Book Review: An American Hedge Fund

Timothy Sykes contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his soon to be published book, An American Hedge Fund.

I checked out his site, watched videos of some of his TV appearances, shook my head, laughed and said "sure."

After reading the book, my first reaction was: "This guy is nuts!"

Timothy took $12,000 and spent his college years day trading in his dorm room and made millions. That in itself is not nuts- its incredible. And the book explains how he did it in more detail than you might expect.

He started a hedge fund as the title indicates, but the book is less about his fund, and more about him, which is a good thing. He chronicles his journey from a tenacious youngster seeking to maximize profits (I'm glad he never strung my tennis racquet) to a college bound freshman with an obsession for finding market trends and playing them like a professional sportsman, to a young adult trotting the globe and riding high on his successes and also the parts of his personality which he very self consciously has learned can lead him to amazing new opportunities.

He makes the pitch that finance is THE American sport and for him, it certainly was. I say was because it is unclear to me if his market niche, much like some of our more intense physical sports, requires the 'muscles' or 'audacity' of youth. By the end of the book, Timothy seems to be hedging his investing profession with a stake in financial celebrity- a field almost as mysterious to me as Hedge Funds...

Ok- so why am I calling him nuts? I mean it in the most affectionate way possible- This book is highly entertaining as Timothy does a great job of telling his story with the same kind of speed, focus and energy that he must have taken to whatever computer terminal around the globe he found to sign on, and compete in his financial sport.

He shares in great detail, but in plain English, many examples of trends he saw and trades he made both scoring big and fouling out. As the book goes on, he shares more and more about his own ego and lack of discipline getting in the way of consistent crushing returns. His approach toward dealing with overcrowding in his dorm room, 'preparing' for interviews, and the frankness with which he lays bare some of his biggest failures and why he made them paints a picture of a driven, flawed, crazed, man on a mission.

Near the end of the book he sums it all up quite nicely: "Maybe I’m going overboard, but you get the point."

I was left wondering why on earth anyone would want to trust him with their money... but then you remember the $12,000 he started with and the millions he made.

Is investing the American Sport? And is it a game that requires the reckless abandon and singular focus that only a young mind can truly excel at? Will Timothy, like so many professional athletes after great success on the field, move into the media full time? Only time will tell.

But like the stories of some of our more 'lively' athletes, Timothy's tale is a highly entertaining look into the life of a driven competitor. The release date is Oct. 1st, 2007.

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