July/August 2022: I am currently visiting family in Germany and taking a break. During that time premium subscriptions are paused.
“Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game. The outer game is played against an external opponent to overcome external obstacles, and to reach an external goal. The inner game is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. It is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.” The Inner Game of Tennis
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own” Bruce Lee
“There is nothing new in Wall Street. There can't be because speculation is as old as the hills.” Jesse Livermore
Every new generation of investors has to learn the outer and inner game of markets.
The best thing they can do is study, not copy, the best minds and gradually develop their own style.
I’m Frederik Gieschen and I’m deeply curios about people who go up against the market: who solve puzzles, take risks, show passion for their craft, and bet on themselves. I enjoy studying their minds, methods, and stories.
A friend of mine once said financial markets “mass produce Greek tragedies” and I agree. There is so much ingenuity, creativity, ambition, hubris, and, finally, triumph and tragedy.
I find these journeys fascinating and instructive - often inspirational, sometimes littered with warning signs. Sometimes the lesson is to model their behavior, sometimes it is to invert. The outward journey is about confronting the market. It is about wealth and success. The inner journey is about self awareness, fear, desire, and growth.
Each generation of investors faces these journeys. Unfortunately, they are also forced to search for valuable lessons scattered across books, podcasts, articles. Financial media is full of noise. Investor stories are reduced to soundbites and wisdom turned into meaningless platitudes. Much is lost to the sands of time. Frankly, it frustrates me to no end.
It is my hope that I can contribute to improving this sad state of affairs and help foster a community dedicated to curiosity, self improvement, and growth.
I hope this effort will help all of us better navigate markets and life.
Check out the Table of Contents.
Some personal favorites:
Buffett: The Reading Obsession
Leverage is one hell of a drug. Kirk Kerkorian spent a lifetime perfecting its use and rose from school dropout to one of the world’s richest people. Oh, it also cost him much of his fortune in the end.
How did a people person like Michael Bloomberg build the world’s dominant financial information company? (“Small, earned steps – not lucky big hits.”)
My own journey.
I grew up in picturesque yet rural Southern Germany. Stepping into Manhattan’s concrete canyons for the first time changed my life forever.
After college, I moved to New York to be with one of the world’s most breathtaking women (now my ex wife). I spent more than a decade on Wall Street, cranking in banking, serving at the mercy of immense wealth at two family offices, watching how institutions allocate billions at an investment consulting firm, and finally getting my ass kicked at a hedge fund.
But I never quite fit in. I was always trying to be someone I was not. Life had to hit me like a midnight freight train before I could let go.
After my divorce, I picked up a new hobby. On Saturday mornings, I took a stack of notepads and a sandwich and I made my way to the New York Public Library. Specifically the SIBL building, across from the Empire State Building and a block away from J.P. Morgan’s amazing private library. There I started browsing through microfilms, newspaper databases, and old books.
I was burned out and desperately trying to find that spark, something that would tell me why I was still hanging around the world of financial markets.
I found that these dusty archives and forgotten interviews allowed me to step into the drama of markets. I could watch legends like Julian Robertson navigate their way through momentous events like the 1987 crash. It was a first glimpse at my new mission: to follow my curiosity and create something worth sharing with the world.
I have since written about many of my ups and downs:
This is your wake-up call if you think about starting a hedge fund is hard! (Attempting the Impossible)
Divorce, Denial, Dissonance Reduction: How to lose money and friends (“Everybody gets what they want out of the market.”)
Why study people taking risk for a living?
I view financial markets are the highest abstraction of the global economy, the force that propels us forward with its beat of innovation, production, and transaction. All of its complexity gets reduced to ticker symbols, endless spreadsheets, and jagged charts. In that abstraction we look for patterns and meaning and finally re-synthesize it into a narrative. Then we place our bets.
It’s a microcosm of the human condition, filled with colorful characters; with heroes, villains, adventure, deadly depths, and hidden treasure. It’s a challenge of our wits and a test of our character. It’s a game that forces us to change and adapt or watch our fortunes crumble.
“[Investing is] intolerably boring and over-exacting to anyone who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll.” John Maynard Keynes
“There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money.” Samuel Johnson
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Frederik 'Neckar' @NeckarValueIn 1987, six college friends made $30 million with their new trading firm. Today they're billionaires, having proven themselves on the trading floor, in poker rooms, on race tracks, even in startups. "In the choice of fame and fortune, they chose fortune."