Ross Cameron is a day trader best known for turning a tiny $583.15 day-trading account into over $10 million in verified and audited profits. He produces free educational content on a YouTube channel with over 1 million subscribers, and he’s the founder of Warrior Trading. Warrior Trading hosts a premium members-only community that provides trading courses and trading tools for day traders of all levels. Ross earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vermont College in 2009 and graduated right into the terrible job market of the Great Recession. He resides in the Berkshires in Massachusetts with his wife and sons. When he’s not day-trading or working on projects for Warrior Trading, Ross keeps himself busy fixing old cars that he keeps in a historic firehouse he restored in downtown Great Barrington.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts early and ends late, and my laptop is rarely more than an arm’s length away. Since I began day-trading momentum stocks, my schedule has revolved around market hours. My role with Warrior Trading has only further locked me into the stock market schedule. Warrior Trading is a members-only community for active traders that focuses on providing educational content and market commentary. Being a business owner, especially a business such as mine, essentially means no days off and no vacation. With more work than can ever be done in one day, managing my task list to maintain a high level of output and productivity is critical.
As I proceed through the day, I have to meet the responsibilities of several important roles. The first, both in the morning and in priority, is being a great dad to my boys and a supportive partner for my wife. When the boys wake up, usually between 6 and 7 a.m., the first order of business is getting them ready for the day ahead. This can be a chaotic time with kids and toast and dogs all flying around the kitchen. One of the things I tell myself whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed is that they will only be this age once. Right now I’m living in the time that people often look back on and say were the best times of their lives. The stress response can be the default. It takes effort to remind myself to enjoy these moments of chaos.
By 7 a.m., I’m switching gears as I move to the quiet of my office. I always have a task list of reminders before trading. My current list includes adding more screen shots of the micro-pullback setup during premarket trading, and more live trading archives of one entry and exit day-trades.
I also have my positive affirmations for trading on sticky notes around my desk. These include mantras such as “break out or bailout,” “one trade a day is the beginner’s way,” “green is good,” and “live to trade another day.”
My statistics tell me that as far as day-trading is concerned, my peak in profitability is between 8 and 10 a.m. Some days I’ll trade longer, while others I’ll finish sooner. One of the expressions my students at Warrior Trading will often hear me say is “trade the market you’re in.” If the market is cold, I’ll wrap up trading early and shift gears to my other work. If the market is hot, I’ll trade longer in the day, but rarely do I trade into the afternoon.
I’ve found maximizing productivity means allocating just enough time for each task so I can finish before my focus, efficiency, profitability, or composure begins to wane. In terms of task management, my team uses software that allows us to work together on shared tasks, and also maintain our own task lists. I’m a big fan of making a list, organizing it by which tasks move the needle the most, and knocking those off first. I’m constantly making lists, reorganizing them, and making new lists.
I live my life from task list to task list.
When I finish trading, it’s time to dig into my Warrior Trading task list. Often the first tasks will be related to trading, including producing content around my daily trading day and uploading archives of my trading for students. One of the challenges in my role is that I wear many hats, so to speak. I don’t feel like a traditional CEO. I actually sort of reject that term as it feels too “corporate,” and I never wanted to work for “the man.”
When I founded the company in 2014, it was just me. I was day-trading, producing educational content about trading, growing our social media presence, maintaining the website, and providing customer service to our small but growing base of customers. My primary job has always been to continue day-trading. This is what our students want to see. But of course, as our membership grew from five students, to 50, to 500, and eventually to well over 5,000, I was no longer able to manage all the responsibilities on my own. Today on YouTube alone, we have over 1 million subscribers. That comes with an expectation to produce high quality content.
So naturally, one of my first employees was somebody to help me with video work. Another early employee was somebody to help with customer service. The team grew from there. When I hired my first employee, I began delegating tasks. Today, much of my afternoon is spent meeting with my team, and planning the future of the tools and courses we provide our members.
I’m usually good at seeing the big picture, but I can get frustrated with the minutiae. Whenever I have an idea of a new class, a new tool, or a new piece of content, I want to get it out there right away and start seeing what engagement is like. I’m the type of person who learns by doing things. I want to use my hands and start testing things. I’m not afraid of breaking something in the process. This form of rapid experimentation is easy when you have a team of just one or two people. But as your team grows, there needs to be a sense of organization around the rollout of new ideas. I’ve found as the company has grown, my ability to rapidly test big ideas has slowed substantially. Today, to maximize productivity, I focus on smaller ideas I can test, as a proof of concept, before embarking on a full-scale change. This has actually been a great transformation for me, as smaller tests can give quick and valuable student feedback during the process of innovating.
On most days, between 5 and 7 p.m., it’s back to family time. Dinner as a family, then getting the kids ready for bed. It’s important to me that I read to them every night. Once the kids are in bed by 7 p.m., my laptop comes back out for a few more hours of catching up on emails, building out content for a new class, and responding to comments on social media.
When I first started the business, working a solid 14-hour day was the norm. I thought as the business grew I’d be able to scale back, but so far that hasn’t been the case. The nature of the work I do has changed, and it’s certainly true that I can choose to take an afternoon off and go skiing with my kids. But whenever I do, I have to play catch-up later that night after they’ve gone to bed. You might ask where I find the motivation to work so many hours each day. The truth is, it really doesn’t feel like work most of the time. I’ve delegated the things that do feel like work to other members of my team, so I can focus all of my time and energy on the aspects of the business I love. I love teaching, I love creating educational content, and I love engaging with our students and our followers on social media. A 14-hour day of this type of work goes by in a flash.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have always been the type of person who takes everything out of the box and starts putting it together without looking at the directions. I’m not afraid to be wrong, make a mistake, or have to start over. I also don’t always think the instructions will make sense to me. So I start piecing things together based on how I think it will work. This independent nature brought me into the markets as a day trader. Being a day trader, especially for somebody who grew up in Vermont, is a bit of an alternative career. For some reason, I was never really afraid of failing. I just wanted to try something different, try something that could be entirely my own, and I was able to make it work. I was able to piece together my own day-trading strategy and carved some fairly substantial profits out of the market for myself.
I bring ideas to life through rapid experimentation. I am willing to put something out there in a beta test, or as a proof of concept, and just see if it takes off. I did this in my own trading, but also when I founded Warrior Trading.
Today, I have no shortage of ideas. I have a lot of different things I want to test for our students and for our followers on social media. Rather than spending a huge amount of time up front preparing a piece of content, I often will put out the rough first edition just to gauge interest and response. If it’s a hit, that by itself is a huge motivator to spend the time digging in and making the next version even better. If it’s not a hit, that’s OK; that idea goes to the back burner, and I try something else.
One challenge I’ve had with bringing new ideas to life is that sometimes I think I’ll have a great idea, but when it doesn’t perform as expected, I can’t tell if it’s because it was truly a bad idea, or it was just bad timing. Day-trading itself, but also the business of providing trading tools and education with Warrior Trading, is sensitive to overall market sentiment. Testing a new piece of content, or a new strategy, during a bear market, may fail — not because of the merit of the idea, but because of greater circumstances.
Sometimes ideas like this that are unsuccessful in their first iteration will sit on the back burner for a while and continue to live out there in our curriculum or on social media, until perhaps we begin to see an uptick of interest. I’ve had episodes uploaded on YouTube that have been sort of low performing initially, but then turn into one of my most successful performing episodes of the year.
The long and short of it is that for me, I have to do rapid experimentation. Ideas need to be quickly released into the world so they can prove themselves worthy of your time. If they immediately fall flat, no reason to spend a ton of time working through the details. Time to move on to the next idea on the task list!
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am really loving the trend of people turning hobbies and the activities they love into a source of revenue. This is through affiliate and advertising revenue on personal blogs and vlogs. Several of my recent Google searches have sent me to blogs written by people who are experts in what I’m interested in. Often on their site they have affiliate links or referrals.
I’ve recently searched for reverse osmosis equipment for maple syrup, ant farms for kids, shrimp ecosystem tanks, and skiing equipment for toddlers. Each of these search terms provide not just a link to a sponsored e-commerce store, but more importantly for me, organic search results to a blogger’s website that provides product comparisons, reviews, and expertise. This is like a shopper’s guide and I love it.
Now there is one caveat to my love for affiliate marketing. What I don’t like are the people who are faking it. They write about a product not because they really know anything about it, or because they genuinely like it, but simply because it pays a high commission. I feel like it’s pretty easy for me to see through their reviews, but for others it may not be as easy. But here’s the good news. People who are faking it only succeed in an emerging trend or market. Once the trend is established and attracts true experts, the fakers don’t stand a chance. The quality of a review or product comparison by somebody who is passionate about cameras, versus somebody who just wants the commission on a bigger ticket item, is night and day. And informed shoppers can tell the difference, because we are the people wanting to know the detailed difference in products. For the people who help me make a decision through their blogs or vlogs, I think the commission they are paid is well earned.
For what it’s worth, this trend may not really be anything new. I was doing it at Warrior Trading when it was just a blog more than 10 years ago. But what I think has changed, and perhaps become a bigger trend, is the adoption of this strategy as a viable means of creating revenue.
What I really love about this trend is the ability to turn a passion into a source of revenue with a laptop and an internet connection. This trend supports becoming independent and I think it’s incredible.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
I get a huge amount of satisfaction from checking something off my list. So much so that it’s probably part of why I’m totally OK with rapid experimentation. When it comes to content or new classes, I’m OK with getting something out there and it being only half done. This is part of my prototyping, beta testing, and proof of concept stage. I’d think of it as a comedian testing new material. You just have to get out there and see how it lands. When something seems to stick, you’ll know, and that’s when you start developing it more.
I’m not sure if my rapid experimentation that I’ve used at Warrior Trading, and in my own trading, truly is the result of a love for checking things off a task list, but these lists really do help me organize and prioritize what I need to get done each day.
The question I ask myself is how big of a difference will this idea make for people if it works. Rather than hitting “low-hanging fruit” tasks that are easy to complete but will have minimal impact for my students, subscribers on social media, my trading, or Warrio Trading, I’d rather focus on the ideas that could create the biggest value, and just test 10 of those to see what sticks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When I was younger I had passions, but I didn’t think any of them could be careers. I was raised to believe a job is where you punch in and punch out. Plumber, electrician, teacher, or maybe something that requires a bit more schooling like an architect, an accountant, or an attorney. I really wasn’t exposed to many nontraditional careers. The problem was, even after making an attempt at going into architecture, it just wasn’t for me.
The advice I’d give my younger self would be to put everything into what you love. If you have a passion for it, in this world, you can make it a career. The old saying is true that if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. I wish I had believed earlier in life that I could turn the things I was spending all my time doing into a livelihood. Warrior Trading began in 2012, but it could have started much earlier if I’d believed it’s OK to go 100% on something you’re passionate about.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
This is an unpopular opinion, but I don’t trust cryptocurrencies. Perhaps this was in part because of the use of cryptocurrencies to buy illegal things through the internet. But even for currencies not used for buying and selling goods online, I have been unable to categorize them in my mind as anything other than a speculative financial instrument.
Over the years students at Warrior Trading often asked me to teach classes on crypto. They would ask me to open a dedicated chat room for crypto trading. I understood that crypto trading was popular, but I felt uncomfortable with the whole thing. I didn’t trust the crypto brokers, the crypto exchanges, or the currencies themselves.
I try to ask myself whether I’ve formed a bias against something, or whether my reason for not liking it is based on actual data, historical precedent, and educated intuition.
Following the collapse of FTX, I felt reaffirmed in my belief that it’s better to avoid these types of speculative investments. Some may say I missed huge opportunities. I would say that if I didn’t feel comfortable with the downside risk, it doesn’t matter what the upside profit could have become. Traders think about risk first.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Save for retirement. I constantly harp on people to put money into IRAs and 401(k)s. The fact is, the government has created these vehicles for tax-free savings. I understand it doesn’t feel like a lot to put away $50 or $100 a month, but every penny saved is a dollar earned. And in a Roth IRA, it’s tax-free when you pull it back out.
I understand a lot of people focus on investing in places that produce cash flow. The problem with doing that outside a retirement account is that the cash flow is taxed as regular income. When you eventually sell the asset, you’ll also pay capital gains tax on it. Spending your 40-plus year working career losing 30% to 40% of your investment profit to taxes is not smart.
When I was day-trading in 2017, I took $6,000 of my profit from the year and put it into a Roth IRA. I did the same in 2018 and 2019. With $18,000 in total deposits, I grew that account to over $5 million just day-trading. If I had done that in a taxable account, I would have lost $2 million (40%) to taxes.
I certainly think about cash flow, but when it comes to investing, I try to generate as much profit as I can in tax-deferred or tax-free retirement accounts so I can get the maximum benefit of compound interest.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
At times I can be overcome with frustration and I can feel very overwhelmed. Typically I have this sense of tasks “stacking up” on me. I’m falling behind, I’ve put too much on my plate, and I’m losing balance between work and family.
To get myself back into a productive work cycle, I start by assessing the tasks that are causing me the most stress. When it comes to both Warrior Trading and my own day-trading, I almost always find that I need to “go back to basics.” Sometimes I come up with ideas that overcomplicate things. If a project I’m working on is not getting the response I was expecting, and I’ve dug myself too deeply into the project to let go, I can feel trapped and overwhelmed. It can be hard to see my way out.
In these moments, I remind myself to step back, walk away from what isn’t working, and go back toward the basics. I will try to reset to the last day when I was feeling super focused and productive. What was I working on? What was motivating me? I reset to that moment, and redirect myself back to tasks that give me satisfaction.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
There is something really empowering about turning on a camera, recording a short video about how to day-trade, and uploading it to YouTube. Just like that, I’ve created a piece of content for the entire world to see. If that video is viewed 5 million times, it’s as if I spoke in front of that many people. That’s something I would have never had the confidence to do. I grew up being self-conscious, anxious, and insecure.
But online, I’ve felt I could be myself. Being genuine has helped me in my business and in my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I repeatedly hear students tell me that what they love about Warrior Trading is that it’s real. I provide the realness of the ups and downs of being a day trader.
One of the most off-putting trends in my industry is fakeness. There are so many people showing off the fancy cars, the private jets, and the “lifestyle” of being a stock market trader. And yet for most of them, it’s all rented. It’s marketing. It’s about creating the illusion of success. It’s fake. I’m grateful that I’ve reached a level of success where I could do all of that and it wouldn’t be fake. But I believe that type of marketing attracts the wrong people.
Maybe being genuine and real with my students and my subscribers has hurt my business in the sense that if I showed off the private jet and the fancy car we’d have more members in our community. Maybe I’d have more subscribers on social media. But to be honest, I don’t think there is any other way than being genuine and down to earth. For me it’s the only way, and I think it gives me the type of students and subscribers I want. After all, the saying goes that you become who you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with fake people, well, it’s contagious.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
As I mentioned previously, something I’ve struggled with in my life is anxiety, insecurity, and being really self-conscious. Early on in my career at Warrior Trading, it was really difficult for me to stand up for myself even among my own employees.
I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings, and often begrudgingly went along with what somebody else thought was a good idea. This created feelings of resentment. I would avoid creating conflict to the point of going along with something I didn’t agree with, which allowed other people to begin steering the ship. Being agreeable to a fault was causing me to lose control.
It took several years to right the ship after this period. I had to become an advocate of what I believed was the best course of action. This meant facing conflict and some resistance. In some cases, it meant reorganizing my team.
I also had to learn about the personality types I collaborate with the best. Some people can be very domineering in the way they work with others. I learned these are not the right type of people to have on my team given my personality traits. I need staff members who truly want to be part of a team. Learning the different personality types that we need in order to maximize productivity has helped me tremendously in the hiring process.
The result at Warrior Trading is that today we have a team that is cohesive and productive. It would be easy for somebody to look at that and think it must have been easy to put together this team, but the reality is, it took years of personal development, and selective hiring and firing, to get to this point.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Beginner traders often struggle with emotion. I think a great [application programming interface] with a real money trading account would be software that can analyze your trading behavior in real time and give you notifications based on historical data of when it’s time to walk away. This is especially important, for instance, if you have a loss that exceeds your standard deviation of losses. Or perhaps you give back too much profit. An AI trading coach that could take your data in real time and give you supportive feedback would be amazing. I hope somebody builds this.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
At Warrior Trading we’re all about task management. Naturally task management software is the most helpful tool we’re using. But as you can imagine, there are a lot of different SaaS vendors for this.
We’ve tried different tools over the years. The first tool we tried was Flow. It was a good start, but we eventually migrated to Monday, which I really preferred over Flow. However, at this point, Warrior Trading does a lot of development work. In 2017 we began building a custom platform for live broadcasting and chat rooms. We enhanced that software by integrating real-time market quotes, stock scanners, and charts. For tech work, we use Jira for task management. But trying to use two different task management platforms felt cumbersome, so we’ve now migrated almost entirely to using Jira for all task management.
As I mentioned previously, both at Warrior Trading but also in my own life, I operate from task lists. Jira is a great tool for managing tasks, adjusting priorities, keeping track of team progress, and staying productive. I wasn’t paid by Jira to say any of this. I just really like it!
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
The most recent book I read was Quit, by Annie Duke. I wasn’t expecting this book to hit home as much as it did. It seemed to hit on both the struggles of a day trader and a business owner. Knowing when to walk away.
In the sense of day-trading, every day we must make a decision of when to throw in the towel and call it a day. Walk away too soon, and you’re leaving money on the table. Walk away too late, and you’re giving back profit. It would be impossible to walk away at the perfect time every single day. It’s a challenge that many beginner traders face, but it’s a challenge even I face after more than 10 years in the market.
Annie Duke discusses setting your walk-away criteria, or “kill criteria,” well ahead of when you have to actually make the decision. That way, in the heat of the moment, you’re not forced to decide whether or not you should walk; you just have to wrangle the discipline to follow the plan you already made. This is certainly easier said than done, but the concept of setting predetermined stops has helped me. I was doing a lot of this before I read her book, but her writing reaffirms this part of my risk management strategy. I set my max loss before I start trading, and I have certain events that require me to stop trading. For instance, if I hit my daily goal, then give back half, I need to walk away right then and there, before I give back any more. I had so many days where I would try to recoup those losses, only to find myself not only going back to break even, but actually going all the way from daily goal to max loss. That’s a swing that really brings out emotions. Knowing when to walk ultimately is about keeping yourself always at the top of your game. Avoiding emotional setbacks, financial drawdown, and being always ready to get back in for the next day of trading.
When it comes to Warrior Trading, knowing when to quit really hits home in terms of rapid experimentation, and being willing to abandon an idea that is not working as expected. One of the big problems here is sunk cost fallacy. It’s easy to rationalize continuing to put effort into a project that you’ve already invested a lot of time into, even in the face of all the data telling you to stop. By embarking on small tests, or experiments, I keep the stakes low. This makes it easier to abandon a project that is not working. This is important not just for me, but for my entire team. The sunk cost fallacy can leave team members frustrated that we’re abandoning a project they’ve put months of work into. Even if I’m perfectly willing to walk away from an idea, I need my staff to be on board with that decision too. It’s easier for everyone when we do small tests, get proof of concept results, then reinvest where we’re seeing success.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
I’ve been preparing for a depression/recession my whole life. I grew up in a family with generational trauma of loss. My great-grandfather lost everything in the Great Depression, and that instilled a lasting philosophy on saving and preparing for the worst. It was in my grandmother (his daughter), it’s in my mom, and it’s in me. Being raised in that environment, I have an inherent fear of scarcity. That’s why I get so much satisfaction (and a sense of security), by growing my own food, processing my own maple syrup, and having access to a natural spring.
Movies and TV shows on this theme are right up my alley. Children of Men (2006), I Am Legend (2007), and most recently on HBO, The Last of Us. I’m not going to say these movies or shows are uplifting, but the survival story is inspiring for me.
- Looking away from a problem can allow your mind the opportunity to gain fresh perspective, so when you look back the solution is right in front of you.
- For small-business owners, rapid experimentation is the lowest stakes way to test new content, products, and ideas.
- Suffering failures and setbacks are part of growing a small business. If you don’t fail, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.
- Organizing tasks based on which ones will move the needle the most is key for achieving maximum productivity.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.