In a machine-driven age where everything is driven by speed, perhaps the edge is judgement, time and perspective?
Today, information is just another commodity. The edge belongs to algorithms, data sets and funds that track indexes and countless other investment themes. This has been devastating for hedge fund and mutual fund managers who make their living trying to outsmart the stock market. With their business model under attack, they are searching for answers.
By learning from others’ work; by taking note of learnings made by other people or industries outside of the rims of our profession, seeds of are planted in our subconsciousness. Seeds that will create inspiration and develop into ideas and solutions to your daily work and life.
Keep an open mind
I forced myself over the summer to take a break from my normal routines and read whatever books I felt excited me, but mainly non work-related books. I also went for quiet walks (no music) to open my eyes to what was going on around me. I always use running and biking as a way to brain storm and to get ideas. And I meditate every day. But I’m execution oriented, I don’t just stop and “enjoy the day” for the sake of doing it. I plan my days; I get things done. Books outside my field of work have been for holidays only, when I “book-binge” for as long as much as my children allow… But something happened this summer. Keeping an open mind to all sorts of input created a domino effect, and I got ideas that I would never have got otherwise.
I saw a friend the other day, he’s an economist and his job is partly to ‘predict’ the markets. He reeds pretty much everything he gets his hands on. He has realized the beaty of opening his mind to all sorts of ideas and inspiration, and to reflect. It pays off on his job, on his life in general. He’s not the only one; taking a deliberate break and top up one’s source of inspiration has become the answer to many fund managers and entrepreneurs alike. Some executives have long sought insight from the printed page — and not just in the business section. Lloyd Blankfein, former CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs, has talked up the benefits of reading books, especially those not related to economics or finance.
Disconnect from the noise
Our brains’ plasticity makes it perfectly shapable. It is ever changing. If you want to keep it fresh and sharp, then you need to ensure you keep learning and that you keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Only you can control what you feed your brain. If it is the same challenges as yesterday and the day before, the same type of literature and the same type of Netflix streaming you serve, then no new paths are created in the brain. You will stay good at what you do, but you will not upgrade yourself, you will not sharpen your edge.
In social media, we are presented with content based on previous likes and reads. Apart from making society further polarized it kills inspiration! Instead, disconnect from the noise and read all sorts of books. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. Reading is a way to consume people’s experiences, to learn something timeless and then apply it to your life.
I’m often asked about what should be read. Is there some program or direction to take? My take is that you must learn and read what you like, unless there is an important extenuating circumstance. Boredom creates a shut-off valve in the brain. And if you’re always reading something of even moderate depth, you simply can’t avoid learning
Time is the most common argument for not changing one’s habits. If you are one of those people that tend to become a zombie in front of a screen when the chores of the day are finished, then shorten that ‘downtime’, go to bed and get up 30mins earlier. Start your day with a brain boost! 😊