My beloved father, Patrick F. Burns, started trading stocks when he was 18 years old. Every day on his lunch break, he’d take his sack lunch and walk to his broker’s office and sit in front of the tape — a series of wide blackboards that listed the most popular stock symbols. One man’s job was to manually update the prices of those stocks, from left to right, across the blackboards.
My dad started teaching me about trading the markets when I was about 8 years old. He’d sit me down at our dining room table, lay out the portfolios of five stocks (which I’m sure he prescreened for me), and ask me which one he should buy. I’d ask some questions, he’d explain as best he could, and then I’d pick a stock. He’d buy that stock, and then together we’d watch all five stocks and how they progressed over time. We did this for years.
When I left home at 18, I left the markets behind as well. I pursued an education that had nothing to do with finance, got a job, and later started several businesses. And although I enjoyed running a business, and I became very successful, I started to resent the long hours, the unreliability of employees and vendors, the increasingly burdensome amount and complexity of government-mandated paperwork and taxation, and the never-ending need to adapt my business to a changing world.
I decided to make a major change in my life and do something new. I evaluated every career and business I could imagine. My criteria included the following: