Episode 127

An Uncomfortable Expose of Insider Trading with TipperX

Articles From: Interactive Brokers
Website: Interactive Brokers

By:

Owner

Tipper X Advisors

When he saw the name TipperX beneath CNBC’s scrolling headlines, Tom phoned his contact at the FBI. “Am I TipperX? Is that me on CNBC right now?” This episode is told through the eyes of former hedge fund trader and FBI informant turned advocate, Tom Hardin AKA TipperX.

Summary – IBKR Podcasts Ep. 127

The following is a summary of a live audio recording and may contain errors in spelling or grammar. Although IBKR has edited for clarity no material changes have been made.

Andrew Wilkinson 

In July 2008, hedge fund analyst Tom Hardin left his New York City apartment at 6:30 in the morning, dropped off some laundry at the dry cleaners, and then behind him came a voice. “Hey, are you Tom?” 

And he turned around to see them flash their FBI badges to reveal their identity. Now it was a strange place to ask him about trades he’d placed in 2007, but Tom knew exactly what they were asking. And this marked the beginning of a nightmare for Tom and his family as the ever-compliant Tom turned into FBI informant.  

What transpired was that Tom was at the very bottom of a mountain of insider trading. That happens when an individual knowingly reveals and acts upon material information that can impact the share price of a company. So, a huge welcome to Tom Hardin, otherwise known as Tipper X. Tom, welcome. 

Tom Hardin 

Thanks for having me on Andrew. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

You’re very welcome. So, give us your shortened version of the story before we delve into the ethics and implications of the case. 

Tom Hardin 

Sure, absolutely. So, I’m Tom Hardin. I grew up in Georgia, in the Atlanta suburbs. Father worked there for Coca-Cola his whole career. Two younger brothers, middle class family; first in my family to attend college outside the south at the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School there. I was a really good high school student, also played soccer and had a good combination there at Penn. So, that sort of late 90s, early 2000s, I went right out of Penn into investment banking.  

So, I started my career there and after maybe three or four, all nighters any investment banking analyst knows what kind of rigors that can be. I was recruited by a hedge fund just after a few months of investment banking around 2000. So, we’re talking about near the top of the technology stock bubble. That hedge fund was in Greenwich, CT. My job there was to cover tech stocks, so at the time, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, Apple, Apple Computer before they were Apple Inc., covering those companies, traveling to Silicon Valley, trips to Asia, kind of doing the normal hedge fund analyst work, due diligence.  

And what I really liked about the hedge fund business is it was a very flat structure whereas banking you kind of had to work your way up and the Managing Director would leave at 5:00 PM and say have this on my desk at 8:00 AM. You’re going to stay up all night. The hedge fund was great. Come in in your 20s, pick stocks. You make the right picks, you’re compensated. You can make millions of dollars. Pick the wrong stocks, you’re fired. That’s fine because I wanted to be held accountable, making good picks or not. And I just like you could work your way up quickly. And so, I was enamored by this in my 20s. I loved following the markets. Just what happens in Europe can impact this or Asia overnight could impact this and like the intellectual conversations like you know, I was around people that were really, really bright. 

Just that conversation every day at the water cooler. Do you see this happen? What does this mean? Or I heard this happened. What does that mean for our position? I really enjoyed that part of the business. That being said, so kind of mid 2000s, I also became aware that insider trading was rampantly going on with certain tech funds. My competition was trading stocks on information that was material and non-public. 

And then the way this happened was few different ways. So, some funds would have investors who were management teams at Silicon Valley companies or who worked for public companies in Silicon Valley, and they were actually investors in hedge funds. So, you can imagine the potential sort of conflicts of interest there in terms of being investors, giving information to the hedge fund. And also hedge funds covering tech were hiring employees from tech companies to be analysts at the hedge funds, so they could call back to their old contacts inside these tech companies.  

I knew this was going on. I never felt initially I had to cross that line. I was always considered a great investor. I was very thematic when I started my career, looking out three to five years. I love tech because there’s always the disruptor and the disrupted, so in tech being long and short, you can always be long. Now, for instance, Google, after they became public and you could be short the Yellow Pages, so you could kind of figure out these big things we get in our driveway probably I won’t be around anymore in a few years if Google really grows.  

Well, I loved the opportunity to be long and short. And as I said, never really felt I had to cross that line until at my second firm, so now in my late 20s, after the first quarter of investing at a new firm, my boss came into my office one day and said, “Tom, I know we’re investing thematically over three years, but we just lost money in the first quarter. We have to start looking for shorter term opportunities to make money every month or we may not survive. We’re a small hedge fund”.  

So, kind of stepping back from that when the goal goes from three years to make money every month, as I look back at it now, the opportunity to start cutting corners, perhaps breaking laws certainly increases. And I’d also say my boss gave me an ambiguous message, you know, do what it takes and no other guidance. Now, I didn’t ask any clarifying questions there. Are you talking about anything goes because he was also aware of insider trading happening. Or are we going to stay within the ethical legal guardrails? So, I didn’t really ask anything there, so I kicked myself for not at least asking that. So, a few more months goes by.  

It’s now early 2007. I get a call from another investor who I knew in the industry. She had worked for a guy named Raj Rajaratnam, which if anybody is familiar with the hedge fund cases, he was probably the most famous person to be sent to prison. But now when I talk to younger analysts, they really have no idea, some of them don’t know who he is. So, time goes on. So, it’s really important for people to understand who he was. She worked for him, and she said, Tom, you’ve made me a lot of money over the last few years on some of these thematic ideas. I have something for you, but you can’t tell anybody. And she proceeded to say a Moody’s analyst, so at the bond rating agency, who was roommates with her cousin, told her that Kronos, a tech stock, was going to be acquired in a few weeks. Here’s the date. Here’s the price. Here’s the private equity firm.  

Now it doesn’t get much more stark than that. Hopefully anybody listening has never gotten a call like that. If you have, you certainly hopefully know what to do. It kind of just fell in my lap. I didn’t trade on this information the first day because to be honest, it sounded quite illegal, but later that day, the start of my slippery slope I was talking to a friend outside my firm who worked at a prop trading firm, and this is a guy I talked to once a month, not a close friend. He worked at a prop firm, so he only got paid that month if he was up. He’s down. We’re talking. And he said, dude, are you hearing anything out there I can take a short, small flyer on? And I said I’m not trading this, but this woman just called me and told me this Moody’s analyst told her this company Kronos is going to be acquired next week, just pausing right there. I’m sure people know I’ve acted quite recklessly by sharing this information with him. I could now be charged, at least by the SEC, for insider trading.  

And I haven’t traded yet, and now I have no idea what he’s going to do with it or who he’s going to share it with. And it turns out he shared it with the guy who sat next to him and his firm, who bought call options, bought 500,000 shares of this stock. The woman that called me had her entire brokerage account in this stock for this event. I hadn’t made any trades yet. They both kept calling me all week. Are you in? Are you in? Did you buy some? And as the junior partner at my second and final hedge fund, I could buy a stock in our portfolio as long as it was less than 1% of our assets under management. I could have a starter position. So, when fraud happens, there are three elements: There’s the need to commit the fraud. So, I’d say my need was probably short-term performance, make money every month, there was a need. There’s an opportunity to do it. There’s a lax control so the lax control is I could buy a stock as the junior partner as long as it was less than 1%.  

And there’s the rationalization. And I’ll tell you today I totally rationalized it. I said these other guys are making millions doing it. I’ll just do it one time. Who am I really hurting with insider trading? People sometimes argue who’s the victim? You’re just buying it before everybody else. Or maybe the person that sold you the stock, it’s not somebody you see. It’s not like a Ponzi scheme where, hey, I’m taking your money. It’s kind of nebulous. That’s how you rationalized it. I said, you know what, I can place this trade, but I’m still a good guy. So, I’m doing kind of a moral weighing at the scale in my head. I’m a good church volunteer, a faithful husband. You know, I can place this trade, I make thousands of trades a year. So really the cycle of rationalization continues. I said. I’m just taking a flyer and I’m using a euphemism for my illicit trading, so never did I say, hey, I’m insider trading and by calling it a flyer it created some psychological distance between myself and actually breaking the law. Just taking a flyer. 

I’ll do it just this one time, and really I’d say I engaged in isolated decision making, so if people just think about one take away like I made a decision in isolation, didn’t talk to my boss, certainly didn’t talk to compliance, I didn’t talk to anybody at my firm. Made that decision on my own to cross that line and it would happen three more times. These tips came in. I placed the 0.9% positions.  

Now, in the pre-market meeting with my boss, looking at our portfolio, maybe 25 positions we go through every position. And the stocks are up 30% or more in the pre- market, he says, “Oh, it’s one of those”, and skips over it. So, again, not to justify my own behavior, but I’m kind of telling myself, well, if he doesn’t have a problem with it and he’s the closest thing I have to a mentor, then it kind of continues to fuel the engine of my rationalization.  

And over those four trades in 2007, my firm made just over $1,000,000 on those trades. And so, we managed about $100 million. So only one more percent of performance and we were up 30% without the insider trading and up 31% with it. So, was it really worth it? My personal take was $46,000. I was 29 years old. Very bluntly, that was the price of professional suicide. I threw my career away at 29 for $46,000. Sometimes people think, “Oh Tipper X must have made millions of dollars,” and the punch line is no, it was $46,000 and a few months after the final trade, maybe seven months after the final trade, as you described in the opening, it was July 2008. Dropping off my dry cleaning, the FBI stops me on the street. “Are you Tom?” I sit down with them. They say, do you know of insider trading going on? I said, yeah guys, it’s rampant. In fact, there were these four trades I did and was giving them all the information. They start writing it down. I really have no idea what they know about me. But my first thought was, you know, oh my God, my dad’s going to kill me. What’s he going to say? Oh, my God. My wife’s going to leave me. She had no idea I did this. She’s certainly going to leave me. And then I thought, oh, my God, this might impact my career. Holy crap, I might be going to prison, but it went from Dad to prison.  

I start telling him everything. I think the FBI was shocked that I wasn’t at least trying to cover it up or lie or say those are rumors. I just started confessing. And so, they were certainly happy with that. Told them what I knew, and they said, Tom, you can help us out. I said, should I talk to an attorney first? And they said no, don’t talk to an attorney. So, they’re going to play by their own rules. Not to be morbid, but two people that summer, like me, killed themselves after the FBI approached them. You might think your life is over. Fortunately for me, I had dark nights, but not that dark.  

So, I called the FBI, I said. I do know. I do know of this going on. What does it mean to help you? And they said thank you so much for your call, Tom. And they showed me, like, a little electronic device that I was going to have to wear and I said, what is that a BlackBerry battery? Because back then we still had Blackberries and they’re like, you know, no, this is actually a recording device. You’re going to have to wear a wire on some big-time people of interest to the FBI and help me kind of get them in conversations to see where it leads.  

Now, it was a weird situation because some of these people I didn’t know that well. It might be a 48-year-old hedge fund manager. I’m a 29-year-old analyst. My job was to build relationships, so I’d attend conferences. Hey, can we meet at Starbucks? I’m thinking about leaving my firm. You know, it’s 2008. I probably get fired anyways. Can’t pick a stock to save my life. And so, it wasn’t like a crazy cover story to have. Meet with them at Starbucks. I knew about these four trades last year. You know, how do you do it?  

But it’s a weird conversation because I have to be pretty sure you’re also doing it. Otherwise, you might look at me weird. People look at me weird anyways, like, why is this guy I don’t know that well asking me such pointed questions. One guy high up the FBI’s list- I got him in 15 conversations over a year. He’d say nothing, always change the subject. One Sunday afternoon he gave me a call. And he says Tom, we need to have dinner tonight. We need to talk. I called the FBI and said this guy wants to have dinner tonight. They got excited. They met me at Grand Central in New York City, gave me the wire. I took the train up to Greenwich.  

This guy picked me up at the train station and he said, “Tom, good to see you. I brought swimming trunks for you. We’re going swimming at my mother’s house”. So, I don’t know him that well. The Sopranos was popular that summer. All these ideas were going through my head. I played a cool guy in his car. We drove out to Greenwich. He starts disrobing in this room. He wants to see if something is taped to my chest. I excused myself, went to the restroom, took the wire out, put it in my jeans, put these swim trunks on. So, it’s the two of us walking out to this pool. It was so quiet. I saw a shovel against the house. A hole in the ground, I thought, “Oh my God, this guy is going to try to kill me or something?” And he grabbed a tennis ball. We’re playing a game of catch. He’s pouring it on. And he said, Tom, I’ve been acting kind of weird. He spoke to an attorney. He asked to ask me a question. I said what do you want to know? I was going to give my cover. He said Tom, have you been approached by the SEC? And truthfully, I could say no, not the SEC. Of course, it was the FBI. He doesn’t get to that nuance. He starts making implicating statements. Once he saw I wasn’t wearing a wire.  

Up until a few years ago, he was actually still managing outside money. He was never charged by the FBI, but he never had me in as a guest speaker. So, after that, the first arrest happened in the fall of 2009. 20 people were arrested on CNBC, so the FBI windbreakers, you know, the perp walks, they call them- the cameras are there. And at the bottom of CNBC, it says Tipper X was the key informant for the FBI. I was a former analyst, so I couldn’t figure it out. Might be Tipper X by deduction. My name wasn’t public. I called the FBI and they said “Yeah, you’re Tipper X”.  

And I kind of thought my safety might be in danger. Like oh my God, is my safety in danger? They said no, you’re fine, but you should probably talk to an attorney. So, I called an attorney over a year into doing this, and my attorney said, hey, who was your attorney before me? I said, you know, you’re the first I’ve spoken to and he said, “Tom, you’re supposed to hire me the first day the FBI approached you”, and I said, “hey, it’s my first time doing this”.  

It was pretty straightforward for me. It’s time to plead guilty in 2009. My name became public in 2010 when the FBI was done with me. I couldn’t help them any longer. That was a very tough day, which we can talk about, just like what’s become. Once everybody knows who Tipper X is, you lose a lot of friends. Let’s just say I let down a lot of family. And anybody that knew me, they just could not believe I was involved with this. It’s not the person that they knew. And I wasn’t sentenced for seven years, so the FBI on the street in 2008, I wasn’t sentenced until 2015. I didn’t go to prison because I helped them out, but I still had to take a felony. So, I can’t have a checking account in my name because I’m on the anti-money laundering list. Like all of the AML lists in the world. I’m on there. So, if I wasn’t still married, which only 15% of marriages even survive something like this, you know, I’m not sure what to even do in terms of coming back. I can’t have a brokerage account. So, I’m sure it couldn’t even have an account with you guys and can’t even coach a youth sports. Well, fortunately I have two daughters. Unfortunately, I can’t coach them in new sports because I have to check the box. So, it’s not me saying poor me at all. It’s just these lifelong consequences of choices that I made.  

Now going back sometime after I was sentenced, I went on one of my first ever podcast interviews. Somebody who was in the courtroom interviewed me, an AP reporter, podcaster had me on. The FBI heard that podcast. They called me, and I thought, “Oh my God, what do these guys want now”? And they said, “Tom, you were the youngest guy we charged back in the day, you hardly made any money”. I think I said, “Thanks for rubbing it in, I was trying not to get caught”. And they said, “No, it’s actually we never understood the case like the why behind the decisions. So, I went and spoke to the FBI in 2016 and they said, “Why don’t you go out and make lemonade and lemons”? So, I go out and share this story.  

And I didn’t really want to do that. I was so ashamed. So, it took me a while to even get the words together as to how I would even share this story or why or who would be interested. And so that was in 2016 and seven years later, I’ve had the privilege now of presenting over 500 times to audiences in 13 countries. So, today I come in as a guest speaker during the annual compliance training, which can, as we know, can sometimes be very dry and just lapping it up a bit with things we’re going to talk about. So, that’s a short version of the longer story. But let’s jump into it. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

So, Tom, you were a small although highly significant player in this whole FBI sting operation. You were asked to conduct, I think I’d heard you say earlier, 48 interviews with investors who may have profited to the sum of millions of dollars. How did you feel about doing that about having to do that? I mean, your role was then to gain their trust. And you were trying to package them up for arrest by the FBI. How did that feel? 

Tom Hardin 

When the FBI first approached me, I just started confessing and taking orders from them. And they gave me the opportunity just to ask me, who do I think are the worst actors? Usually, cooperators might have to wear a wire on one of your good friends or even a family member that you that you probably tipped. And so fortunately, I wasn’t in that position. They just said, “Who are the worst actors in the industry”? I gave them the list of people who I thought their business model every quarter was trading stocks with information around quarterly earnings announcements or M&A. So, the way I rationalized, I guess helping them was if they’re giving me this chance to kind of clean up the industry, then I’m going to take it. So, I’m still conflicted about that because I’m definitely not a whistleblower. Sometimes people introduce me as a whistleblower. I say no I wasn’t going to cooperate with the FBI. I wasn’t going to call them and say, hey, this is going on, by the way, I did it. Unless they approached me. So definitely not a whistleblower, but I kind of looked at it like if they’re giving me a chance to help them and who knows where this is going to lead? You know, like to do this and be terrible at it, which they told me initially I was not good at doing this because I was so nervous I would fill the silence if I’d ask you a question if you were a target.  
 

I just kept filling the silence because the other person would wait to talk and they’d listen to it later and say I’m not doing a good job. And with them I said, hey, it’s my first time doing this. You know, I didn’t learn this in Penn. To wear a wire. So, I eventually got good at that and I was kind of shocked when I saw 20 people arrested on CNBC, I will say I didn’t think it would lead to that because they never really gave me any feedback if I was doing a good job or not until 20 people were in handcuffs in the fall of 2009. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

So, Tom, let’s talk about that moment. Was it January 2010 when you were exposed as Tipper X? 

Tom Hardin 

That’s right. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

Well, the FBI must have unveiled your details at that point. How prepared were you for prime time for want of a better expression? Tell us about the fall out with everyone who knew you in business or privately. What happened? 

Tom Hardin 

Yeah. So, I hired an attorney. My attorney was shocked I waited over a year to hire an attorney. He had never seen that before, but I guess I saved a year of legal fees. I hired him and then my name became public, the FBI said I need to do more for them. As you said I wore a wire 48 times. We thought that was enough and the FBI said fine your name’s coming out tomorrow. So, I didn’t have much time to prepare. 

I had a pretty terrible call with my brother the night before because he was in the industry also and my God like what his, probably compliance people put him through and you know, he was not involved in this at all. But just having to tell him and also being his older brother and having to tell him, you know, he doesn’t, people just lose trust. That was terrible. And I could only tell beforehand, I could only tell my wife. And now everybody’s going to know.  

So, January 2010. Tipper X as Tom Hardin was on the front of the printed edition of the Wall Street Journal, so it was actually front-page news. It’s a 24-hour news story, but it just feels like forever. So, that day I had left my firm a few months before because I thought it might be any day, so I was a stay at home Dad. It becomes public, my phone is ringing off the hook. People are actually stopping by my house in New Jersey looking for a quote. And I can tell you probably the lowest I felt was my wife, thank God was still able to work.  

And she came home one day from work and was holding the baby looking at us, crying and said, “What did you do to us”? So, if you want to feel about as low as you can feel, I think that’s when I did. Because I couldn’t change what I did in the past. I could only try to figure out how to get us out of this, but I had no idea what that meant. But that was probably the lowest day there was just this public onslaught on me trying to get a call, a quote, that type of thing. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

I think in in an earlier podcast on the Jordan Harbinger Show, I heard you make reference to meeting the S&P analyst that this girl that put you in touch with, where that initial insider information came from about Kronos. And you were asked to get together $10,000, put it in an envelope and meet this guy somewhere in New York City. And when I reflect on that and I hear that, the guy says to you and you don’t even stop. You just hand him the envelope he says, “Are you Tom”? and you just gave me the envelope and kept on going. And I have this kind of going around in my head, this vision of not being the S&P Analyst, but it being Tom Hardin at an older age. So, let me ask you, what piece of advice would you tell your younger self to avoid the same outcome? 

Tom Hardin 

Yeah, just to fill that in. After the first stock was acquired, Kronos, the woman called me a few minutes later and saying the person that had told her was going to be in New York that week and that I should write him a check for $10,000. An expletive filled tirade for her from me saying, “Well, that sounds really illegal”. Like, I had rationalized the trade, but Oh my God, I wouldn’t do that. And she said he’s going to have more. So, I called my friend at the prop trading firm. “Can you pass the hat around to anybody that made money, this is the situation”? Got the cash together. And then walked down 41st Street. He said, “Are you Tom”? in the corner? I held it up. I was so disgusted with myself that I was doing this and one sort of piece of advice for people is like if you can’t tell your grandmother about what you’re doing, it’s probably not a good thing to be doing. But also, I think just stepping back, what would 40-something Tom today say to my 20-something self?  

I think I was drowning in insecurity because these other guys were cheating to get ahead and when the when the answer to the test fell in my lap, I totally went in and rationalized it, when I should have just been focused on myself, improving as an investor, improving at the pattern recognition of investing.  

So, one piece of advice for my younger self is just focus on competing against yourself. You’re just trying to get better as an investor than you were yesterday. Who cares if other people are cheating to get ahead? Don’t drown an insecurity. So, I think it applies pretty much anywhere. Focus on yourself. Compete against yourself. Don’t drown in insecurity because other people or your competition are cheating to get ahead. Because the next cases may not be insider trading. It might be something else in the market where people are cheating to get ahead and just don’t fall for that trap. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

Just changing tracks slightly. What about the younger generation today now investing in crypto and related markets. Are they at similar risk given the lack of regulation and oversight in those markets, do you think? 

Tom Hardin 

In the US, they’re probably even more at risk because at least when I back when I broke the law, there were laws. There were regulations against insider trading. I have an issue with the way the SEC is enforcing crypto, it just seems to be regulation by enforcement rather than giving an actual framework for what businesses should be doing. So, you assume that people want to do the right thing, so let’s say 99% of people actually want to be doing the right thing. I think the wrong way to go about it is the way the SEC is doing it right now, by creating regulations by enforcement. And so yes, I think people are very much at risk here in the US in this market.  

I think if you’re a young founder or builder, there are other markets around the world that are much more open to establishing very tangible regulatory frameworks. So, think about Dubai or I was just speaking at a conference in the Bahamas or the crypto conference like they have the red carpet out and they want people to go down there and start businesses and the regulator is very friendly. And they don’t want to be so punitive, as the SEC is. So, I hesitate to, because the SEC is actually friendly to me now, and to what I’m doing. But I also would just say, look, you know, you can’t regulate by enforcement and crypto. I don’t really understand what they’re doing. And I think it’s driving all of our smartest minds away to start businesses in other countries.  

Andrew Wilkinson 

Tom, do you think there’s a silver lining of any shade here? Tell us about Tipperx.com and what you do for a living now.  

Tom Hardin 

Sure. So, for years I was really destroying myself for the stupid choices that I made and saying, you know, not only did I make bad choices, I’m also a terrible person. And I was dealing with a lot of shame and guilt but also shame. I never understood the difference. One of my first ever speaking engagements after the FBI was at a conference in New York, finance conference. I was kind of nervous. How was this going to be received? And it was so dark that the event planner was like the audience doesn’t feel you’re okay. They actually liked the story, but they could see you’re not okay. And she actually explained to me the difference between shame and guilt. And so, as we talk today, I guess about mental health, it’s important for people to understand the difference. Like, shame is I’m a bad person. I did a bad thing. I don’t think that’s true. Now, guilt is I did a bad thing and it kind of keeps me going every week to kind of talk about this for the last seven years. And I guess as a good Catholic too, it’s my penance, I think, to do this today. So, I definitely still have the guilt. 

Obviously, I wish I didn’t do that, but given I can’t change the past, how do I move forward? Do I try to erase this? You know, some people, my situation after actually pay firms to erase their Google profile. You know, I’m not sure how that would be possible. I get those emails all the time and just send them my website, so I’m not trying to erase it. I’m just trying to educate people on how does a regular person get in this situation? How does it start incrementally? So, it was a long journey between shame and guilt and just being able to talk about this with different groups. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

Tell us a little bit about Tipper X. 

Tom Hardin 

So, the FBI was my first ever speaking engagement. And today my business is just a professional speaking corporate training business. I’ll often go in for an hour, share versions of the story for 45-minutes and customize it for the crowd. So, in a prep call with my clients, sometimes companies have me in who have had their own past issues with employees, maybe even something like this or something related to regulatory infractions and all that so I’ll work that into my story. So, it’s really tangible for employees. And I also have some longer workshops where we’ll talk about slippery slopes in other industries and then kind of work that in. And what should you be doing at this point? So, today I do about 50 talks a year or about one a week. And I’m actually working on the book now too, to get it all on the page. So, I only have an hour. I can only tell so much about the story but the book would be a good outlet to get the whole story out there, so look forward to that. Probably not till 2025. So, if people want to connect on LinkedIn, I’m happy to keep people updated. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

What kind of audience feedback do you get? Positive, negative, something different? 

Tom Hardin 

Yeah. So, over the 500 or so speeches, I don’t know of anything that was negative. Now, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but I often get emails, especially from young professionals, you know. Thank you so much for sharing that. It’s something I’ll never forget. And that’s kind of like over and over again what people say. It creates discussion afterwards where people look at their own lives, even outside the work. Like where are we rationalizing decisions that we make? And is that the right thing to be doing? One thing that’s come up over the last year is I talked in my talks often about mistakes versus bad decisions. 

When I started speaking years ago, somebody in the crowd said, “Oh, you made a bunch of mistakes and you certainly paid for it”. And I said, “I didn’t make any mistakes. I made bad decisions”. And I think if we all look and see that we make both mistakes and bad decisions, but you can’t call your bad decisions mistakes, because then you’re not learning from your bad decisions. So, just one thing for people to think about is like the difference between mistakes and bad decisions. And to understand the difference. And then once you hear that, I often hear years later in my talk, people still talk about oh no, you’re calling your bad decision the mistake and calling out their coworkers or you know, just like it’s something to.. Our children, you know, with our kids, we can certainly call them out for that. So, it’s just something that came to me, you know, and that’s one thing that stays with people over the years. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

Tom Hardin. Tipper X. Thank you very much indeed for joining me. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a really good education for us all. 

Tom Hardin 

Great. Thank you so much, Andrew. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

It was a pleasure. Thank you. 

Join the Discussion

Thank you for engaging with IBKR Campus. If you have a general question, it may already be covered in our FAQs. If you have an account-specific question or concern, please reach out to Client Services.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclosure: Interactive Brokers

The analysis in this material is provided for information only and is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. To the extent that this material discusses general market activity, industry or sector trends or other broad-based economic or political conditions, it should not be construed as research or investment advice. To the extent that it includes references to specific securities, commodities, currencies, or other instruments, those references do not constitute a recommendation by IBKR to buy, sell or hold such investments. This material does not and is not intended to take into account the particular financial conditions, investment objectives or requirements of individual customers. Before acting on this material, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, as necessary, seek professional advice.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interactive Brokers, its affiliates, or its employees.