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- 6. Someone's always going to do better than you. If you are competitive like I am, and you can't stand being beaten, this is the world's worst job. There is always someone out there who had 100% of his fund in
McAfee (MCAF) or someone who had 50% of his fund in some takeover name. You lead a
Liberty Valence existence, and there is always a better, faster gun out there.
I kept a journal for many years and, when I look back to 1983, when I shot the lights out in performance, there was an article about some guy at
Fidelity who did better than me. I was crestfallen, just crushed. When he later blew up his fund, I wasn't even mollified because by then there was
someone else doing better.
7. The clock starts at zero every year. Every year, the previous year's performance means nothing. You have to start all over again. When I would get my run from
Goldman Sachs each morning (a margin run showing my positions) there would be a little number on the right hand corner of the page that showed how much I was up for the year. One of the reasons I eventually quit was that I could not bear to see that number start at zero for one more January.
8. It is a young person's game. You have to be new and open to ideas all of the time. You have to travel and see companies. You have to come to work early and work late. You have to be willing to put in 15 to 16 hours a day, especially during earnings season. That got progressively harder for me as I got older.
9. You can't really do it yourself anymore. You need an infrastructure to handle both the trading side and the accounting side. It is very hard to run money alone, even though the responsibility ultimately will fall on your shoulders. And you have to be able to pay your employees huge money. Good people are routinely raided. Bad people kill you.
10. In the end, it can be soulless and -- while financially lucrative -- it can grate on you that all you are doing is making rich people richer. This last point, in the end, weighed so heavily on me in my last years as a hedge fund manager that I would become embarrassed to explain to my kids what I did. I wasn't creating anything. I wasn't helping anybody who needed help. I was just making people move higher on the
Forbes 400 list.
I am no saint and I have done a ton of things wrong in my life, but I have never felt that I was a rotten guy. I felt, though, in the end, that I was turning into one because I could not justify my time on Earth if all I did was make the rich richer. Fortunately, I had other things I wanted to do with my life. But the intoxication of the job -- and the money -- make it very hard to give up. Many of you may think that I am touting my own conscience, but, believe me, anybody who worked with me my last years and knew how I struggled with what I was doing with my life even as I made fortunes, recognizes that this ultimate problem takes precedence over the other nine reasons.
Now that I have thoroughly talked you out of managing money, how the heck do you get in there and do it?! Stay tuned for the remaining parts of this article over the next couple of days.
Have you tried our portfolio tracker? People keep raving to me about it, so
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Check out Part 2 of this article!
James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to