the purpose I believed I was created to live.

I was 22 years old.  I was foolish and careless enough to believe “if anyone can do it, I can do it.”

So I took the risky decision.

I would in fact move back to my home town of Nashville TN (Music City) and pursue my career as a professional musician, and as a backup I would be a STOCK TRADER!

It was gutsy.

It was an adventure.

I can be my own boss.

It was P-E-R-F-E-C-T. ​(said in a Dr. Evil voice!)​​​

Now I had absolutely no idea what the F*$k I was doing! I just knew I didn’t want a boss. I didn't want to commute to work every day. And I certainly didn’t want to be trapped in a 9-5 just to support my music dreams.

So I read every book I could find about the stock market and started trading in the summer of 1999. I didn’t even have any money of my own.  

Much to my good fortune, however, the VISA rep had just been on our college campus and they gave me my own credit card.  And the first month they sent me some checks I could write to myself!  It was amazing!

So I funded my first trading account with a $2,000 check from my credit card.  

What could possibly go wrong?

What happened next nobody could have predicted…

My first set of trades I made a 50% profit!

Now I KNEW I was invincible and soon I would be buying yachts and driving fancy vehicles!

And that’s when my fortunes turned…

I proceed to lose almost all of my account.  All but about $600.

So I started playing with cheaper stocks, and then ultimately penny stocks… until I was completely broke.


I lost all my money trading the stock market…  

Looking back - I know exactly what I did wrong. It was the simplest mistakes.  I just didn’t know better.  

And how could I?

I had no real training in this “part-time career”.  I only had a few books and ideas.

(and to think, they let me fund a trading account and blow all of my borrowed money with no training… wow!)

I should have been devastated. I should have given up right then but no… not me… I had TASTED the fruit of 50% gains.

“I must be close”… I thought.

…And this is when – without knowing it – I started “operating” as Nate.

​The Nate Role

​After I decided I wanted to be a trader I was grasping for anything and everything I could learn.

​If it was free, I signed up for it. 

​Within just a few months I had:

  • Multiple brokerage accounts (trying to find the right fit)
  • At least 9 different books on trading methods (I’ll find the right path)
  • eBooks… oh the eBooks! (free help, I’ll take it!)
  • eCourses… oh the eCourses (this was the beginning of the email marketing days)
  • Trading softwares
  • Free trials that suddenly started charging me $67.85 every month

​Within no time my email box went from a place friends and family would send me funny videos and e-cards to a place full of…. offers.  I can’t call it junk mail because I DID sign up for it… and I really was interested… I just had no way to sort through it all.

Back then, three things were 100% certain:

  1. I was making no money
  2. One day I will die
  3. Tomorrow morning I will have a shiny new “trading strategy” magically appear in my email box with a link to spend some money that GUARANTEED (even though we can’t guarantee anything) to solve all of my financial woes.

To this day I have email scars… (do you think that explains 32k+ emails I haven’t opened in one email box alone?)

​So… Like Nate, I went on a slow but steady buying spree.  

At first it started slowly, because I was broke.

Then I found myself looking for the “new magic formula” every month.  It was like heroin. I was helpless. I constantly needed the next shiny-object “fix”. The big promises of easy quick “push-button” riches.

“If I could just figure out….(fill in the blank)”  I would tell myself as I whipped out my credit card to go further in debt.

But each “fix” pulled me in a completely different direction.  I had stacks and stacks of notebooks trying to piece it all together - I literally did everything.

  • Electronic Day Trading
  • Long term swing trading
  • Precision with Elliott Waves
  • The magic of Fibonacci
  • Support & Resistance
  • OPTIONS!  Oh the Options
  • Buy options
  • Sell options
  • “Risk free delta neutral trades that never lose”
  • Trading with Candlesticks
  • Chart pattern trading
  • Oh and get this one…. “trading the moon cycles” (gag a maggot)

These are just the ones I can remember.  By the time it was all done I had spent over $48,000 on “trading education” and was going no where fast…

… I was spinning my wheels. I felt like blowing my brains out at times. What I had didn’t feel like a real trading plan.

I knew everything there was to know… and yet I had nothing to show for it.

I was an “opportunity seeker” for sure. No two ways about it (honestly, I think this is where most of us traders start our journey into the unknown).

My flawed process looked something like this:

​…meaning that any little “strategy” or “technique” that presented itself to me – I would drop whatever I was doing at the time – and shoot off on a tangent as I explored the viability of the new found “secret to success”.  (one might have called me “the A.D.D. Trader”)

That workflow pretty quickly turned into a CANCER as I played the game with little results to show for my efforts.

Opportunities (the perception of an opportunity that will produce a quick and easy result) in the “online trading” world is rife…

… and it is a cancer.

But you probably know that already.

I’m not telling you anything new.

Our personal inboxes are a stark reminder of this fact, each and every day…

… as the next “magic-bullet” tactic pierces our mind-space and wrestles for our immediate attention.

Before I knew what the frick happened … I was a “few” years into doing this trading thing.



Worse still…

Trading plan?

Not a freaking clue.

That was a few years and many thousands of dollars I didn’t have… “lost”. Not to mention the scorn of my friends and family members who were now looking at me with a “told you so” attitude.

That was 1999-2005.  A lifetime ago.

The worst part of this journey happened in 2005.  I got married. ​The "getting married" part was good.  What wasn’t good is my new wife “appeared” one day with about $20,000. She told me to trade it.  

I did.

I lost it.

Then I learned it wasn’t her money.  It was her mother’s (my mother-in-law) money!  

That was an incredibly painful season of my trading career. But in hindsight it’s the best thing that ever happened.  

Life has a funny way of sending us the lessons we need.

Boy did I need that lesson…

At that time I wasn’t really a trader, I was a NATE. I was pretending to be a trader.  I knew a lot ABOUT the stock market, but I didn’t know how to take control of my trades.  
I was a “jack of everything” and still had the focus of a 3 year old child!

I finally realized the role I was operating as, was a Nate. (of course I didn’t know Nate yet I just recognized the problem in my own life)

I knew I had to change course and get control of my trading.

I knew I had to create a system and prove it to myself.

The greatest lesson “LIFE” gave me, was to take all my money.  

Because it was only in losing all of my money (and my mother-in-law’s money) that I stopped long enough to take stock of what I had, get it organized, and put it into a system I could follow.

If this “gift” had never come to me, I would never have learned how to operate as a J.D.

​The J.D. Role

J.D. operates completely different than Nate.  

Back in 2009 when I was interviewing J.D. to see if I could identify the difference his trading behavior vs. the trading behavior of Nate, I listened and shook my head. 

J.D. operates completely different than Nate.  

Back in 2009 when I was interviewing J.D. to see if I could identify the difference his trading behavior vs. the trading behavior of Nate, I listened and shook my head.

I could have easily been J.D. talking, because this was exactly the journey I had myself traversed.

I listened as J.D. told me how he manages his distractions and cuts out all of the extra “voices”.

He’s not addicted.

He can control what he takes in and what he chooses to ignore.

His attention is more selective and focused.  He values his time

J.D.’s trading process looks like this:

​​​J.D. doesn’t try every new trading idea that comes through his email box.  He doesn’t start the day listening to the commentary on CNBC. He doesn’t download every little ebook that shows up.

I listened intently as J.D. described his personal process to me.

“Honestly, you’re about the only person I’ll listen to Jeremy.  I just like your personality and I can tell you know what you’re doing.  I think we may have had a similar background somewhere back there.”

(insert note: sure enough my ex-college girlfriend’s uncle, the one who introduced me to trading, had in fact taught me much of the same stuff J.D. was implementing from the same original source)

J.D. explained to me how he keeps his trading simple.  

“I don’t try all that fancy new stuff. I just do what works for me and it’s paying me pretty well for an old fireman.”

I made some notes of how J.D. approaches and the funny thing is, I could have made the same notes for myself starting back in 2005/6.  The process J.D. described is exactly what I had gone through, I just didn’t know it at the time.  

Here are the distinctions:

  • Focused on a single strategy
  • Focused on taking predictable trades.
  • Never try to pick a top or a bottom
  • Turn off the news
  • Have a clearly defined risk (stop) in place
  • Have an expected target (profit) in place
  • Be vigilant to be defensive of your trade if things do not go as planned
  • BUT, don’t over think it
  • Make a plan and trust the plan
  • Make sure you execute the basic correctly before doing anything fancy
  • Go for the “certain” income via option selling as opposed to the “wind-fall” profits of running after explosive moves
  • Always always always manage risk and account allocation

​J.D. is not trying to be a “jack of all trades”. He’s focused on managing one good strategy well. And his results are a solid income that matches or increases his previous income as a fireman.

A business colleague of mine once said “the market rewards the specialist, not the generalist”.  I think he was right.

Brain surgeons make more money than General surgeons.

And trial lawyers make more money than family lawyers.

And on and on.

The STOCK MARKET rewards the specialist… the one who chooses a strategy, a game plan, a system for approaching their trades, and repeats that process over and over.

By the way, in an age of computer technology, an age of robot trading and high frequency trading, becoming a specialist is the only game in town.  The market has just made it next to impossible to jump around from idea to idea (although I’m not sure it was ever truly possible).

From the second I personally changed my plan and got focused – positive change happened, almost instantly.

I became a more narrow-minded trader.

I focused on building a real trading plan…

Something I could repeat.

Like J.D.

A plan you can execute and repeat is the backbone – the lifeblood, of every successful trader.


A person who is operating as Nate sees opportunities as events – where results are, at best, a flash in the pan.

Nate is a “jack of all trades and master of none”. That’s primarily how Nate rolls.

Each “shiny-object” is the big answer – the reset button – for a new life. But, of course, that’s just an illusion set up by the gurus.

The gurus know how a Nate operates. So they write copy specifically for the Nates of the world…

…copy that acts as a Nate “venus fly trap”

The outcome is always inevitable and predictable.

(Side Note: That advertising flow they use on you is a systematized process marketers use… I know it.  I could reveal it to you. And you would instantly recognize how literally everyone is doing the same thing because they hire the same advertising “gurus” to promote their stuff)

J.D.’s are different…

A trader like J.D. knows that building a trading career is a process, not an event.

It’s something that gets worked on, continuously.

The road ahead is not easy.  Heck no!  Not one little bit.  It requires what Chet Holmes used to call Pigheaded Discipline and Determination.

J.D. is focused on executing the parts of his trading plan he CAN control, and not getting caught up in the chaos of what he can not control.

J.D.’s are all around you.  From top hedge fund managers to retirees sitting in their living room in the Caribbean.  

Great Traders, whether they realize it or not, adopt the disciplines and philosophy of a J.D. while the rest of the trading world continues to scramble around like Nate.

It starts with the right mindset (anyone can think like this). It’s executed through discipline.

I’ve probably said enough already.  I’m sure you get the point by now.

But I will say this to wrap things up…

There are different “layers” to both Nate and J.D.

Some Nates are (very) content operating as their Nate role.  They seek out the heroine rush of a new magic pill.

When it earns them $500 or $1000 (once or twice), they see that as a big win. They’re happy. They’re ready to move on.  

But if it bombs – and it almost always does – they cry wolf…

Get a refund or do a chargeback.

… and complain on forums where thousands of other Nates hang out. They feel comfortable in a pack of Nates.

Some Nates consciously know they’re a Nate… but they want to change. But mostly, they just don’t (yet) know how. They wanna be J.D. – if they only knew how.

There’s still hope for those Nates.

The J.D.s of the world build trading accounts.  Some J.D.s build 5 figure incomes.  Some 6 figure incomes.  And a few build 7 figure incomes or more.

… but the essence of a JD is always the same.  Becoming a trader is a “process”.

Paul Zane Pilzer said: 

​millionaires are made as a result of 'choice & attitude'.

What about you?

Are you a Nate or a J.D.?

If you’re currently a Nate – then you have a decision to make, (re-read the Tony Robbins quote at the beginning).

I made the decisions I made because at the time I thought that was the right decision. I didn’t know I was Nate. I didn’t know how to think like a J.D.

In 2005/6 I decided to change my core thinking. I became a J.D. That was my decision. For me, it paid off. Massively. So much so that I have now had the opportunity to help thousands of others make the transition from Nate to J.D.

What about you? Have the guts to roll the dice. Perhaps it’s time to make the right decision.

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