Voyager sat down with Jon Najarian, Co-Founder of Market Rebellion and former Chicago Bears Linebacker. Continue reading to learn more about Jon, Market Rebellion, how it came to be, and so much more!
Voyager: Can you tell us a bit about Market Rebellion and why you decided to start the business?
Jon Najarian: Market Rebellion is our way of helping investors build a solid base of knowledge about trading stocks, options, futures, and cryptocurrencies. We'd been doing this for our own traders on the floors of the CBOE, AMEX, PHLX, and NYSE since 1989 and decided to use those courses and our instructors to educate, mentor, and coach investors and traders so that they could limit risks and maximize profits. In 2000 we also added our HeatSeeker™ to the mix, which finds unusual trading patterns in the markets, highlights it for us, and we then blog about those stocks, options, and futures as a group of subscription products.
V: You and your team are passionate about giving your customers the tools to outperform Wall Street. What are some of the ways your services offer a competitive edge?
Jon Najarian: Nobody else can offer the HeatSeeker technology. We have the only copies of our codes and algorithms. We know the edge we offer is that anyone can say, "oh, this stock has unusually heavy volume.” Still, we offer our customers additional information about whether or not that was traded on the bid. Meaning the seller was more aggressive or traded on the offer, which means the buyer was more aggressive. We don't care so much about what was sold on the bid. We’re looking for the big trades on the offer, particularly in options, as options are a leveraged bet. We see signals in both puts (bearish) and calls (bullish). On average, the "tells" we cite are accurate 77% of the time. So if we cut losses on the losers and take profits as winners run, we should be well ahead of the crowd.
V: In your opinion, what characteristics make someone a successful trader?
Jon Najarian: This is the most asked question and easiest to answer; DISCIPLINE. My brother and I workout, eat right, get proper sleep, all of which require discipline. If the trader/investor applies a disciplined approach to their trades, they will thrive. If they do not, they may make money for a while, but ultimately they will lose. You have to be disciplined about taking profits, not just cutting your losses. Discipline is the main attribute that will determine if you will have a long, successful career or just flame out.
V: After playing in the NFL, you became a trader at the CBOE. Tell us about this journey and what made you pursue this career?
Jon Najarian: When I was playing linebacker for the Chicago Bears in 1981, I fell in love with the city of Chicago. I loved the lakefront, the neighborhoods, the people, and the fact that we had three massive trading floors; The Chicago Board of Trade, The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and The Chicago Board Options Exchange. The trading floors were electric, high energy, and very addictive for adrenaline junkies like me. Although I had never studied trading or markets, I was always interested in finance and had pretty good math skills, so trading seemed like a great fit. However, when you started on the trading floors back then, you had to make sacrifices, such as not getting paid. The reason for that was EVERYONE wanted to be on the floor, but if they didn't have a family member trading down there, it was nearly impossible to get on the floors. Thus, I had to work for nothing for six months, just to get my foot in the door. I spent the first three of those months frustrated by my lack of understanding of what was going on. But after a couple of hundred hours of videotapes on trading, I finally started to get it. From that day on, I began to form a steady progression from making a couple of hundred dollars per day to making a couple of thousand dollars per day, to then making tens of thousands of dollars per day. That's when it really got interesting!
V: Do you see any overlaps between your career in football and trading?
Jon Najarian: I certainly see similarities between trading and pro sports in general. My agent was only hiring former pro athletes as his trading assistants. He reasoned that they had the discipline in their sports, were competitive, and thrived in pressure situations. All that gives you an edge as a trader. Couple that with the fact that most athletes are large and fast, with a bit of an aggressive edge, and you get a great combination for pit trading! Also, making money in the pits is very much like the applause and cheering you get at stadiums filled with 80,000 people. The difference is the cheering is in your head each time you make a winning trade, but the endorphins pop just the same as when you score a touchdown or make a sack.
V: Most in traditional finance dismissed Bitcoin in 2017; when did you first become interested in crypto and think, 'there's something more here'?
Jon Najarian: It was 2016 when Peter Briger, Chairman and co-founder of Fortress, told me that (Bitcoin) was an incredible opportunity. When someone like Peter tells you that, you listen. I started buying some in the fall of 2016 and really accelerated my buys in 2017. I still like Bitcoin, but the excesses of misleading projects have hurt the community. Not irreparable damage, but when some of these "projects" blow up, it's hard for some to see how revolutionary Bitcoin is.
V: How do you look at crypto investments relative to other traditional investments?
Jon Najarian: Crypto is different because there are so many exchanges that it's far tougher to see what's really going on. It is the polar opposite of listed or lit markets, where transparency and printing to the tape are required by law. For this reason, I just own crypto, accumulating on dips and taking some profits on pops, but overall just doing that around my core holdings. Right now, I only own Bitcoin and Ethereum.
V: Market Rebellion announced it will be offering crypto trading through Voyager. Why was it important to you to offer crypto to your customers?
Jon Najarian: We get a steady flow of questions about how to invest in crypto and how or where to trade crypto assets. I think clients want some diversification, and they see crypto as a safe haven and a way to move money around the globe more efficiently. I agree with them, and the fact I knew the founder of Voyager and was aware of how well he understands the market and how to serve customers made Voyager the perfect fit. I thought Voyager was a fantastic platform, offering great service at a price that's near impossible to beat, so the decision for us to offer their services to our customers was easy.
V: You’ve been a first-mover in multiple markets & industry revolutions – algo trading, options, derivatives, and now crypto. How do you identify emerging trends and stay agile?
Jon Najarian: I am always curious about everything. I am a voracious reader, I average a book a week. I don't actually read them however, as I have dyslexia, I listen to audible books through Amazon. Thus, I can explore fantastic new areas through books, find my imagination triggered by something in the news and next thing you know, I'm trying to understand how that really works. So the question about early adoption is closely related to how interesting the areas were or are now. The migration from floor trading to developing algorithms to have computers read markets and trade for us was a natural evolution. And once you understand one market, whether its stocks, or live hogs, or lumber, it is an easy jump to the next market. Crypto was that next market for me. Virtually all the same things apply to crypto as stocks, options, and futures. You have volatility, supply and demand, big/ask spreads, clearing, etc. Once you have an account open and funded, it feels pretty much the same as other markets you are already familiar with.