In our trading community, some individuals go above and beyond to foster engagement, lend a helping hand, and ignite intellectual curiosity among their fellow traders. Today, we are thrilled to spotlight one such extraordinary member: Pen.
What I've always loved about Pen is that she has this rare quality of "fearless engagement," as I've come to call it. She is fearless in that she's never shy to engage in any discussion, from the most basic to the most advanced, while others might dismiss or avoid conversations in the community for fear of being judged by others. She dives headfirst into discussions with a genuine desire to help others. On a recent phone call together, she shared how she often targets those discussions without replies, "hunting for zero replies," she called it, to not leave any trader feeling left behind or forgotten. Whether offering valuable insights, sharing different ways to accomplish something with bots, or sparking insightful debates, Pen's active involvement injects positive energy and momentum into our community. Her fearlessness has undoubtedly encouraged others to step forward, and we hope that this quality alone spreads like wildfire through our community.
Beyond her generous and helpful nature, Pen has a curious mindset around trading that is genuinely admirable. If you pay attention to her posts and replies, she is forever exploring prevailing notions, testing new ideas, and then openly sharing her journey. And I've learned from watching her interactions that she does this without digging herself into an 'entrenched' side or argument, leaving the door open for all sorts of solutions or ideas from others, like she did here on this discussion. This insatiable thirst for knowledge and her eagerness to explore uncharted territories and change her mind if needed has inspired many traders in our community, myself included, to embark on similar paths of discovery and follow rabbit holes we might have otherwise avoided.
Pen is an inspiration within our trading community and someone we could all learn from. So, we asked Pen some questions to learn more about her and the trading journey she's on, and here's what she said:
Who is Pen? What's your story up until this point in your life?
I’ve worked various jobs, but I spent over 20 years teaching office application software classes, building web-based applications, and training. I enjoyed that work but longed for the freedom to spend my days around horses (my passion since birth).
After being laid off, I moved to northern California to be near my father and retired five years later. Since retiring, time management and getting healthier have been my top goals.
Why did you start trading?
I wanted a way to earn income from anywhere in the world that didn’t involve bosses, customers, selling, or inventory, and could make me money while I slept or did other activities. I discovered options after attending a T. Harv Eker - Secrets of the Millionaire Mind weekend workshop. What intrigued me most was that I could make money even if the market went down or sideways, and I could do it with a relatively small start-up investment.
What trading challenges or struggles did you first encounter when you got started?
Unlike taking a college course, where you would need to complete Math 101 before moving on to Math 102, learning Options was a random-order topic adventure that took years to figure out the important elements and the proper order to apply them.
And there were also the emotional and psychological challenges to overcome.
What did you try or do to help solve these problems?
For the emotional/psychological side, the book Trading in the Zone by Mark Douglas was a big help.
And for the mechanics of trading, figuring out the pieces and putting them in the proper order helped a lot.
For instance, risk management (knowing how much of your account you can risk per trade) should come first. Reading a chart and deciding on a direction using simple indicators should be second. Now that you have a direction and know how much you have to trade with, you need a backtested, proven strategy for your direction. The entry and exit triggers should be crystal clear - which brings me to having a trade plan along with your strategy.
And lastly, but probably most important, is having the emotional discipline to “follow” your trade plan.
How has your trading philosophy changed since you started autotrading with Option Alpha?
I’d been waiting several years for someone to create a UI for autotrading. So when Option Alpha launched its automated trading platform, it was a dream come true for me.
I don’t know that my trading philosophy has changed, as I’m still a firm believer in rules-based system trading - and, of course, that’s what bots do by design.
I guess what has changed is the discipline needed to follow a trade plan has been replaced with the discipline to put in the time and effort to build a good bot and then let it handle the trading.
What advice would you share with someone who is considering a similar path?
Between the Option Alpha team and Community support, I feel anyone with a strong desire to succeed at trading will have the best chance to be profitable - provided they put in the time and effort needed. There is no magic bot that can replace actual experience. Schedule time on your calendar when you will study and work on your bots. It seems to make a difference when you actually book time for bot study.
When you are tempted to skip your homework, remember that there will come a time when your bots are doing more work than you are and making you consistent income. It’s worth the effort.
How do you see trading fitting into your bigger life goals?
I love teaching and horses, so my life will always revolve around those two passions (and sometimes both together). My goal is to trade for a living and spend more time with horses.
Trading will always be a part of my life, but it will just be an hour or so in the morning and then maybe an hour or so in the evening. It takes up most of my time right now, but soon it will be time to get back to playing and working with horses.
What's next for you? What does the future look like?
My future goal is to have my bots generate between $2k and $5k a month on a fairly consistent basis. At that point, I’ll get another horse; my last horse passed away a year ago, and financially I have not been able to get another.
And, of course, to finish a couple of bots that handle different market directions with built-in stops or hedges that I’m happy with (I keep changing and tweaking - oh, stop the madness lol).
My Jackrabbit credit spread scalp did very well but hasn’t traded with implied volatility being so low recently.
My Dragon Iron Condor did well while the market went sideways, but it also hasn’t traded in the low IV conditions.
Still working on the Zebra, which would do fine in any IV environment. And also working on a strategy for low IV.
See what I mean… lots of homework, but it’s worth it!
As always, if you see Pen around the community, please pass along your thanks and appreciation.