Insights from the Cold War code-breaker who built Wall Street’s most profitable (and secretive) hedge-funds

Gleuschk [CC BY-SA (]

Now with thinning grey hair, a tweed jacket and a Merit cigarette in fingers, Jim Simons is the man who solved the markets.

Jim Simons was a mathematics prodigy co-developing the Chern–Simons theory, he turned NSA code-breaker during the Cold War, and then built one of Wall Street’s greatest and most-secretive hedge-funds; Renaissance Technologies.

Since 1988, Renaissance Technologies has returned a compound annual growth rate of 66% (with a Sharpe Ratio of around 6.5%). That’s astronomical. For comparison, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, annual returns were around 16% over the same period.

Today, Jim Simons is worth over $23 billion, making…

“The standard pace is for chumps.” — The superhero of productivity and kindness

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I completed University at the standard pace. I graduated from my Commerce degree at the same time as everyone else. Yes, I was a chump.

Says who? Kimo Williams. Here’s what one student said about him:

“Kimo Williams is this large, black man, a musician who attended Berklee School of Music and then stayed there to teach for a while… What he taught me got me to graduate in half the time it would [normally] take. He said, ‘I think you can graduate Berklee School of Music in two years instead of four. The standard pace is for chumps.


From connecting with culture to selecting the exact right word

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Wanting to write well isn’t enough. We must also understand (and follow) the process. But how?

Much of it is obvious. We must cross our t’s and dot our i’s, we must write clearly, and we must be engaging. Except, it isn’t obvious how to be engaging.

It’s not obvious because like great literature, engaging articles work on multiple layers — at the same time. And to make it even more complex, some of those layers are hidden.

So in this article, we’re going to examine every level of analysis I use to write an engaging article, from our culture…

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Individuals, not conglomerates, should profit from an AI built intelligent-IoT.

It will live in our pockets, in our computers, and even in our coffee maker. The intelligent-IoT (Intelligent Internet of Things) will be physically personal — in a way the internet isn’t.

Will it be seamless? Intrusive? Dangerous? Profitable? That depends on how we interact with it.

Who will own the intelligent-IoT? What are the economics?

It’s undeniable, even to the skeptics, that the intelligent-IoT is going to create enormous value.

Consider how wealthy Google and Facebook have become from collecting data on millions of people. Surely, the data from billions, perhaps trillions, of devices is going to be worth a fortune.

But who will own and control the…

Understanding complex systems (like Bill Gates) is the first step to building them (like Steve Jobs).

Image credit: Joi Ito from Inbamura, Japan [CC BY 2.0 (]

Complex systems are sexy. This must have come as quite a shock to the kids who were writing programs in high school. Today, those kids are running the world (or at least building the platforms the world runs on).

What platforms? Artificial intelligence (AI); quantum computing; blockchain; virtual reality (VR); and the internet-of-things (IoT) — they’re all complex system.

Unfortunately, for those of us who weren’t writing computers in our teens — complex systems and the technologies they create can seem intimidating. But at the same time, they’re fascinating.

The age of complex systems

What’s more, we’re living in the computer age — the age…

Ask yourself, what’s helped you more: Competing against other talented people — or cooperating with them?

Image by Glenn Research Center of NASA [Public domain], via Wikipedia Commons

I hated swimming, but I found solace in the competition. Because I was born without the head of my femur, something called Perthes Disease, I began swimming before I could walk. It started as rehabilitation and soon morphed into an obsession.

I’ve been a part of 500+ marketing campaigns. But only a few made a huge impact. Most were mediocre.

Fireball image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. Roadster image by Jan Helebrant from Pixabay. Edited with Canva.

I hate that feeling. It’s like when you’re speeding on an open highway — then see those flashing lights. I knew I’d made a mistake — even if I wasn’t caught. Except for this time I wasn’t in the driver’s seat. I was on my computer chair.

It was an article that caught me. Specifically, this one: Sell Something Bigger Than Your Otherwise Boring Business. I knew a few of my recent campaign ideas hadn’t been up to scratch. Sure, they were still ‘good’. But in the marketing world, good isn’t good enough. Be great or go home. …

After committing the ultimate marketing sin, I applied the storytelling technique when writing for clients.

Photo by Christian Sterk on Unsplash

I committed the ultimate marketing sin. I created content for contents’ sake. Worse still, I counted it as a win.

For one client, my content was producing over 130,000 views a month (170,000 on a good month). Did it bring in sales? Sure. Did it bring in enough sales to justify the expense? I was hoping nobody asked me.

I had built a highway filled with traffic — but nobody was pulling over for a coffee at my roadside diner.

My Secret

Something changed when I started telling stories. Clients didn’t start saying, “Wow, love the narrative, Tom” or “Gee, great use…

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“In America, wrestling presents a sort of mythological fight between Good and Evil.” — Roland Barthes

Part I: The Joker

Nick Denton went to Oxford. At 52-years-old he’s wearing leather jackets and grey stubble. After launching Fleshbot⁠ — a blog devoted to “Pure Filth” — he joked that he became a pornographer.

Peter Thiel doesn’t joke much. At eight-years-old he was wearing a blazer and carrying a briefcase. Why so serious? Peter Thiel went to Stanford Law.

After graduating, Denton worked as a journalist covering Eastern Europe’s transition out of Communism. After that, he built a networking group for the tech industry — selling it for millions.

After graduating, Thiel wanted a clerkship in the Supreme Court. But he was…

A profile on the NYT bestselling author — from manipulating the media — to fighting their nihilism.

Photo by Luiz Berengue [CC BY-SA 2.0]

The duality of Ryan Holiday is a riddle. But what stands in the way becomes the way. So let us ask…

Why do authors like John Grisham and behemoths like Google hire him? What drives the military to invite him to speak to their elite Special Operations fighters? And who are the people behind “the kid going places”?

Exploring Ryan Holiday’s story sees us meet refugees and prisoners. We will court beers and babes. President Trump will tempt us. We will meet “the girl”. There is Pride. There is Humility. …

Tom Chanter

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