Retard’s foreplay – sticky icky life advice

Foreplay

Executive summary: It’s all about living life and not being a dick

  • Don’t try to impress – live for you, not others
  • Life is a spectrum – not discrete points and precise solutions
  • Always be prototyping – you’re never ‘done’

Reading time: 20 minutes

However, I hope you’ll spend much more than that on it in total. There is more depth to it than might be obvious at first glance.

Crab Corfu Pelekas Purple Red Retard

-foreplay or near dick experience (Greece 1991)


Why would you listen to my advice?

I come from a lower middle class family, with no contacts and no role models, born in a small town north of the polar circle, but eventually found myself in the upper echelons of European finance.

Then I quit, and transcended beyond conventional success.

I’ve experienced 8 concussions, 2 ACL ruptures, spent 2 hours on the summit of Aconcagua (6961 m / 22837 ft), received a physics award straight from the hands of the Swedish King, I was an honorary member of the Swedish Chemistry Association, I’ve received the award for the to date only European hedge fund of the decade, I’ve hitchhiked from Västerås to Marbella (the entire stretch of Europe) and back at the age of 17 (in 1989), been in numerous street fights, and I retired at the age of 41 with an 8-digit USD net worth (from negative between 19 and 24, and zero before that).

In short, I did it.

-Did what?

Lived. Hard and well; with grit, scars, material success, and eventually true progress and a deep sustainable and independent self-esteem and happiness.

I don’t pretend to know everything, or that my my experiences are translatable 1-to-1 to your situation. However, I think it would be worth the while just sneaking a peak at my solutions for development and personal success for inspiration.

Or are you worried about the Joneses across the street? Got a new car, did they? Perhaps diplomas, Whore City and the rat race is more for you then. As you were. 

 

Life after life?

Being fully retarded for over a year now, I’ve had time to think about purpose and pleasure in life after retirement. So, what do you do when you are financially independent and without obligations?

Short answer: Learning and sharing

Longer answer: Man is a pattern recognizer. We use it for collecting food and avoiding danger. We are wired for curiosity and finding pleasure in decoding patterns.

Man is also a social animal. We need others (though I seem to need people less than most).

Once I realized expensive things didn’t interest me, I explored myself in depth. It’s the result of that process that I want to share with you, hoping it will save you time and frustration, and make you a happier and truly more successful person – however you choose to define the latter.

In practice: I’m reading, listening, discussing, synthesizing information (pattern recognition), and then blogging and podding (social sharing) about my conclusions. Those activities lend structure as well as meaning to my otherwise fully retarded life.

 

Retard’s Playbook

In 2016, my big project is writing a book; a book for the lost generation, a life guide for people living in the aftermath of the cold war, for the post-Berlin Wall generation, for the iPhone and Snapchat generation.

Retard’s Playbook is a shortcut to wisdom for the app generation.

Retard’s Foreplay (today’s post) is a preview.

LIFE blodiga smalben

Without scars you didn’t live

 

Game changer

As far as I’m concerned, Retard’s Playbook will be the first thing I do. I expect it to be a game changer for anybody reading it, as well as for me writing it.

Below you’ll find just three of my favorite life heuristics, as well as a taste of my experiences that underlie them.

If this post doesn’t resonate with you, my book won’t either. Good to know.

Here are your short cuts to success and happiness:

 

Don’t be impressed or daunted

-Stop trying to impress. That’s living a second handed life for others, instead of knowing and being yourself.

When I was 7, I bicycled down a slide blindfolded to impress a group of older guys. For the price of one concussion, some blood and a scar in my forehead, I got nothing but a few mean laughs. Another time, I slipped when running and jumping from meter-sized rock to rock, suffered another concussion, blood loss and head scar, but this time purely for my own pleasure, and some heartfelt laughter together with friends. There’s a world of difference.

When I was in my teens and twenties I thought famous people were impressive, and I wanted to be famous too, for no particular reason. I just wanted to emulate their lifestyle, without a thought to what it would take to get there and what it really meant. I mindlessly bought the media hype regarding conventional success.

In addition I thought the top was unreachable. I was daunted and had no wish to even try. It took stumbling onto the scene of high-level money management to learn that overnight success often takes a lifetime of effort.

Remember this: A movie star, a hedge fund billionaire and a Fortune 500 business tycoon are all objectively impressive, but they are still only human. And they got to where they are by putting one foot in front of the other; investing, building one order of size on top of the other. It’s a question of priorities and grit more than anything else.

So, stop being impressed or afraid, and make your choice. Do you want it or don’t you? I’ve realized I don’t want it, and I’m definitely not interested in impressing anybody.

By the way, do you think Elon Musk is trying to impress anybody? He’s too occupied living his life.

A wolf has no business impressing sheep

When I was 21, I threw myself off a 9 meter cliff (30ft) in Spain, more or less realizing right before that the water was less than 3ft deep. However, I couldn’t back down… solely for the shame of it. My pride could have killed or paralyzed me there and then. And, yet, I still hadn’t quite learned my lesson.

Ten years later, I probably stayed in the hedge fund business -more for money, status and pride than anything else. The same thing happened with sports cars, as I worked myself through a BMW, a Porsche convertible, a Ferrari 360 convertible (yes, the one I bought from Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovich) and finally a bright (Midas) yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (convertible)

Eventually I understood what was going on, and studied myself to find out what really made me tick when I wasn’t playing to the approval of others or chasing an ad agency’s idea of the perfect life. For me the answer was learning and teaching/sharing, for you probably something else.

Don’t make my mistakes. Or, by all means, do, but pay attention to your actual feelings regarding the outcome, and perhaps you’ll be able to change ways faster than I did.

 

Life is a spectrum, not a point

-life is a super positioned state of both black and white and all the grey in between, simultaneously. Just as in quantum mechanics, the truth is revealed by taking action, by the act of observing the outcome of an experiment.

how long is a piece of string?

There is never a final truth, a platonic ex ante truth. The answer to all questions vary from occasion to occasion and is decided ex post.

And, yet, A is A; i.e., it is what it is and nothing else – once it is decided. This seeming paradox illustrates the quantum nature of life. Everything and nothing is fixed – at the same time

How long should you stay in school, at a job you don’t like (Whore Village), with a partner you’re not passionate about? How much money do you need to retire? Do blondes have more fun? Are drugs bad for you? Is love all you need, or is it ‘laughter’? When and how much and how to rest, when to sow, when to reap?

First, you must realize there is no spoon; there is no definitive answer to any important question

Then you can start exploring the ever changing options in between yes and no. Often, in my opinion, the answer is “try”. Dare experimenting, unless trying involves a significant risk of unacceptable loss.

What is ‘unacceptable’? Well, I have this piece of string somewhere…

Quitting your job or relationship is not dangerous, does not involve unacceptable losses. On the contrary, staying put, dwelling in homeostasis all but guarantees wasting your life.

 

From one cityboy to another

Several years ago, I asked the author of Cityboy, Geraint Anderson, for advice on when to quit my job as a hedge fund manager. He told me to hang in there until staying two more years was more or less inconceivable, and then quit right away. So, I kept pushing a 30-month deadline ahead of me, until I in January 2014 just up and left*

*In practice I stayed on for another year, but only as the managing director with no investment responsibilities or partnership dividends. As a perverse turn of fate, the fund was unexpectedly decided to be closed down, starting in September 2014. 

What if I hadn’t quit? Had the fund been closed down with me in it? Then I wouldn’t have been the (voluntarily) Retarded Hedge Fund Manager, but the Dismissed Doofus instead. Not quite the same legacy, or ring to it for that matter.

American Psycho

So, take the proverbial fork in the road, i.e., explore both extremes when deciding. Say yes, take action**; say no, keep your integrity. However, don’t be gullible just because you are a yes:er.

Never fall for the “come on, dare say yes” lure. That is just not daring to say no, which is really, really bad. Superpositioned quantum spectrum of yes and no – it’s a bitch.

** As a general principle in itself, you should always take the active choice whenever there is a close call. The mind has a tendency to obsess over future possibilities and decisions, but also to adapt quickly to any outcome of a decision. Thus, regret is strongest for passivity, no matter the outcome.

Yes, you should

Another way to think about it is that you are responsible for the effort, but the outcome is out of your hands. The latter is also very important in its own right, not least regarding investment success. No matter how sound your reasoning and process, bad luck and black swans can ruin the result completely.

And, just for fun… that time I got lost in the darkness, when descending from the summit of Aconcagua (6 961 m / 22 837 ft). I decided to stay the night, alone, at 6000 m / 20k ft and sleep on the bare ground with nothing but my jacket to protect me. After a while, I realized, I was about to be slowly covered in snow not to mention freeze my face off. When I sat up, one leg went outside some unknown edge, and when I threw a rock in front of me, I never heard it bounce.

Now, that is taking unacceptable risk on the Mountain of Death.

As a final word, when I’m asked for career, relationship or education advice; “Should I do this or that…?“, my answer is typically, though somewhat camouflaged, “Yes, you should“.

 

Go west

Well, that, and a more general “Go west young man, and learn programming“. With programming I mean in the widest and most generous possible sense of the word: as a coordinator, hacker, designer, Photoshop, robot control, AI, h/w tinkering, Human-Computer interfaces, organic algorithms, stock trading; or just Java/python etc., not only for practical use but as a brain exercise.

My own programming experience consists of a high level of self-taught BASICS (incidentally on a Spectrum)and much lower level of hexadecimal and machine code at a young age, followed by varying efforts in Pascal, GPSS (master level), SQL, Excel macros etc, and much later and much more lazily and impatiently, Javascript, XML and a little Python.

I managed to make money from database programming, Excel macros and computer games programmed in BASIC (when I was 10-12 yo). I suspect it also helped me keep my first job as a broker’s assistant. Most importantly though, programming made me disciplined, patient, thorough, structured, logical, good at problem solving, gave me a solid language base, made me good at algebra, confident with symbolic representations and abstract reasoning.

Today, I’m too impatient, lazy and unmotivated to make a real effort in programming. At the same time, I’m a little afraid of being sucked in again, spending my days on optimizing algorithms for no good reason, except the beauty of it.

Again, both 1 and 0 and all the things in between. Superpositioned.

 

Always be prototyping

I’ll keep this one short.

You are never done.

There.

However… (I wasn’t done after all, it seems)

At a certain point I started taking my Spectrum computer apart more and more to explore its innards and perform experiments. For example, once I realized how the keyboard worked, I constructed my own joystick (hand control) from a golf ball, a hockey puck, an aluminium pipe, tin foil, lots of tin foil, glue and tape.

It was quite difficult to get every tiny detail right with just my hands and ordinary tools, and it kept glitching. Once everything worked, I was tempted to just pour a liter of glue or candle wax on top of the entire thing to be sure it stayed that way.

Luckily, my teenage brain was smart enough to realize what central planners don’t – things will always change, no matter how much you try to fix them. Actually, fixing prices in an economy or halting a stock exchange is sure to move real prices faster than ever before.

Instead of an irreversible and ultimately disastrous permanent glue fix (a tip: don’t sniff glue, which I’m sure Bernanke, Yellen, Draghi and Kuroda do all the time), I kept prototyping, learning, improving, back-tracking and treating my disemboweled computer as a living entity. Did I mention (my) life was a Spectrum? Sinclair ZX 48K to be precise.

Ingves negative interest rates are FUN Mario-Draghi-laughing kuroda Janet Yellen

Certainty is impossible (about the future, the economy, the stock exchange, the integrity of electrical connections underneath a glue fix). Hence, stay humble and keep prototyping.

Thus, don’t go for that ultimate fix, the perfect education or perfect job before starting your life. Take a few steps at a time, see how it feels, adjust and keep moving. That is, unless you positively know you want to waste your life becoming impressive and rich to really show off that you matter*

Unfortunately, chances are all you’ll succeed in doing is fixing yourself as a person of status and importance, underneath a thick layer of glue, making breathing and living all but impossible.

*sadly, ‘matter’ to everybody but yourself…

 

Enjoy the journey, celebrate each boss

I like to liken life to a computer game, where the incremental progress, including beating intermediary “bosses” to get to the next level, is more important and enjoyable than actually finishing off the ultimate “boss”.

If the only thing that matters is winning an olympic gold medal, becoming a Fortune 500 CEO or “the richest” most will fail. Even coming in second would be a failure with that mindset, whereas it would entail hundreds, if not thousands, of sweet victories with my life philosophy.

 

Final words

I had selected 27 snippets* from my book for this post, but I’ll just have to limit it to three I see now. Prototyping. Always.

*including, e.g., Your own speed, Independent not contrarian, Awareness, Strengthen your strengths, Convexity, IRL, Don’t “work hard play hard”, Invest, Walk, Know, Amygdala learning and decision making, Break, One prio, 5 whys, Don’t hate, Input & Inspiration not Motivation & Copy, and as always: “just one more”

 

The article you just read (or if you skipped to here) provides a glimpse behind the curtains of my current book project. Retard’s Playbook is my condensed psychological and philosophical practical insights into effectiveness, success and most of all happiness.

It could save you years, or decades even, of unnecessary regret and anxiety, not to mention a ton of money – both earned and spent :-)

What should you do right now?

  • Share this article and my website with a friend or your social network. Please. Thank you.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter. You won’t regret it (and the unsubscribe link is included in every e-mail)
  • Read my first eBook: The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager for inspiration on how to re-craft your life from a conventional one to bespoke.

Practice today’s three guidelines:

  • For you. Ask yourself: “Is this for me, or for somebody else, before buying, donning or doing something”, “Do I need to tell anybody about it for it to be worthwhile?”
  • Turn off the autopilot. Second guess at least one of your own automatic decisions this week. Maybe there is more than one answer. Be patient with others, think through their position before retorting harshly.
  • Redefine a project (diet, e.g.) you have going, into an enjoyable sustainable investment process without end, instead of a potentially unpleasant discrete project where a successful result is the only satisfactory outcome.
 sticky icky life advice legalize it everything
 
* The headline of this article warrants some explanation: sticky advice (I hope it’ll stay with you), icky (life is a superpositioned mess; embrace that fact), sticky icky (marijuana – always a click bait, plus signals I’m a libertarian: “legalize it”, where it=everything)

Why you must manage your short term decisions or suffer long term consequences

Topic: Short Term vs. Long Term

Reading time: 30 minutes

-perspective on the choice between the short term and the long term, and some related snippets on acne, a book tip, role models, alcohol, stocks, weight lifting and a billionaire with a back ache

 

Never trade what you want the most

for what you want in the moment

 

John Bougen from New Zeeland visited 191 countries in 167 days, to get a good start on his ambition to visit all the 247 official countries on Earth.

Going to a new place, where all your routines are upset and you meet new people and face new situations and learn new things is good for you. It induces extra brain plasticity, among other things.

Mr Bougen however has perverted the original idea completely. All he has seen is the same flight attendants and hotel rooms, over and over again, experiencing the opposite of novelty, while growing more and more tired.

He must have gotten the idea that travel is positive, visiting different places is inspiring, and then suboptimized in the worst manner possible. That’s exactly how I see most people’s careers and obsession with money and trying to impress strangers they don’t even like.

Bougen might actually feel some kind of exhilaration, a build up of tension as he anticipates reaching his goal. He might even experience a short moment of glory and fame right after his stunt. But then what? He will have wasted a lot of time, money and energy experiencing just about nothing.

How well did Bougen really do in maximizing his short term and long term well being?

Did he want to travel that way? Did he want to spend hundreds of nights alone waiting for transfers at airports or in cheap hotel rooms? Did he want to become that douchebag that always claim to have been to a country, but turns out not to have visited any of its cities or sites or met any of its people?

 

“A long term position is just a short term position that went wrong”

-a classic adage in the investment world, meaning you should avoid sticking long term to something you didn’t actively choose yourself. See my last post on sunk cost for more detail on that.

Instead, try the opposite, i.e., cutting your profits short: “If a long term investment appreciates too much too early, make it a short-term investment“. (very typical Retard’s Playbook)

 

Stop profit

Case in point: my oil trade earlier this year. I bought a levered position in oil, thinking that oil should rise to approach its marginal cost (60 USD?) within a year or two. However, I exited with 100% profit after just a couple of weeks. Enough is enough. I like to call it taking a Stop Profit (a notion you would never hear on Wall Street where it’s all about letting your profits run or stopping your losses).

By the way, you should still never aim for 10-minute, 10-day or 10-month holdings, unless you are prepared to stick with them for 10 years. No, that’s not contradictory advice.

 

Don’t listen to ‘cool’ brokers

There are a lot of cool soundbyte advice on the street – just as cool as they are false (or at least just one side of a fair coin). Brokers and other stock market people are all about the short term. They don’t care if the market goes up or down or if you win or lose. They want short term turnover to earn commission (or possibly sell books).

broker

I could never play that game – partly because I’m honest, partly because I score zero on intent and sales skills*.

“Nobody knows where the market is going anyway”, they say, “so why not always be fully invested” … “but switch stocks as often as possible”. Then they line that message with a lot of coolness and jargon, and the suckers buy it every time.

It’s easy to recommend arbitrary deals when you take zero responsibility for the outcome and pocket the commission either way – not to mention get saved by the government every time things go really bad.

* as a side note, when I worked as a sell side analyst, peddling IT stocks in the boom years 1996-2000, my boss said to me that I was “a God gifted talent in sales, but perhaps I should think twice about what I was selling“. Still zero on intent though.

 

The market is as predictable as the weather

-which goes to say, actually very predictable

In the very long term it’s true that the stock market will rise (at least if the economy grows and profits grow). And in the short term, the market tends to continue in its recent direction. Mid term its a coin flip. And finally, longish term the market is drawn toward its long term trend line (with over- and undershooting).

 

It’s a bit like the weather. Even if you can’t tell what the weather will be two weeks from now, you know summer and winter will manifest eventually.

 

Jackets are cheap during an Indian summer

-but the warm weather makes it hard to remember to get one in time

Right now it’s high summer in the stock market. It’s so hot it’s difficult to even imagine Winter Is Coming. However, even if Yellen and Draghi somehow manage to turn fall into an Indian summer in the market, by luring in the last fools with leveraged money, winter will follow right after.

Anybody with just a little experience in the market can remember the call of the sirens at the market peaks of 2000 and 2007. Just like then, the current bull market is long in the tooth, extremely expensive and built on leverage.

 

Suffer now and prosper later?

Could you wait 15 minutes to get twice the goodies when you were a kid? Most can’t. To be able to postpone gratification is exactly what investing is about, and the marshmallow test is a strong predictor for future success.

marshmallow

However, it also means just that: postponing. Possibly too long, or forever.

I used to save my Saturday candy, and eat a little whenever I wanted. In fact, I typically ended up hoarding ever older candy, never eating it at all. I did the same with my allowance (1 USD/week); forever saving without any particular goal in mind. I guess I was predestined to become an investor just looking at my saving/hoarding personality.

School worked similarly. When I was in 7th grade, I started to consistently read a week ahead, i.e. keeping the same pace as everybody else – just a week ahead. That way I stopped having to raise my hand during class.

However, I never bothered about my grades directly or contemplated what they meant for my future. I just wanted to be left alone, and avoid shame (meaning anything below the highest grade). Short term thinking. Possibly mid-term, since I was quite disciplined about it.

Even at business school I only thought about a year ahead (just as with the candy and my allowance). Fortunately that still meant finishing at the top. Slightly longer mid-termishness; just barely enough.

For a long time after that, I believed my own hype; just invest 6-7 years of focused studies in high school and college and the rest of your life will be a rose garden.

It’s only the last few years that I’ve realized that that strategy and perspective never existed in my mind. I just did one more (again: Retard’s Playbook for workouts and investments), without really thinking ahead or having an investing state of mind.

I wasn’t thinking long term. I wasn’t actively choosing my own destiny. I wasn’t getting to know myself and then plan my life around me.

I was doing what everybody else was doing: getting a “good” education in order to get a high paying job with “status”. For that I more or less wasted 25 years between 1990-2015. Years I could have spent doing something meaningful or fulfilling. On the other hand, I got lucky enough to be able to quit reasonably young and with a hell of a lot of knowledge and experience.

 

Is the long term worth the short term effort?

And now? Was it worth it? What’s the lesson here? Should you postpone pleasure?

Well, I personally wouldn’t re-live my years in business school and finance, if I had to go back. And I definitely wouldn’t have made it through school, had I realized the total effort that lay before me. Sometimes being perspective blind can produce good long term results.

On the other hand, having what I have now in terms of knowledge, experience, friends and financial freedom is a dream come true. More, since I never even dreamed about more than getting a good night’s sleep, not having any homework or having to raise my hand in class.

Then again, the likelihood of repeating my career, with all it entails, is so low that the expected financial outcome for that particular path is also close to zero anyway. Hence I would choose something more personally rewarding every day.

småmynt framför ångvält

For me that would probably have been starting out as a programmer/consultant/gamer, solving mine and other people’s problems, developing apps and games along the way, and eventually becoming just as financially well off as today anyway – but without money or awards as prerequisites for feeling successful. The crucial question here is…

 

How long term should you be?

How long is a piece of string?

I can’t choose for you. I don’t know if you in particular should go to or finish business school and start your own hedge fund.

Perhaps you will find starting and running a fund just as fun as playing Bloodborne, GTA or FIFA. Or you might get a hint of what I felt in geography class in middle school.

Perhaps you are a born programmer, but probably not. Most likely you would hate it.

In short, my advice is to realize that you will for the most part still be you in the long term. Find out as quickly as possible who that person is and what he likes.

Then go about fulfilling those wants and needs as directly as possible. Neither present you nor future you want to spend the next 15-30 years as a mindless drone, doing things just to possibly have financial freedom later, if you even make it to that point [time-wise or financially].

If you love golf and warm weather, play golf in warm weather now, instead of waiting until you are a rich pensioner with a bad back. If you don’t know who you are or what you want, by all means copy someone else (e.g., formal education and career for money in Whore Village) until you do. Just don’t get lost in the Money Buys Happiness Fog.

Consider the following:

Computer games

Here’s an analogy I thought of the other day when walking my dog, listening to a podcast about micro fungi producing increased crops as well as reduced fertilizer needs and thus less of the unwanted toxic algae blooms and uncontrolled growth in lakes:

Think of life as playing a challenging computer game. No gamer would say his activity is boring, but there still is a lot of investing, learning and tedious repetition going on. The anticipation of victories to come, and the reward when succeeding more than make up for the tougher stretches. However, the balance is important. Too difficult, too long term or boring and even hard core gamers will quit.

lll

Non-gamers need not apply whatsoever, meaning you should not choose an education or career that bores you to death. It’s just not worth it, unless you somehow with absolute certainty know you’ll be rich and able to quit within 10 years. Sounds too much. Set the limit to 5 years – comparable to formal education.

Life guidelines

In line with that, here are a few investment rules that work just as well for any other area in life:

  • Act in conformity with your nature
  • Accept being at variance with the majority
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.

Whatever career you choose, be it formal education followed by becoming a plastic surgeon, management consultant or fund manager, or freestyling on the web or working with your body, make sure it rhymes with who you are.

Your education/training and career/business should be at least comparable to playing challenging computer games or doing serious sports.

It’s not super fun to practice your golf swing every day, but it’s worth it when you get to the course. Same thing with tennis serves or weight lifting. Somehow it’s still fun doing the hard stuff thanks to the anticipation of the fun ahead as well as the feeling of progress, of building something, of investing – but there are limits to how long that is sufficient.

As always, the hardest thing is knowing who you are. The next to hardest is accepting it.

 

Find role models

-as inspiration for who you yourself actually are

A few of my most important role models are Richard Feynman (who wanted to turn down the Nobel Prize in physics, but accepted just to minimize the attention) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (billionaire heiress who fucked that, and made her own hundreds of millions of dollars as the funniest comedienne in the world, not to mention dared play ugly in Seinfeld, despite later revealing she is [one of] the most beautiful 54-year olds in the world).

Read “Surely you’re joking Mr Feynman” for some deep inspiration of a happy, productive, inquisitive and wide-angled life that began with some haphazard radio repairs and left a legacy of starting nanotechnology in 1959, as well as contributing immensely to the field of quantum mechanics.

Was Feynman long term or short term? Whatever he was, he was always investing, always enjoying, always trying and learning new things, experiencing ten times more than most, while still aiming and succeeding very long term. Heck, it took 30 years after his speech before people even understood there was a nanotechnology to be discovered.

In the world of finance there are so many, but I’m inspired by, e.g., Hugh Hendry, Seth Klarman, John Hussman, Howard Marks and Marc Faber (and many more).

And anti-models

I had lunch with a billionaire today (not quite in dollars but not far off; possibly already there if some unlisted assets count). He used to be quite active and athletic, but 35 years behind a desk has given him a hernia and now he can’t run or lift weights, he told me.

With a few hundred million USD in liquid assets you might expect a kind and likeable, nature loving, sporty guy to… I don’t know…perhaps pursue his inner interests? But what does he do? He stays behind his desk, has a back ache and complains about having to go through hundreds of pages of legal documents for the Swedish SEC.

If I wasn’t already happy about my decision to get out of finance, that definitely sealed the deal. By the way, the lunch was a covert job interview for a new hedge fund: “So, Mike, what are your plans now? Are you thinking about getting back to finance anytime soon? We are starting a new fund…

“If you don’t change direction you might end up where you’re heading”

 

P.S: More side stories

Acne

When I turned 16, I started getting acne. I still get a few pimples now and then, especially after binge drinking. Almost daily during 25 years I’ve faced the question whether to squeeze or not. Typical short-term, mid-term, long-term problem.

At the time, I read about a model who only used water on the face (despite making commercials for face products). I just knew it had to be a lie (I used plenty of soap, alcohol, uv light and tons of various chemicals spelled with z’s). Now I know so much better:

I haven’t washed my face with anything but water since 7 months back and my skin has never been better. The really big upside is that I save a lot of time in the present, and science says my skin quality is much better (in particular for the long term I assume) thanks to allowing my bacterial ecosystem to stabilize. Not least, I feel calm and confident that I don’t have to take care of my face every damn night before going to bed if I’m tired or drunk.

Weight lifting

Weight lifting. A long term effort, constantly pushing the body just a little further. But is the aim, glory (and possibly money) or health? How long term is it to win glory but sacrifice your health? Most if not all professional athletes sacrifice a lot when they are active and then suffer from broken down bodies after their careers. All for some short term glory?

aneurysm SpreZZaturian

Alcohol

I like to drink. Things happen and I laugh a lot. Even the hangovers are tolerable, and I invariably go to the gym the day after, if I have a scheduled workout (I train every second day, year in, year out).

Still, it’s kind of bad in the mid-term (hangover) and quite bad in the long run (diseases, aging, looks, premature death, missing the Singularity).

However, alcohol also make me more relaxed, forgiving and outgoing – actually opening the door to making real friends. But how much and how often? There’s that string again.

Ibiza sofa throw

Coffee

Science says you should wait 90 minutes after rising in the morning before having your coffee (due to hormone levels, according to the gastropod).

Most also should stop drinking coffee for the day after lunch time. Still, most people sacrifice their sleep or long term well being for the taste, the smell, the wonderful pleasure that a cup of coffee can be in the now.

Personally, I wait around an hour and I usually only drink coffee in the morning, i.e., not even at lunch.

gastropod

Fossil fuel

Okay so we kickstarted the industrial revolution and our current technological civilization by burning fossil fuels.

Great, we actually might make it far enough to live off of clean nuclear energy going forward. We might even be able to reverse fossil fuel derived pollution and global warming.

However, if humanity were to suffer a serious setback (e.g., an EMP, an asteroid, a super volcano, massive solar flares), could we do it all over again? We might not. We can’t just skip the industrialization part and jump right to solar and nuclear, but with only wood and tar sands available it could prove difficult to clear the hurdle for true recovery all the way to enough sustainable energy sources for continued progress.

human energy use over 150 years Can We Do It Again

Ninja

I’m a ninja. Yes, as in swords, weird footwear, shuriken (throwing stars) etc. I’ve also practiced Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing, not to mention weight lifting (30 years and counting). All those things take a long time to learn. However, there is constant progress which makes every training session worth the effort. That more or less reliable progress was the driver behind my engagement in the mentioned inherently useless, hard and painful activities (albeit healthy).

That’s how studying and working also should be. Building layer upon layer, every step being an investment for the next, satisfying in itself, but still possibly, likely even, leading to some sort of success.

Always Be Investing – like a ninja

 

Summary of the summary: Enjoy the incremental process, instead of total sacrifice moonshots

If you skipped the whole thing and scrolled right to the end, this is for you

  • I’m not just a retard, I’m a ninja too.
  • I like Julia Louis Dreyfus, but I like Dick Feynman even better. Read his book Surely…
  • The struggle between the short and the long term is eternal. Just deal with it. You simply can’t tell how long a piece of string is. But you can think about it, and that helps.
  • Be you and make sure to have some fun all the way through life. Investing is not about total sacrifice, it’s about enjoying the incremental process, like playing a tough computer game or practicing your golf swing
  • Don’t waste your best years doing what every body else is doing to impress strangers. Dare to be different. Accept that you are.
  • Subscribe to get my eBook and thoughts on gold (next post, I think)

Gold: you know that stuff that is forged in large supernovae, alternatively neutron star collisions, drifting through space for billions of years, and turning the heads of humans since the first nugget was discovered thousands of years ago, possibly up to ten thousand years ago.

gold

Gold is very long term; too long term unless you’re a billionaire. Gold simply is gold. The thing is it is just that forever. More about that next time.