Hi, I’m Brent Donnelly. Welcome to Fifty Trades in Fifty Weeks.
In early 2022, I was looking for a new way to teach trading. My book Alpha Trader had been out for six months, and I wanted to do something different. In business school, I learned via the case study method, and I have always found that learning through specific, real-life examples is powerful. Over the years, many readers have asked me for a specific walkthrough of a trade from start to finish and so I realized that the case study method would be the perfect format for a trader education series.
So, Fifty Trades in Fifty weeks (aka 50in50) was born. 50in50 uses the case study method to go through one real-time trade in detail, about once per week. The idea came to life as a Substack and this book is a permanent record of the weekly process that spanned from February 2022 to May 2023.
Each week, I shared a new trade idea and walked readers through it from start to finish. Fiftyish real-time trades in just over fifty weeks. Lessons covered a wide range of topics like tactics, strategy, mindset, risk management, and of course the psychology of successful trading. The idea was to let readers watch real trade ideas come to life in real time.
Remember those Prima guides for New Super Mario Bros. and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, or those YouTube video game walkthroughs where they explain, step-by-step, how to clear each level of the game? That’s the spirit here. Also, like I said, kinda inspired by Harvard Business School’s case study method.
Each trade goes from start to finish, touching on aspects like:
Where did the idea come from? Why does it make sense?
- Fundamental analysis
- Pattern recognition
- Positioning and sentiment
- How to choose stop loss and take profit levels.
- Defining reassessment triggers—If x happens during the life of this trade, I will do y.
- How to determine position size—What is the appropriate amount of risk for this trade?
Psychology. How might this trade be ruined by mental errors and bias?
The alternative hypothesis
- What are the risks to the trade and reasons it might not work?
- Pre-mortem as we imagine the trade going horribly wrong and dissect the worst case before it happens.
Data collection. Monitoring and tracking trades.
Learning. What have we learned?
50in50 is a 1-year “Introduction to Trading” class full of new ideas, tactics, and strategies for trading.
The book follows the trades over time and concludes with some takeaways and lessons learned along the way. The target audience is traders with 0 to 5 years of experience, but I got a ton of feedback from experienced professionals who found the series valuable, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Substack is free. Why are you charging for a book?
People asked for the book! I tried to make it as low cost as possible.
I already read Alpha Trader and The Art of Currency Trading. Is this different?
About 15-20% of 50in50 overlaps with one of those two books and the remaining 80% is original content. The concepts overlap significantly with Alpha Trader, but the examples and situations are all fresh. If you’re nervous about this, check out the Substack first and if it seems fine, grab the book!
The trades are all closed now, and in the past. Is the info still useful?
Yes! Case studies are still useful, even after years have passed. This is why Harvard and many other business schools use the case study method. Real-life setups can be analyzed after the fact to see what went right and what went wrong. Many Harvard Business School case studies in use today are more than 20 years old. But they are still useful!
If you are such a good trader, why are you writing books and Substacks and a paid newsletter?
This is a common question and a smart question to ask. Before you read or learn about trading from anyone, you should know their background. Especially if you plan to give them cash money. Here is my trading background:
I have been trading non-stop since 1995, mostly currencies, but also futures and single name equities. I have been an FX market maker, a Managing Director and chief dealer at various commercial and investment banks, a portfolio manager at a hedge fund, and I traded my own money for five years. I have been writing about macro and markets just about every day since 2004.
I put my entire net worth of $25,000 into a day trading account in 1998 and turned it into $350,000 by 2000. Then I spent the next two years spending and losing virtually all of it (you learn a lot when you blow up…). My best year I made just over $50 million trading FX in 2008. I worked at a hedge fund for three years but didn’t love it because I couldn’t write. My best day at Lehman Brothers I made more than $5,000,000. I have lost more than a million dollars in one day on many occasions and lost that much in one hour a few times.
I have had a successful 25-year trading career and continue to trade my own money while advising and providing liquidity for hedge funds and asset managers in FX.
BUT… I also love writing. I co-created and wrote a cartoon that was on TV in Canada for a while. I’ve written two books on trading, and I write fiction. As I hit the halfway mark of my 100-year lifespan, I find I get as much joy out of writing as I do out of trading. I want to do both, and I want to do both in a non-bureaucratic environment where I’m free to think and write what I want. My writing also taps me into the zeitgeist as readers respond to my ideas. That puts my ear to the ground on sentiment and positioning.
That’s why I am building Spectra Markets, and that’s why I write a newsletter and Substacks and probably other stuff in the future. Because it makes me happy and creates a virtuous writing and trading circle. But if my writing was free, I doubt I’d commit the effort to make a timely, high-quality product. Good writing takes time, and my time is not free. The fact that I’m good at trading is the reason I can charge people for my writing … So the original question is posed backwards. You should be asking people with no experience why they are charging for content.
The TLDR is: The way for me to live my most fun life is to combine my two passions: writing and trading. My time is worth money and if my thoughts have value to people and they want to pay money to read them… Perfect.
Hope that helps.