When Paul Scolardi first started dipping his toes into the stock trading arena, he was working a fulltime job in corporate finance and was looking for a way out. He wanted to build a full-time career as a trader, but had to develop a strategy from scratch. Further, it had to be a strategy he could implement while still working his 9-5 job. That’s when he started creating his swing trading strategy that would allow him to hold a stock for a couple days or even weeks rather than having to trade within a matter of hours like a day trader would. 

He became so successful he went on to leave his job and trade full time. His personal earnings from trading now reach into the multi-millions each year and he has become known on the internet as a mentor to other up and coming investors. His company SwingTrades has helped many others learn the strategy he developed many years ago. With so many people taking a renewed interest in stock trading during the pandemic, we caught up with Paul to glean lessons from how he got his start and his advice for others.

What was the hardest part about your first year of trading?

Paul Scolardi: The first year of trading is a huge learning curve. The challenge is that you need to discipline yourself to spend as much time studying as possible. It’s tempting to begin trading right away without spending enough time learning strategy. When you neglect studying, especially during that first year, it’s going to cost you a lot of money. I had so many losing trades when I first began and hadn’t developed my strategy yet. I often jumped into trades too quickly. That’s why I love mentoring other traders now and allowing them to learn from my mistakes instead of repeating them.

It’s inevitable that every trader will make some bad trades. But by studying and seeking out mentors, you can also shorten your learning curve and grow faster. I didn’t have that luxury more than 20 years ago.

How can new students build good trading habits so that they stick?

PS: Success in trading is very dependent equally on how much psychological discipline you can exercise as an individual along with learning technical expertise. I emphasize the psychology of trading in teaching my strategy and I am a challenging coach with this important element.   Without psychological discipline, traders watch their money fade away very quickly. So you need to identify the daily habits that will help you produce success. That includes studying, learning from your previous trades so that you don’t repeat mistakes and most importantly, working on your mindset. Traders must learn to control their emotions, especially fear and greed. 

The most successful traders have all developed a mindset that I teach with several key characteristics. They are patient, they are highly focused and they remove emotions from their decision-making. Developing that mindset takes time. I compare it to training as an athlete.   You go to practice everyday and practice the same thing and by repetition become more proficient. So new traders need to be mindful and disciplined in practicing the daily habits, without exception, that they want to cement into their mindset. That’s how new behaviors and habits stick.

What are some daily personal habits or rituals you use that help you trade at your best?

PS: Top traders are continuous learners. Spend time studying and reading everyday. The reason I create so much content for the traders I coach is so that they always have new study material to improve their skill set with. This is the key daily habit to build success as a trader.  There is the continuous studying about the daily psychological disciplines and standard strategy rules as well as keeping current on the market and individual sectors that are strong. There is no winging it in this profession. 

What are three books you would recommend about building success?

PS: I think beyond reading books the most important thing to study and learn is a strategy like the one I teach which includes growing your wealth with risk management principles. I would find and study a strategy from an experienced mentor that fits you instead of reading any book.  Beyond that three books that I like for traders to read in their spare time are:

The Disciplined Trader – Mark Douglas 

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, Edwin Lefevre

Trading In The Zone – Mark Douglas