How Long Are You Willing To Be The Crazy One?
Here's to the crazy ones, the rebels, the misfits, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.
"here's to the crazy ones"
Commercial by Apple, 1997
We LOVE the Crazy Ones.
We romanticize them.
Steve Jobs. Elon Musk. Albert Einstein. Gandhi.
There's a catch, though.
Being one, though? Different story.
Being a crazy one requires more of us.
Trusting our vision in the face of resistance.
Willingness to sacrifice.
Feeling lonely. Or alone.
Which brings us to the latest Crazy One, brought to you by the GameStop saga.
January 2021's financial news was dominated by the story of Reddit traders going head-to-head with hedge funds, knocking them off balance, and the ensuing madness.
While almost all articles focused on the same few things - the supposed lack of sophistication of the Reddit traders, all the legal issues for the trading platforms and the use of Reddit to coordinate trades, and how this is the beginning or the end or the beginning of the end of something - there's one story that's largely gotten lost.
If the story of a group of Reddit traders knocking hedge funds off balance (and almost off the cliff) doesn't beg for some self-reflection on our part, what does?
When I read the news last week about GameStop's stock skyrocketing and hedge funds needing emergency funding to stay alive, I needed to know more.
After hours of cutting through narratives on both sides of the trade - which are fascinating in their own right - I found something true, inspiring, and applicable.
One of the narratives is that this happened almost overnight, the result of a group of unsophisticated, irresponsible traders from the subreddit Wallstreetbets banding together en masse to tank hedge funds' short positions in GameStop.
The truth is, this gained momentum over 16 months and was largely started (on Reddit - other non-Redditors were betting on GameStop early on) by a single trader, a guy named Keith Gill who uses the Reddit handle DeepFuckingValue (a shout-out to the investing book Deep Value).
Back in September 2019, Gill posted on Reddit that he'd invested $53k in GameStop - betting the stock price would rise.
His fellow Redditors were not impressed.
Even in a group where the members describe themselves as "degenerates," (and that is somehow the least offensive word they use to describe themselves!) Gill was too far out there for them. He MUST hate money - he's practically setting it on fire!
Every month, he'd post where the investment stood. The heat kept coming.
For about 6 months, at least. And then the tides turned.
As they turned and turned, more people came on board. Not just in the comments, but putting their money behind it. Betting on GameStop, not against it.
In late January, Gill posted his gains at the peak of the GameStop frenzy. He'd made 8 figures on his initial investment.
Which leads us to the real point of all this:
Being the outlier, the rebel, the "crazy one," and having ideas that just might move the world is only a small part of the work.
You have to bring them to life. And in order to do that, you've got to stand behind them.
That's what Keith Gill had to do for a full year - and that was just on a single stock trade. Total strangers were laying seeds of doubt whenever they had the chance, and Gill kept on going.
When you stand behind something out of the ordinary, when you share it with your family or college friends or neighbors or all of Twitter, they're not all going to line up behind you and start following.
There's going to be heat. You'll find dissenters. Trolls. Haters.
They will tell you every reason why you're wrong. Why it's not going to work. Why you should go into permanent hiding. That you should go get a job at 7-Eleven. Overnights, so less people have to see you.
The well-meaning ones in your life will remind you of the long odds. That it's not safe. That you might end up broke. Or heartbroken. Or both. They'll tell you how much they miss the "old" you. How things would just be easier, and therefore better, if you had a regular old 9-5 job.
This is where most people give up - at the point of a little resistance.
"Yeah, they might be right." "This might not be worth all the hassle." "I don't want to screw this up and disappoint them."
That's where the real work begins.
And that work never really ends.
There will always be the dissenters, well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning.
Who will you trust - them or yourself?
Trusting yourself is a long-term game. It's THE long-term game when you're going against the grain.
You might as well be ready to play it for life.
By the time everyone lines up behind you, you'll already be on to the next thing.
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