Q: Wondering if Dr. K has any study tips to go along with his reading list? He seems to master everything he chooses to do, was wondering how I can improve my learning ability, if there is such a way.
A: Thank you for your kind words, but it is all about following one's bliss.
First, nothing beats passion. If you're passionate about learning your subject, you will learn it far more effectively than if you're forced to learn something you find dull.
Second, make sure you are physically optimized. This means eating the right foods:
=high protein unprocessed grains (amaranth, quinoa, raw oats- use pure maple syrup or raw honey to flavor... or use the grains in a Dr K Power Salad)
=raw or steamed vegetables- bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, basil leaves, garlic, organic tomatoes, onions, avocado (make power salads with rocket leaves- the greener the better)
=unsalted beans of all types
=lean cuts of meat though meat can be eliminated altogether if you so choose (not me, I'm a hardcore omnivore)
=superfoods such as 80% or higher dark chocolate, raw cocoa, goji berries
=reduce processed carb intake by eliminating sugary drinks which includes most fruit juice, replace white rice with brown rice, replace white pasta with whole grain brown pasta, replace most bread with amaranth, quinoa, or high grain bread
=HERBS: gingko biloba, grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid, acetl-L-carnitine, holy basil leaf, green tea capsules (or drink it everyday- the caffeine is 1/5 the amount in coffee so you wont grow dependent on it and the L-theanine in green tea helps one focus http://www.web-us.com/l-theanine_anxiety_reducer.htm)
You will feel the difference.
Third, if you find your focus starting to lag, have classical music playing quietly in the background. Studies have shown that largo movements from composers such as Vivaldi, Handel, and the like induce alpha state in the brain, which is a super learning state. I have been told my music induces this state as well. This is probably because my compositions are partly inspired by my drive to induce an alpha state in myself through meditation. I noticed my favorite background music when I'm trading or writing or doing anything that requires focus is either Bach or Teardrop Rain.
Fourth, get adequate sleep. Studies have shown that the last hour of sleep is the most critical as the body releases the most HGH during this phase. HGH is an anti-aging hormone. The amount the body produces drops with age so it is even more important to make sure you get enough sleep the older you get.
Fifth, get adequate exercise. This need not take much time. Studies have shown (and you will see it in yourself as well since you are the final judge) that high intensity exercise for several minutes produces far greater results than an hour of light jogging. High intensity means sprinting up 5 to 10 flights of stairs as fast as you can go, doing a light jog back down, then doing it all over again at least three times. The human body releases certain critical anti-aging hormones when the body is pushed to its limits in this manner. You should be completely out of breath by the time you reach the top. You MUST BE in adequate shape otherwise this form of exercise can be dangerous. You should then build up to this level over a period of weeks. Your body will tell you, thus, like stocks, learn to listen to it.
Sixth, meditation has been shown to reduce stress and increase focus. Meditation is not difficult. It is the simple act of quieting the mind for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Focus on your breathing to quiet the mind, though even when you focus on your breathing, you may find it difficult to keep thoughts from streaming into your mind. That is okay. Let the thoughts stream, as some may contain solutions to any challenges going on in your life. Kelly Howell has a number of excellent tapes that produce meditative alpha and theta brain states through binaural beat frequency technology. We highly recommend "Awakening Kundalini" and "The Secret".
Seventh, take a page from Richard Branson's book and have fun with whatever it is you're doing. If something is unpleasant, reframe, reframe, reframe. It changes your perspective and can be a key in motivating you away from a psychological trading slump.
Back in the early days of IBM, a young worker had made a mistake that lost IBM $1 M in business. She was called in to the President's office and as she walked in said, "Well, I guess you have called me here to fire me." "Fire you?" Mr. Watson replied, "I just spent $1 M on your education!"
So next time you take a big loss in a stock, consider it your tuition, and keep record of it so you dont make the same mistake again.
The idea here is that talent, focus, and dedication are the primary factors but if exercise, diet, and sleep are poor, it can derail even the best traders since their mindset will be suboptimal. Further, if you are pushed to the limit due to external circumstances, optimized food intake and high intensity exercise can help you stay on track.