When I was 17, I experimented with pork chop sideburns and spent a lot of time on political chat rooms shout-typing at others. Mohammed Islam, who has been called ‘The Teen Wolf of Wall Street’, spends his time growing his vast fortune while playing the stock market. Clearly, we have taken different roads to glory.
Mohammed Islam is only 17 and still months away from graduating — but worth a rumored $72 million. “The high eight figures,” is as specific as the shy and modest teen would get when asked his net worth.
Islam bought himself a BMW but doesn’t have a license to drive it. And he rented a Manhattan apartment, though his parents, immigrants from the Bengal region of South Asia, won’t let him move out of the house yet.
Still, the cherubic prodigy is living, and dreaming, large.
“What makes the world go round?” Islam asked in the interview, explaining his preference for trading and investment over startups. “Money. If money is not flowing, if businesses don’t keep going, there’s no innovation, no products, no investments, no growth, no jobs.”
Clearly, this young man is both wise beyond his years and ambitious beyond our limp imaginations.
“We want to create a brotherhood. Like, all of us who are connected, who are in something together, who have influence.”
“Like the Koch brothers,” he added, referring to sibling oil magnates Charles and David, worth $40 billion each.
I’m gonna let that last line linger in the air for a moment like the smell of fresh squeezed apple juice and caviar, which Mohammed and his two cohorts spent $400 on during their interview with New York Magazine.
The interview is filled with a bunch of interesting tidbits about this 17-year-old’s incredible journey, as well as a moment where one of the guys quotes Oliver Stone’s Wall Street like he’s sitting on a couch with Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel in Boiler Room, but the best part is when he describes his earlier stumbles in the market… as a 9-year-old.
Islam’s biggest inspiration, though, is Paul Tudor Jones, a billionaire hedge-funder and private asset manager from Connecticut who ranks as 108th-richest American, according to Forbes.
Battered by losses, Jones would jump back in the game again and again. It was a lesson Islam found instructive when, while dabbling in penny stocks at age 9, he lost a chunk of the money he’d made tutoring. Islam swore off trading, realizing, “I didn’t have the balls for it,” he said.
Fortunately, he turned to studying modern finance, reading up on the titans of trading and ultimately finding inspiration in Jones. “I had been paralyzed by my loss,” Islam remembered of his 9-year-old self.
When I think of what an emotionally paralyzed 9-year-old must look like after he loses his entire allowance on penny stocks, I imagine a dark room that is absent the glow of cartoons from the television. An uneaten Lunchable on the table next to a Power Ranger action figure that can’t numb the pain of learning that market stability, like the tooth fairy, is a lie.
I guess that’s where me and Mohammed Islam differ. When I was 9, I lost everything on POG futures and I clearly never recovered. So with that unfaded paralysis still limiting my appreciation of risk and my capacity for success, I say chase down those stars for the ones like me, Mohammed!