THE BLOG
10/02/2014 05:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Timothy Sykes: How to Transform Haters Into Customers

Do you have haters in your life or business?

I sure do. In fact, haters can be an asset if you know how to prove them wrong.

This is exactly what Timothy Sykes did. I sat down with Tim to talk about his experience of having to deal with haters in a negatively stigmatized industry like penny stocks. You know, the same penny stocks that you saw on Wolf of Wall Street.

We're talking Jordan Belfort, ladies and gentlemen.

Tim has an amazing story of his own that he will share with us. He's famously known for turning $12,000 that he received for his Bar Mitzvah when he was thirteen years old to $1.7 million in just a few years. He then started his own hedge fund in his twenties and was on a reality show called Wall Street Warriors.

Today, Tim has made the transition from full-time trading to becoming a mentor that he never had, teaching his students how to trade penny stocks online.

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Sean: Your claim to fame is the story of how you've turned $12,000 you received when you were thirteen years old into $1.65 million in just a few years. Can you tell us about how that started?

Timothy: When you turn 13 in the Jewish religion, you become a man. I had all this money that I got from my bar mitzvah. My parents in their wisdom gave me control of the money, and I wanted to trade in a stock market because this was 1999. The market was going crazy. And my parents thought that I would literally lose all my money. Instead, in the next 4 years, in my senior high school year, I turned it into nearly 2 million dollars. It was all from trading little penny stocks, the kind of scams that you see in the Wolf of Wall Street.

Sean: Let's take a little step back. You're making 6 figures and 7 figures as a high school student. How did that affect the way you associate with your friends?

Timothy: It was interesting. I'm from a middle class background so whether I make a $100,000 or $700,000, it's still ridiculous for a high school student. Senior of high school and freshmen year, I didn't really have much of a social life because I was making so much money, I put a lot of time learning. Especially in the beginning, it was very intense and I just crawled by. Unfortunately, I wasn't the popular kid that I wanted to be.

Sean: You've built the brand around this luxurious and high-class lifestyle. Is this the real life you live or is this because you know it's what sells?

Timothy: It's a mix. I want to post stuff that inspires my students. And a lot of people think that's it's sketchy that I'm posting all this stuff. But the thing about what I post is that I'm just a normal guy. I'm not good in math. I'm not that smart. I understand the limitations of my strategy. I'm not promoting anything that's totally unreasonable. When you break it down trade by trade into a specific strategy and you play that strategy out over 3-5 years, it's possible to be successful and I want people to be aware of that.

Sean: It seems like you're trying to advocate that you don't have to be this intellectual genius to be where you are today, right?

Timothy: No. I'm not an intellectual genius. I look at myself kind of like driving in chapter, driving can be very scary. And if you don't pay attention to stop signs, red lights, the lanes - you're going to crash.

Sean: I think a lot of people don't know how hard you actually work. Behind the computers, behind the fancy photos. How much time did it take for you to educate yourself to become the pro that you are today?

Timothy: It's a lot of work to learn the rules for the stock market. It took me 6 or 7 years to really learn the rules. And in the past 5 years, I've been refining them. Most of my hard work now comes from setting all the educational materials. I posted pictures from my 7 different resorts and I tested which pictures got the best likes. And I chose the resort based on the popular photos. So, I'm kind of crazy. But If I'm posting photos to inspire my students, I want to make sure that they do inspire them. Otherwise, I'm just wasting their time and mine.

Sean: How is the Timothy Sykes brand doing?

Timothy: We're on track to pull roughly 10 million this year which is a little over double last year. There's 13 million people with online discount brokers and I have 5 thousand students. So, it's just beginning. For the first few years, people were skeptical when I had no millionaires. Now, I have several students who are getting closer to million dollars of profits.

Sean: If you have to start all over again, without the $12,000, what are some of the steps that you would take immediately in order to get to where you are today?

Timothy: I would have looked for a mentor. Step number one, I would have gone to New York City, down to Wall Street, and I would have banged on every single door as a kid. You cannot learn this stuff quickly on your own. You can learn it but it won't be quick. And mentors or gurus can give you just cuts your learning time down dramatically. Number two, I've realized that education begins right away even if you don't have any money to trade. I would suggest to learn it right away so that you're prepared mentally for trading opportunities or investment opportunities. Whether you're ready or not, you need to make the necessary mistakes before it really counts. Again, get a mentor and start learning right away.

Sean: Do you have a mentor now or did you have a mentor before that was able to guide you or was it all yourself?

Timothy: No. I never had a mentor. There was never any "Penny Stock King" who was honest. Ever since I began, penny stocks were synonymous with dishonesty and shadiness. I guess you can say I developed into a mentor by being everything that the people on my sector are not. I learned what I don't like and I try to be the exact opposite. And that's what created my business model. And I think that's why my business model is having so much success just because I'm trying something new.

Sean: Let's talk about your future now. What do you see the focus for you being for the next 5 years?

Timothy: I think wealth gets you in the game as coin expert, I think. I've created two millionaires so far. Now, the question is "How many people can I teach? How effectively can I teach?" It takes a few years to become a good trainer, it's taking me several years to refine my teaching skills. I'm basically going to spend time redesigning my website, and redesigning all my educational materials. It's going to focus on the same stuff but it's going to be a lot more digestible and hopefully more effective.

Visit thegrowthlist.com to hear the full 30-minute audio interview with Tim.