Denise Shull Profile

Denise Shull combines economic insight with psychology to explore the world of finance. A veteran of stock trading herself, she uses 21st-century psychoanalysis and cutting-edge neuroscience to examine what creates exceptional performance.

Denise began her career at the University of Chicago, researching into unconscious emotions as a driver of behavior. Her research brought her into contact with the floor traders at the Chicago Board Options Exchange and she soon made that world her own. She now lives in New York City, where she moved to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Her unique approach announced itself in her first article, “Freud’s Path to Profits”, published by SFO magazine. Since then she has written on psychological elements of trading for several prestigious publications, and her blog, Psychological Capital, is required reading for anyone interested in the intersection between psychology and the markets.

Denise’s first book, Market Mind Games, is a guide for investors that helps them to control the emotional rollercoaster of trading in order to trade better. Denise is a member of The Society for Neuroeconomics, The Social and Affective Neuroscience Society, The Society for Neuropsychoanalysis and The Author’s Guild.

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    Ms. Shull, a leader in applying cutting edge neuroscience, a student of 21st century psychoanalysis and a veteran trader herself is most notably a theoretician and thought-leader in the psychology of risk, uncertainty and exceptional performance.

    Her work began at The University of Chicago in 1993 where she researched how unconscious emotions drive behavior. When the opportunity to begin trading with floor traders from the Chicago Board Options Exchange arose, she jumped at the chance to work in markets and out of full-time academia.

    Known for her exceptional presentation style, she has presented for BNY/Mellon and the Financial Women’s Association, Quinnipiac University, US Trust, the CME Group, Battle of the Quants and many commodity brokers. She has appeared on CNBC, PBS’ Nightly Business Report, Marketwatch, Cavuto, ABC News Now, Fox’s Money for Breakfast and The Discovery Channel.

    Her first article, “Freud’s Path to Profits” was published by SFO magazine in December 2004. She has since written for AR-Absolute Return on the insider trading trial, Thompson Reuters on Madoff, CME Group on the fundamental ambiguity of markets and AllAboutAlpha on Radical Neuroeconomics. Her trader’s blog Psychological Capital is cited as one of the most thought provoking in the world of market and trading psychology.

    Her first book, MARKET MIND GAMES, is designed to help investors manage the emotional ups and downs of the trading.

    She moved to New York City in 1996 to be a head trader at the rapidly growing market-making firm Sharpe Capital before moving to the same position with a NYSE member firm. She first consulted with traders on the psychological aspects in 2003.

    Today, Denise belongs to The Society for Neuroeconomics, The Social and Affective Neuroscience Society, The Society for Neurospsychoanalysis and The Author’s Guild.

Denise Shull Speaking Videos

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Denise Shull's Speech Descriptions

Denise Shull combines her market expertise with her neuroscientific studies to analyze the new psychology of risk, demonstrating to her audience how understanding the ways in which the human mind works when trading and investing can literally pay dividends.

    The New Psychology of Risk
    This speech connects neuroscience, contextual thinking and uncertainty with the social “theory of the mind” to the financial markets and investing.

Denise Shull on Speaking

Once we learn to accept our feelings, they become much less energetic and much more informative.

SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn/take away from your presentations?

SHULL: First and foremost, the realization that their feelings aren’t bad or wrong. In their pure form, feelings and emotions are meant to help us, but they have been so demonized that many people feel guilty for the feelings they have. Once we learn to accept our feelings, they become much less energetic and much more informative.

Beyond that, I hope they will give thought to the difference between an intuitive feeling (one driven by unconscious pattern recognition) and an impulsive one (one often driven by a fractal and unconscious emotional desire). Getting better at knowing the difference gives you insight into which feelings to act on and which to try to further analyze.

SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event?  How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?

SHULL: I have never given the same talk twice. I redo my slides for each and every audience. While I am doing them, I think about the people, the upcoming audience. How will this sequence make sense to them? After that, however, I do not practice. In fact, I am now essentially superstitious about practicing. I am afraid to!

SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?

SHULL: Traveling to Singapore stands out in my mind for two reasons: first because it gave me the opportunity to travel to Asia. Second, while I was there, a conference that I had declined over loyalty to the one I was already speaking at emailed me at 4AM the day after the first one, as I was sitting in the outdoor 24 hours Starbucks. They asked for a command performance, based on audience members knowing I was in town and “permission” they had already gotten for me to speak to them.

SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

SHULL: It’s easy to say those who deal in risk, but in fact, everyone does that to some extent. Beyond the obvious audiences (e.g. professional investors and traders, including private equity ones) are those involved in anything in the sports world – from general managers to owners to coaches to players and agents. Sports are very emotional, and there are much better ways to handle the disappointment and frustration than the typical “toughen up” message.

SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?

SHULL: Why more high-fives result in greater point totals for professional basketball teams – because it illustrates the subtle but real power of resolving negative feelings.

SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?

SHULL: Eight years after it was written, my master’s thesis was published in an obscure academic journal. In the process, I reviewed the new literature and learned that the understanding of emotion was undergoing a radical change. Realizing how much this applied to trading and investing, I wrote an article for a trading magazine. It garnered such a positive response that I was asked to speak for a couple of different trading organizations in Chicago. As people started to say “Oh my gosh, I am so glad it isn’t just me,” I realized I was onto something and in a unique place to educate.

SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and/or humor factor into your keynote speech content?

SHULL: I try to give examples in every talk. Mostly these are astounding stories of how the unconscious has driven someone’s perception and choices and how when they realize it, they have, at a very minimum, solved a mystery about themselves.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients achieve?

SHULL: My current favorite is an independent investor who by all rights should not be succeeding, but is currently pulling in five figures a month, even though he trades at night and works at a financial institution during the day.

SHULL: Another is a head of large region at a major bank that had been in a slump for a decade! He had tried everything, but when he became open to a new understanding, his slump ended. Exclusive Interview with Denise Shull
Using Psychology to Increase Profit with Denise Shull
In this interview, Denise discusses:
    • What psychology brings to the world of finance.
    • How unconscious emotions drive behavior.
    • How applying psychology can increase profit.
    Read the Full Interview

"The odds of making an accurate prediction go up once you realize that you aren’t betting on future facts as much as on the interpretation of the meaning of those facts – a wholly psychological question."
- Denise Shull

What People are Saying about Seeing Denise Speak

Rating Entries

I had the pleasure of introducing Denise at Credit Suisse’s Asian Investor Conference in Hong Kong, April 2019. Her insight into ‘market mindgames’ and the articulation of the taxonomy behind how we make decisions was genuinely a pleasure to listen to and particularly prescient to the uncertainty that underwrites global markets. Experts with vision are treasured resources. Denise, having had the background in markets as a decision maker for many years as a trader has the added experience of being an expert in neuroscience. Often the best way to validate the power of any speaker is the audience’s response. As Denise wrapped up her thoughts at the end of her talk, I noticed some very ‘serious’ people preparing to raise their hands for questions. What followed was pure insight - I certainly feel that the audience wanted more time with Denise, and that in my humble opinion sums up the strength of any great speaker - entertaining, challenging, and thought provoking. Open a dialogue with Denise about some of the commercial projects she is working on, and you will be left in awe!


    “Denise was the tail-end of our program, and we still had a full room when she presented, which speaks well to the interest in her topic. Her area of research is utterly fascinating, and our attendees were very impressed with the information she provided. She also handled the Q&A with aplomb.”
    (Event booked by

    “Denise Shull spoke at Institutional Investor’s 2008 Global Commodities Investor Forum as our closing lunch speaker. She generated excitement and interest among the audience with her passion and enthusiasm for her subject and made it relevant by using simple but powerful examples that investment experts, as well as a general audience, could understand and relate to. Her knowledge and insight into what science and scientific observation is revealing about the extent to which emotions can influence behavior, even among professional money managers, is both fascinating and intriguing. I would gladly recommend her as a speaker.”
    Institutional Investor’s 2008 Global Commodities Investor Forum

    Partial Client List:

    Financial Women’s Association,

    US Trust,
    CME Group,
    Battle of the Quants,

    and many commodity brokers

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Books by Denise Shull:

    Market Mind Games: A Radical Psychology of Investing, Trading and Risk

    Seize the advantage in every trade using your greatest asset—“psychological capital”!

    When it comes to investing, we′re usually taught to “conquer” our emotions. Denise Shull sees it in reverse: We need to use our emotions.

    Combining her expertise in neuroscience with her extensive trading experience, Shull seeks to help you improve your decision making by navigating the shifting relationships among reason, analysis, emotion, and intuition. This is your “psychological capital”—and it′s the key to making decisions calmly and rationally during the heat of trading.

    Market Mind Games explains the basics of neuroscience in language you understand, which is the first tool you need to manage the emotional ups and downs of the trading. It then provides you with a rock-solid trading system designed to take full advantage of your emotional assets.

    Order Here

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