From the November 2013 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Chronicles of a Million Dollar Trader

Chronicles of a Million Dollar Trader:
My Road, Valleys, and Peaks to Final Trading Victory

By Don Miller
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
$40.00, 270 pages

This book, written by Don Miller, an independent fund trader, chronicles day by day the author’s successful attempt to grow his self-directed retirement fund by $1 million in a single year through intraday futures trading, ultimately earning him $2 million in 18 months. Miller’s journal covers the period 2008 to the end of 2011 and peers into the realm of an equity index futures trader, tracking the ups and down, wins and losses, mistakes and bold decisions that are integral to trading these financial instruments. Each calendar day entry contains a trading timeline, a graph of an index such as the DAX, Globex or the E-Mini S&P 500 futures contract, and concludes with a current-day note on gains or losses.

Before he started his online trading journal in 2008, Miller had, by his own admission, underperformed as a futures trader. A lack of focus, a lack of motivation and an imbalanced career mix made him think he should reignite his on-again, off-again passion for trading equity index futures. This book reflects his new push to release that buried potential. In chronicling his trading hour by hour and day by day, the diary offers an insight into what it takes to become a successful trader. 

Miller decided to refocus his energies such that he would for a year immerse himself in trading, as he puts it, “eat sleep, drink, dream and live the world of intraday index futures trading with the goal of increasing his retirement fund by $1 million.” Evidently he succeeded. 

What makes this diary of a trader interesting is the level of detail that Miller provides about his hourly and daily activities. He demonstrates how he recognizes his strengths and weaknesses, reaches or falls short of his daily goals and analyzes his results.

Ultimately, trading financial markets is a human endeavor that requires guts, patience, determination, controlled aggression and downright tenacity — traits that a serious sports player would exhibit to win a game. In fact, the author peppers his diary entries with sports analogies, especially those relating to the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Playing poker may be a pre-requisite to a successful career in futures trading, as are lessons learned from life.

The author takes into account the vicissitudes of life, and notes that trading futures can be a dizzying rollercoaster ride that embraces the elation of big gains and the disappointments that follow the intermittent market lows. 

In Miller’s universe there is no such thing as the perfect trade. Markets are less than perfect, as are trade sequences, traders, brokers, regulators and humans amid the backdrop of an imperfect world. Another theme of the book is that a futures trader should be flexible in his trading style and expect that a business plan may need to be revised or tweaked on occasion. Just as there is no correct way to trade – as long as gains exceed losses and costs – there are also multiple ways in which to incorporate a trading plan into one’s life 

“Is this a book about trading or life? I’ll let you decide,” Miller says. 

Patrick Kelly is a freelance writer with a background in commodity market reporting.

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