fredag 8 augusti 2014

James Bond had sprezzatura

James Bond is the perfect embodiment of the term "sprezzatura"

In short it means "the art of nonchalance"; you have it if you are accomplished seemingly without effort. Sprezzatura can of course be faked, but it can also be real. A friend of mine a year ago or so suddenly said that I had an air of sprezzatura. Today he repeated this assessment. I took it as a compliment, but I know some had rather their accomplishments look hard than easy.

James Bond knows everything about everything. He is a master of wine, of art, of weapons, of politics, of poker, marksmanship, fighting... And when did he ever study these things? He makes it look like he was born with every conceivable skill mastered to perfection. Easy, nonchalant - and masterly.

I'm not sure I have sprezzatura, but it's not really for me to say. My defining characteristics, in my opinion, are that I am happy and unexpectant (probably the reason for my constant happiness), curious and loving "flow" (without expecting to achieve it). Perhaps the flow-loving curiosity part makes me learn a lot of stuff that later in life look like I got it without effort?

Does this look easy to you?

Buying large Russian art in 1997
I had no idea I would like the painting so much,
not to mention it would become very valuable 

Achieveing this view on the Italian Amalfi coast

 Owning a publishing company (albeit not very successful :)
Here at the launch party of the very first book almost 10 years ago 

Winning Equity Hedge Fund of the year
and then European Hedge Fund of the Decade
 When receiving the above HFOTY, I thanked "the long only herd that made this possible" in my speech to 800 industry colleagues that had gathered in London for the HF awards
2 years later we won the EHFOTD award, which meant that among a couple of thousand hard working hedge funds in all catagories (about 20 different cat:s) we had performed the best over the entire decade 2000-2009. I ran up to the stage (where former Head of UK Treasury dropped his jaw) "flying like an airplane" with both arms stretched out. Once on the stage (I jumped up instead of using the stairs) I did a little dance; stretching one thigh with the help of one hand, while jumping on one leg, doing a little pirouette. That probably made 10 years of hard work and anguish look easy.

Getting this full page coverage in Skandia's annual report as a 22 year old

Skandia was one of the world's largest insurance companies

Getting a big award in front of 10 000 people straight
from the hands of His Majesty The King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden,
for being the region's best student in mathematics and physics over the last 3 years
NB: it was on Sweden's national day and I was the school's flag bearer

 Finding time to workout 3-4 hrs per week to look like this at 42
More correctly, finding the method that only takes 3-4 hours/week 

The day before going to Ibiza this summer

But remember I looked like this between the ages 15-25:

Mallorca, Spain

Crete, Greece

Not only reaching the summit of Aconcagua (in 1995) but also stripping
to my underwear there. The definition of sprezzatura?
Aconcagua, Argentina/Chile, 6959m = 22 832 ft

Doing the splits before competition

Owning a yellow Lamborghini (sold it this summer after 6 years)
Before then I had this Ferrari that I bought from a soccer player (Zlatan Ibrahimovich)
 Some of my other playthings (always ready to strike a pose)
water scooter, wakeboard, girlfriend

On photo it always look easy, but is it really?

Actually, nowadays everything seem to come easy to me. However, a long time ago I put in a lot of effort. Everyday. For longer than most. On the other hand, I never gave it a thought. I wasn't striving. I didn't have ambition. I simply did what I thought I was supposed to do. My best. For as long as I could. Never in school, never at work, I tried to accomplish anything more than "not make a fool of myself", "not be in anybody's way", "never make my superiors look bad because I failed to deliver".

I never really tried. But when I opened my eyes as a 42 year old, I realized I was rich, strong and accomplished. Perhaps that is real sprezzatura, but on the other hand it did take a lot of effort.

In fact, it took so much effort that if I had the choice to live my life again I wouldn't choose that path, even if I knew I would succeed.

And in this life, I did it despite the high likelihood of failing no matter how hard I tried.

Due to the fact that I, and I am sure James Bond as well, put in the hard work early and extremely I now can enjoy a certain sprezzatura. I trained martial arts 10 times a week for a while, I went under the bench press 1-3 times a week since the age of 15 (and now I can press 140kg = 308 lbs). It's way more than anybody else I know in finance that's my age.

I go on a couple of binge drinking trips with different friends every year. I'm often one of the "worst" but still almost the only one with defined muscles. The trick? Intermittent fasting - I've been doing it for 19 months, every day (or let's say 340 days a year). That means I can still eat a lot of protein after workouts, while fasting the rest of the day. My body is used to using fat for fuel during the fasting and doesn't use muscles for fuel. I can eat and drink almost anything I want as long as it's only 8 hrs/day and the rest 16hrs are fasting. If I misbehave 25 days/year doesn't mean anything at all for the equation, as long as the other 340 are more disciplined. Those 25 days, however, I guess are archetypical sprezzatura, since I am big, strong, defined and the worst drunk of them all. Looks easy.

I have suffered from two anterior cross ligament ruptures, one in each knee. Still I can sit like this:

At the gym... and at work. Some people can never sit like that again. Some never can even without knee surgery
This is however how my first 6 months after the last surgery looked and felt:
 That's not sprezzatura

During my stay on Ibiza this summer, I once stayed underwater for 3 minutes and 33 seconds. That's a long time for an office geezer with too much muscle mass. It takes will power. However, it looks easy from above.

For me however, it feels like this:

Sometimes this is what I eat when hungover, after 16h of fasting
And sometimes this, but mostly because it's easy to prepare

And then I can indulge in a lot of champagne and sweets.
This is what everybody around me sees;
lots of booze and a constant intake of whatever I want
Fasting solves the equation without impeding my training.
And fasting is easy, effortless. You simply don't have to do anything,
just don't eat for a while. 16hrs. Every day.

Sometimes I go a little crazy. Which other HF manager would find the time and idea to strip in a public bathroom just to get this picture with all the graffiti?

Or saving long hair just to look sleazy on the trip to Poland and an AK47 shooting range...?

A recent (95%) split, this spring
During my finance studies I devoted one hour every day
to stretching the splits in my room 

Stopping the bull single-handedly
Trying that right now, been trying and failing hard the last 12 months...
and lost 1.5m USD on the way. But it doesn't show on me or my behaviour.

This is actually how I tore my first ACL in the summer of 1992. The sound made me part deaf for an hour. I didn't move a facial muscle despite the pain. Actually I partied on for several weeks and then didn't go to the doctor until 13 years later

I've made that stupid trick many, many times
Looks easy, but GOD how hard I stretched almost every day for 10 years

This is more or less fake. I can't do a head dip, couldn't then either.
Either I fell right after or I never touched the surface
 Fake sprezzatura. The photo can make
it look like I am good at a lot of things

As everybody else who thinks and acts and is curious, I sometimes almost kill myself. Like this time in Nerja, Spain, when I dove from 8-9 meters where it was less than a meter deep (3 ft)

This was harmless. This summer during heavy rainfall at a political summit I was getting away from, I took a rhubarb as an umbrella. Both national TV news and the local newspaper made big stories of me without me even knowing about it. Nota Bene: the bottle of champagne in my hand

I've already shown this pic from Ibiza. However I think it illustrates sprezzatura my way. How do you end up in that house, with that body, with a sofa about to be thrown into the pool? Right there it looks easy but it takes a lifetime of effort, conscious or not, to get there

This is also pretty illustrative of the same phenomenon:
Just 24 hours after missing my flight home... Not looking back,
but rather kicking it up a notch instead. The damage was already done...
The suit and gold Big Bang Hublot underlines it all

This is just unexplicable. I am celebrating christmas eve
by myself with my plush dinosaurs. And Stitch

At a corporate christmas party. Yes, people are just standing around,
wondering what the president (mg dir) is doing. My suit wonders "why?!!!"

This summer in the VIP room. Owning. Perhaps practicing an alpha pose. Ping Mike
 This is me just learning a lot of stuff these days. Always reading or listening.
Always thinking. Making it look easy, but my brain is ON FIRE. However, there really is no effort, since there are no external demands or deadlines. Every second I am in control
Portuguese, French, Javascript, Singularity
Did I mention I like dogs but have a harder time with people?
Some say it's the hallmark of a sociopath.
Making pics like these too perhaps:
One of my favourite dogs: Maximus
 Maximus trying to fit in, just like I do

Final words: Be a little crazy, take things lightly, be curious.
Don't expect too much. Sprezzatura!

Just hanging out on the barrel of a Polish tank in Kraków. Why not?
Just 9 years ago, I was single, poor (well, about break even), small, weak, but still happy, with a good job as a junior PM and junior partner, a nice degree, a nice CV... Good but nothing spectacular. However I had habits, and base and I had put in the hours at work and at school and people had noticed me. My only accomplishments however were climbing Aconcagua, finishing first in my year with a Masters Degree in Finance and receiving an award from the Swedish King
The following 9 years, however, 2005-2014, I met my girlfriend, I bought a large penthouse, a Ferrari and then a Lamborghini, made about 15m USD, became Managing director and full partner and PM, won European Hedge Fund of The Decade. Became big and strong. All due to the hard groundwork lain before, without even trying or aiming, just because "I was supposed to,... every day"

7 kommentarer:

  1. My take aways:

    -Don't over-analyze or over-plan
    -Seek joie d'vivre every day
    -Throw yourself at things with an optimistic attitude
    -Create good memories
    -Lay the foundation, be patient, and you shall be rewarded

  2. It really is an interesting concept. Does talent really exist, or is it just things we enjoy more, and thereby do more? Like the stretching. Work hard, and things seem pretty natural. Maybe that is the secret to sprezzatura: the natural inclination to hard work.

    1. Thanks for commenting, John. There are so many moving parts behind life in general and sprezzatura in particular that it's difficult to make any conclusions. I just try to describe who I am, what I happened to accomplish and how.

      I am not sure there are any lessons to be learned, but with a little encouragement I am happy to tell my story. If it inspires just one person to make just one meaningful change it's worth it.

  3. Svar
    1. But my aim was to lift you up: You don't need talent to get ahead, not even truly hard, intentional work. And if you don't achieve "success" it's down to lack of luck anyway.

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