T3 Live

How Kira Turner Went from Extreme Athlete to Top Trader


Get to know Kira Turner, one of our Inner Circle moderators, in this in-depth interview.

Interview Transcript*

*this transcript has been edited for length and clarity

Michael Comeau: Kira is a full-time professional trader out of Austin, Texas, where she lives with her three children and two dogs. She was a pro trader in the nineties, trading at cornerstone trading from 1994 to 2001. Then she moved into real estate investing, and she back to trading in 2018. One of the really interesting things about Kira is she has a lot of experience in what some would consider high risk activities. Namely rodeos. and skydiving. It turns out that rodeos are pretty dangerous about — about 20 times more dangerous than football in terms of the risk of a catastrophic injury. So this is going to be a really interesting conversation about developing nerves for trading, managing risk and keeping your head together.

Kira Turner:

Thank you. It's good to be here and I never would have realized that radios were so dangerous. That's a very interesting statistic.

MC: Would you have done it if you know it was so dangerous in the first place?

KT: When you're young, you think you're bulletproof. And so I never thought I would get hurt really doing anything. I got a couple of concussions and I had a couple of broken bones. So you can get hurt, but you never think ABOUT that when you're a kid.

MC: So that's going to bring us to a different kind of starting point than usual. I want to talk a little bit about the type of person you are. How would you describe your own personality?

KT: I would describe myself as a glass half full kind of person. So, I'm always looking for the bright side. And I'm pretty easy going, but I'm very driven, as far as making changes goes. If I see something I don't like, you know, in myself, or in my house, or whatever, I think, what are the steps I need to take to change that? And I'll just be on a path toward achieving my goal. And that's been pretty consistent throughout my life. If I decide I want something, I figure out how I need to get there, and then I head in that direction.

MC: How does that relate to your trading, and how you manage risk on a day to day basis? Are you saying you have little attachment to what's in front of you?

KT:  I don't know if I would say that, but sometimes it's good not to have too much attachment.

Today was a really hard day. In fact, you're probably interviewing me on one of the hardest trading days of the year. What I will do this evening is probably take a long walk and really think about what I did today. What I could have done better, if there were trades that I took too much risk on, or should have taken more risk on, and that kind of thing. So I'll just kind of replay today and focused on how to make it better.

MC: Can you give me an example:?

KT: At one point I got short the futures. There was a slow downtrend, and I didn't take profit when I had it. I had about 100 points of profit. And I thought we would move up a little bit and then just continue our nice slow downtrend. That didn't happen. So I ended up giving back a fair amount of my profit just to try to stay in the trade. Because on trend days, I like to get in and just keep moving my stop and just today it wasn't the day for that. I’m should have been more careful.

MC: I want to compare this to rodeos specifically. What is the mix of confidence, fear and excitement on a day like this vs. when you’re about to get on a 1,200 pound horse that could kick you in the head? How did those emotions mix for you?

KT: In both cases, it's a performance, right? So you've got a certain amount of time where you need to do something. It's so psychological in both cases, and you've got to be mentally prepared. The key component is knowing what your risk is. On a horse, your risk might be falling off, or the horse stumbles and falls or something like that. In the market, I can control my risk even better because, depending on the size of my position, I can control how much money is at risk. Part of what I love about trading is the excitement, but it's also because I know how much risk that I have.

MC: That's an interesting point. Because technically, anything could happen. We have all these economic issues, geopolitical issues. Everything is going crazy. So how do you assess how much is actually at risk?

KT:  Well, for instance, I've got a small biotech stock and it's around $4. I know that, even if the whole market falls apart, it's not probably going to go under $3.50. That's just a low-risk position for me, so I don't worry about that. If I'm in something that's likely to move a lot, or that I'm afraid might move a lot, I would use options. My risk would be limited to the amount of premium that I've paid. If I'm actually in stock, and I'm worried about it, I lower my size. Something I’ve talked to Inner Circle members a bunch about is that if you have a lot of anxiety about a trade, and that's keeping you up at night, for sure, you need to be in less size. If you're worried that a loss can really damage your account and hurt your ability to trade because it eats up too much of your capital loss, then you're in too much. You need to have a smaller position, and take less risk.

MC: it sounds like you feel like you have control over your destiny, and you're not just being bounced around by whatever's happening.

KT: I do, and I hate it when people say, “you gamble every day, don't you?” I don’t gamble. I trade things that I have an edge in so i feel like I'm pretty sure I know which way it's going to go.

And if I don't, then I know how much loss I'm willing to take before I get out, so it doesn't feel like gambling at all to me.

MC: So where does that edge come from?

KT: That’s something that's always being developed for me. It first came from studying chart patterns and understanding what patterns tend to do. And then, on top of that, I got really good at reading a ticker, which is basically watching the prints that come through. So I watch where a stock is trading. Is it trading on the bid or is it trading on the offer? Are there big bids that are pushing the price up? Does it drop back fast and hard or does it just trickle down slowly? All these sorts of things tell me how much strength a stock has and what it's likely to do. And then, what I've really learned a lot about in the last couple of years, is market psychology, how news affects individual stocks. Those are the two basic things, Market psychology, and how the news affects things. That has given me just just more things to put into the mix, to help decide what I think will happen.

MC: How do you balance the sort of mechanical elements, like the chart patterns, indicators, earnings, news, with the human side?

KT: I've been trading long enough now that I know, for instance, on a day, like, today, when I have losses at the open, I know I can recover from that because I've been trading for quite awhile.

MC: I would guess 99% of people don't think like that. This goes back to this issue of it seeming like you feel like you are very much in control. So how do you know you can make it back? Is it just you've done it before?

KT: I've done it so many times before um, that I know it might take me a while. I might go through a difficult period and I struggle, and I have to really cut down my size and refocus. And maybe I'm going to step back and not trade much for a while until I'm back in the groove. I know how to do that, because I've done it before.

MC: There are lot of psychological studies that talk about how the pain of a loss is far more powerful than like the joy of winning. So a $1,000 is a lot more painful than a $1,000 gain feels good, but you have this optimism. 

KT: That's not how I feel about it. Those are equal to me. A $1,000 loss just means I need to make one $1,000. So then I start looking a trade that will make me $1,000.

MC: We polled our audience and just asked, what is your goal? And across the board, the most popular goal is “I want to make $10,000 a month.” How do you feel about like specific dollar goals? Do you think they make any sense? 

KT: I don't trade with any dollar goals in mind. I would like to be positive every day, but that's not realistic because everybody has bad days. Everybody makes mistakes. My goal each day coming in is to trade the best that I can. On my days where I really feel good about my trading, I've caught a trend early. I've gotten out right as the momentum starts to fade. Or if I”m short, I covered just the momentum fades on the downside. Those are the days I feel really, really good about and they’re not necessarily the days where I make a lot of money. So my goal is to trade well.

MC: So it's about doing the right things, and you trust the money will come?

KT:  Yes, exactly.

MC: So how would you describe your trading style overall?

KT: I started as a day trader, and so I never held things overnight. That has changed substantially in the last couple of years, partially because the market is a lot different than it was in the 90’s. And because I've been in Inner Circle with David Prince, who's taught me some new things, and because I'm been trading a bear market. I've got different styles to use in different situations. Some days, when it's more choppy, I’ll day trade and scalp. But I also have other trades that are long-term. So it might be a swing for a few days, or it might even be a much longer-term hold, like that little biotech I mentioned.

MC: you brought up a comparison to to the 90's. I've met a lot of people that were traders in the 90’s, who made millions and millions of dollars, and then got wiped out for whatever reason. What's different about today versus back then?

KT: We used to be able to watch things come across the TV, buy a stock based on the news, and make money on it. But today, the algos and the computers are so fast that by the time we see news on TV, it's already done. So that's one thing. Another really kind of funny thing to look back and think about is that when I first started trading, it was not legal for me to enter my own orders. So I sat on the other side of a table from a registered broker, and I would call orders out to her, and she would enter the order, and she would tell me what I bought. So I had Terry buy me a thousand shares of Intel. And she'd say, okay, you bought it at $62. That's how slow it was. She literally sat across the table from me, And we'd have 2 or 3 traders on the table, and we'd all be calling orders out to her.

MC:  So that was the good old days with decimals?

KT: Yes, we traded in quarters and eighths, and all of our trading platforms were DOS-based. So they were black and white, and you just had the market maker and what price it traded. That was about it. There were no charts or anything. The money was really great and I loved it!

MC:  So what do you love about trading these days?

KT:  I love that every single day that I walk in, it's a challenge. What's going to move the most today? How will I take advantage of it? What is causing something to move? What do other market participants think? How's it going to affect other stocks in the sector? So all these things are going through my mind, and I'm trying to come up with a plan. It’s almost like a video game of outsmarting everybody else. That’s how I think of it.

MC: You seem to have a competitive streak.

KT:  I am driven to try to feel like I'm good at it. Yes, for sure. I always want to try to be good at everything that I do, which is, again, sort of ridiculous! But that's just my personality.

MC: The trading game attracts competitive people because it's definitely a mountain to climb. There's insane competition from other traders and banks and hedge funds. So that’s perfectly natural.  

KT:  Well, that's true. But on the other hand, these days, there has been so much opportunity. It hasn't been easy, but the opportunity is there because things are moving. And if you can focus in on the right stocks, there's money to be made every day. The worst thing would be a market that's just quiet where nothing's really moving and there's no volatility. So I'm not complaining at all, even today.

MC: So do you enjoy this environment?

KT: It is enjoyable just because there's so much excitement. It is enjoyable to me in that I'm trying to figure out how what the Fed says is going to affect the market. So that's part of all that strategy that I'm talking about, like when the pound starts to get stronger, is that going to bring the market back up? And when interest rates are rising so fast, will the market wrap up quickly or will we have a slow steady increase? So all these things to me are just part of the whole game of figuring out what will happen next and what's going to make it happen.

MC: So what are you doing differently in this environment versus last year and 2020?

KT:  Well last year, was the free money year, right? Stocks were going crazy,. You could buy something, and if you had a loss, you could just hold it long enough, and it would come back up and you could get out flat or make a winning trade. That was a hard adjustment for me the first few months of the year. Because, we've gotten so used to just holding on. That didn't work in January, February, and March. That did not work at all. So that was a big adjustment for me there. And then this year, being in a bear market has been another big adjustment. It's different. It takes different skills, but it's always a little bit of adjustment. Almost every day, there's a little bit more adjusting to make. , I think, for me.

MC: I'm glad you brought up shorting because a lot of people are very uncomfortable shorting. It feels very unnatural to them, especially if you've been used to bull markets for your whole career. Does shorting feel any different than going along? 

KT: No. In fact, I would prefer to be short, because I've made more money short over my trading career. When things start to sell off, they can really go fast. Shorting has been harder this year than it has been in the past. I don't know if that's more people stepping in to buy, but it is harder than it used to be. But I love to be short.

MC: How could shorting be more difficult in a down year?

MC: there have been many, many opportunities to short and make money, and I have to say. I've missed a lot of them because we had such a strong run up last year. And especially after watching things like GameStop and AMC just destroy the shorts. I'm a little scared to step out there and really commit to being short very much. I was cautious and I missed a lot that way. But as the market has gotten weaker, I've gotten more comfortable and I'm looking for things that haven't come down too much yet. So Enhpase (ENPH) is one of my favorite shorts right now. It's really close to support, and I think once it breaks that support level, I think it'll drop $20 or $30. So I'm playing short when I can, and, and that's what my focus is right now. But instead of being short a lot of things, I'm much more focused than I used to be, so I'll focus on just 2 or 3 trades, and have more size in those trades, rather than being in 10 things. Because it gets too chaotic.

MC: so you're trading fewer positions, bigger?

KT: Yes, and I'm actually trading around them. For instance, we've been buying AMD the past week, and it started around $66 or $67, And so, as AMD (AMD) would dip down under 66, we would buy some. And as it would go back up around $77, we would sell. Ideally, I think that in a few months, it's going to be much 

So, that's one way I've been trading this market.

MC: Do you have hard stops on your trades?

KT: Sometimes I do. I'm really inclined to have a hard stop if I get in something late. So if I know I'm chasing it and I want to limit my risk, then I'll say hard stop is, you know, underneath the last support level, for instance. But if it's a trade like AMD where I think it’s going to be at $90 dollars in a few months. I really, really want to stay in it. I won’t have a hard stop. Obviously at some point, if it really went against me, I would just have to say uncle and get out. But, along the way, I intend to keep generating some profits here and there. So I'm never exposed to too much risk.

MC: That's really interesting, because at the start of this, you said your personality is defined as glass half-full. You're always having this optimistic look at things like you said if you start the day down, you can turn it around and be up. Do you think people can develop a more optimistic personality? Or are you just born with it?

KT: You can absolutely develop your personality to be more optimistic. I mean, it's really just about how you look at the world. So if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, you have to  tweak them just a little bit. And you can start having a more positive outlook on all kinds of things, and it carries over into your trading life. So, it's the way I like to live, You know, it seems like everybody else should want to be positive, but maybe that's not everybody's cup of tea. 

MC: Should pessimistic people avoid trading altogether?

KT:  No, I don't think that's a reason to avoid trading. Anybody who's been trading for very long understands it's very psychological. So if pessimism works for you and it's not tripping you up and causing problems in your trading, it’s okay. If you’re finding that something about the way you're thinking is either distracting you from your trading or affecting your trading in a negative way, then figure out what you need to do to change it. And work on changing it. 

MC: What surprised you the most about trading? from a psychological perspective? What surprised you the most?

KT: I guess I have to say that it's just so intense all the time. Even on days when it's quiet. Because I'm looking, looking, looking for a trade, I'm watching to see what's happening. Even though I sit here all day, by the end of the day, I'm tired. It's exhausting.And I haven't really done that much except press some buttons. So that's sort of counter-intuitive, but the biggest thing to me is that, wow, it's a real mental workout.

MC: I think that that makes a lot of sense, because chess players expend a shocking number of calories because of all the mental processing. So how do you unwind after a day of zaniness in the markets? 

KT:  I try to walk five miles every day. My favorite thing to do is walk somewhere really quiet, where I can just think, whether it's about my trading or about something else I have going on. And I'll just think through what happened or how I want to change it. I’ll get a massage here and there, hang out with friends, have a quiet a cup of coffee on my porch, all those kinds of things.

MC: Is it easy to find people to relate to? Because it seems like most people can’t understand what a pro trader goes through.

KT: I don't talk to my friends that don't trade about trading because they don't really understand. And it's boring to them. So I've been really lucky enjoying Inner Circle because I have this group of Traders and I know a bunch of them even. It’s virtual, but I've talked to them enough that I'm comfortable picking up the phone and talking.

MC: Something everybody in the audience should think about a little is community. Many people tell us “I don't know any other traders.”

KT: It really is important to be able to bounce ideas off of somebody, and have somebody hold you accountable if that's what you need. And honestly, part of what I really, really enjoy about trading is some of the people in my room are funny. You know, they joke around and make me laugh during the day. And they asked me silly questions, and even though what we're doing is really serious,  it really helps me to have a better day.

MC: So is laughter important?

KT: I think it's really important. And sometimes, you know, sometimes when everybody's been quiet, and there's not much going on, I'll just put on some music.

MC: So is there ever a point where you say “I shouldn't trade today” or ”I'm just not in it right now?” Does that ever happen to you?

KT:  That really doesn't happen to me. I might say, “well I'm making some really bad decisions today.” I need to sit here and watch and figure out what's going on and stop pushing buttons to understand what's happening.  

MC: That's really interesting because you seem like a very thoughtful, deliberate person. But, and I feel like everybody that's involved in trading or investing knows, sometimes we do things we know we shouldn't do. How do we stop doing that?

KT: I probably tend to lose about half the time when I get in a trade like that. The most important thing is to protect your capital, especially for a new trader. You don't want to take big losses. You just can't afford it when you have a small account. So it's important to be disciplined and take the very best trades. Don't just jump in and out of things because that’s a quick way to eat up your profits and you just can't do that. But if you can consistently have some profit, it builds up in a hurry.

MC: How important is it for you to have a full plan for each trade? 

KT:  What I would recommend, especially for a beginning trader, is to have a plan. Know where your stop is, which tells you how much risk you're taking. And know if it's a day trade or swing trade, all those things are recommended, to plan out ahead of time. My background is day trading, and I learn to identify something in a few seconds. I'm not always as careful as I should be if I were a new trader.

MC: So the longer you do it, the longer you just know, right? So to what extent are you on autopilot where  you see a chart, and you just know.

KT:  That happens to me all the time.I look at a chart, and I think I like this. Then I will often step back and evaluate. What's the spread? How much has it moved? You know, what's the overall market doing? Is the overall market going to help me and go the same direction that I want this trade to go? But I get that feeling pretty much instantly when I pull up a chart. I will like it or not like it. It's just so many years of having to make really fast decisions that I'd do it very quickly.

MC: So what advice do you have for people that want to get to that point where they can just make the decision?

KT: My advice would be, protect your capital. Plan your trades out. If you are going through a spell where you're losing, you cut your size down. Only focus on the best trades. Because the goal really is just to keep building up capital. And as you do more and more trades that are successful, you gain that confidence. You gain that awareness and that knowledge.  There's really no shortcut. It’s pretty much anything else. You just have to do it a lot you’ll get better.

MC: It seems like people are always looking for the magic indicator for success that's just going to that's basically going to do all the work for them. 

KT: Exactly. People always seem to want an indicator that tells them when to get in and get out. Well, an indicator helps, but they don't work all the time. An indicator can't possibly take in all the information that your brain can about the news and about the overall market and all these other things that go into making a decision. So getting a feel for yourself is the ultimate trading tool. 

MC: But I think there is a tricky balance, because you can't run out of money before you figure things out. You're in a race. Do I know what I'm doing by the time I run out of money? Should new people's focus be not losing?

KT: No. If someone is trading and they need to make money, that's not a good position to be in because your stress levels are already high. And I'm saying this because I've done it. I went through a divorce and I thought I'll start trading again. I needed to make money, and it did not work. I stopped myself out.

You need to have enough of a cushion that you're relaxed and that you can think clearly. And that’s another part of the psychology of trading. There's just so much that goes into it.

MC: Well there's the infamous rap lyrics “scared money don't make money.”

KT: There you go. That's it. And I think it's true in life.

MC: Money runs away from you when you're desperate. So If you have to dig yourself out of a hole, how do you shake the feeling of of desperation?

KT: The only way to dig yourself out of a hole is slowly and bit by bit, so you have to just keep accumulating small wins. And that probably means cutting your size down, and taking low-risk trades, but only the best setups.

MC: So when you're entering traders, are you thinking of the size of the payoff?

KT: I do think about it. For instance, on days like today where it's choppy, I should have been continually taking my profits. And I thought maybe we'd continue to drift down, and I didn't, but that was a mistake for me today. But different days are different. And one of these days we're going to turn move back up, and that'll be a day to hold. I really adjust a lot, depending on the day and the market, and the stock.

MC: When a trade is done, is it fully behind you? Do you Monday morning quarterback yourself at all?

KT: Sometimes. If I get out of something and it just keeps going, and I could have made so much more money, it is really frustrating, You just never catch the top and the bottom. Like we catch a Tesla trade, and it goes another $40 or $50. It's frustrating, But, that's part of the job, so, I will be frustrated for a few minutes and go on.

MC: I'm glad you're admitting these things because I feel like there's so many traders that pretend to be these human algos that do things that are perfectly robotic. So how long do those feelings stay with you?

KT: Not that long, honestly, and I don't ruminate about it, because it doesn't help me trade. I'm looking for what helps me find the next trade that's a winner, and to ruminate about something that I just messed up on is not very constructive.I set that thought aside and focus on where's the next trade?

MC: So what keeps you doing this? Trading is a strange way to make a living. 

KT: What really keeps me in the game is that I just keep learning. It's always a challenge for me. And I do have to say that joining Inner Circle as a moderator was one of the scariest things I've ever done.

Because I was taking my trading and putting it out there to the public and saying, this is what I'm buying. This is what I'm selling. And believe me, it is not fun to get a bunch of people on a trade that doesn't work.

It's a bad feeling. But I also had this fear of public speaking. So when I was offered the job, I thought “oh, my gosh I'm terrified of doing this.” Which basically meant that I had to take the job, because I have to get over this irrational fear. And, for the first six months, I had sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat every time I got on the microphone. And I'm proud of myself because I am now comfortable on the microphone.

I can talk to you in front of all these people, and that wouldn't have happened a couple of years ago.

MC: This ties back to rodeos, jumping out of planes, trading, public speaking, sharing your ideas. These are all things where you are one small step away from disaster. 

KT: I don't know about that.

MC: These are high-stakes things. And is that part of the appeal of trading for you? Do the sheer stakes of it all apply to you?


KT: You're absolutely right. A big real I love trading is that it's high stakes. It forces me to be really focused and to make sure I do it well. Because if I don't do it well, I'm going to lose a lot of money. So now that you've mentioned that, I definitely see parallels in my life. I don't even know if you know this about me. But one year, when my kids were little, I pulled my kids out of school and we traveled for a year all around the world. And I hadn't really thought of it, but that's kind of a high-stakes thing, as well. And I loved it. I loved the planning. And the organizing. And the excitement of it. I'm drawn to those sorts of things.

MC: I don't think everybody's the same, but life can get really boring if you don't have a hill to climb. If you don't have a fight in front of you, life can get a little stale.

KT: I'm with you on that one, So I'm always looking for another thing to do or a challenge, something to learn. It makes life fun to me. The new thing that I'm learning now is how to swing dance, and it's kinda funny because I guess that the disaster there would be enough stepping on my partner's feet or something, or making a fool of myself,

MC: I think everybody in the audience could see that you have this long list of life adventures. You’re on this very unconventional path with rodeos, skydiving, trading, going on around-the-world trips with the kids. All interesting, exciting stuff.

KT: It's been quite a journey. Hopefully it keeps going for a long time.

MC:  Let’s talk about parallels between things like rodeos, skydiving, and trading. How do they compare in terms of pure enjoyment and excitement, and whatever it does for your soul. How do they compare?

KT: They're all exhilarating once you're done. You get onto the ground after a skydive, and it's like “that was the most amazing thing I've ever done.” It’s the same thing with a barrel race. It's just so satisfying and exciting and fulfilling. And after a good day of training, I feel the same way. It’s not as physical as the other two things, but it's still mentally the same feeling of achievement. The feeling of achievement of doing something really hard and doing it well.

MC:  So before we close out, let's talk about Inner Circle just a little bit. How has being an Inner Circle moderator impacted your trading?

KT: I had to really step back and think about, what am I looking at that tells me to get into this trade so that I can communicate it to everybody else? And I have trouble with that sometimes. Because trading is just so automatic that I'm not always sure what I'm looking at. So, that's been a really interesting change for me. I've also had to really focus on what is it the highest probability trade? I want them to make money so I give them the best trades. It’s also made me more aware of what is hard for other people. Sizing is something really hard for other people.

MC: Thank you Kira.

KT: Thank you Michael.

Interesting in joining Inner Circle to work with Kira? Go here now.

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