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How to Make Millions by Marketing Yourself as a ‘Douche Bag’

Tim Sykes’s outlandish self-promotional strategies have made him richer than trading ever did
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Photographer: Andrew Hetherington for Bloomberg Businessweek

Tim Sykes has a lot of advice for the people who aspire to be as wealthy as he is. Today, the chubby-cheeked 33-year-old has a characteristically strange suggestion: self-harm. “I want everyone to take your hands,” he says into the camera lens of his laptop, “and smack yourself in the face!”

Sykes is seated alone at the dining room table of a $3,000-a-night suite at the Gansevoort hotel in downtown Manhattan. Facing his computer in only a bathrobe and glasses, he looks at the stock chart of a little-known security company called Technical Communications, up 30 percent today on news of a contract to provide encryption to the Egyptian military. Also looking at his screen via a live stream are a few hundred of his most dedicated customers. Sykes runs a social network for traders called, which has about 50,000 members. A subset of 6,000 pay to receive daily e-mail tips, weekly newsletters, and access to thousands of videos such as the trading webinar he’s just begun. These are the people who failed to correctly guess the answer to his hypothetical—“Which stock am I looking at right now?”—and thus necessitated that slap to the face.