Recognizing our own strengths is vital to being financially and personally successful.

This week we will look at two readers: one exiting the world of Wall Street and the other entering it.

By accessing their own power, both professionals can learn to profoundly impact the quality of their lives and feel more positive about their future.

Q As a young trader, I have really found your column useful in helping me remain calm and seeing things in perspective, and was wondering what personal strengths you think one needs to be a successful trader.

I am confident in my analytical abilities but just making sure I have the "mental make up" to do this for the long run...I know I really like it, but I am only 23 and can still do really anything I want! Hope to hear from you.

A: I would be an awful trader.

I am overly emotional, take everything personally, and my SAT scores in math were horrific.

However, I do believe I understand how to help someone navigate the market's rough terrain from an emotional perspective.

A successful Wall Street investor must possess not only the analytical ability to process and utilize information but also an ability to draw on his or her own personal strengths.

In the course of my practice there are two personal strengths that I routinely see in successful professionals.


Passion is a compelling love driving us towards an activity. It dominates our brain and overwhelms our heart.

The 18th century French author and philosopher Denis Diderot said it best:"Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things."

An eighth grader who asks his grandmother about stock tips. That is passion.

An MBA student who after taking three classes, audits a fourth. That is passion.

An individual investor who rather than shooting from the hip, researches the financials and operations of a company. That is passion.

Without a true love for the stock market and all its complexities, you might make a living -- but you won't become rich.

You also will not enjoy the ride. Which old-timers will tell you is half the fun.

It seems that you really enjoy what you are doing for now, and I think over the next several years you will quickly see if you have a passion for it.


In the past, I taught fourth graders. Several of the brokers (most in their mid-twenties) I have worked with are dead ringers for my former students.

They want what they want when they want it and, most typically, they want it now!

Despite their inexperience, they believe wealth is owed to them.

I defer to the misunderstood and brilliant Axl Rose of Guns n' Roses fame: "All we need is just a little patience."

A successful Wall Street investor is patient regarding the building up a portfolio and increasing net worth.

A patient investor understands that it takes time to obtain a knowledge base, build a solid reputation and determine a creative course of action.

Once this has been accomplished, you must understand that there will be both highs and lows.

These highs and lows, will be exaggerated and exploited by the media for their own self satisfying purpose.

Successful Wall Street investors look beyond the current environment and see the bigger picture.

They ride the wave, neither oblivious to the market trends nor consumed by them.

In utilizing patience, they will not react to every moment of insecurity or anxiety; but over time create a quiet confidence that transcends the now.

The passion for what you do and the cultivation of patience are two personal strengths that give a Wall Street investor a huge leg up!

You probably have a passion or you would not have written me the email

You probably have the patience or else you would not have cared to wait for a response.

Also, you are only 23 and have some time to figure out if this is the perfect fit.

I feel like you are being very responsible and asking all the correct questions. Give yourself time and try to have a little fun too!

Q: After twenty five years of marriage, my wife is going to divorce me. And I am scared to death of it. I want to quit the business (BEEN IN IT FOREVER!) and become a high school math teacher at this private school near where I live in San Diego. Both kids have graduated college. The truth is we would have to downsize a little but we would by no means be destitute. By most accounts we would still be rich, just not super rich! She likes all her fancy vacations to Europe, clothes and we might actually have to sell one of our houses and she is pissed about that. I do not know what to do? Should I stay at a job I hate or do what I have always wanted to do.

A: Wow! That is not an easy one.

First question: Is your wife really going to divorce you? Is that just fear talking?

She may be anxious about the change and with a satisfactory explanation come around.

Remember your wife's feelings are not trivial.

She is allowed to be angry at losing a house, just like you are allowed to be angry at the idea of staying at a job you hate.

That being said, you deserve a chance to be happier then you are.

You have supported two children through college. Mazel tov!

You have supported your wife for 25 years. Double Mazel tov!

After fulfilling all your responsibilities, congratulations are in order.

And you deserve a reward. For some people it would be lessening your hours at work or finding a hobby.

For you, it is becoming a high school math teacher.

So be it!

Your wife needs to see how emotionally toxic Wall Street has become for you and your reasoning behind this career switch.

I would write a letter.

After 25 years of marriage, this may seem silly.

But a letter can serve to clarify your position without all the excess emotions, facial expressions, and tangential thoughts.

Be honest and direct in this letter.

Then talk with her in a calm manner, and be very respectful of her feelings.

Remember although you are making a valid choice to change professions, by doing this you are changing the status quo.

Own that.

After 25 years of you doing what your family wanted, I think it is time to follow your passion.

Speak from your heart and do not compromise. Everyone is entitled to have a fresh start. If that does not work, call a marriage counselor!

Best of luck and if you wish keep me informed about any developments please do so.


Choosing a vocation is not easy.

We place so much value on what we do for a living, that is hard not to feel defined by it.

It is important to remember that those of us who have a choice to switch professions, without significant financial hardships are incredibly fortunate.

In exiting or entering a profession, one must carefully assess the pros and cons before making a decision -- always remembering that when we play to our strengths and follow our hearts we are more likely to feel like a success.

Big shout out to our newbie day trader and veteran insider for their thoughtful questions. As always, keep the emails coming to "ASK NOAH" at

Thank you and have a profitable and peaceful week.

Noah Saul Kass

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.