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)

On the importance of origins

Get down on the couch with me

Who are you? What are your defining characteristics. Why? What experiences shaped you?

I’m sure you have at times been fascinated by certain life stories. Now it’s your time. Write your own mini biography of what makes you you and what made you that way.

A) do you believe in freedom, in violence, democracy, God, free will?

B) why? were you a bully, or bullied? well off or poor parents?

C) does it actually matter at all?

I’ll go first.


 

The most important foundation for happiness

Knowing yourself is the alpha and omega of success and happiness

Sure, you can get pretty far, stratospherically so, on luck alone. However, the path of the child star or lottery winner is razor thin, beset with booby traps (albeit boobs too) and steep falls on all sides.

There are many aspects of who you are, and just as many ways of triangulating the answer. You are stardust (the remnants of supernovae). You are genes (the most recent of an unbroken successful line of countless (trillions? quadrillions?) reproductions over three billion years.

Only the last 10 000 generations were “humans”, but they all had sons and daughters in a straight line of healthy and fertile offspring, all the way to you. And people these days complain that it’s difficult to get pregnant…

If you look back in time far enough, one specific cell was your grand…mother, and she was mine too. Make no mistake, you can go too far in knowing thyself. I certainly don’t advise a life time of asceticism or hermitism in order to fully know yourself before dying alone.

 

5 ants outnumber 4 elephants

Use some of your experiment quota (the 1% of your time reserved for personal Research & Development – see my article about the 1/50 principle of effectiveness) every now and then. It is all too easy to fall into the Joneses trap otherwise.

I recently listened to an episode of The Freakonomics Podcast. The researchers showed that the number and quality of words a child was exposed to during its first 4 years were very important*. It’s not just about vocabulary, the right intellectual environment -even before memories start forming- creates a whole different (Turing) machine. They also demonstrated a positive “Sesame street effect”: kids in areas with access to the TV show in the early 1970s performed better than other kids.

*poor children hear 30m less words than affluent children

Since Sweden only had one TV channel at the time and all households had access to it, there was no similar effect in Sweden. All Swedes know that “5 ants are more than 4 elephants” (the name of a pedagogical children’s show in the early 1970s in Sweden, which I claim taught me to read by myself when I was 4 years old).

 

Here’s my suggestion for today

If you want to increase your chances of becoming independent (in effect creating a monopoly of you), successful and first and foremost, happy, map out:

1) How you got here and

2) Where “here” is

 

Then we can get to the questions of:

A) Do you want to change? and

B) How to go about it

 

I’ll go first…

Are you the average of the five people you spend the most time with? For a long time (15 years) that was my colleagues at the hedge fund (Futuris/Brummer) and my girlfriend. Now, I’m alone most of the time and spend most of my time with my ex girl friend, my dog, my podcast partner, a former colleague and various people on social media. I don’t even have 5 people, it seems.

Anyway, I can’t see many obvious similarities between my friends, colleagues, girlfiends and me. Sure, there is a streak of libertarianism, intellectuality, curiosity, Asperger’s and interest in health in most of us, but hardly anywhere close to you being able to guess who I am from them.

Try remembering key events in your life and see how they fit with your current traits, beliefs and principles. List what makes you you, and find the narrative leading there. Perhaps you can even identify traits you’re not too happy about, trace their origins to a key event, and change. 

 

These are my beliefs and principles, my center (originally stated in August 2014):

  • A is A and logic is logical: I accept deductive reasoning
  • Ahimsa: don’t initiate violence, unless you want me to reciprocate (three lefts make a right). My principle is non-violence, but if you demonstrate the wish to use a violence based principle, I can live with that (you however, won’t)
  • Pacta sunt servanda: keep your promises (I have lent out money numerous times, it’s always a hassle getting it back. What’s wrong with people? I on the other hand always overdeliver)
  • Every person is an island (including 100x more bacterial DNA than human DNA, but they are yours too; btw, read this short article on fecal transplants): you have no claim on other people
  • That island is yours: suicide, active death help and drugs are your choice. Nobody has a claim on you
  • There is no God. There is plenty of room for new non-metaphysical discoveries in the 96% of the universe made of dark matter and dark energy though. Earth or the entire universe might be a zoo, or a simulation but no room for anything remotely similar to the deities typically discussed
  • Free will is, ehrm, well, free: behave as if it is, take responsibility for your choices
  • The mind is nothing special: the body includes the mind

Libertarianism and free will are not logical conclusions; they are practical conclusions for an effective society.

They are also fair in as much as that they are reciprocal and symmetrical. If you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone, but if you don’t I won’t either (by twice or thrice as much). If you take responsibility for your free willed actions, I’ll do the same. But if you don’t, and claim irresistible urges, I too will express my irresistible urges.

What are yours? Jot down the first few that springs to mind. keep it somewhere accessible and add to the list when you realize more hard core beliefs.

 

This is how I got here, how I formed my beliefs and principles:

I was born a month late (it’s been said I was 6 weeks late, but the measurements weren’t that exact in northern Sweden in 1971-1972) in Jukkasjärvi. How is the brain affected by a prolonged pregnancy, by possibly a lack of stimulation or nutrition? You might guess that was a negative, and I did walk and talk much later than other children (at 2 yo rather than 1 yo). However, once I started, I knew how to from the beginning and instantly surpassed my peers.

I was bullied right from pre-school through middle school due to my accent*, being small (I started school a year early) and having weird or cheap clothes. That caused me to become anti-social and insecure**, focusing on math, gymnastics, reading and writing from the age of 4. It also made me a justice warrior and sowed the seeds of becoming a libertarian.

*(we moved 750 miles to the south, from Jukkasjärvi to Västerås when I was 4… apparently they forgot to mention wolverines were not welcome [järv=wolverine])

**(however neither low self-esteem, nor low self-confidence – see Jesper Juul for the importance of distinction between those two)

I watched my older brother drown when I was 8, and my parents divorced not long after. If I was emotionally “cold” before, that hardly helped my thawing… I think it hardened me further, taught me about losses, about relations – not all good or correct lessons of course. I’m just saying it shaped who I am, what I feel, how prepared I am for adversity.

I lived alone a lot in the aftermath, since my father was an international salesman and I often refused to live with my mother (she smoked). When he was away he turned down the heat and left me with little food and a cold house (14 C = 57 F).

A computer nerd: When I turned 10, in January 1982, I got a computer for my double digit birthday present, a ZX Spectrum 48K. That enabled me to truly withdraw from the bullies and focus on programming, learning algebra, logic, discipline, English, persistence and thoroughness as a by-product.

Outsider computer: Sure, we were early. But, as soon as neighbors and friends bought computers, they all bought Vics and Ataris.

Thus, the Spectrums in Västerås were few and far between. I biked tens of miles around town to program and trade games, like a physical data package… It taught me independence, to argue for the minority, for relying on facts, not opinions. In addition, Spectrum people tended to be more intellectual, more independent, special, not to mention better at programming. The Vics and Ataris, however, did have superior sound, and possibly better graphics too.

Independent and stubborn: I hardly had anybody to ask (no readily available internet in 1982) so the all nighter toiling with programming, debugging, optimizing, creating algorithms…, all done in a foreign language, must have made my brain into a completely different tool compared to my peers’.

Business acumen: I sold user time on my computer when I realized there was a demand (among other things, for playing games I had programmed). The economic laws of Supply, Demand and Prices thus became ingrained at an early age. I wanted to play and program around the clock, but also saw the value in having friends around, as well as making an extra buck (or cent, as was more the case)

8 concussions: I mean, wtf? Why do I keep banging my head. Admittedly, it’s been a few years now since the last time, and the scars from stitching me up in my teens have faded, but all this head trauma must mean something.

Tee-totaler: I’m anything but these days, but up until I turned 18 I honored a 100 dollar wager with my father on not drinking alcohol until I could buy it legally myself (18 in restaurants and bars in Sweden, 20 in state stores). Considering typical pastimes for 15-18 year-olds, I had to be independent but still able to fit in a crowd of “normals”.

 

My main personal characteristics are:

  • Patience (derived from debugging, from late nigh public transport after ninja practice, from being home alone a lot – or possibly the other way round, you never know what’s cause or effect)
  • High physical pain threshold (cause and effect? from living alone in the cold, from ninja practice, or did I endure thanks to an already high tolerance? Unfortunately I’ve ignored massive injuries at several occasions not wanting to be a pussy about it… including two torn ACLs and a few broken bones)
  • High emotional pain threshold (watching my brother die… But, when the threshold is passed, there is no turning back; I don’t get angry, but you really don’t want to see me when I finally do. There are a few guys with massive head traumas who eventually learned not to try to kick my ass)
The Dutch got their prinicples handed to them

My principle is Ahimsa, but I can use yours too

Slight bruises, but you should see the head injuries and head bandages of the other two bigger guys

 

Is there any use?

Perhaps this exercise is a waste of time. Perhaps you become you no matter what. Perhaps your fate was sealed from the get go?

Is there a relevant correlation (causal relationship) between background and personality?

Recent (much more carefully designed than earlier) twin studies show variability in, e.g., intelligence is highly correlated with genes. The famous child psychologist and author Jesper Juul (“Your competent child“) advocates witnessing your child, not raising it, not being in its way. To be a role model, tell it what you think and why, but not lecture or give orders.

On the other hand, the power of forming habits is firmly established. Tweak anything just a little every day, mentally or physically and you’ll seem a completely different person a decade later. Your brain reacts to stimuli according to its wiring and its electrical pattern, but the stimuli also reshapes the wiring. Changes add up exponentially (try getting your wrists painfully twisted for six hours a week year after year after year – works wonders for your pain tolerance).

As Yogi Berra warns: If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading (more of my favorite quotes here), which also implies you possess the power of changing.

 

Summary

execute what little free will you possess and change into what you aspire to be

Your free will may be severely limited by bacteria, fungi, genes and previous brain wiring, but just a little free will counts. Postpone checking your cell phone for 5 minutes next time it vibrates. Before you know it, you’ll leave it at home some days.

So:

1) List your foremost characteristic or personality trait, as well as your most overarching principle or belief. Feel free to add more if you like

2) Spend 5 minutes trying to figure out why you are and think that way

3) Change. Is there anything you want to change. No? Good, I’m happy for you. Yes? Alright, take one little step in that direction today (make 5 push-ups, say “hi” to a stranger, help somebody)

 

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Hard made easy – channeling your inner Sprezzaturian

This article is a 25 minute primer of what this site is about. And a call for you to subscribe to my newsletter for more stories, inspiration and advice.

It’s more than that though. Even if you’ve read dozens of my articles, I’m sure you’ll find a few gems in this one too.

If you prefer Swedish, lyssna på mitt svenska program (podcast) “25 minuter” istället.

Premiär måndag 2 november 2015

25 minuter show runner

 

Why should you listen to a retired money man?

In short: because I’ve been awarded the title The European Hedge Fund Manager Of The Decade, because I can bench press 140kg, because I haven’t had a cold in 9 years, because I have been royally laureled for my math and physics competence, because I retired financially independent at 41.

Because I did all this, despite being the odd one out, the bullied one, the one with no contacts or role models, the computer obsessed Aspberger child from Jukkasjärvi.

Because there is a method to my madness, that you can emulate for increased job and life satisfaction.


 

What would Batman Do?

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This particular article will give you an introduction to the entire site, so come back and explore the individual articles later, old and new.

Bookmark me for later, when you are in the mood for more tips, tricks, habits and mindsets that can keep you ahead of the pack and avoid being automated into joblessness and oblivion. I’ll even try to make you smile every now and then.

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batman age anxiety right

Then why should you?!

 

Keep investing

At this site, mikaelsyding.com, you’ll find a wide range of articles about personal development, education, skills, career, futurism, happiness, health, philosophy, decision systems, weight lifting, nutrition, sleep, meditation and finance (some hard core, some more philosophical).

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If it all seems too chaotic, check out my structured archives and delve into your specific area of interest from there.

My main motto is to “Always Be Investing”. That means to be a constant learner, to always aim for a small step upward, forward, and enjoy the journey (which can turn out to be quite surprising, and you should let it be), rather than only find satisfaction in a certain, successful, outcome.

Don’t try to become rich. Don’t put the horse before the cart and waste your life doing something you hate, in order to buy stuff and possibly quit when you’re 40, 50, 60… Instead try to become better, while enjoying the process.

 

Always Be Investing

 

Hard Made Easy

Sprezzatura is the art of nonchalance, the practice of making difficult things seem like a piece of cake. Think James Bond – when, where and how did he acquire all those skills he seems born with (wine, politics, women, technology, gems, physics, chemistry, geography, martial arts)?

Life should be a fun, albeit challenging, ride; like a computer game, where you complete one level after the other.

Sometimes you have to make more of an effort to get through, sometimes it’s almost as if you see the Matrix and can control the game, just flowing through level after level. Life is like that too – if you keep an open mind, learn instead of hate, try new things without fear and let them go just as easily, to make room for new endeavors.

Do you want to join the rank of Sprezzaturians?

Of course you do. Sign up for my newsletter right away. You’ll get my eBook for free too. Try reading just one page, maybe two. Come on, just one, then forward it to your mother/friend or go ahead and share it with all your social media contacts :). It’s quite retarded.

 

Sprezzatura – Hard Made Easy

 

ibiza pool jump

Please note how the guy to the left is carefully holding his espresso

 

Smorgasbord

Alright, here is a quick taste of what I can give you:

  • Aim low
    • whatever you do, break it down until the first step is ridiculously easy. Don’t aim for the moon or the tree tops. Aim for getting out of bed. Then, perhaps aim to walk up to the tree and touch the trunk, the first branch. Make that first thing so small you can’t not do it. Then do it.
  • Just one more
    • it’s often one more snack or cookie that gets done, but I’m talking about steps, about progress, about making it as easy as possible to exert yourself beyond what you thought possible. Aim for just one step, just the one. But right when that step is finished and you get to quit, make it a habit to think (and do), just one more, just one; that’s not too hard.
  • Live laterally
    • try new things, scary things, experiment with, e.g., 1% of your time. It will make life seems fuller and longer in retrospect, while swift, joyous and flowing in the now. Guaranteed mid-life crisis free. Oh, you’ll be smarter, learn faster and live longer too. Lateral living is the opposite of the debunked 10 000 hour-focus-on-one-thing-your-entire-life BS.
  • Sleep
    • with your feet outside the covers, outside the bed, never using the same pillow two nights in a row, red-adjusting your mobile screens or banning them altogether an hour before bed time, low-threshold meditating in bed for 10 seconds (beginner) to 10 minutes (master level)
  • Meditation – 10 seconds a day, or a week
    • how to for beginners: when going to bed, lie still on your back and go through your body parts mentally “one toe at a time, there it is, then the arch of the foot, the heel, the calves, the shins…”. Just do it for 10 seconds, or 20, whatever you like. With time you’ll like it more – but also fall asleep faster.
    • There are other easily accessible meditation techniques that don’t involve yoga, strange mantras, incense etc.
      • 1) just breathe – in through your nose, out through the mouth, focus on the act of breathing. Never mind stray thoughts; they’re okay, but go back to thinking about the breathing
      • 2) breathe with your abdomen (stomach), using your diaphragm
      • 3) do synchronized breathing with others
      • 4) power-breathing: a Johnny Drama pre-audition primal scream, or a more controlled kapalabhati breathing ahead of any kind of performance 
  • Managed life topology
    • don’t just focus on acquiring lateral skills, clever combinations of practical knowledge and experiences. In addition, hunt high and low, be cold, be hot, be comfortable, and get hurt, love and lose, get drunk or high and revel in your own misery the day after. Don’t go full retard Hangover but don’t hold all the punches either.
  • Challenge everything
    • trust nobody, do the math yourself, be independent. Every man is an island, his own nation.
  • Find yourself, know thyself
    • if you don’t know who you are, if you can’t cut through the noise of media, friends, neighbors and competitors and truly know your own inner feelings and drives, how can you be happy, be yourself, choose the right path? Don’t keep up with the Joneses, don’t keep up with anyone. Just follow your feelings and develop yourself to the next level, and the next, and the next.
  • Stupid stories
    • every now and then, I’ll tell you about that time:
      • I came four hours late (and hungover) to my first board meeting as the CEO of the European Hedge Fund Of The Decade
      • I publically advised Investor to sell its Ericsson and Astra shares at the top of the market in 1999
      • I recommended Buy the Virtual Reality company Prosolvia all the way down into its bankruptcy
      • When I kept yelling “Ola!” to SHB’s CEO “Per Boman” at an investor dinner in London. So what, three letters, typical Swedish name…
      • What really happened at the fund and in my head when the towers fell in New York on 9/11, 2001. When the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster hit and we timed our trades magically, netting me personally almost 2m USD in dividends from just a week’s trading.
      • That job interview when I was asked about a fiction role model and answered “Ford Prefect in the fifth part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy trilogy, when he jumps out the window of a high rise to keep the element of surprise on his side“. I didn’t get the job.
      • I ran out of gas in South Africa’s countryside – I’ve never been as tense in my life
      • I actually went on an all-inclusive Caribbean cruise for ten days without even having a ticket
      • I utterly destroyed two guys that attacked me – and other street fights
      • How I’ve had 8 concussions, actually forgetting my entire family for a day or two when I was 18. Wait, no, I was 17, but I had forgotten that too at the time due to blunt force trauma to the head.
      • Or “Knife Night” 1989, in a druggie shack made of drift wood in Amsterdam. Sarphaatistraat last number…
      • When I was sure I was being kidnapped and sold during a vacation in Napa Vaelly
      • When I was sure I was being kidnapped and sold in Thailand.. What? Wait a minute. Again?!
  • Finance: There will be some boring, but useful, finance talk too: how to forecast index movements, how to value a single stock, what’s wrong with the economy, how to build an investment portfolio, how much leverage (loans) you should use, where house prices are going etc.
    • A note of caution: I am naturally independent, a natural contrarian, maybe too much so for my own (and consequently your own) good
    • This memo by Howard Marks from last Thursday (October 24, 2015) is also representative of my thoughts on investments and risk; Nobody buys that stock anymore, everybody knows it’s a good investment (already)
  • Silly pictures
    • oh, I’ve got troves; there seems to be no end to how stupid I can look, not to mention the things I say or do sometimes (like that time in the line to the Star Wars premiere on Kungsgatan, Stockholm in 2005…)

 

That time in Visby, Gotland, at a political summit when I got caught on camera with a rhubarb umbrella:

A few years later I got caught by the cops too in Visby, and another year. Oh, 5-0 was involved yet another time. And another. And then there was that kerfuffle with fireworks in the shower and being thrown out of the hotel in the middle of the night…

 

  • Taking a loss
    • Losses are in the past. Period.
  • Technical analysis
    • Lines in a chart are not real
  • Smart and easy mobility tips – 2 minutes a week to keep you young
  • Happiness
    • I often point to the importance of fun, of flow, of happiness, of experiencing and enjoying life. Of being aware. Of really seeing, really feeling, really touching, taking the active choice. It can seem a bit new age at the surface, but I promise you, I am scientific to the core. However, I often leave the referencing to others. Like Eric Barker e.g.
    • And here are a few things I’ve said about happiness in the past: Wall of wisdom, and TED Happiness research
  • Expensive things
    • Yes, I bought Zlatan’s Ferrari convertible from him, and then a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo convertible, and a Hublot Big Bang Rose Gold
      • Then I learned they were just things – that needed maintenance, that could get stolen or vandalized. Try it, but be open to realizing it really isn’t as fun as you might think.

 

Organized Chaos For Success and Happiness

Summit of Aconcagua, 6959 m / 22 831 ft

In my underwear at the summit of Aconcagua, the highest peak outside Himalaya. There I am, keeping the element of surprise on my side, should any other struggling mountain climbers, Andinistas, make it to the top during the two full hours I camped there.

 

360 spin on Gotland Ring 2006 (I’m driving)

 

It’s all empirical

I’ve lived all my advice.

I’m 44 years old (in January 2016) and I’ve done a lot of good and bad things – from appearing on TV shows like Singled Out and Man O Man to being royally laureled by the Swedish King, in front of a massive crowd as the best math and physics student; acing the chemistry olympics organic chemistry test and not least winning the European Hedge Fund Of The Decade award (and the story that followed that night and morning…, which isn’t included in the eBook).

Some, if not most, of my lessons are backed up by science too, but I’m often sloppy with references, since I believe the ideas are more important than the authors. Anyway, I know I only internalize knowledge from reliable sources. It’s just too bad you can’t know that.

In addition, I think it’s more important that I did it all myself – including tearing both my ACLs without even seeing a doctor afterward. I’m a ninja, what can I say. No, really, I am a ninja. I’ve practiced Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing as well, and pumped some iron (benching 310 lbs = 140kg).

Bench press 140.3 kg (309 lbs)

 

When it rains it pours

In essence, you just hit the mother lode, so make sure to stick around. Start with subscribing to my newsletter, and if you know Swedish, listen to my podcast “25 minuter”.

There is so much more useful, practical and plainly presented, already written here, and orders of magnitude more planned for the future. One eBook is done and ready – it’s ugly and retarded, but fun and useful. Kind of like myself.

Another book is in the works, Retard’s Playbook: i deals with Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Public Address, Private Address, Having Fun, Zen (not least the Yogi Berra kind), Workout Methods, Why The In Between Is Most Interesting, The Power Of Tautologies, Books, How To Become An Investor, The Importance Of Walking And Brain Plasticity, Omega-3, Beliefs, Principles and on and on…

Yep, you’ll find it all here. From broccoli to BDNF and brain plasticity.

Did I mention I went from three colds a year to none in 9 years? That’s 27 saved weeks of fever, sniffling and general misery. I managed to increase my workout tolerance and my Personal Best Lifts too. Find out how right here.

 

Health in a bottle: Omega-3 fish oil with oleocanthal-rich olive oil from Arctic Med

 

As if the blog and the eBooks weren’t enough, I keep appearing in radio and TV shows, not to mention my own show: “25 minuter”, which is in… Swedish! Premiär 2 november, 2015.

My show, too, strictly follows a no bullshit rule, and focus on practical, actionable advice, albeit with some fun every now and then.

 

 

Is rich, strong, healthy, smart, laid back, successful and efficient, yet deep, something you might be interested in?

Then, be all you can be, by taking one baby step at a time, laughing at how silly and easy it is, celebrating every little victory, knowing the journey is the destination.

Take the fork in the road, end up in the direction you’re heading. Don’t play chess with pigeons…

Sprezzaturian oct 25 2015 IMG_20151025_152013

Oct 25, 2015

Say after me: “Tsuyoku Naritai!”, and I’ll help you navigate around the worst and most unnecessary pitfalls and point you in the direction of personal development, of investing in yourself, for yourself.

 

Tsuyoku Naritai

 

Now, how about that e-mail address? You can unsubscribe at any time, and you’ll still keep your copy of “The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager”.

The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager eBook