Ex-naval Officer Turned Full-Time Pajama Trader: An Interview With The Kiltro of Wall Street
This article is based on a conversaion with Rodrigo and has been lightly edited for readability. Conducted by Owain Higham.
On Twitter you call yourself the Kiltro of Wall Street. Could you explain what that means?
Yeah. [He laughs.] You know, Kiltro is a street dog here in Chile: the dog without a breed. It’s very intelligent and lives from nothing.
It also comes from the Wolf of Wall Street. Of course I’m not that kind of person, but I’ve replaced the wolf with this dog, so that’s why I call myself the Kiltro of Wall Street. As I told you before, it’s a very intelligent dog—not that I feel I’m intelligent, but I like that kind of dog! [He laughs.]
But you must be intelligent because on your profile it says you’re a naval officer, personal trainer, a lawyer, and now a trader. How do you have time to do all those things?
It’s kind of easy because at first I was a naval officer, but I had to leave the Navy because I had an accident that left me paralysed the waist down. So I had to change course and I started studying law and while I was studying law, I studied personal training too.
You are also followed by Scott Pulcini on Twitter. That must be a great honor!
This was all because of Bookmap, because I was able to know where the price was going very well, many times to the tick. I started realizing that some people started asking me things: “Where is it going, what do you think about this?”, and I’m saying, “I know nothing about this, I’m just starting.” But I thought, I can get good at this because people started following me and they put me on lists like “good order flow traders”, and I thought: Do you consider me to be good enough to be on a list of good traders? I said, “Oh my God”. So I publish my levels on my Twitter.
Even though I’m on those lists of what people consider good traders, I don’t really communicate with them. You know, there are some fake accounts of great traders and sometimes they follow you, and I think: Oh, they are following me! But no, it’s a fake account. But when Scott Pulcini followed me, I said, “Oh my God, this is great”. So yeah, I’m very honored to be followed by the real one!
A screenshot of Rodigo’s Twitter account ‘The Kiltro of Wall Street’ @rodrigolopzcas
You mention that you’re paralzyed from the waist down. Can I ask how it happened?
When you finish the naval academy here in Chile, you become a midshipman. You are an officer, but are still a student. The second part is that you have to go to a sailing ship, called the Esmeralda in some ocean. We went to the Pacific.
So I was in Ecuador. We went to a party, and when we were coming back to the ship, the driver—a midshipman too—fell asleep. We veered off the road and we fell into a ditch. But at the end of the ditch there was a tree, and we hit that tree. When we hit that tree, the car went up into the air. The tree was the pivot. [He laughs.] The car went up and I hit my head on the roof of the car and because of that I broke two vertebrae. The driver and the other passenger also hit their heads and were bleeding, but they were OK.
I said, “God, please don’t leave me paralzyed. Let me walk.” So I moved my legs, and since I was in the armed forces, I said to myself, “Okay, this is what you have trained for. This is like being in war. You’ve been hit, now we act accordingly”. So I was doing what they taught us. The guy that was shouting for help—I told him what to do when suddenly the ambulance appeared. I said to the medics, “My right leg and rib is broken”, but they said, “You have to climb to the ambulance because the car is going to roll down the hill”. So I climbed up, jumping on my left leg into the ambulance above the ditch. The thing was, I didn’t have my leg broken, but I had my left hip broken. Since I broke two vertebrae, it was very acute and it caused inflammation in my spinal cord and because of the pressure I received on my stomach, it broke my stomach inside, so I was bleeding profusely.
When I was in the UCI in the hospital, they kept giving me blood. I used the entire blood bank of the hospital and the ship because they couldn’t find the source of the bleeding. Because of that, I lost oxygen to my spinal cord. The spinal cord wasn’t cut, but it died at two points. Because of that, I can’t receive information from my brain to my limbs, and that’s how I got paraylzed.
How did you get into trading?
Well, this was because of the pandemic. I mean, I was always interested in trading ever since I was a kid. I was 3, 4 years old and here in Chile there is a place—Bank Street—and I went there with my parents to do some errands. There was something in the vibe and it got me interested in that place. Then I heard about the stock market there, and while I was in the Navy I made my first investment and it went very well.
But then in the year 2020 when the pandemic started, I was ready to start a law firm. I had the money, the campaign, everything ready to start the business, but the pandemic came, so I couldn’t open the office or anything like that. So I said, “You know, I have to wait until this ends”. But I saw that here in Chile some commodities went down a lot, so I thought this is the time to start investing. So I said, “You know, I’m gonna do it very well. I’m gonna start studying this. I’m going to be professional about it.” So I started trading, learning many things from Fibonacci to tape reading. I was diving into trading and that was how I got to Bookmap.
That’s how I started 3 years ago and I’m still learning and trying, but that’s how I started. I had this interest—without knowing it—when I was a very little kid, and now as an adult I am getting really into it.
You mentioned you were learning about things like Fibonacci but now you’re more serious about trading. I’m curious about how it progressed. Could you tell me the style you started trading with and how you trade now?
At the beginning I was studying fundamental analysis, but I didn’t like it that much. Then I went to Fibonacci and I started learning about tape reading, supply and demand systems. I mean, I study everything; market profile, volume profile. Now my style of trading is based on liquidity maps and tape reading, mixed with supply and demand zones and volume profile.
Today I trade the S&P 500 only. I’m exploring gold now, but mainly the S&P 500. That’s how I trade: day trading using these three tools.
So you’re not a scalper, you’re a day trader?
Yes, I’m a day trader. I don’t scalp that much. I still have problems in terms of taking profits, so I am more of a day trader. I scalp sometimes when it gives me some great profit opportunities, but I’m going for the long day runs, let’s say.
You mention that you still struggle with taking profits. What would you say is your biggest weakness that you’re working on right now?
Right now, that’s taking profits and the basics. Sometimes I let my losses get too big, so that’s still my big struggle in trading.
Once we interviewed an ex-pilot and he said that trading is similar to flying. Would you say that trading is more similar to being a naval officer, a lawyer or a personal trainer?
I think it’s the same with flying, because as a naval officer I had naval pilot friends, and they say when you fly, the most dangerous time of the flight is when you take off and when you land. This is the same. The execution is the most dangerous time, taking profits is similar to landing.
Being a naval officer, yeah. Because of the risk. I wanted to serve in the special forces, like the SBS in the UK or the Navy Seals in the US. I don’t want to say “good”, but I am capable of taking risks.
One of the first things they teach you in the Navy is that you have to be aggressive, doing everything you can to win the war with all you have. The second thing is that you always have to be thinking one, two steps ahead. Trading is the same. When you enter your trade, you have to know where you’re getting in and out. I’m not always following that, I’m working on that right now with trading psychology. Because since I’m not that risk-averse, sometimes I don’t care. So that’s why I’m struggling with that.
Being a personal trainer is also similar. It’s discipline. You have to trust the process. I am making a workout plan for a friend, and I told him, “You have to follow the plan. I don’t care about your results now. You have to do the exercises perfectly and follow the process.”
We had a poll on Twitter a few months ago and most people said execution is the most difficult aspect of trading for them. Is it more of a psychological thing? How would you describe the issue with executing a plan?
I think it’s a psychological thing because of greed and fear. When I talk about execution, I mean the whole process. It’s not that hard to pull the trigger. But to keep the process, that’s the hard part for me. I think that’s because of psychological things. Greed, mainly greed. I have no doubt about it.
Nobody likes losing money, of course, so you feel that. And greed too. I want more sometimes, so that’s why I make it difficult for myself.
How are you working on that? Do you keep a trading journal?
Yes, but mainly what I do for that is I meditate in two ways. I practice being in that place where I’m feeling I have to close a position but I don’t want to, so I go to that mental stress state of mind and I practice executing it in my mind. The other way is where I repeat some rules from Mark Douglas in my mind.
Mindfulness is about the here and the now. When you trade and you make mistakes, it’s because you are thinking in the past or the future. If you want to learn to meditate for trading, you first have to learn to trade for the here and now. So first you have to learn how to meditate. When you know that, when you are able to connect with the moment right now, you can direct your meditation to trading. So you can put the “here and now” in the future, when you are feeling stressed, when you don’t want to close a position—you go to that moment mentally, and you practice and you act willingly to close the position. You have to find 3 minutes during the day to meditate. It’s very important, it’s even more important than your system.
As for the journal, yes, but I’m not that disciplined on that either. My journaling is different in that I draw my levels at the ETH open and then register the price behavior until the next session, recording that and every session in Bookmap. Then I study both.
The visualization technique you use sounds like something athletes use as well.
Yeah, that’s one of the most useful tools I have. When I do that, I perform better. No doubt about it.
Could you tell people how that works, how you do it?
Very simple. First of all you have to know how you feel when you’re stressed and you have to get out of a trade. I recognize that state of mind, that feeling. When I have a minute or two, I go there in my mind. I say, “Okay, I’m feeling stressed”, and I go and close the trade in my mind. Simple as that.
The other way, when I’m repeating this kind of mantra—the rules of Mark Douglas—is the same. When I have a minute of calmness before or after trading—it’s better when I do it before trading—I close my eyes, I breathe slowly two or three times, then I start repeating these rules from Mark Douglas. One, two, three, four, five times. Backwards, and then normally. [He laughs.] And that helps you see the bigger picture. It doesn’t take more than 15 minutes.
I used this when I did my bar exam to become a lawyer. People get very nervous about it. I said to myself, “When teachers are asking you questions, the more they pressure you, the more calm you feel.” I was trying that in my mind, and when I went there to do the bar exam, people told me, “You are happy, you are calm, you are not nervous.” They noticed that, and it was because of meditation. So if it works with a bar exam, I know it’s gonna work in trading. It’s very useful.
So how do you use Bookmap? Is it purely for liquidity levels or do you have a favorite indicator?
I use it first of all as a liquidity indicator that gives me the targets. Then I use the Cumulative Volume Delta that also tells me the direction.
I use the VWAP in two ways: to learn the direction, the strength of the direction, and sometimes as an entry point or to get out of trades when my pivots that I take from the Volume Profile when they are not that clear or there is not much liquidity in the liquidity map.
I also use the Quotes Counter to know what the market is trying to do. So sometimes when they are refreshing the ask, I know they don’t wanna go up, they wanna go down. Or the opposite. Or when they pass this refreshed heavy volume, I know that it’s going to become support after being resistance.
Now my main tool is Bookmap. I only trade the pivots from the Volume Profile and the entries from supply and demand. But what I’m watching most of the time is Bookmap.
It wasn’t like that at the beginning. At the beginning it was technical analysis, head and shoulders and all that. Then I became more and more of a day trader, so I can watch the nuances of the market with how the orders are arranged or you know, when the big orders only belong to one trader. I use all that to know if it is real, if they are spoofing. I use all those ways in Bookmap to know what the intention of the big players are.
Could you tell us a favorite setup of yours, or something you like to see before you enter a trade?
Yeah, it’s very simple. I can watch liquidity, and there is sometimes liquidity from one side to another; something that I discovered from observation. Sometimes for me it’s clear, and when it’s clear, I go full force on that. Sometimes Bookmap shows you bigger liquidity in some places rather than others, and I go there, to the big liquidity.
I’m gonna give you my secret. [He laughs.] When you have big imbalances in the book, when it’s going to one side and the book is going the same side but in a big amount, I’m going full force on that. But you have to have CVD with it, you have to have book imbalances. Of course you never say it’s 100%, but it’s never failed. So far. [He laughs.]
Liquidity and CVD for me is the main tool. If you have good liquidity in some places but CVD is not with you, that means it’s not ready to go there. So when you have CVD with you, I mean the slope is going up, then it’s going there. That’s one of my favorite setups in Bookmap.
Do you ever look for divergence in the CVD?
Yes. For example, the day before yesterday, before the FOMC. Price was going up, but the CVD was down and I said, “Yeah, price is going up, but the CVD is going down, so I’m going with it.” It was still green, but the slope was going down. So this may go down, and when it got to some supply zone, it went back to a liquidity zone I recognised. So yes, I use divergences.
For me, liquidity and CVD are the most important tools. For example, if the CVD is red but the slope is going up, okay, it’s going. It’s not about whether it’s above zero or not, it’s about the slope. If it’s going up, it’s going up.
What would be the first thing you tell yourself if you were teaching yourself, a student from 3 years ago?
It’s redundant advice. I would say, “Rodrigo, follow the advice of the good traders”. So from there you get “keep your losses small, let your winners run.” That basically means control risk.
To become a good trader, you have to stick to the process and keep your losses small. Be disciplined. You can do a lot with that.