This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Ben Sturgill. Ben is your quintessential pro-athlete turned entrepreneur. And I have had the pleasure to get to know him well over the last year as he is one of the traders alongside me at Raging Bull, an elite trading education company.
Ben played basketball in college and went on to play pro overseas, but knew that he needed to prepare for life after basketball – so he became an entrepreneur and since retiring from basketball has grown and sold businesses in software, real estate, and the event space.
Along the way, he started trading and investing in the markets and found he had a knack for it and today he’s a pro that trades full time and helps others throughout the world to create financial success through trading.
I’m excited to talk to him about his journey and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Ben grew up in a home where money was tight and from a young age, he knew he had to work to get what he wanted. He started hustling as a kid. But, it was a baseball raffle ticket sale that really exposed him to entrepreneurship and the concept of leverage. At the age of 10, he went around his neighborhood figuring out how to sell more and more of the tickets and in the span of a few weeks he made $300. This opened his eyes to the potential out there.
He was then given the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki from a mentor that had learned to invest and build wealth in the stock market on a teacher’s salary and were very wealthy. Learning from the book began his journey on learning about money.
Ben learned to look for what the greatest opportunity for him and when he grew 6 inches in one year and had a knack for basketball, he went all in on the sport. But, he still had his knack for entrepreneurship and kept learning as he career blossomed. He even started a Gumball machine business in college just practice having a small business.
After graduating college, he got the opportunity to play pro basketball overseas. Now that he was just playing basketball, he had more time to study entrepreneurship and investing in the markets. When he retired, he started a software company, a real estate company, and an event rental company. He sold the businesses and used the capital to start trading the markets full time and put more time into his family.
What other lessons did you learn from your early mentors?
- The power of compound interest and what the value of money invested can do over time. Having your money make money for you.
- How to look at money in general. Money is an emotional thing. The difference is the means and the end. When you focus on adding value, the means, the money will come.
Did you have any mentors in your basketball career that taught you things that translated well to your entrepreneur life?
- “Play the next play.”
- It is easy to get hung up on mistakes or let them define us or keep us from moving forward. We cannot. We need to learn, move on and play the next play.
What does it take to turn pro or become a pro-athlete?
- You have to be fortunate.
- A coach that believes in you.
- A team that is supportive.
- A scout that is supportive.
- You have to work hard in the gym and in enhancing your skills.
- At every level the game speeds up and you have to prove you are worthy of being there.
- At the 20 min mark, Ben shares the story of being dominated by Okufor from UCONN.
- He had to answer the question of “Do I deserve to be there? Am I one of the best players on the court?” You have to believe it and then go out and prove it.
- In the pros, it is not just about winning. It is a business and the players have to hit their numbers per their contract.
- You have to learn humbly, but affirmatively that you are one of the best players on the court.
- Once you have that mentally and have the edge, the fear goes away.
What was the best thing about turning from pro-athlete to entrepreneur? The worst?
- When you put in the years to be a pro and are paid and recognized accordingly at the top level for everything you’ve done, one of the hardest things is starting over.
- In starting over, you aren’t that good and make hard mistakes.
- You are back at the very bottom and have to rebuild the foundation. It’s challenging.
- The flipside that is great about entrepreneurship is that you gain more control. In some ways, it is going from a team sport to an individual sport.
- It gives freedom and the ability to create.
Let’s talk about trading…Tell us about how you trade the markets and how you’ve created your business.
- Money is an emotional subject and to trade, you must master your emotions.
- You must be disciplined. You must plan your trade and trade your plan.
- It takes a systematic approach and problem solving to do it well.
- Every day in the market is different, but the discipline and edge that you use for yourself is critical to maintaining success.
- It is a job like any other job – some days are good, other are bad. You must continuously learn and get better.
Give us an example…
- Ben trades the SPY index daily.
- He day trades it.
- It is very easy to trade an option on the index, but making a profit is the hard part.
- Sometimes, he is in for as little as 10 mins.
- The discipline is critical to winning – and keeping emotions at bay to take his profits or know when to let things go and not get too greedy.
- He’s able to do this because he has watched the SPY for years and uses specific signals he has figured out over the years.
- To him it is like shooting a basketball each day. He won’t make them all, but if he makes more than he misses, he wins.
Thoughts on crafting a winning mindset?
- We are psychosomatic beings. We have our head and body, and then our emotions.
- The key to crafting a winning mindset is to be very self aware of ourselves and emotions.
- You must be self-aware about how you are, what you hang-ups are, your strengths, weaknesses – the things that can sabotage of you.
- In order to craft a wining mindset, you must understand these things and learn to change or control them better.
- If you don’t know, ask those around you for feedback so you can grow.
What advice would you give to a new trader?
- Be prepared for the journey. It is going to take time to grow and learn and get used to.
- Be prepared to practice. Paper trade to start (broker accounts will let you trade with a fake money account).
- Find your setup and your niche. It has to fit YOU.
- Find what you do well.
Best Quote: We are psychosomatic beings. The key to crafting a winning mindset is to be very self aware of ourselves and emotions. You must be self-aware about how you are, what you hang-ups are, your strengths, weaknesses – the things that can sabotage of you.
Ben's Misfit 3:
- Potential. We need to understand what the greatest potential is in our lives. To find fulfillment in our lives is to find our greatest potential – what we were made for.
- Problem. Solving problems is the most valuable thing that anyone wants. When someone has a problem, it brings them and you great joy to solve it for them. And the more problems you can solve for more people, the bigger your business.
- People. People work with you because they like you and they trust you. People will do business with you because they like and trust you and know you will deliver for them.
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