“At 42, I am a self-made double digit dollar millionaire, just about retired, who still manages a 300+ lb bench press and has a 26 year old girlfriend (with 8 Swedish national medals in karate and boxing). Life is good.” – From the author of the blog spreZZaturian – Hard Made Easy.
The latest reader success story demonstrates that although all of you men on are different paths, you all have the same dominant mindset. You are men who will not settle for what you have or who you are. You are much less concerned with what others are doing because you are too focused on improving yourselves.
I have fact-checked his story and there is no Internet bravado or nonsense going on.
I don’t have a success story. I just have my story.
I was born way above the polar circle a particularly cold winter day in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden in January 1972. I was six weeks overdue and could easily have died on one of the first days when my father’s crappy old Ford Taurus broke down in the middle of nowhere (as we were switching hospitals that were several 100km apart).
18 years later I made the surprising choice (to me and everybody else) to go to business school rather than pursue “careers” in computing or physics. I was tired of school and with a fresh science award straight out of the hands of Sweden’s king I thought I had peaked in life. Hence, I thought that studying something “easy” like economics and finance on Sweden’s only partly private business school, that only accepted student’s with perfect degree would be a nice way to relax from natural science studies. Also, a class mate who would have given his left hand to be accepted at that school suggested I go there, if not for any other reason than that I could actually get in thanks to my perfect grades.
I spent the first year partying, slacking, joking about how poor everybody there was at mathematics, but then something happened.
I realized I actually got good grades and suddenly had something to defend. I cleaned up, bought a couple of suits and focused on acing the rest of my time there. In the end I finished top of my class at Sweden’s finest and most respected school (The Stockholm School of Economics) with a master’s degree in Finance.
22 years old, with a degree some would kill for, I still had no idea what I was supposed to do or what this “finance” thing really was. At that time (1994) the Swedish economy was in tatters (a deep financial crisis that lasted 1991-1994) and no one could get a job anywhere. Anyway, by chance I happened to be offered a position as broker assistant at a small 3rd tier broker firm, i.e. I was to get burgers at lunch for the real employees. 2 000 USD/month before Swedish taxes sounded like a dream to me; more money than I had ever had. I partied like a rockstar several times a week with my newfound wealth.
After a couple of months, things changed. I got more responsibilities, was appointed “research analyst,” and received raises. After 2.5 years another firm headhunted me early in 1996 to build their IT research department.
Imagine that, from errand boy in a bust country in 1994 to head of the most exciting area in the world in 1996 just as the IT bubble started inflating.
And headhunted! And I got a bonus my first year at the new firm. In 1997 I got my first 1 million Swedish kronor paycheck. At an exchange rate of 6.8 that would be about 150,000 USD (compare that to 24,000 USD my first year 1994).
In late 1999, early 2000 I started getting tired and overworked. The frantic pace, the IT bubble, traveling, marketing my research, partying etc took its toll. I started planning for resigning and taking a “normal” 9-5 job in my old hometown rather than in Stockholm. And right at that time an old colleague asked if I wanted to join him as an analyst at a newly incepted hedge fund.
I hesitated but in February 2000, right at the very peak of the IT bubble, I accepted. In the coming 2-3 years we made a lot of money shorting IT stocks after spending 4 years promoting IT stocks. That is just unbelievably good timing; from being a tired would-be quitter that helped inflate the IT bubble to becoming a celebrated shorter of IT stocks at a hedge fund. (My fund, received Morningstar’s Gold Star for our performance). Six years later (when I was both partner/owner, portfolio manager and the CEO of the fund and company) we won Eurohedge’s Hedge Fund of The Year. And two years after that I accepted the prize for “Hedge Fund of The Decade all categories in Europe 2000-2009” at a gala in London.
I guess that qualifies as “success.” I don’t know; it’s simply my story and it’s no better or worse than anybody else’s.
But the story doesn’t quite end there in spring 2010. Now, 4 years later, in February 2014, I told my two partners that I will leave the fund, resign, explore life, read books, relax, travel.
At 42, I am a self-made double digit dollar millionaire, just about retired, who still manages a 300+ lb bench press and has a 26 year old girlfriend (with 8 Swedish national medals in karate and boxing). Life is good. I think. But, success? I don’t know, it’s simply my life.