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What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  3,311 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Jim Paul's meteoric rise took him from a small town in Northern Kentucky to governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, yet he lost it allhis fortune, his reputation, and his jobin one fatal attack of excessive economic hubris. In this honest, frank analysis, Paul and Brendan Moynihan revisit the events that led to Paul's disastrous decision and examine the psychological ...more
Hardcover, 190 pages
Published June 1st 1994 by Infrared Pr (first published January 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author of The Black Swan said this was the best book on finance that he had ever read so I thought I would give it a read too. Short read and well written. Instead of another financial "how to succeed on Wall Street" book, it is an analysis of failures and through these seldom talked about events there is much to learn.
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I would like to start by saying that this is probably the best investing book I have ever read. I have read plenty of others that basically say the same thing as every other one that I have read. Most books cover what they think is the best way to make money while not touching on any of the negatives of the stock market. This book does the exact opposite. It's basically the story of a man who got lucky and was so full of himself that he lost it all when his luck ran out. He goes into great ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finance
This book is brilliant and essential reading for anyone interesting in trading. Instead of praising it further, Ill spend the rest of the review summarising the book (somewhat for my own sake). Its split into two distinct parts: story and analysis. In the story, the author describes his love of money and his time as a broker, becoming fairly well-off before losing it all in the market in a few trades as his luck ran out. Not an especially unusual story, but what comes next is, as the narrator ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very helpful for understanding the psychology behind trading. Might have to take it into account so I make less losses.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooked
Audiobooked this because two of my absolute fav know entities, N. N. Taleb and Tim Ferriss, loved it. It's solid, short and I think will definitely help me in my personal investing and self evaluation. If you liked getting into a trader's head with something like Reminiscences of a Stock Operator or More Money than God definitely queue this up.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this - I've been liking books that incorporate psychology and economics/business lately. This one does that.

A few notes (some taken directly from the book):

* You wouldn't read a book on heart surgery and think you can perform heart surgery; why do people assume the same with investing/trading? People think its easier than it is, and mistake luck for skill.
* Experts have learned that losing is part of the process, and they get good at losing too.
* People lose because of psych.
Pawel Dolega
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As most of people here I came to this book from reference in Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. As he says: "The best noncharlatanic finance book I know is called What I Learned Loosing a Million Dollars". As a great Taleb's fan I obviously reached for this book.

In short - the book is awesome. It's basically the often missing Silent evidence. It's rare to see a book that describes personal author's failure. The book makes strong points about the importance of dealing with losses on financial markets
Oguzhan Altun
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Anybody looking to invest in stock market should read this. Don't need to finish the whole book, the first half gives you already a great idea about how to avoid classic mistakes.
Eric Franklin
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly good because of the author's remarkable candor, colorful storytelling, and a semi-novel focus on how to avoid catastrophic losses in financial markets, rather than focusing, as so many financial books do, on providing a system for winning. While I don't find the conclusions to be comprehensive, and are focused more on people I would call traders than true investors, the findings are still useful and applicable, even with some of the underlying examples being hilariously out-of-date ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I did not like this. The book certainly has some useful lessons: understand and manage emotions when trading, use rules to make investment a series of discrete decisions rather than a continuous process that allows emotionalism in.

What is infuriating, however, is that these lessons could be summed up in a quick article, essay or lecture. Instead Paul drags the reader through 160 pages of repetitive and poorly written tedium.

The first half of the book is an autobiography, presumably intended to
Bernd Schiffer
Audiobook. It was ok. General lesson in the book: never lose money. Another strong message behind this: don't make losses personal. I like the advice, but the package they are wrapped in in this book does not resonate with me. I didn't like Moynihan's personal stories, the way they were told. Too boring, too uninteresting for me. The "lessons learned" part, in which the author switches from a autobiographical view to a fact view, seems to be a mess of structure to me. For example, I liked the ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Best investment book I've read in the past 5 years. Short and to the point, this book very clearly lays out how investors make fatal mistakes. With blunt honesty Paul shows us how he lost a fortune after a decades long career, and his lessons on risk are unforgettable.

I'll sum up with a quote that sets the tone of this book quite well: "Smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from somebody else's mistakes. Anyone reading this book has a wonderful opportunity to become wise
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! This book is so true, it's hilarious and tragic at the same time.
I would not twist the truth if I'd say it is the most useful and close to real life book that I'd ever read on investing.
Justin Tapp
($1.5 million, actually)

If you've read Nassim Taleb's Fooled by Randomness (or others), then you've heard the stories of young traders who weren't even alive during previous market crashes who make soaring fortunes, convince themselves of their own greatness, live the high life, then come crashing down when suddenly the market turns and they're left broke and unemployed after realizing markets don't always go up. Most of those traders don't write books, but fortunately Jim Paul did (and he's
Nate Q
Personalizing successes sets people up for disastrous failure. They begin to treat the successes totally as a personal reflection of their abilities rather than the result of capitalizing on a good opportunity, being at the right place at the right time, or even being just plain lucky. They think their mere involvement in an undertaking guarantees success.
Brendan Moynihan, What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

Profitable trades that are missed actually cost zero while poor controls (pick the
Daniel Dent
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
Started this book a long time ago and after about 20% of the way through left it. While reading Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, book is mentioned in affectionate way so I came back to it from beginning. Made it through book very quickly. It's entertaining and if your investor almost mandatory read. You'll identify with a lot of it if you've had money in markets and experienced some wins and losses.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting but a little dated. The first half is much better as Paul retells the tale of his rise and fall. It takes a big man to realize that his fortune was more a matter of being in the right place at the right time and having some luck than his own acumen. Second half suffers as he tries to generalize his ideas to a wider audience. A worthwhile read for investors. For the general public, not so much.
Tim Duggan
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short read and a valuable one. Interesting how it happened in a pretty simple way. What is more enjoyable is what is examined and studied after the loss. Last chapter has some good stuff around risk management and psychology.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
Recommended in the Black Swan
Disappointing , few ideas, nothing new
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The advice in this book boils down to:
- You can't reliably predict profits but you can consistently manage losses
- You can't manage your losses if you personalize them
- To avoid personalizing losses you need a plan
- To have a plan you must have an exit strategy before entering the market

This is all summed up nicely in the very last chapter, while the rest of the book is spent building up to it. One *could* read just the last chapter and get most of the books' message, but I think it's still
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
fun read for those who equate luck with their own skill -- am personally guilty of such a track record.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Amazing financial advice for anyone who invests in the stock market mixed into a rambling, boasting autobiography.
Joe Teibel
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Starts off a bit uninteresting but part 2 and especially 3 are really good
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly what I needed!
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Liked it. Focused on causes of certain failure rather than the endless list of things that might work sometimes... but may also fail a much higher percentage of the time like Good to Great, Built to Last and other Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur's Soul.

Don't let your emotions relate to your gains or losses. Have a system put in place, work with the plan. Write it down. Do not deviate from what you've written down.

"Success is due to luck and a very small amount of skill."

"Good judgement is
Max Nova
I have mixed feelings about giving this book a 2 star rating. One one hand, it's full of (admittedly entertaining) cavalier boasting and rambling. On the other, my return-on-investment from reading this book could be huge if I follow his advice and don't lose a million dollars. What is a reviewer to do?

The late Jim Paul (a University of Kentucky grad!) has a very simple thesis: there are lots of contradictory ways to make money, so "learning how not to lose money is more important than learning
Vitalijus Sostak
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
The first part of the book - the personal story that reads a bit like "Reminiscences of a stock operator" - was delicious. It's personal, entertaining and has interesting moral to it as revealed later on.
However, this juicy part is only 1/3 of the book.

The other 2/3 are the "lessons": stick to the plan, control your risk, do not personalize losses etc. etc.
It a fair and solid advice, with few interesting angles on investor/speculator psychology, but predominantly it's same old, same old for most
Warren Mcpherson
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ideas, markets
A personal exploration of the decision-making process and the way our experiences shape our thinking.
There is an inherent humility in telling this story that makes the book quite likable.
The book is short but I found myself slowing down often to be clear about what was being said.
A great deal of research has been done on the decision-making process since this book was written, but the personal account and careful examination remain valuable.
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ferriss
Written in the context of stock market investing, but applies to any type of business investment. Author predicates that to be successful you need to have a plan prior to investing (when your mind is clear), stick to that plan, be aware of your emotional urges to deviate from the plan, and avoid the simple pitfalls that cause losses (stop loss controls are critical).
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