Gifts From Van: Part Two

A big thank you goes to all of you who are reading this newsletter.

We have two more weeks to continue this publication. As in our previous issue we will take this time to feature VTI team members, partners, instructors and Super Trader coaches as we share our Gifts from Van with you. Our final message, next week, on November 15th will have an article from RJ Hixson and a final Gifts from Van message from Kala Tharp.

We continue today with Part Two, of Gifts from Van.

Strong Connections

The biggest gift Van gave me was the connection between personal growth and trading in a way that fosters technical excellence in a community of practice.

That sentence packs a lot in a few words so let’s break it down starting with personal growth. When I first met Van, I had some years of personal growth work and while that was very inspiring, I had never connected the work to my trading. Van was the first person to reveal the strong connection between these two worlds and he helped me integrate these two areas of life. What a difference that connection has made!

As for technical excellence, I was a losing trader when I first met Van. I had studied with other traders but had only ever lost money trading. The depth and expertise I found in Van’s works and experienced first-hand in the Super Trader Program helped me transform from a losing trader to a winning trader. Finally, Van encouraged a community of practice around trading which was new and refreshing for me. Previously, I had found trading to be a lonely endeavor and had no idea what a difference like-minded practitioners sharing the journey made along the way.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t met Van and met all of the traders and students he attracted. Thank you, Van, for the difference you have made in my life and in the lives of so many! Your legacy lives on in our minds and hearts.

Bill Scheidt

Applied Finance Research

Systems Lab Inc.

Super Trader Program Member


Is That Useful?

I learned so much over many decades from Van as a student and friend. A lot of that learning has become second nature now that I have practiced it for so long. Saying which one concept has been the most influential is difficult at this point.

The one concept that I use daily is, “Is that useful?”. This is in contrast to an old habit of asking “Am I right?.” I now know that beliefs are never completely true so that question is not so useful anymore.  I also used to concern myself with the question “Do I understand that?”. Now, I realize I am incapable of understanding all the workings of my universe or the markets. Instead, I can simply inquire about usefulness. I can also rid myself of non-useful beliefs which allows me to function at a much higher level.

Without Van’s influence, I am not sure I would have arrived at the powerful standard of utility but I apply it in my life every day. Once you know where you want to go, asking about usefulness keeps you on track by avoiding many unnecessary upsets and dancing with obstacles. Best of all, the usefulness question applies to every area of my life. By asking it regularly, I stop myself from believing and acting on all of my life stories that I used to think were facts.

For just that one teaching I owe Van a huge THANKS.

Gracia Rosslow

Super Trader Member

Super Trader Coach


Career Accountant and Business Owner, Retired


More Than a Financial Venture

The most transformative gift I received from Van was a holistic framework that synergized “System Thinking,” “Awareness,” and the concept of personal growth with trading as a metaphor. Van underscored trading was much more than a financial venture; it’s a platform for self-reflection and personal transformation.

Through the act of trading, one can confront cognitive and emotional biases thereby nurturing an elevated level of personal awareness. His emphasis on “Awareness” and personal transformation truly elevated my approach and improved many aspects of my life.

He was truly a groundbreaking pioneer in the field of trading psychology and a gifted original thinker who will be missed by all of us. His body of work will live on to the benefit of everyone.

Bruce Walicek

Super Trader Member

Super Trader Coach

Managing Director, Radian


Right Place, Right Time

Just think, that temp agency could have sent you anywhere. —The Office (American Version)

If you’ve watched The Office, this exchange might bring you a laugh thinking about Ryan, the unsuspecting temp, thrown into a colorful cast of characters by pure chance.

This meme makes me smile because quite literally, that temp agency could have sent ME anywhere!

I walked through the doors of VTI for the first time almost five years ago, and unbeknownst to Van or my new colleagues, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Hot off the heels of a layoff, a breakup, and a mental health crisis (what fun!), I wasn’t exactly at my best.

But then I started working with my cast of characters. From behind the front desk, I admired a colorful lineup of self-possessed people and a quiet, mysterious man from whom I would quickly learn so much.

I kept busy as the receptionist—answering phones, shopping, restocking water bottles and battling Van over the thermostat temperature in the workshop room. When a new position opened up in the next year, VTI gave me a shot even though I was totally unqualified on paper for the role. Still, Cathy let me try. In the following months and years, this special group of people kept their faith in me. They turned into teachers and friends and supported me through a period when I needed it more than they knew.

And Van, dear Van, gave me a hundred little snippets of wisdom. He had this knack for telling me something so impactful but also so simple—things that made me ask, “Why didn’t I think of that??” Today, snippets, quotes, and reminders from Van litter a bulletin board above my desk. All of those messages and experiences at VTI add up to one gigantic gift—confidence in myself.

Landing at VTI was absolutely meant to be. That temp agency sent me to the right place where I learned that others often see you in a better light than you are willing to see yourself. I learned to be less hard on myself, surround myself with good people, and to remember to tell them how much they mean to me.

This is my thank you note to Cathy, Revathi, RJ, Kimm and, of course, Van for bringing us all together.

May the “Temp Agency of Life” send you to the right place. You never know what or who is just around the corner.

With Gratitude,


Sarah Koch

Marketing Assistant

Van Tharp Institute


On to the Next Lesson

Two of many gifts I received from Van deserve highlighting: the gift of clarity and the gift of community.

Dr. Van K. Tharp was a remarkable and soft-spoken genius whose terse messages were acute and impactful. After hearing it enough times, my favorite of his phrases was: “On to the next lesson”. When Van was approving a Super Trader lesson I had turned in, he would welcome me to a new whole and different lesson…a longer and more difficult lesson.

Van’s body of psychological work has been transformative and enlightening for me. For years, I struggled mightily (as an Engineer) trying to understand many of the psychological concepts presented by other well-known trading authors. Then, after learning to apply Van’s simple Belief Examination Paradigm in an early ST lesson, I was able to identify and resolve so many psychological and emotional roadblocks that had been with me for years. The rest of the lessons in Van’s Super Trader Program helped me develop a deeper and richer understanding of myself and trading psychology. I am forever grateful for Van’s gift of clarity in the vast world of trading psychology literature.

I also greatly appreciate Van’s timeless gift of community. Van had a way of attracting high-quality people to join him on his journey to higher levels of consciousness. I deeply enjoyed spending time with Dr. Van K. Tharp, his Super Trader community and his family. After completing a workshop, Van and his lovely wife Kala hosted dinners in their home for complete strangers. Those evenings were always a delight and I have grown close to many of those initial strangers. Now I know people all over the world whom I can truly call lifelong friends.

I am forever grateful for Van and the VTI family for the gifts of clarity and community.

“On to the next lesson.”

Edwin Mercado

Super Trader Program Member

Super Trader Coach

Firmware Architect, Intel


The Gift of Healing

The best gift I received from Van came from attending the Infinite Wealth Workshop with my dad, years ago at VTI.

I paid for the workshop as a father-son get together. We were able to reconcile that weekend after some differences of position (not just opinion) had been between us for years. Reconnecting was really precious for both of us and that state lasted for the rest of our lives.

Long after that workshop, I wrote up The Owl Meditation which was a process we had designed that weekend to help us get through challenges and difficulties. My Dad asked me to make sure that I shared it with everyone to help heal hearts and lighten spirits.

So, with that, here is The Owl Meditation. Thanks to Van and my dad, Bill Long, Sr.


Ken Long

Tortoise Captial Management

Instructor VTI (Infinite Wealth, Systems Development, Blueprint for Trading Success, Swing, Day, Core Trading Systems)


As I was coaching someone yesterday, a visualization exercise came into my mind out of nowhere which seemed to help the trader I was working with. An owl in a sacred place gave “no advice.” Rather, it shared self-knowledge, infinite patience, compassion and “no judgment.” I knew the owl would always be there. At the end of the exercise, just “get up and do the next thing that needs to be done” knowing you can always go back to that place.

I woke up to these facts:

1. I’ve been mourning my dad until Sunday without being aware of it.

2. His totem animal is the owl.

3. I’d received a gift of a priceless drum at the KC workshop for which I felt unworthy. 

3. After 20 years of doing the Tortoise work, it was time to be business-like and get out of my own way by trusting others.

4. My intention is to do this work until I am 80, which includes coaching in a self and team-empowering way.

5. I had been doing a form of this psychological exercise for years but without the spirit guide, which raised the meaning to an entirely new level.

In recognition of that moment, I offer the Owl Meditation for your consideration, written in a stream of consciousness as it came to me in a flash…

I cannot tell you how much better of a person and a father I have become practicing this over the last five years.

Thanks Dad. Keep watching.


Ken Long

Leavenworth, Kansas

June 22, 2015

The Owl Meditation

Find every positive, encouraging voice in your head and the messages each is telling you. Write a brief summary of those thoughts on one side of paper #1.

Find every negative, discouraging voice in your head and the messages each is telling you. Write a brief summary of those thoughts on one side of paper #2.

Read papers 1 and 2. When you are done, close your eyes and feel every feeling.

Write the one-word name of each feeling on the back side of each sheet of paper.

Put both papers in an envelope. Seal it.

Address it to: Your Higher Power.

Take the envelope outside, offer it as a gift of trust to your higher power.

Burn it.

Watch the smoke and where it goes…until it’s gone…

After two deep cleansing breaths, close your eyes and look inside until you see a pond at dawn or twilight with no waves.

Stillness, silence, waiting….until…

Notice the oak tree next to the pond.

Notice the owl in the tree watching you. The owl sees everything but does not judge you, nor will it ever judge you.

It is the Owl of Self-awareness, Infinite Patience, Compassion, and Understanding.

When you acknowledge that and KNOW that it is true, get up and do the next thing that needs to be done until it is time to sleep to be ready for the next day.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Meet the day with a smile, knowing you are ready for the next thing, whatever it may be.

Remember the owl and what it will do for you whenever you need it.

That’s all.

No hurry, no worry.

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