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Sid Gold, My Trading Mentor

Sid Gold, My Trading Mentor

December 15, 2016

Chapter 42 in the exclusive series for Dynamic Commodities- becoming a commodities trader

Sid Gold was a New York City boy, from the Bronx. He played the oboe as a youngster and always told Ralph and me he grew up poor, “I had to make my own oboe reeds because we didn’t have a pot to piss in.” Sid’s mother would call the desk occasionally. Her name was Mrs. Duberstein and to this day I have not figured that one out. Sid was tough, and he could be brutal. However, when Mrs. Duberstein called he was like a puppy dog on the phone. I assumed that his mother was fairly domineering.

Sid’s wife was Israeli, an ex-Captain in the army. Sid surrounded himself with powerful women. The office was his escape. It seemed to be his chance to dominate, particularly with those under his command.

From the beginning, I was not sure where Sid was from because he had an accent. Instead of saying half, it was “haaaalf.” He had a deep and bellowing voice. He spoke slowly and deliberately. After the big boss stopped by the desk one day, I figured it out. Sid had developed the same affectation John Gutfreund had; it was the official Salomon Brother’s accent. Instead of agreeing when asked a question, Sid would often blurt out, “Sold…did I hesitate, did I stutter, did I stammer?” There was rarely a moment when a Dunhill cigarette was not dangling from his lip. His solid gold lighter was always in his vest pocket. His gold Rolex watch, the Presidential model, was always on his wrist.

Sid had a habit of taking on the nationality of anyone he came into contact with. We had visitors from abroad in our department constantly. Whenever someone came to talk business, John Gruen would introduce them to all of the traders. If the visitor was from Japan, Sid would bow and suddenly develop a slight but pronounced Japanese affectation. When Germans came to the office, Sid would click his heels together and the accent would be slightly Germanic. I always cringed with worry that he would lift his arm in a salute. It was hard to keep a straight face; Sid was a character like I had never known.

Sid demanded complete and total loyalty. For Ralph and me, it was scary. The slightest interpretation of disloyalty was the cardinal sin with Sid. At the same time, Sid was funny; sometimes funnier than he knew. He was kind. He always had a giant roll of bills in his pocket and always offered us cash. After the market closed, he would take a walk and bring back ice-cream for everyone in the department. Instead of handing it out, Sid would throw it at the staff.

In addition, Sid drove a 911 Porsche Carrera. He had all of the latest gadgets and toys. Every day at around noon, Sid would stand up and with the Wall Street Journal tucked under his arm, he would go off to the men’s room for what he called his “constitutional.” After months of witnessing this behavior, the traders in the department, me included, began to bet how long it would take to write that constitution. Lots of money changed hands on the wagering.

Finally, Sid was my trading mentor; he taught me all about risk and reward. Sid was a frighteningly bright guy. He taught me how to act and how not to act, both by his example. I will be forever indebted to Sid Gold for the education he bestowed upon me. However, when it came to corporate politics at times, Sid was his own worst enemy.

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Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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