Insider: The Seven Abilities of Exceptional Traders

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Hello -

Some of you may recognize me from my various travels, others will not. To introduce myself, I am Dylan Beckham. I have recently come on with Quiet Speculation, after both getting to know the services, the site, and the people involved. I am proud to be one of the newest writers with QS and I cannot tell you how excited I am to share what I know, what I learn, and what the Magic Community gives me - with you. Within my pages I will show you a different perspective on what it means to be involved in Magic Finance, and what it means to do what you love.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius

In the Beginning......

Now, take a moment. Ask yourself: "What do I know?" Take a moment to write some of those things down.

Don't worry, I'll wait.

Man, that snow storm that came through was insane! Did you get caught in it?

Ok, pencil's down.

That list should be rather extensive. I already know one thing you didn't include, though: "Everything people in my life know." Easy enough to miss, don't worry. It took me a long time to come around myself. If you haven't already realized, the innumerable things people around you see, hear, touch or feel is the same as picking up a new book.  For through the eyes of another is the one place you will never be able to be. You will always long to occupy that space, though. For changing the point of which you view everything is the hardest, most exhilarating, and most rewarding adventure you can take. Be forewarned - that adventure is packed full of fear, doubt, and insecurity. You must be ready. You must be observant. You must be equipped.

It's dangerous to go alone! Take this.

You've been here before. You are standing in front of your darkly shrouded sensei. The look of seriousness etched across their face. You can remember that day even all these years later. What did they say again? "There is nothing more I can teach you" What did they teach you, again? It's been so long. It floats back to the surface: Young grasshopper, do you know what it takes to be successful? Better yet, what does it take to be EXCEPTIONAL?"

The Seven Abilities of Exceptional Traders


1) Staying Informed


The dawn of the new Century has catapulted us into the Information Age. Even before, it was much clearer. What you didn't know could hurt you. The game has changed now. It's not just the roller coaster of decks waxing or waning. Other speculators, other full time investors, and the rise of the Commander market have muddied the waters. The writing on the wall of “THE END IS NIGH!” is not always clear anymore.

Too often players are ruled by emotion and hype. Sellers become ruled by fear and pressure. Emotions they both have been conditioned to feel. Finding the trends. Watching for the moments that matter. The moment when you feel the timing is right. That clarity comes with being involved. It comes from observing the ebbs and flows.

When that is not possible, what then? Cramming articles on trends will give you information, but not knowledge. Leaning on the people you know will give knowledge, but not wisdom. The best minds in the business don't necessarily read every opinion out there, but they have a great foundation of observations to know what is most likely to happen next. Start there. Just pay attention. Observe. The pattern will reveal itself from the chaos in time. You must first take that time.


2) Establishing Relationships

What should be Magic Finance 101 seems to be one of the most under emphasized facets, in truth. Too often we are cut off from the people that will breath life into the things we do. Need to move a card quickly - who would you call? Have money to spend, but no collections - why are people not calling you to sell? Have a hot idea that could pay off if only you buy a large quantity of a card - what's the first store you go to?

How often do you think about these things? How often do you go about thinking what makes you invaluable to someone else? These relationships will define you if you take advantage of them. They will be the most valuable item you will ever possess.  These buoys of friendship, of mutual reliance, are what it takes to learn more than you could ever on your own. They can and will catapult your growth, your understanding, and your abilities forward day after day. Exceptional Traders will often stimulate and be stimulated by how others think, feel, and see things from a different vantage point. That is one of the most important things to walk away with in life. Understanding. 


Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
Albert Einstein


3) Acting Swiftly


You've done your research. You've watched the trends. Now, all you have to do is have the confidence to execute. That's when the doubt creeps in. Your mind slows down to a crawl. The second hand on the clock doesn't appear to move any more. You become more and more unsure that this is the move to make. You hit refresh, just to make sure the pricing error is still there. Too late, it's gone. Cue the gong.

One critical error many Traders fall to is the doubt. Doubts in themselves. Doubts in the moment. Doubts that they have been taught all their life to believe exist. Could things go horrible wrong? Of course. Could a move lose you money? Naturally. Take a moment, step back, and look at it though. Did the math make sense? Did you do your due diligence to make sure that even if everything falls apart that your exit strategy is reliable? That even if you have to take that route, you are perfectly okay with the losses expected. You absolutely should have that doubt if you did none of those. Planning for the worst case, and making up your mind that it's okay if that happens allows you to pull the trigger the first time, every time. No hesitation. You know what you want and are only focused on that.

Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.
In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.

- Louis Pasteur


4) Willingness to be Wrong.



You planned for the worst. You took time for your due diligence. You acted swiftly. Things didn't break the way you hoped, though. Now, you've got to suck it up.

That's where most just stop.

As if the World stops turning right there. You were wrong. Life is now over. Did you just not know it yet? No? Then you should just lay down right here. It looks comfortable, right?

That is not the reality of the situation. Life moves on. If you want to be discouraged – by all means, please make sure you call me. I'll take all those rotten, nasty cards off your hands. After all, everything we've told you was wrong, right?

If you willingly accept the possibility that you will be wrong – all of a sudden it doesn't matter if you are. There becomes this magical Christmasland where there truly is no right or wrong. There is only better or worse. What might be better for me, could be clearly worse for you. This is where right and wrong is born. There is always something that can be perceived negatively by someone else, or by your own eyes. The trick is to be able to keep going, in the direction you need to go, without stopping. For truly better is only right, and wrong is only worse.  Exceptional Traders should have been on the “better” path already. Having one rotten apple doesn't make the whole pie rotten. Just that one bite.

5) Building a Positive Image

I was given a nugget of knowledge not many years ago from someone that I've come to respect. “Magic is one of the few businesses that rewards you for doing the right thing. Charge a fair price. Offer a fair compensation and people will come back to you time and time again.” - Jim Sorel

We were discussing “behind the curtain,” and he couldn't be more correct. There's a certain sense of wonder in the TCG market. People use this game to enjoy themselves. To take a break from the reality of their day to day. To find camaraderie and make friends. Money typically doesn't even matter because those other aspects are priceless to them. I can not tell you how many times I've heard of a lopsided transaction, simply because the person loved the card they were buying and paid more than it was worth to own it NOW. You've heard of it, too. I'm sure.

Building an image of trust, fairness, and humbleness is therefore the most important decision you can make. Whatever shady dealing you want to do? It's not worth it. Not even once. It will cost you more money in the end than any other action you can take. Being upfront and letting someone else make the decision takes the unscrupulousness out of it. Let them make the decision. Never take that power away. For if you do, they will take your power away. They are paying you for time. They compensate your gathering of information. You located those cards and had them available. You are not being paid to have a card they want. You are being paid for the time spent on that card. If they truly wanted to, they could take the time to find that card themselves, trade for that card, or go to someone else and pay less for that card every single time. What's the difference? Your image.

6) Always Maintaining Flexibility

Rigidity has it's place. The problem is the speed which things can change. By maintaining the ability to be flexible, you can adapt to any new challenges that present themselves. New opportunities that show up daily are not just there to be seized, for in truth they are just problems that need a solution. In the World of Finance, the Exceptional Trader is a problem solver and less an Opportunist. They are a facilitator of turning cards someone does not need into things they will need - all while making a profit. Right there, already three different variables have raised their heads. A.) Need B.) Don't Need C.) Profit. If you wanted to put it in a math problem:

b – a = c.



Another way to look at it:

(Cards They DON'T NEED) – (Money They Need) = Profit.

Exceptional Traders are adapt at seeing where the problems lie and coming up with a solution that fits comfortably. Often times that will mean more than one solution. Having the flexibility to make it work is critical.

7) Maintaining Cash Flow

Lastly, in order to take advantage of the moments that arrive – Exceptional Traders have the cash flow necessary to tackle it. This comes from all the other abilities. Combining them together in a winning combination for your specific circumstances is the greatest problem to solve. There is no “one size fits all.” There are only things that work for one person, and may work for you. Your tenacity, dedication, or the simple willingness to learn is essential. There is no time frame. Magic: The Gathering will not close shop next year. There are markets available and evolving every day of the week. Cards are being created and collections are being sold daily. The only thing you must do is decide to do it, then do it well. Give 100% and you will see a 100% return. If you cannot, 10% is just fine too. Time is the only true factor as it takes time to make money. Have the frame of mind to know that there is no quick fix. There is no over night success story. Everything every Exceptional Trader has in this business was thought on thoroughly, planned extensively, and then executed with enthusiasm and zeal.

There's a place for everyone at this table.

The only thing I am capable of doing is pointing out the tools that will make you a better Trader, tomorrow. Exceptional Traders find the ingredients that make their stew into a 5 star dish. You don't have to start with the herbs and spices to find the final recipe, but you do need to decide on what dish to cook, and then season to taste. If your already cooking, maybe change things up tomorrow compared to how you seasoned the Meatloaf last week.

From the beginning to a well seasoned Pro - these tidbits are all areas we can improve on. Missing a key part of your dish? Look back at the list of things you know. I guarantee somewhere it's something you don't know that's taking away the ability to be harder, better, faster or stronger than you are now. Push your limits. Expand your horizons. Choose to not let fear take hold of you. Asking questions is the fastest way to become more knowledge. Feeling like an idiot? Maybe you are. How do idiots get smarter? They learn. Just like everyone else did. We all have the base ability to learn. Some just chose to not use it. Make the choice. Follow the path. Enjoy what you do.

- Dylan Beckham

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Dylan Beckham

Dylan has been involved in Magic: The Gathering since the heyday of The Dark. Continually invested in the community, he's been a Pro Tour Player, Trader, Judge, Tournament Organizer, Volunteer, and Vendor. Currently involved with the day to day operations of selling online, Dylan has brought his experience to Quiet Speculation to make you a better investor. Hailing from the Atlanta area, and now part of the Dallas scene - he's often at big events sourcing cards or discussing Life, the Universe, and Everything. Have a question? Feel free to comment, message, or email anytime.

View More By Dylan Beckham

Posted in Development, Finance, Free Insider

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5 thoughts on “Insider: The Seven Abilities of Exceptional Traders

  1. It’s always a treat to read an article identifying the finer points to truly succeeding in the gestalt world of MTG finance. I can’t stress enough the importance of establishing relationships and building a positive image in the community. It will determine your success or failure as business or trader. This article is full of substance and a prime example of why I enjoy my insider subscription so much.
    Thanks for the excellent read, I look forward to the next one!

  2. @Morgan – It was not my decision to have it behind the pay barrier, but what’s your reasons why? Feedback is always welcomed.

    @Sean et al. Thank you for the compliments. I’m hoping to delve more into the mentality of what Trading/Finance really is. A lot of the time, most go by feel alone. To take the time to understand why makes everything else click together even better. It also bridges the gap while clarifying, sharpening, and emboldening the direction you’re going in.

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