Happy Friday, y’all!!! Exciting news…
Last week I rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange!!!! Woot woot! I mean, ding ding ding! 🔔
It happened last Friday, Dec 3rd. Here’s a picture below… I’m the guy in the back right under the cool owl logo. (BTW — I’m 6 foot 2, and standing on a platform! Usually I’m the tallest guy everywhere I go, but compared to these giants I look tiny!)
Before I tell you all the details and stuff, first I gotta give a massive THANK YOU to the legends who invited me… Taylor and Brett Sohns from LifeGoal Investments! (These are the dudes I met at FinCon a few months back and made a small angel investment with). Also, thanks to my awesome wife for letting me fly off to the other side of the country to party on Wall St. She is the best!
OK, here’s how it all went down…
Getting Invited to Ring the NYSE Bell
Bell ringing ceremonies happen twice each trading day, when the market opens and closes. The NYSE only invites listed companies to ring the bell (and sometimes non profits), so it’s a pretty big deal to be invited.
It’s also kind of a last minute thing… I’m sure some of the larger ceremonies (like when a company goes IPO) are planned well in advance. But for us they only gave ~48 hours notice! It was last Wednesday when we got the invite call, so I packed my bags that night and flew to New York the next morning.
As I mentioned before, LifeGoal Investments was the company that invited me. They launched some ETF’s in September on the NYSE, and their flagship product is very unique, called the Home Down Payment Investment ETF [Ticker: HOM]. Since this ETF is the first of its kind (you can learn what’s inside it here), the exchange wanted to host a celebration for LifeGoal and have a bell ringing ceremony.
It’s a bit random how I got invited… When I picture events like this, I imagine invites going out to select bigwigs, important clients, and other fancy suits. Truth be told, I was really nervous because I don’t really fit in with those crowds. I barely own formal clothes! (Don’t tell anyone 🤫 but I had to dust closet mold off of an old suit I stole from my brother 10 years ago — it’s the only respectable thing in my closet that I could wear there! Gross, I know.)
Anyway, the celebration with LifeGoal turned out to be very different than what I expected… The founders mostly invited their close friends and family, because that’s who they wanted to celebrate with. Here’s another pic below, you’ll see founders/brothers Taylor and Brett are standing in the very front and their proud Mum is right in the middle! Most of the others were old childhood friends from the small town they grew up in. A very fun and wholesome group! I’m proud to call them friends 😊.
And, Brett brought his wife and baby… who has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen!
I think NYSE allows you to invite as many people as you want to the ceremony, but only ~15 or so can fit up on the balcony when the bell rings. The rest hang down on the trading floor.
Checking in, the lobby, the ceremony…
The NYSE is located on Wall Street in the lower part of Manhattan. Outside the building there’s a large roped off area with a red carpet leading to the main entrance. The party starts about 1 hour before the bell rings, so we got there about 3pm EST.
You might recognize a couple faces of our friends in the PF community…
Once you enter the lobby, there’s a fancy check in station with custom made badges for everyone. These badges are modeled after those worn by traders to display their NYSE member numbers. They’re made out of metal which makes it a cool little souvenir we all get to keep 🙂
Everyone had funny nicknames assigned. Mine was just “The Blogger”, which was nice because people then understood why I was asking all the dumb questions 😂
I wish I took photos of the lobby area! Just imagine a sleek and modern museum, with long hallways displaying historic archives and art. The NYSE opened in 1792 (and moved into its current building in 1903) so there’s a ton of artifacts and fun history to learn about.
After the lobby, everyone was ushered into a large convention room to have some snacks and drinks. There were massive video displays on all the walls, each displaying the LifeGoal Investments logo with welcome and congratulations messages. A few representatives from NYSE were there to give speeches, present awards to Brett and Taylor Sohns, and tell us more history about the bell ceremonies.
At about 3.50pm, everyone was then taken up to the trading floor…
Trading Floor, Bell Ringing and Fun Facts
The trading floor looks exactly like what you’d think it does – just like in the movies. Flashing lights, computer monitors everywhere, and people bustling about. Except there was no yelling like I hoped to see. Maybe because it was a Friday afternoon and everyone was winding down after a long day – sadly, the market went down about -1% that day 😭. Here’s a pano pic of the trading floor.
Did you know… Prior to a bell, the NYSE actually used a Chinese gong to sound the opening and closing of the markets!? It was in 1903 when they switched to bells. There are actually 4 loud bells, covering each area of the trading floor. They all ring synchronously, controlled by a master switch/bell on the balcony podium.
Here’s more cool history on the NYSE Bell.
About 2-3 minutes before 4pm, a NYSE representative took us upstairs to the bell balcony. He gave us some last-minute instructions of which buttons to press, when to hammer the gavel, and the bell timing. My job was to just clap continuously for 60 seconds, and then cheer loudly when the market closed. Here’s a 1 min YouTube video!
After ringing the bell, people can hang and take photos on the balcony for a bit. But before leaving, right behind the balcony there’s a hallway of stairs with white walls. Everyone stops here and has a chance to sign their name on the wall with a sharpie.
I had a quick look through the names but didn’t recognize any famous ones. Nevertheless, it’s fun to sign my name next to others who were celebrating IPOs or big company milestones.
Trip Costs and Travel
I am the luckiest guy in the world. Believe it or not, this entire trip cost me about $108.
Flights were booked with AMEX reward points from travel hacking with credit cards. I ate for free at the airport Centurion lounges in DFW and LGA on both travel days. (I have access to the lounges as part of my Amex Platinum card.)
My first hotel night was an annual IHG rewards night which was going to expire at the end of the year anyway. The other hotel night was comped by the LifeGoal team, and so was the dinner and lunch on Friday.
The $108 I did spend was for Uber trips, catching the subway, and a few random beers and pizza slices while we were out. Gotta have pizza while in NY!
All in all, it was a crazy 72 hours I’ll never forget.
Thank you again and CONGRATULATIONS to the LifeGoal Investments team. Never in a million years would I imagine I’d be a part of such a rare event.
If any of y’all get an opportunity to ring the bell one day, take it! Even if it costs money and it’s last minute, it’s worth it!
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!