söndag 13 juli 2014

I am the quitter that continued

I'll start with the superficial presentation, the tangible sales pitch, and then move on to who I really am, my core.

Right at this point in life I am male, 42 years old, self made double digit USD millionaire, 300+ lb bench presser (my record is 308.5 lb), 182cm tall, 90kg, managing director of a hedge fund that has been awarded "Hedge Fund Of The Decade" in Europe. I used to be partner and portfolio manager as well but I resigned earlier this year to pursue happiness instead of more money I don't want or need. For a brief description of me, see this blog post.

Apart from my financial success I have also received an award and a scholarship from the hands of the King of Sweden for being the best student in mathematics and physics over the course of three years (class 10-12, i.e. ages 15-18 approximately). I was appointed honorary member of Sweden's chemistry society for acing the organic chemistry test in the qualification round for the Chemistry Olympics. I have climbed the mountain Aconcagua (Argentina/Chile 6959m, the highest peak outside the Himalayas) and took a picture of me in my underwear at the summit.

My superficial so called success contrasts with who I really am:

I am not an alpha. I am at best a gamma, i.e. I don't care for domination, for following or followers. I am just me, independent, an end in myself. I believe every man is an island and that certainly goes for me.

I am not driven or ambitious. I started out in the lower middle class, became the second ever in my bloodline (my father was the first) to get a degree (Finance) and struck it rich in the finance industry - first as a technology analyst, then as a portfolio manager and partner. Drive never explained my "accomplishments", neither in school, nor in business. I just wanted to be left alone.

I am not relentless, I am lazy. I always look for shortcuts, real shortcuts. To me, in school, a real shortcut was studying one week ahead of class all the time. That meant I never had to put my hand up, never had to be put on the spot in class on a new topic, could choose to sit at the back of class and just do what I wanted. In business I just did what had to be done or solved the problem at hand. It's just that I didn't work by the clock or expected to have a life on the side, so except for sleep I just kept at any problem before me. Somehow, putting in 100 hours/week got people's attention. At the same time, I learned a lot.

I don't form good habits by choice. I don't manage my habits, I happen into habits by figuratively putting one foot in front of the other with no regard for the big picture. I have a somewhat compulsive personality, almost autistic. Once I see a problem that is solveable I start picking at it, and I keep working on it until I have found an efficient and satisfactory solution. In the process, sometimes a habit is formed. I never meant to lift weights 4 hours a week. It is a quite recent development that I strive to be stronger at all. When I practiced Tae Kwon Do some 25 years ago, e.g., I famously said regarding weight classes that "I'd rather look good than be good"

I don't have a plan. I am naturally myopic and hedonistic. I savour the moment and seek pleasure. I never had a plan either so the question is how the hell did I end up rich, fit, educated and intelligent?

It's all luck! You hear successful people say it again and again. Luck is the most important factor. To start with, I was born male and white in the developed western world (Sweden). That alone puts me among the top 1% in terms of starting point. Then, I happened to like mathematics; that was probably part genetics and part looking for control in a world where I was being bullied by larger kids. I also took flight into reading. Thanks to the extremely pedagogic Swedish children's show "5 ants are more than 4 elephants" I learned to read by myself at the age of four. It's a lot of luck just being at the right place at the right time to catch that show on TV.

I am not a socialist, but I used to be before I knew better. In grades 3-6, I imagined living on welfare, just slacking all day. I thought the Swedish system of at least 50% tax pressure and free welfare for all was perfect for me. A few years later I turned more to the right and thought 50% was a bit steep, and maybe 30% was more reasonable. I still didn't make any money, I just felt it wasn't quite right that the state should take your money. I guess it was still a wallet issue for me, even if I didn't make or planned to make any money.

I am a die hard individualist and I still didn't see the wrongs of socialism and general welfare, that's how little I knew, how little I cared, how indoctrinated I was by the land of Olof Palme.

I am a libertarian. Finally, a friend pointed me toward the books Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead... and I saw the light. Everything fell into place, the logic, the moral, the role models, the theft and threat of kidnapping that was the Swedish state.

I am no weight lifter. Nor am I a bodybuilder or a fitness person altogether. I am just taking shortcuts and manifesting a habit I happened into - and demonstrating to myself and others what you can accomplish in any area as long as you are efficient. I actually stated very clearly when I was around 13 years old that in the modern society nobody needs to be fit. I was way ahead of Wall-E and the blob people. Then I saw the movie "Rocky IV" with Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren and I got interested in girls - and suddenly I wanted muscles.

I am a quitter that continued. My natural state is to avoid pain, avoid exhaustion, avoid strain, avoid endeavours, take shortcuts, get away with the least possible effort. I was never interested in school, but once I started getting grades I made sure I was top of my class just not to have to put my hand up (oh, how fun that first time we got our grades was, when everybody assumed that that dirty, strange and awkward boy who did his own hair had really shitty grades... but turned out to be nr 1). At work, I never had any ambition to get anywhere or increase my pay, but after just a couple of years my autistic focus, problem solving and many hours got me headhunted and put in charge of building the IT research department for a major Swedish bank just as the IT craze got going in 1996. And then it just continued from there.

And now that I have (tried to) quit the finance industry, I am somehow still the Managing Director, albeit without really working.

One week ago

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