To help you get to know T3 Live’s growing bench of trading talent, we've launched a new series called “Meet the Traders” so you can get a direct introduction to our team.
Today, we'd like you to meet Mark Harila, who is a moderator for the T3 Live Black Room on our Virtual Trading Floor®.
Thank you for joining us Mark!
1) Tell Us a Little About Yourself Mark.
The hardest question I have to answer these days is “so what do you do?”
My wife and I own 9 small businesses. Yes, 9.
But I identify as a trader because that's what first comes to mind when people ask what I do.
Before I entered the trading world, I worked on over 30 installations across all branches of the US military.
I enjoy traveling, and I love spending time with anyone who can handle a few quips and a little sarcasm.
2) How did you first get involved with the markets?
I have been interested in the market for as long as I can remember.
When I was in high school, my economics teacher held an investing contest and the winner was guaranteed an A for the semester.
This piqued my interest doubly: a chance to get an easy A and learn how to make money?
It turns out that even then I was a trader, not an investor.
Every day I ran to the paper to see how my stock picks did and figure out what to buy or sell next.
Between my competitive nature, a ton of reading, and lots of trial and error (so much for an “easy A”), I got an A in the class.
But more importantly, I stoked a lifelong love affair with the markets
3) How would you describe your trading methodology?
I am a technical analyst and trader.
Many people believe technical analysis is about learning patterns.
The truth isn't that simple.
Technical analysis is about understanding the psychology and emotions of market participants.
If you can understand others traders' emotions, expectations, hopes, and fears, then you will have a greater understanding of price movement.
I tend to look for multiple elements converging in an area, with a compelling reason or impetus (such as a gap, void, pattern matching the market bias. etc) to find high quality patterns that are most likely to move in my direction.
4) You've said that when you started trading, you focused on learning on only one pattern at a time. Is this something you recommend to all new traders?
In T3 Technical Strategies, we teach a number of patterns but not every pattern is for every trader.
When I started with our system, I spent weeks trading only one pattern until I knew it inside and out.
I thought I was learning which setups worked beest, what time frames I should trade, which amplifiers were more likely to help, etc.
But what I was really learning was my own psychology, preferences, and most importantly, my weaknesses.
And believe me, there were more than I expected.
The bottom line is, in order to be successful, you need to know yourself first.
And by focusing on mastering each concept in isolation, you'll essentially create a customized methodology that works best for your personality.
5) What is your day-to-day focus these days?
My focus is on everything and nothing.
It changes based on the time of day and the opportunities that present themselves.
In the morning I focus on gaps, especially those that create huge emotional reactions in traders, like euphoria or pain.
Later in the day I focus on my universe of about 900 stocks that meet my daily volume, ATR (average true range), and price requirements.
I keep all 900 on 15-minute thumbnail charts sorted by sector.
At lunch, I scan the entire universe in search of my afternoon trades.
6) What is the 1 thing you wish you knew when you started as a trade?
I can't say this enough: Novice traders look for ALL the reasons TO take a trade.
Professional traders look for ALL the reasons NOT TO take a trade.
My job as a trader is to find everything wrong with a trade and all the reasons it might fail.
Then and only then can I take a trade in accordance with my plan.
7) Do you have a certain risk management strategy for cutting losses?
Every trade I take has a clearly defined Stop Loss, Entry Price, and Target.
I wrote Stop Loss first because it's the most important, and because adhering to stops is non-negotiable.
The stop is predicated on a chart area that if violated, represents a significant change in the trade.
At that point, I no longer want to be in that trade.
I risk the same amount of money on each trade, and the number of shares I take is predicated on the entry and the stop.
In other words, my entire trading plan is a risk management strategy to cut losses, and
Losses are an inevitable part of trading. They are even acceptable when viewed as a cost of business — I consider losses to be an education expense.
8) Are you concerned about high-frequency and algorithmic grading?
There is no question in my mind that HFT's and Algos can affect trading.
But, I am not concerned about them.
In fact if you know what to look for, they can give you a number of opportunities.
9) What is 1 thing traders can do today to start getting better results?
I'm going to give you 3.
First and foremost create a written plan.
Trading without a plan is like cooking without a recipe. It can be done but you can expect mixed results.
Plus, it's nearly impossible to replicate your successes you don't know how you got them.
Second, track your trading activity, and don't limit yourself to your P&L.
You should be noting which setups you use, trade management tactics, what happened after you got out, and whether the trade met your plan.
If you are not tracking all elements of your trading, you can't tell if your plan is working!
And finally, I recommend that join the T3 Live Black Room! It is an amazing community filled with incredible traders who are generating trade ideas all day long.
10) Are there any traders you look up to?
I have met a number of great traders over the years, and there are some incredible traders here at T3.
I'm a big fan of Scott Redler, Dave Green, Marc Sperling, Dan Darrow, and Steve Levay.
But I have to say that every day, I am still in awe of my friend and mentor Sami “The Machine” Abusaad.
11) What would you be doing if you weren’t a trader?
I'd love to travel more and spend even more time with my wife and kids.
I've visited more than 40 states and a bit of Europe, and I'd like to see more.
Ironically, my number #1 trading goal when I started was to become profitable enough to spend more time with my wife and enjoy our lifestyle from anywhere.
So no matter what happens, I guess I'll be trading 🙂
Thank you Mark!
If you'd like to trade live with Mark Harila, Sami Abusaad, and the rest of the gang, please check out the T3 Live Black Room today!