My 12 (ish) rules for life

Don’t  be a mechanical turk

“A mechanical fruit is no fruit at all. The anti-social and hyperviolent rapist in A Clockwork Orange is a despiccable human being, but still a real, live person. SPOILER ALERT: At the end of the movie he is broken down, his (evil) spirit killed, replaced by a well-behaved clockwork. The message is that clockwork predictability has no human value, even compared to diabolic freedom of action”


My shortest version possible for getting things done, and done well

Start with your why, your purpose
-Without a driving force, you’ll never put enough effort into the endeavor

Aim low, start early and small, Wu Wei
-Avoid apathy, fatigue, being overwhelmed, just take one small step at a time, maybe even telling yourself you’ll quit right after…

Just One more
… then take just one more small step

Systematic feedback
Record, analyze and improve


More detailed rules:

Celebrate every small win

Grit
Stick it out until the end; keep grinding

Fail
Pick yourself up and keep going. Successful people are the ones who got up one more time than they failed

Course correct, use feedback
Do, correct, do again. Don’t make just one single big plan. Start small, start early, try, fail, analyze, course correct and keep grinding

Be systematic, record all insights and important information
Use a commonplace system

Growth mindset, Deliberate Practice: Peak, mental models
Integrate the knowledge that we can change and grow, we’re not set from birth. It’s not you who are being judged, it’s your ability to pick yourself up that counts, not your innate nature

Use a coach or mentor
You can’t move outside the box without somebody guidning you from the outside, noticing what you can’t. You can never see your own blind spots

Ignore what other people think
Never mind criticism; who are they anyway?

Seek variation, novelty
Learn new things

Meditate
Know thyself, know your driving forces, motivations, purpose

Take care of your body at least as well as your mind
Sleep, food, exercise

Be quiet
Experience silence, boredom, let your mind wander

Socialize

Recent research shows people who socialize less die earlier on average

Reason

Use logic, not feelings — the latter are for experiencing, not creating

Mental models

Make mental tools to get to the next level, where you design ever more sophisticated models

Prioritize with Bubble sort

Compare two and two, not all at once when having trouble prioritizing

Intuition + verification = accountable Blink

Trust your intution to provide interesting starting points, but not for providing solutions

It’s a PROCESS

You’re never done, and be thankful for that

Debate religion, spirituality, the supernatural

Debate it, but don’t discard it out of hand. Debating impossibilities hones your logic and rhetoric

Disregard what you can’t change

Put it away and focus on what’s important

Break it down by the 5 why:s

Problems, obstacles and challenges usually consist of ridiculously easy steps, if you go deeply enough. Ask why five times.


Song of the week (electronic trance kind of, instrumental Robyn): An analog guy in a digital world (for work, focus, meditation, enjoyment). Thank me by leaving a rating or review for Future Skills on iTunes

P.S. Just for fun: check out my awesome, world record-breaking all electrical ESURFjetboards on Facebook (pictures, videos, and more)

Gold, God, Quantum physics – are you buying this?

INTRO Per Gessle, the Swede who composed the song “It Must Have Been Love” that was featured in the Julia Roberts movie “Pretty Woman” has said that he only writes when he’s inspired. I’m mostly like that too, all other comparisons aside. This post formed in my head over the course of less than a minute, not unlike this one on The Meaning Of Life.

THEME Contemplating and discussing the true nature of reality over the last six months seem to have led to me being hit by and interacting with a stray inspiraton* five minutes ago, incidentally right after re-watching the amazingly entertaining movie “The Wolf Of Wall Street” during a long and late Saturday brunch.

* a very rare elementary particle

CONCLUSION Cutting straight to the chase, my conclusion is that what matters on the stock market is how consistently and predictably you can earn “money” that can be used for manipulating reality into subjective experiences with certain desired properties (I hint at what those properties might be in my Perspectives article series. Start here).

IN SHORT: DO WHAT WORKS, and take a good hard look at Gran Colombia Gold Corp


This morning Mike Cernovich referenced a quantum physics article in Scientific American that discussed a new slant on how to interpret the problems of wave collapse, observer dependency, matter duality and more. It got me thinking. By the way, if you’re interested, here is my immediate reaction to the article:

 


God and reality

Winter came, and with it late night discussions about the existence and nature of God. Yes, “God”, as in some kind of power or presence outside the laws of nature, or as the very laws of nature (whatever that’s supposed to mean; I mean are they laws, or aren’t they).

For me the word “God” is too tainted by culture and tradition to possibly serve as the basis of an open minded conversation about existence. As much as I try to suppress images of a potent and aware entity, and replace them with “anything or everything” or “purpose” or some other temporary placeholder, I keep failing.

In parallel with discussing the God delusion we have talked at lenght about reality, not least whether it’s objective or not, i.e., whether reality exists or not.*

(* I’ll just add here that reality does exist. This, here that we experience is reality. In my view, that holds water whether reality actually exists or not, since I think the word ‘reality’ is defined as “this, here” that I experience and I have good reason to assume you experience too)


Solipsism and pragmatism

The conversations have ranged from pure solipsism* to self-referential unusable tautologies such as “the universe is the universe”, “God is all and all is God”, “purpose is the purpose”, and much more.

(* solipsism = I am the only thing that exists and everything else is just a dream – quite a complex dream with billions of dreamed up personalities, trillions of other seemingly independent living things, quadrillions of celestial bodies scattered over trillions of cube light years, evolving over billions of years, including Darwinistic trajectories and thousands av brilliant scientists climbing atop each others’ shoulders to scout ever further. Imagine all that in just one entity, i.e., me, not to mention I have forgotten it all and am lost in my thoughts slowly rediscovering minuscule fractions of it all before imagining dying)

I am a practical person. And, as much as I’m a fan of basic research, understanding that we can’t know when and for what that knowledge might come in handy, pure philosophical word play that doesn’t even aim for practical use, but rather aims for self-containment and non-practicality quickly loses its appeal to me.

By the way, if this post triggers a strong need in you to explain to me all the ways I have misunderstood solipsism or any other branch of philosophy, or quantum physics for that matter, please don’t. This article is not about that at all. Quite the opposite. It’s about doing what works.


The universe is all mental

The quantum physics article Mike linked to builds up to an idea about thoughts being the ultimate building blocks of nature, perhaps a little like the illusive inspiratons I jokingly mentioned above.

These ubiquitous “thoughts”, which I assume are pretty dissimilar from the everyday brain thoughts with which we humans are familiar, interfere with each other as well as with organical thoughts; thus giving rise to the physical reality.

With “thoughts” everywhere, from the empty voids of space to the cores of stars and brains of humans I’m guessing brains acts as a kind of amplifying antenna that can focus inanimate thoughts into living thoughts.

Alright, as much as I try to keep an open mind – on a theory stating that brains and thoughts are not the product of billions of years of evolution, pattern recognition and survival of the most adaptable – trying to comprehend a theory of substrate-free “thoughts” as the ultimate building block is just as difficult as stripping the word “God” of all its religious baggage.


Please explain

Why “thoughts”, I ask? Why not just super strings? They are equally mystical, ethereal, versatile and infalsifiable. Whether you decide to build a world view with turtles all the way down, hyperdimensional strings, gods behind gods in Russian dolls, or thoughts all the way down, doesn’t really matter. You’re still not explaining anything. And you’re not adding anything to the toolbox of improving your own subjective experience (except for the fun it might be to play a meaningless game for a while).


Experience, prediction, manipulation

For me, my experience is all that matters. My reality is my reality, but it’d better be pretty well attuned to the more or less predictable laws of nature for my subjective experience to be sustainably pleasurable.

Experience is all, since non-experience is non-experience. Per definition.

If you want to define these words any differently, be my guest, but I won’t understand you. Hint: if you want to be understood, strive to use unambigous words that people (can) understand.


What interests me are reliable predictions in as much as they allow me to manipulate and control my experiences.

The actual and ultimate truth might be something altogether different and incomprehensible. But that doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is what I (can) experience.

I can’t remember anything before my birth, and there are no believable recounts of post-death experiences. This, here, this stream of consciousness began some time around the birth of this body, and it seems destined to end with this body (not yet fully counting on uploading or immortality).

So, I can experience what I can experience, and that is what appears to be a physical world of things, including electrochemical patterns in brains. Humans now understand a great deal of what can and does affect us (cause experiences), and of what can be manipulated by us. That’s just another way of saying science has laid out a pretty good map of reliable laws of nature; laws that I consider when making decisions I hope will lead to as meaningful a life as possible.

That which might “exist” but can’t be manipulated or affect us is simply irrelevant. Per definition. The world may be a dream, or nothing at all. Maybe I’m alone, maybe not. Maybe I’m a simulation… Maybe there is a “God”, even though it has left no trace of its existence since the Big Bang.

In any case, my actual personal experiences are more or less limited to sleep, food, love and a few other “experiences”. My aim is to optimize those over the course of my life, by designing as solid and consistent a foundation of predictions and manipulations as I can.


Pragmatism and investing

And, that is also exactly how I would, in the best of worlds, go about my investments. I don’t care whether the world ‘really’ exists (though it should be clear by now, that to me “exists” means whatever this experience is. Per definition), or if a country’s or company’s operational fundamentals exist objectively. I don’t care if “valutions” are real or not.

What I do care about is how to predictably and as consistently as possible make decisions that enhances my potential for manipulating reality into better subjective experiences. That might include maximizing dollar amounts on the stock exchange, or units of gold, or analysing historical metrics patterns. In doing so, I like to rely on consistent laws of nature, rather than fickle gods and “it’s all a dream” fantasies.

What matters isn’t if valuations, profits, money or even the universe is real. What matters is how I feel about it, and not least what I can do to improve on that situation.

P.S: Please, let’s keep “free will” out of today’s discussion.


Gran Colombia Gold Corp

-when did you last see a Price Earnings ratio of 1?

By the way, have you seen this Price/Earnings = 1 company in Canada? Gran Colombia Gold Corp. Disclaimer: this is not an investment recommendation and any losses incurred are your own. In addition, PER=1 might be significantly misleading due to dilution, but I’ll leave that to you. I personally, however, would be surprised if the stock didn’t reach 6 dollars per share by the end of 2018.

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)