The Van Tharp Institute Core Super Trader Program
The ultimate program for traders who are committed to being the best
The mission of the Super Trader program is to not only transform your trading but also your life. To accomplish that mission, you will commit to investing a substantial amount of your time, money, and effort over the next few years.
Regardless of your previous trading experience, you will work together with Dr. Tharp to define specific objectives for you to meet during the program and together you will also create a customized curriculum to help you reach those objectives.
Most people just want to make a lot of money while doing very little work. That’s generally the case and especially true for many people who start trading. Invariably, they find out that trading is much harder than they ever anticipated and move on to flipping houses or multi-level marketing or some other venture. A few of the people who start trading, however, stick with the idea of becoming successful in the markets and begin a quest – eventually finding the Van Tharp Institute. By that point, this small group has separated themselves from the masses looking for “easy money” in the markets, as they know it’s not going to be easy. Our clients are looking for what works in the markets and they probably have some sense that finding success in trading may require a new level of personal awareness.
So much of our training does not involve charts, indicators, entry signals but instead involves working on yourself. Why? Because that is the foundation for helping you improve your results in the market – regardless of the indicator or entry you decide to use. Our goal for all of our clients, however, is much larger than becoming just a profitable trader, it is for you to experience radical personal transformation which will:
- Make you happy for no reason;
- Enrich you with extreme abundance;
- Teach you how you create your own life so that you can create everything you want.
Benefits of the Super Trader Program
Obtaining this kind of transformation requires work and commitment. As I mentioned earlier, however, most people want to make a lot of money and only do a little work – which makes marketing our products very challenging in many ways. We do not promise trading is an easy way to make lots of money (you have seen the infomercials). We do, however, promise you can improve your whole life and improve your performance in the markets by using models that have helped top traders become incredibly successful in the markets. So, what can we do to convince people we can help? Tony Robbins had good advice in this area when he said, “I teach people what they want in order to be able to teach them what they need.”
I just wrote a book on self-motivation titled, MotiMaps: The Definitive Guide to Self-Motivation and Getting Your Dream Life. Several of the Super Trader lessons involve mastering the material in this book. I talk about your wants in life having a lot to do with your values. Most people might say that they want a lot of money, some good friends, and a great spouse. For many of them, money comes ahead of everything – though maybe not to the extreme as John D. Rockefeller. When his net worth was about 20% of the US GDP, an interviewer asked him, “Now that you have so much money, what do you want now?” His response was, “More.”
That’s the way many people think – “I need more money.” I have heard people ask something like – if Van is such an expert on trading success, why doesn’t he just make a lot of money instead of teaching traders? That question originates in people who hold the assumption that everyone (including me) wants a lot of money more than anything else. Lots of money is not my top value. I want Self-Transformation and I want to help others achieve what I’ve achieved. I live quite well. From March through July of 2019 I made profits of a half-million dollars just investing in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. And then October-November 2020, I made $3 million in about seven weeks investing in cryptos.
Most investment newsletters generate much higher sales than the Van Tharp Institute because they appeal to low levels of consciousness such as fear and greed. They blast you with seven or more emails a week (sometimes several emails a day) and then they have their affiliates do the same thing. You might receive ten emails with the fear-inducing headline, “New legislation on September 23rd will devastate retirement accounts – but some people will make a lot of money by knowing insider secrets. Get the special report that tells it all for free with your $495 subscription to our newsletter.”
Greed-based headlines are a little better. They read something like – “New legislation allows the average guy to make a fortune and we’re about to share those secrets with you. Investment Guru Joe Smith will share his Wall Street knowledge in this webinar where he’ll show you how to make 100 times your money in a very secret area that few people know about.” On the webinar, Joe then reveals one of his top picks. Again, you get twenty emails about the webinar in a week, and perhaps 100,000 people sign up for the webinar. If 5% of those attending pay $2,500 for the newsletter, then that works out to $6.25M in revenue and a very healthy margin. The saddest part of this everyday scenario, however, happens when most people who subscribe to these newsletters discover that they lack either the knowledge or the mental capabilities to profit much from the advice being given.
I’m saying all of this because we want to promise you what you want and, in the process, we will also give you what you really need. Not through fear or greed but with openness and integrity.
That said, in order to help more clients transform their trading and their life for the better sometimes require change, therefore, we have added some huge modifications to the Super Trader Program in the last few years. These changes:
- Give you access to Core Insights from my modeling with great traders.
- Allow you to do a one-year Foundation Program that will enable you to decide if the next step, the Super Trader Awakening Program is right for you, while at the same time, get as much as you can out of the one-year program which might be all you are looking for right now.
- Give you access to VTI’s cryptocurrency systems.
- Minimize the hours required to less than 500 hours – that’s less than 2 hours per day on average for the first year. Compare that to about 2,000 hours in lessons over three years for the “full” Core ST Program.
- Help you clarify and understand your trading objectives (which is 50% of systems development).
- Help you master position sizing strategies so that you can meet your objectives.
- Expose you to some of the basic transformations that are necessary to become a great trader. And, for some people, that might be all you need.
- Offer the opportunity to get some one-on-one coaching from one of our primary instructors, RJ Hixson.
- And give you all of this for about half the price of a single day of my coaching.
This new program started as an experiment. It has been working really well, so we are now making it the gateway into our full Super Trader Program. You have to complete this tier first before you can do the rest. This way, you can be sure the program is right for you and we can be sure that you will actually complete the program.
The Core Of The Super Trader Program
The primary mission of the Van Tharp Institute (VTI) is Self-Awareness through a trading metaphor. The Super Trader Program is the most comprehensive and effective way we achieve our mission. We are only able to accept a limited number of motivated and qualified students into this program each year. Becoming a Super Trader is so much more than just figuring out how to be a more profitable trader. In fact, most students in our Super Trader program say that their personal transformations were as important or more important than the improvements in their trading/financial performance. We are honored to be such an important part of these journeys and the development of great traders – Super Traders.
The program itself is designed around the core elements that must be mastered in order to trade at the highest levels. As my research has proven, several elements are required for traders to ensure consistent long-term success in the markets – transforming one’s self, treating trading as a business, and developing trading systems that fit you.
All of the elements for trading success come down to awareness. No matter what market you choose or what system you are using – trading is 100% about awareness. Your beliefs, mental states, and mental strategies all inform the outcome of your time and efforts in the markets. For example, at the most basic level, the task of executing a trade involves the following mental strategy:
1) Seeing the signal for you to open a position.
2) Recognizing that signal is your entry signal.
3) Feeling good about it, and then…
4) Acting on it by opening a position.
If you were to change that sequence just a little, even by hesitating to ask yourself what could go wrong, then you are likely to imagine something going wrong which would then interfere with good feelings about the trade which could prevent you from taking action at the appropriate time. Notice that even the action phase of trading is internal. Because trading is a result of your inner maps of the world, anything that’s not useful or that creates a block will show up in aspects of your trading – and these prevent you from being successful. Non-useful maps of the world impact peoples’ personal lives as well but the markets are an especially expensive place to learn about them. Out of the entire Super Trader Program, the Self-Awareness phase typically takes the longest time to complete.
As you become more aware, then you can move into the second phase of the Super Trader Program. Here, you start to bring into focus your desires for your life and how you would like to really live. You may have had a number of ideas about what you want to be, to do, and to have in your life but now you will begin to transform those ideas into a plan – an actionable plan for creating your dream life. Your dream life will integrate your trading as one component, a component which will need more development.
During almost 40 years of experience as a trading coach, Dr. Tharp has found that successful traders treat trading like a business. Many traders tend to trade as a hobby rather than approach it as a profession. Treating your trading as a business helps you cultivate discipline and a professional approach which fosters consistent and profitable trading.
Most people who want to run a successful business know that they need a thorough business plan – and trading is no exception. A business plan acts as a guide for everything involved with that business, and this applies equally if not more to a trading business.
Finally, traders need positive expectancy systems that meet two critical criteria – the systems fit them well and the systems work in appropriate market types. To develop and trade these kinds of systems, Super Trader students must develop a thorough understanding of –
- The parts of a trading system,
- The systems development process,
- The kinds of systems that truly fit them, and
- How different systems work in different market types.
To graduate from the Super Trader Program, students must demonstrate knowledge and application of that knowledge in the markets as evidenced by live trading results.
The answer really gets to the heart of what the Van Tharp Institute is all about. Our mission is “transformation through a trading metaphor.” And if you believe that you create your entire experience, or at least the meaning you give to that experience, then you must personally transform to become a Super Trader at some level.
Before I answer the question, I want to talk about the roles with which I like to identify so you can have a better understanding of what this is all about. Please refer to this article to learn more.
VTI guarantees all of our products and workshops; however, we provide no refunds and no guarantees for the Super Trader Program. Why? We have two reasons. First, you should only apply for the Super Trader Program once you are certain of the quality of our services. Most commonly, traders enroll in the program only after they have completed a home study course and attended one or more workshops. They have experienced the quality of our programs first-hand and have no doubts about the value we deliver in our training. Second, I (Dr. Tharp) only want to coach people who are completely committed to becoming great traders. It can be difficult to judge someone’s true level of commitment before admittance to the program. If you feel like you need to have a refund policy, the Super Trader program probably isn’t right for you just yet—or maybe it’s not for you at all. However, unlike the prior structure of the program, you are only committing to a year of the program at a time.
That being said, we know that life happens, and we try to take that into account during your participation in any of our longer-term programs. If you need to take time off from working on your trading, we make allowances for that, called sabbaticals. Sabbaticals must be submitted in writing at least two weeks prior to your requested start date. Dr. Tharp will approve or disapprove all sabbatical applications submitted. However, we are only asking you to commit to one year at a time rather than pay for three years upfront, so if you foresee lots of time conflicts, then wait until it's a more appropriate time for you.
We are always available to help you in your journey to trading success—when you do your part. When you enroll in the Super Trader Program, you commit to a significant investment of your time and money. It is then up to you how you delegate your time. If you spend your time doing other things instead of working on yourself or your systems, you are responsible for that choice and its consequences. Activities outside the focus area of commitment to the Super Trader Program are not considered an acceptable reason for taking a sabbatical.
Acceptable Reasons for Sabbatical
- Serious health problem of you or an immediate family member.
- Death in your immediate family (spouse or child).
- A natural disaster.
- Special circumstances with my (Dr. Tharp’s) approval.
- At my (Dr. Tharp’s) recommendation.
Unacceptable Reasons for Sabbaticals
- You want to take a vacation.
- You have relatives visiting.
- You want to take time off to do other programs.
- You decide you are not committed to trading or the program. We do not allow students to take a sabbatical for this reason, but you are only committing for a year at a time.
- You have one of the legitimate reasons listed above but you didn’t tell me (Dr. Tharp) or my staff about it until the event already happened.
Trading great systems at 95% efficiency is one of the requirements for graduation, but it’s not the objective of the program. The objective of the program is massive personal transformation a big shift in awareness (i.e. consciousness). We’d like for each Super Trader eventually to score consistently 80+ on the happiness test and students who have completed Super Trader Awakening frequently do score that high consistently. When you achieve this sort of transformation, anything is possible, including being able to trade great systems at better than 95% efficiency.
The program is not a good fit for everyone. From a practical standpoint, you need to have sufficient capital for the program to make financial sense. In addition, with the new program level structure, Super Trader Foundation is a prerequisite for the program. I (Dr. Tharp) want to assess your receptivity to certain ideas. In Super Trader Foundation the one required workshop is Peak Performance 101. If you are not receptive to what we teach in that workshop, then the next level, Super Trader Awakening, may not be a good fit for you. By the time you finish Super Trader Foundation you will have a better idea if you’d like to move to the next, more challenging level.
The program is a lot of work and some of it is very, very challenging. We look for total commitment. Totally committed people always seem to reach their objectives regardless of obstacles.
If you have $200,000 or more to trade, then this program can make a lot of sense. You could easily save the cost of the program by simply learning how to avoid a few large losses. Furthermore, it is our intention that you will be able to recoup the total cost of the program within a few years.
If you have $50,000 to $100,000, then this program probably doesn’t make financial sense. Instead, take the time to learn about, and achieve, financial freedom. However, we look at each application carefully and may decide on a case-by-case basis to allow the student to enter if there are extenuating circumstances. That being said, ST Foundation by itself may make sense for people with limited capital.
During Super Trader Foundation and then Super Trader Awakening, we want you to focus on "first things first". Doing systems work or trading before you are psychologically ready means you will take more time to finish the program. If you normally spend 20 hours a week on your psychological work, attending one in-person workshop (about 24 in-class hours over three days—not to mention travel time!) will “cost” more than a week’s worth of work from your psychological assignments. Not only will that lengthen the time it takes you to finish the Super Trader levels 1 and 2 requirements, but you’ll also find your trading will continue to suffer because you are developing systems that contain all of the biases that you have not yet overcome. We have had several students enter the Super Trader program, attend lots of technical workshops, procrastinate or totally avoid the awareness assignments, and then wonder why they can’t trade very well. If you are truly committed to becoming a Super Trader in every sense of the term, then you have to do your transformational work first.
Super Trader Awakening members can still attend technical workshops – for a discounted fee and some have done so. However, note that later you do not get credits on these workshops which are not part of the program you are currently taking.
In addition, our technical workshops are given by outside vendors who have their own programs. Even the workshops that are totally free to STs require us to pay those vendors for your attendance. As a result, we’ve primarily decided to give discounts for those programs and have them exist more as outside programs that are available to STs. Three of our outside vendors (Chuck Whitman, Dr. Ken Long, and Gabriel Grammatidis) all have their own coaching/mentoring programs, but they tend to only work with VTI students.
There are now two distinct levels of achievement for the program: completion of your transformations and graduation. Completing the lessons in ST Foundation and ST Awakening, and documenting five major transformational changes in your life as part of Super Trader Awakening elevates you to “completion” status. This phase has usually helped people achieve the objective of massive personal transformation. People who have completed Super Trader 1 tend to say that what happened to them during this phase is priceless.
After completing Super Trader Awakening, however, you are still nowhere near graduating the program. To become a graduate, a Super Trader has to create a business handbook and have actively traded three approved trading systems at a very high-efficiency level.
What you learn in the program could help you trade other people’s money and help you manage your clients. However, I have not structured the program to teach you how to set up a money management business. Our emphasis is on awareness and efficient, mistake-free trading – which would certainly benefit anyone who wants to manage other people’s money – which some of my former Super Traders have gone on to do.
No, not anymore. I trade my own retirement funds but I no longer place money with others.
About half of the people in the Super Trader program right now live overseas. Recently, we have had seven Super Traders from Australia, six from various countries in Asia, one from South America, and a number of STs from Europe.
All workshops in 2020 and going forward will be delivered through Zoom and will available to watch later on a delayed basis. Therefore, where you live should not be a problem.
We take several measures to ease the burden of long-distance travel on our international Super Traders. First, much of the information exchange for the program can be done by email and Zoom. We also have an online collaboration website for the Super Traders, which is always available, regardless of location. Libby Adams’ Academy of Self-Knowledge 28-day course is also done by Zoom.
When people are working on their personal issues, they run into obstacles. Many are not willing to work through the obstacles and instead they dance around them. Because of this, they could take years of working on their own to do what could be done in one year with a coach and a structured program. We now give our candidates a year in ST Foundation to see if doing this sort of work is right for them, or not.
See the section on Refunds and Sabbaticals, which includes details on the two opportunities you have to leave the program, should something major arise.
Right now there are several workshops that Dr. Tharp is directly involved with (Peak Performance 101, Oneness, Systems Thinking, Mental Strategies, and Infinite Wealth), but we are looking to make sure we have backups for him for these workshops in the future. We have recorded copies of each of those workshops with the exception of Oneness.
We have about five people now who can coach you through the ST Foundation lessons. These include RJ Hixson, Edward Mercado, Garcia Rosslow, Bruce Walicek, and Rui Luo. At present, Dr. Tharp does all the coaching in ST Awakening.
There are risks to everything, and this is a risk you would be taking. In the event that something happened to Dr. Tharp, you have the option to simply stop payments if you were to feel disadvantaged by continuing the program. Our company has been working actively to provide a lot of structure to the program and have others begin to help Dr. Tharp with the Super Traders so that they could continue in the program if anything happened to Van in the near term. For example, we now have five ST Foundation coaches.
First, I own the business and because the company has no mandatory retirement age, I don’t have any requirement to retire.
Furthermore, I have no desire to retire. I have the freedom to do only what I love to do so I feel like I’m already living the ultimate retirement. All aspects of the business that I don’t want to be involved in have been handled by a very capable staff for a number of years already.
Most of our Super Traders who have completed the first half of the program would argue that the benefits of the lessons alone are well worth the price for the entire program. You get all of that in just the first two years.
In addition, the Van Tharp Institute is already in a position where we can function well, no matter what role Van elects to take.
For the last several years, Dr. Tharp has been recommending that STs start a Sri Vidya meditation practice which is a Siddha Yoga program done through Stuart Mooney. (Stuart teaches a session annually at the ST Summit.) To find out more information about this program, please visit www.americansiddha.com. As with the oneness blessings, Sri Vidya is entirely an optional part of the ST program.
There is no particular requirement that says you have to move in this direction, but some of the biggest transformations in the program come from adopting useful spiritual beliefs.
This question is a little difficult to answer because an official “graduation” like we have now was not part of the program a few years back.
For a long time, Super Traders were allowed to just attend all of our workshops for two years and work with me to solve any issues they felt they needed to address. They determined what they wanted and needed from the program. There was neither an official completion point nor a graduate status like we have today. People were happy with two years of exposure to our programs and my coaching.
In about 2008, I started adding Super Trader lessons and completion requirements to the program. In 2009, we developed the separate ideas of completion and then a level of achievement beyond simply “doing all the lessons” to complete the program. One year later, we came up with the strong criteria for graduation and that’s what you are reading about now.
Since 2009, we have had over 70 Super Traders officially complete the Awakening portion of the program. Some people get to that point and are very happy with their transformed lives and trade on their own or go on to other projects. For example, one person is writing a novel, another is focused on developing a food business – though both still trade. Others want to achieve the level of trading required for Super Trader graduation. Since 2018, we have 12 names on the “Super Trader Graduate” plaque in our training room. More are added each year. We currently have at least 10 people who could graduate at any time.
First, the 95% efficient trade criterion is not the overall objective of the program. The overall objective is a massive transformation and heightened awareness. I make that clear in Trading Beyond the Matrix.
Second, this question assumes that 95% trading efficiency is a stumbling block, but it’s not. Personal issues are the stumbling block. By the time candidates have documented five significant transformations, overcoming trading mistakes are truly minor problems. However, for traders who haven’t made the kind of massive transformation expected in Super Trader Awakening, overcoming mistakes can be a huge issue.
Third, most of the people who completed the program but didn’t graduate seemed to just stop doing Super Trader work after the two-year program in the past or after finishing Super Trader level 1 now. Those who stopped, for the most part, have been very happy with their accomplishments. For example, a local real estate businessman went through the old program and said he was the only developer among his regional peers who did not go bankrupt in 2008/2009. He credits the survival and growth of his business to what he learned in the Super Trader Program. Even though he never completed the entire psychological portion of the program, he came back to our office two years later to explore creating a program like Super Trader 1 for people in professions outside of trading. His story says a lot to us about the effectiveness of the program in helping people transform their lives.
Of those Super Traders whose business plans and systems I have approved, probably 70% of them reach graduation. There’s been only one person for whom the specific 95% efficiency criteria proved to be the identifiable roadblock for graduation. He had met all of the graduation criteria in less than 18 months – except for the 95% trading efficiency. He then decided to withdraw from the program and just trade his own way at that point. He’s probably doing much better than he ever could have without having completed all of the Super Trader work.
After graduation, Super Traders no longer have to turn in any results. Because they have graduated from the program, however, these traders understand the importance of high-efficiency trading and they also have the knowledge about how to resolve any trading problems that arise. Trading successfully is an exercise in internal control and they have already tackled far more challenging tasks simply by completing Super Trader level one and meeting the graduation criteria.
With the new level structure, entry has fewer prerequisites. Submit your application to [email protected] I (Dr. Tharp) will review your application.
He will look for the depth of your commitment, the strength of your discipline, and your willingness to do the psychological work that ensures success in this program. In addition, the program should make financial sense for you.
Yes! We are happy to help you make a sound decision about your next steps!
Feel free to email [email protected]
Have A Question?
Please don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to your questions and wish you the very best in your trading endeavors