This is my very first blog post. I haven’t written anything yet but I’m sure I have some great stories to tell.

For two and a half months I was part of the trading team. I worked on two projects, and learned from the best traders about macroeconomics, the market, creativity and team work.

During my time at Niederhoffer I prepared for and took the Series 3 exam - an exam that checks the understanding of the fundamentals of trading, macro economics and the American regulations of the futures market. Secondly, I created a program in python that finds discrepancies in execution of trading orders (between executing and clearing brokers) and prints them on a webpage. I documented my progress and the knowledge I gained so the next intern could use it should he choose to do so. ​​ More importantly, I tried to immerse as much as possible with the happening at the office. I found out that asking questions , and listen carefully were the best ways to widen my knowledge.

Take-Homes: Fostering creativity - Physically:

The way a space is designed is important. Whether employees sneak into the kitchen and “spend ​time”, or the space allows unintentional interactions that could lead to “mini brainstormings” that would not have happened otherwise.

Practically, during my short time, I realized that I can take advantage of the structured schedule; one of the smartest traders who was also open to my questions would stay after all the others had left, and so I would stay with him and ask the questions I stacked during the day.

Creativity - as a process: Ideation can take place only in an atmosphere that fosters it. As Roy told me - many times when someone say “we tried this, it didn’t work” , the environment must be such that further questioning is legitimate. Have we tried exactly this idea? what exactly did we try? I also realized that there is always a gap between ideation phase and execution, i.e. a situations where an idea is suggested, encountered with positive feedback - “actually, that’s a good question” or “that’s an interesting idea”. Later the conversation dies out and sometimes nothing is done.

Trading: The fundamental problem of marketing a hedge-fund:  There is a fundamental problem in marketing a hedge fund, or any service that aims to provide benefit during a rainy day. Since the human brain is designed to pursue instant gratification, investors have to resist this temptation in order to make a decision to put money in a different instrument that yields better than others only during specific times.

As Roy mentioned - “just like in Chicago, where the woman hates when her husband drops his wet towel on the floor over and over again. She can suffer the few times he is cheating on her, but she cannot take the repetitive bad habit” - investors would need a lot of patience in order to see the gains, while during most of the time, sticking to a hedge fund, or any financial-decision is hard to follow through.

Macro-Economics: I had the opportunity to intern while two interesting events took place: unexpected unemployment rates, and Brexit. Especially Brexit, taught me how unpredictable macro-events, could vastly influence the market; how doubtful, and biased surveys could be, although smart people tend to ignore it.

Cognitive Biases: It is incredible, how people can see patterns in a charts, and create predictions based on questionable assumptions. Moreover, the capability to stick to a methodical execution seems to be rare.

Managerial attitude in a challenging environment: Trust the employees in bad times: I saw that giving the employees the impression that you fully trust them is within the essence of effective management. Similarly, I saw that oftentimes the employees don’t need to be told what to do.

“I don’t know”:  The smartest people in our team, answered in this way to many of my questions. It seemed to me as it comes from confidence in their skills and humility. It could be a sign of transparency, competency and professionalism.

Interns: One day, when I manage a team, we would regularly have an intern. A fresh perspective worths the effort invested in training him, given that he shares his insights.

Minerva:  Relevance of curriculum: I was able to connect the dots that I’ve collected during the year and apply some of the concepts I’ve learned. Generally, it seems to me that the concepts we focus on, and creative application of them are a platform for potentially very successful applications in “real situations”.

“Extra Take-homes” based on my time in NYC: Columbia University:  As in any other big university, professors are usually nice, and they don’t know the students in person. This allowed me to attend classes, whichever I chose, go to office hours which are invaluable, submit homework, and even take mid-terms just for extra practice!

“P-SET”, sets of exercises that students submit between classes are unsurprisingly a good way to learn since the idea follows deliberate practice, ​​interleaved repetitive practice and active learning (solving VS watching someone else solving).

Active learning - some professors understand the merits of active learning: at stats class the professor would pose a question and ask the students to work on it together, just like in breakout groups.

Apartments in NYC - there’s no point in trying to find one remotely. Next time, it is best to plan to spend 2-3 days while arriving at the city.

There is a reason that people don’t cook in NYC. It seems like the time flies and the time spent is sometimes better invested in studying and working since street food is not too expensive, and can even be healthy, to some degree.