Learning from the Journey from Wall Street to Main Street

If there’s any work environment that teaches you how to remain cool and collected under pressure, it’s a trading desk on Wall Street. With millions of dollars at your fingertips, one poor decision can cost your company and co-workers their livelihoods. In making a career shift from being a 20-year Wall Street trader to co-founder and CEO of an electronic trading system provider nearly 10 years ago, I’ve learned that some lessons hold true in both realms.

Take emotion out of the equation and rely on your instincts. The lesson that every boss on the Street repeated constantly was: Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Whether you were making money or losing it, your next trading decision had to be based on the same rational thought processes that drove your last decision. Otherwise emotions and doubts guide your decisions, rather than the skills and insights that brought you there in the first place. As a business owner, every decision you make is magnified and can have a significant impact on the well-being of your company.

Confidence is key. I’ve learned that a leader in any environment must exude confidence in all situations. As a business owner you are often responsible for building and carrying brand and company reputation. Whether dealing with employees, customers, or simply peers in the industry, it’s vital that you project a positive aura to ensure that all parties have confidence in both you as an individual and your company.

Know how to adapt. When things don’t go as expected, you have to be able to adapt. How you adapt, and the decisions you make when things go horribly wrong or wonderfully right, can’t be based solely on emotion. You need to fuse your instincts, knowledge, and understanding to inspire others to contribute to the company’s success, share opinions, and follow your lead through both positive and uncertain times. Despite volatile trading markets or economic uncertainties, I believe that strong business owners—those who are instinctive, confident, and adaptive—can guide their businesses through tough times to success.

Eric Goldberg Co-Founder and CEO Portware New York