Book Review: The Daily Trading Coach by Brett Steenbarger


Today is the official release date of Brett Steenbarger’s latest book, The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist. If you’ve spent any time on this blog at all you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Brett’s. His two previous books, The Psychology of Trading and Enhancing Trader Performance, are both excellent.

I first linked up with Brett back in 2005 when I was the Content Editor for Trade2Win and he was an article contributor. That was when I was writing The Essentials of Trading. Knowing Brett’s background working in new trader development, I asked him to give the original draft a look. Brett actually got me hooked up with my publisher, Wiley. Later he would write the forward. I was quoted in Brett’s last book, and also contributed to this one, along with several others in a section incorporating the thoughts of experienced market folks.

The Drawbacks – From My Perspective
My one gripe with the book is the Wiley Trading internal book template. They make all their books look the same and I really don’t like the design. Brett was able to improve on things a little bit in places, but Wiley really needs to come up with something new for their layouts.

Also, did this really need to be a hard bound book? The cover actually looks more like it would be suited for a soft bound one and you could definitely argue that the intended use of the book would better suit a soft cover.

Very Solid Content
Complaints aside, this is an impressive book. I would go so far as to say potentially daunting. It is, as the title suggests, broken up into lessons which are then grouped into sections of related topics. Brett suggests in the introduction that the book isn’t really intended to be read straight through, but rather by lesson or section as needed.

I think pretty much every trader can find useful lessons in the book, and I was immediately struck by how relevant quite of a bit of it was to life beyond trading as well. Brett draws on research and experience working with traders in explaining how to deal with the different types of circumstances traders can find themselves in, but doesn’t let it become an academic discourse. Each lesson has action items, so the reader can not just understand what’s causing them to feel they way they feel or act the way they act, but to also address it.

How I’d Use the Book
I am, however, going to disagree with Brett on how best to use the book – at least initially. The problem is the table of contents. It’s daunting in its density. I mean that both in terms of listing all of the 101 lessons and also the titles of them. Lots of multi-syllabic words, which isn’t surprising given the psychology and development focus of the book and the background of the author (former practicing therapist). It might have you wondering how you’ll ever get through it all as it sounds very intense.

Of course each lesson is only a couple of pages long, so it’s not really that bad once you get down to it. That being the case, I’d suggest an initial skim through the book. Flip through and get yourself acquainted with what’s in the book. Read the lessons that grab your attention. Brett has done a really good job in the text of drawing your attention to key ideas and points.

Conclusion
As much as the Wiley layout bothers me, in the end a book must be judged on the content. That being the case,  The Daily Trading Coach gets high markets. It will be going on my recommended reading list.


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About the Author
John Forman, author of this blog, has traded for more than 20 years, is a professional market analyst, and authored The Essentials of Trading. He is an active participant in trading forums, consults for trading related businesses, as published literally dozens of trading articles, and has been quoted in a number of books and in the media.
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10 Comments:

  1. ducati998 says:

    John,

    Given that Dr Steenbarger helped you get a book deal etc, would it be fair to say that your endorsement might contain some bias?

    I have to say that I am not a huge fan of Dr Steenbarger, although, some of his articles have been very good I’ll feely admit…and I reproduce [steal] those ones.

    I’ll have to go back and review exactly why Dr Steenbarger leaves me less than enthused [generally speaking]

    jog on
    duc

    • John says:

      Duc,

      The potential bias is why I always make sure to indicate my relationship with Brett whenever I do reviews like this. I try to look on his work objectively, though, as I would with anyone else. He and I don’t always agree on everything, and I’m not commenting at all on the way he approaches the markets himself because it’s not the way I do, but I like the way he goes as the trader development topic and have done since reading his first book.

      John

  2. ducati998 says:

    John,

    With regards to your disclosure, accepted. However, disclosure simply alerts the reader that bias is most likely present. Anyway, moot point.

    Here is an article from Dr Steenbarger that I didn’t care for.
    http://leduc998.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/performance-based-skill/#respond

    It is rather representative of his chart & indicator based approach. His weekly indicator based posts…I really dislike due to their hindsight narrative basis. He seems to have a blindspot to this…Johari Windows anyone?

    jog on
    duc

    • John says:

      Duc,

      Brett is definitely very quantitative in the limited market writing he’s done that I’ve seen. I can appreciate the value of that to a certain extent, but it’s also a very short time frame, which I generally don’t focus on. As a general rule I don’t read other people’s analysis because it tends to muddle my own, so I haven’t read much of what he’s written in that regard. As such I can’t really comment specifically about his techniques. If you really get down to brass tacks, though, you can probably rip apart just about anyone’s approach to the market in some fashion.

      To my mind Brett’s strength is in the area of trader development where he’s able to bring in all that research and tie it in with his own experience working with traders. Like I said before, I don’t even always agree with him there, but I’ve found that’s more often a case of how things are expressed rather than methodologies and approaches.

      John

  3. Nicster says:

    Brett definitely offers a good deal to novice traders like myself. I would, however, make the point that he tends to flit from technique to technique. His cumulative tick indicator is a fine case in point. I have researched that indicator and, unfortunately, it does not demonstrate any more usefulness than, say On Balance Volume, or other volume indicators of the type. His highlights it on his blog when it gives a good looking signal, but nothing when it contradicts the market.

    That said I think on the methodology/psychology side he is very solid, and I think his book, Enhancing Trader Performance is one of the best trading books out there.

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