Success on Wall Street was getting the most money. Success for us was having the best life

About Ed Thorp from

One of the more interesting aspects of Thorp’s story was when he shut down his ultra-successful hedge fund, Princeton Newport Partners, in the late-1980s. He likely left billions of dollars on the table considering how much money hedge fund managers make these days but he had a really great perspective on the whole thing:

As Princeton Newport Partners closed I reflected on the proposition that what matters in life is how you spend your time. Though the ending of PNP was traumatic for us all, and the future wealth destroyed was in the billions, it freed us to do more of what we enjoyed most: spend time with each other and the family and friends we loved, travel, and pursue our interests. Success on Wall Street was getting the most money. Success for us was having the best life.

He also shared the story of a couple billionaires to illustrate this point:

When J. Paul Getty was the richest man in the world and manifestly not fulfilled, he said the happiest time of his life was when he was sixteen, riding waves off the beach in Malibu, California. In 2000, Los Angeles Times Magazine, speaking of new multibillionaire Henry T. Nicholas III of Broadcom Corporation, said, “It’s 1:30 a.m. He’s just turned 40—at his desk, in a dimly lit office. He hasn’t seen his wife and children, ‘my reason for living,’ for several days. ‘The last time we talked, [Stacey] told me she missed the old days, when I was at TRW and we lived in a condo. She told me she wants to go back to that life.’ But they can’t go back because he can’t let up.” (They later divorced.)

There are a couple ideas that came to mind when I read this passage. One is that there’s a huge difference between contentment and happiness. And two is that there’s something to be said for figuring out what enough means to you personally.

I loved Thorp’s ideas that time is all that matters in life and having the best life is more important than having the most money. The first step might be to understand the difference between the pursuit of happiness and the figuring out how to be content with what you have.”

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