The best thing that’s ever happened to me

-Vi Reser Alltid

When I was 8 years old my family moved to a fancy part of a mid-sized Swedish city, Västerås, not very far from the capital, Stockholm. There I became bullied for my northern accent, cheap clothes and mental state (my big brother drowned before my eyes the same summer we moved, my parents got divorced [toxically], and I had a slight autism spectrum issue).

It took some time, but being bullied was the best thing that ever happened to me. It didn’t kill me, it made me stronger. With time I became impervious to just about everything, extremely resilient and calm, which helped forge a successful career in finance.

As the 40 ensuing years passed by, I often reflected over my luck in life. Everything seemed to go my way. Sure, I had a few minor setbacks, but I always quickly bounced back up a lot higher than before. Every single year was better than the year before – and they were pretty good from the start.

For example, when I was 18, I dated an incredibly pretty girl, and I received something akin to a small Nobel Prize in mathematics and physics for being the best performing student in middle Sweden over three years, and I was admitted to Sweden’s most prestigious University. From there, everything improved each year in an accelerated fashion: materially, relationship-wise, my subjective experience and so on.

I have very good reasons to assume my particular life configuration, including physical health, brain chemistry, cultural and socio-economic starting point etc., makes me perceive every year as better than the preceding years.

So, whenever I encounter a setback of any kind, I kind of expect a reward in due time. Everything that happens to me is simply regarded as a harbinger of bliss. Which brings us up to date.

Retiring in 2014 definitely was a genius move, the best thing that ever happened to me up till then. Now that retirement is drawing to a close. As fed up as I was with finance in 2014, just as excited I am today about both sharing my knowledge (through the Swedish course in fundamental equity valuation: Finanskursen) and practicing it again as a professional hedge fund manager. You’ll get the details about my getting back to work during the first quarter of 2020.


Per Ardua Ad Astra

However, that wasn’t what I set out to share today, but the following. By midsummer of 2019 by life kept setting new all time highs at a frantic pace. I almost expected to be diagnosed with a brain tumour, like John Travolta in “Phenomenon” (1996). In June I went as far as to say, the last five years, and in particular the last 5 months, have been so good to me, life could throw anything my way, including death, and I still would consider the total package a great deal.

And, boy, did I get what I asked for! Considering my gruelling experiences the last 5 months after that, i.e., since the day after midsummer, which started with my dog passing away, I’m expecting some major breakthroughs coming my way in due course.

Everything I’ve gone through in my life has ultimately proven to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me – perhaps not causally, but with uncanny synchronicity. So, why should my experiences with pain, loneliness and hearthache this fall be any different? Given what I know to be true about my history and my constitution, these experiences are bound to morph from hellish torture into the best things that’s ever happened to me. 

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m still kicking.

Here’s to looking forward immensely to getting to know in which way the twists and turns of summer and fall of 2019 were the best things that ever happened to me, objectively, materially, relationship-wise, perceptionally etc.

Remember, we’re always travelling (Vi Reser Alltid — my motto in Swedish), and that’s a good thing. Being static is being dead.

Newness and resonance

For an update of my financial comings and goings, skip to the final paragraph (which is in Swedish)


Meaning, Perspective, Resonance, Newness

During a recent meditation session I had some an unexpected epiphany on Resonance, which I think complements a series of posts I wrote on the theme of Perspective and Meaning about a year or two ago.

I’ll expand my thoughts on how Resonance and relationships are what truly creates meaning, even if they can be thought of as on the Perspective spectrum. Adding Resonance provides more clarity on how to approach and achieve meaning in practice.

I’m also planning to write a post, or possibly a series of posts, on the topic of Newness and its relation to Novelty. Very briefly, the following example carries the gist of the concept. Some people seek the (basically meaningless) novelty of shaking an endless series of new hands, whereas the ever richer newness of letting your hand slip into the same hand of your loved one’s for a millionth time is significantly more meaningful.

I’ve also been thinking about how particles (as well as feelings) can never meet, so how can people? Ae we forever alone? On the other hand, waves can be infinitely superpositioned and all can be as one. So we’re never alone?

The final piece of the puzzle for me was Resonance, and although auditory resonance requires a physical medium, I’m open to the fundamental building blocks of reality simply being able to resonate as a basic premise. Some of the most recent realist foundations of quantum mechanics kind of support that view, I think. Not least those based on “Outlooks/Views”, “Networks” and “Entropic Entanglement” as the fundamental building blocks, from which space and time are emergent phenomena. More about these things later.


Finanskursen av Karl-Mikael Syding startar den 30 november 2019

Introduktion till finansiella marknader och värdebaserad aktieanalys

Under 2019 har jag sammanfattat mina viktigaste insikter och metoder för värdebaserad aktieanalys. De finns nu tillgängliga i Finanskursen.se som börjar den 30 november 2019.

Jag har länge tyckt att det är ett problem att de flesta aktieköpare sällan gör en värdebaserad analys av bolagen. Istället drivs priset långt från sin motiverade nivå på grund av passiva investeringsflöden. Därför kan vi som är värdeinvesterare till exempel med fördel leta bland mindre bolag som inte ingår i index, ETF:er och indexfonder. Men för att göra det krävs kunskaper i verksamhetsanalys och värdering.

I Finanskursen lär jag ut hur jag gör rent praktiskt när jag analyserar och identifierar köpvärda företag och aktier från grunden, inklusive hur man läser en årsredovisning och bygger resultat- och värderingsmodeller.

Finanskursen bygger på min kunskap från min Master of Science på Handelshögskolan och vidareutbildningar hos Sveriges Finansanalytikers Förening. Dessutom har jag förstås nytta av mina 25 år som analytiker på olika banker/fondkommissionärer och som privatinvesterare i ett femtontal start-ups, men det är kanske främst min roll som hedgefondförvaltare på Futuris* åren 2000-2015 som lagt grunden till min analysmetodik.

* Futuris: The (HFR) European Hedge Fund Of The Decade (2000-2009) 

Karl-Mikael Syding

f.d. partner och förvaltare på Futuris (Brummer)

Du kan göra en preliminär ansökan här utan att förbinda dig vid något. Där bedömer vi tillsammans om kursen är något för dig. Det slutgiltiga priset är inte bestämt ännu, men det kommer röra sig om närmare 1000 USD, vilket jag förstår att många inte har råd eller lust att betala om inte deras arbetsgivare kan bidra. Värdet på kursen (för att inte tala om priset för att erhålla motsvarande kunskaper i andra värdebaserade kurser) är mycket högre och det är helt enkelt orimligt att leverera kursen billigare.

A giant leap for happiness

My book is almost finished. Actually it is finished, and I’m just touching it up, pruning and clarifying certain ideas. Here’s a short excerpt, just one single sentence from the book, to get a taste:

Small, consistent steps, taken with awareness, celebration, feedback, analysis and course correcting, will always get you further than occasional and mindless spurts, not to mention being more enjoyable than a single marathon for some pie in the sky moonshot you might never complete, and might not even want if you ever get there.

That’s the excerpt. Here’s the interpretation:

Today I was interviewed on the topic of saving for retirement: when to start, how much to put away, when to start reducing risk, what to forego in terms of consumption, what to plan for etc. Saving and investing money is much like investing in your own life. It comes down to getting the small things right – and the earlier the better.

But small and early, the wu wei concept, isn’t enough. What you do small and early is utterly crucial. Hence you need to pay close attention to who you are, what you truly like, and what effect your chosen small steps actually have, as opposed to what you meant them to cause. That’s what I mean by taking your steps with awareness.

Celebrate your successes. Better yet, celebrate your learning experiences, good or bad. Then reinforce your habits or course correct. Every completed small step is reason to reflect about what you did, why you did it, what effect it had. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the fact that you did something, that you had an experience, that you learned something, and that you’re still around to improve on your decision making process. Analyze what happened, and feed your conclusions back into your habits, targets and life direction.

Do it continuously. Acknowledge that the process is a success in and of itself. Sticking to a good habit is more of a success than actually reaching a long term goal. Sure, keep tweaking and updating your desired direction, and possibly ultimate endgame, with the outcome of your taken small steps. But avoid staking years of toil and effort on long term goals and potentially empty hopes of grand celebrations at the finish line. You’re most likely somebody else when you get there. In addition, with the goal behind you, you have nothing, not even a process. In effect when you reach your long term goal you have nothing to celebrate. The risk is you establish another, equally arbitrary and long term goal just to fill the void.

Striving for a million dollars or a 200 lbs bench press are such useless goals, with nothing but emptiness waiting for you. Using your body every day, or managing your savings a little better every day, are processes you can be happy about every day.

Life and finances work much the same way, and should be considered in context of each other. You can’t predict, but you can prepare. Establish good habits that resonance with your personality and every day will be reason to celebrate sticking to and improving on your habits and best practices. The inevitable setbacks will be nothing more than temporary and largely inconsequential stumbles.

You don’t need to finish the marathon under 3 hours, there’s no defeat in falling and missing the magic number. The joy lies in every step along the way. If marathon runners were only in it for winning or beating a certain time, there would be very few marathon runners around. No, it’s the small steps, the habits, the joy of the process that drive them. The same idea applies to your life and your finances.

Trying to spurt will only make you miserable. Aiming for the moon might or might not get you there; and maybe, just maybe you’ll get to celebrate once. And then what?

Becoming strong, fast, rich, accomplished or successful isn’t about reaching a final goal, it’s about the becoming in itself, i.e., enjoying and celebrating the process. If you save, invest, socialize and exercise in a way that’s sound, ever improving, and not least enjoyable – taking small steps in full awareness and with an effective feedback process – chances are you’ll appreciate your life so much more, than even if you did succeed in a one in a billion moonshot effort to become rich, famous or achieve some other form of externally validated status.

Robert Sapolsky says that your subjective status is at least as important as your objective status, and after a certain threshold level of living standards, what group you choose to compare yourself to is the main deciding factor of how good you feel about yourself. I choose to rank myself in the serenity and happiness group, and there I come out on top, which also means I actually come out on top in therms of how I feel. Win-win-win.

More excerpts are coming up. The question, however, is whether I should include these long winded clarifications in the book or not. What do you think?