On his first day in the options exchange floor, Steve Miller wore a brand-new badge with his SLM initials. He was quickly dubbed “Slim” and has used that moniker ever since. Slim loves to share his wisdom and experience from his history on the trading floor and as one of the original screen traders, by coaching and mentoring others in trading, technical analysis and the psychological aspects of trading.
Throughout his 45-year trading career, Slim has actively coached numerous traders. His coaching program is based on “The askSlim 5 Essential Building Blocks to Successful Trading”. He has lectured on the topics of cyclical and technical analysis of the financial markets. Slim continues to be active in the markets trading stocks, futures and options for his own account. He is the past General Partner and Investment Manager for a “swing trading” hedge fund.
Slim: A Lifetime of Trading Experience
|Options Trading||As a nineteen year-old, attending the University of Illinois, Chicago, Slim knew his life’s path had to change. School just wasn’t a fit. And his major of veterinary medicine didn’t call him at all. After growing up watching his grandfather and both parents operate their own businesses, his entrepreneurial roots were just planted too deeply. In 1969, he left school for the world of business. By 1973, after partnering with an experienced retailer — a man that became his mentor — Slim opened three pants stores and two tie stores in major shopping malls in the Chicago area. His partner’s son became interested in the newly opened Chicago Board Options Exchange. Soon talk went from the width of next season’s bell bottoms to the width of vertical call spreads.
By the fall of 1973, Slim’s partner and his son bought memberships on the CBOE. In May of ’74, at 24 years of age, Slim bought his CBOE seat for $35,000. The menswear business became part of his past.Slim spent the last 41 years trading options, futures and equities as a floor trader as well as trading “off-the-floor.” He participated in much of the growth of listed options as they developed into a viable financial product. When Slim first began trading on the CBOE, he was a market maker in the active Ford Motors and IBM pit. At the time, option trading was still in its “pilot” stage; only calls were traded. Upon the birth of index options, he was one of the original market makers in the OEX pit. During his 17 years as a member of the CBOE, Slim gained strong expertise of options trading and risk management.
|Futures Trading||During the early 1980’s, along with his regular activities in the option and equity markets, Slim traded futures on a daily basis. In 1981, he became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade.
He expanded his trading experience and skills by trading corn, soybeans, 30-year bonds and bond options on the floor. Also at this time, Slim began trading S&P futures contracts.In 1984, after determining that his style and methodology was best suited to off-the-floor trading, Slim moved “upstairs”. At that time, all orders were sent to the floors by phone. Remaining a member of the CBOE, he continued to be active in equity and options trading. During this period he gained extensive knowledge in program trading, technical analysis and expertise in the use of many stock and futures market software programs.
In 1984, as a member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Index and Options Market, Slim placed his own team and broker in the S&P pit, ensuring improved execution.
|Stock Trading||In 1996, Slim was among those who pioneered online stock trading, actively trading listed stocks from a DOT terminal. He has traded stocks online ever since.|
|Reading and Writing and Coaching||Slim shared the results of his extensive analytical skills by publishing “SLM Technical Trading Advisory Letter” from 1994 to 1995. This was a daily stock market and commodity advisory letter for professional traders. When asked why he stopped publishing the letter, his reply was, “It took from 4 am to 6 pm, five days a week, to write and distribute it. It was killing me!”
In the fall of 2001, Slim wrote an article entitled, “The Fear Factor” for the premier issue of SFO (Stocks, Futures & Options) magazine. Born from that article was his monthly column, “Ask Slim.”
Slim actively coaches numerous traders. His coaching program is based on “The askSlim 5 Essential Building Blocks to Successful Trading”. He has lectured on the topics of cyclical and technical analysis of the financial markets.In 2011, Slim took his talents to financial media with a live one-hour daily show on the financial markets. He wrote, produced and delivered His Ask SLM show on the tastytrade.com network for three and half years.
In June of 2015, Slim started this membership site, askslim.com.
My life as a trader has been wonderful and at times difficult. The first six months as a trader brought constant challenges to my confidence. Encouragement and support from my parents got me through what was a comparatively short initial learning period. Within seven months I was earning money on a regular basis. In January, February and March of 1975 I made over $50,000 each month. I was only 25!
It was unimaginable.
Challenges were still to come, and as with all traders, remained throughout my career. Success opened the door for unexpected aspects of myself to emerge. January of 1976 first brought that to light as I got in the way of a buying panic in the stock market. My need to hold onto the euphoria of the previous year kept me from reacting appropriately by quickly covering my shorts. When I regained my composure in March of that year, with nearly half of my previous year’s earnings lost, I went on to have another great year.
I experienced this cycle of success and failure several times in the first two decades of my career as a trader. Over the course of these long years I gained a huge store of knowledge about trading and the markets. And I lived an exceptional lifestyle, at times to excess. The volatility, however, brought huge emotional costs to my family and me when I couldn’t hold things together.
Men’s Personal Growth
In 1994, with the strong prodding of a friend and fellow trader, I attended a weekend training of a men’s personal growth program called “The Mankind Project.” For the previous six months I resisted going to the training. I arrogantly said to my friend that there was no way I would go to a men’s group and that I could handle these issues myself. What could a single weekend do for me anyway? And the name, at first glance, seemed militaristic or cultish. This was February of 1994; I had just gone through another bad period of trading and I was feeling quite lost. I trusted my friend.
So, I went.
The New Warrior training had a profound effect on my life as I gained awareness of how my life’s experiences were negatively affecting how I chose to live… and trade. I was given the gift of heightened awareness about ways I could now lead my life and trading career down a healthy and constructive path. Since that time I have been active in this venue of men’s personal growth work. And my life and trading career has moved to previously unknown levels of peace and stability. Following the weekend training is a three-month “integration” process. I have been a facilitator of these groups since 1996. I lead an average of two a year, helping other men find the gift of living a healthier life, just as I did.
Throughout my trading career, I have coached and consulted numerous traders. As an outgrowth of my work with New Warriors, I decided to combine my skills as a facilitator with those of an experienced trader and formally entered the field of trader coaching.
I strongly believe my “askSlim” Trader Coaching Program provides one of the best processes to guide you, the trader, to a successful career!
A Slim-Time Line
In January of 1976, after I had suffered getting caught in a short squeeze in the stock market, the owner of my clearing house offered to help me. He encouraged me to come to his office every day, for two weeks, before the market opening, to discuss my trading strategy, risk parameters and mindset. It helped me to get my head on straight and back to trading the markets in a healthy fashion. It was a great model of coaching and a role I learned to emulate with other traders.
In March of 1978, my analysis called for a major market rally. At the time I was ahead around $200,000 for the year. I bought around 3000 call options in many stocks, a much bigger position than I would normally take. The market went into one last drop, costing me nearly a quarter of a million dollars, forcing me to liquidate my longs and leaving me with a $40,000 deficit for the year. The rally did come just a few weeks later. My position — if I had held it – was quickly worth over $3,000,000. It was a great example of how trading outside of normal risk parameters can make a trader unavailable to market opportunities.
In October of 1984, the market was in a rally mode. I saw an opportunity to buy OEX calls one afternoon as the market was firming up. I bought 300 OEX calls at 7/16 and then another 300 at 9/16. As the market started to take off, I bought 20 S&P futures and several thousand shares of IBM stock. About two hours later I started selling out the calls at 2 ½ and scaled out of all the positions for the rest of the day. I made $230,000 that afternoon. DJIA was ahead 29 points for the day, which was extraordinary for the time.
In December 1985, after a great year, I went to Florida and bought a Rolls Royce Corniche convertible for $94,700. The first day back to trading in January of 1986, I made exactly $94,700. This is a great example of my skill as a trader and how I lived to the point of excess.
On January 28, 1986, I went long on the stock market. That morning the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded. The market broke sharply on the news. I reversed my position and went short, only to see the market soar upward within a couple of hours. I lost $35,000 that day, which started a losing streak that took me until August of that year to recover.
In August of 1987, I was sitting in a bar with a fellow trader and mulling over the similarities in the charts between that time and 1929. Just two months later, in October of 1987, the market crashed. It was eerie.
In 1991, I was trading in the IBM options pit on the CBOE. It was an extraordinary time. The war in Iraq was going on full force and the markets were in a rally mode. During the conflict, as Iraq attempted to fight back by attacking Israel, there were momentary dips in the markets as traders, watching world news, emotionally yelled out “SCUDs! SCUDs!” Imagine looking for buying opportunities to arise out of missile attacks.
One day, I watched a trader friend – a huge trader – buy hundreds of thousands of bushels of soybeans in the pit on the CBOT. Near the close, with two hands flailing in the air, screaming on the top of his lungs, he bid for millions more, pushing the prices higher and higher. On the close, he sold out his whole long position for a huge profit. He was an example of great trader, with a need for success that had gone wild. He was extremely volatile, very well known and became a legend. Often he found himself in trouble, however. The last time he went broke he couldn’t borrow enough money to get back in business. The last thing he experienced was the taste of a bullet.
A trader on the CBOE had gone through a difficult time. His account was in a deficit and he needed to raise money to trade. He walked around the trading floor, making notes on a trading card, asking other traders for loans. Within a short few hours, he raised the $50K he needed to be back in business. This was very characteristic of the big-hearted nature and fellowship of traders on the floor.
On September 11, 2001 I had just walked into my office, preparing for the trading day. I turned on the TV to CNBC, as usual, and saw the first tower burning in New York. As I watched the news I witnessed the second plane zeroing in on the second tower and crashing. After witnessing the towers pancaking to the ground, I left my office, in the shadow of the Sears Tower, for the safety of my home. That event and those that followed are burned into my memory. The markets, of course, reopened with the largest down gap this generation of traders had ever experienced.
SLIM’S Best (and worst)
|Best single day trade||I bought 3000 shares of Bally’s at 59 ¾ and sold it at 64 ½, resulting in a profit of $14,250, in 7 minutes. I have the trade confirmations time stamped and framed.|
|Worst single day trade||I was long 250 calls in Avon. I sent in an order to sell them and the broker thought he heard I wanted to buy them. By the time I caught the error I was long 447 calls. I had to sell them a half-point lower for over a $22,000 loss in a few minutes.|
|Best day||November 1, 1978. I made $321,000. The market was in freefall.|
|Worst day||November 2, 1978. I lost $340,000. Yes, it was one day later. I didn’t cover my shorts. That morning, before the opening, the FED acted to stop the market’s drop by raising interest rates a full point. There was a huge gap upward. I was sick!|
|Best year||I have had several years in which I earned well over $1,000,000.|
|Worst year||In 1979, I lost over $500,000. It followed a $1.1 million winning year. It was another example of the unhealthy volatility of my early years of trading.|
|Best streak||In September of 1978, I made over $600,000 in a stock market crash.|
|Worst streak||In October of 1980, I lost $440,000 in four days. Half of it was in the stock market and half was in a short position in 30-year bonds.|