Shane Parrish, a former spy now turned blogger is making waves in Wall Street for his multidimensional articles which propel readers to think smarter.
How It All started
Some years back, Parrish had a job with the Canadian intelligence agency as a cybersecurity expert. Apart from his steady job, he ran a blog that was based on self-improvement and personal development. Over time, he noticed a trend on his blog posts!
When he beamed his searchlight inwards, he came to understand that most of his readers were either in professional sports, the Silicon Valley, or elite finance.
He was completely blown away by the figures. His bulk of followers boasted of a whopping 80 percent from Wall Street. “What manner of insanity is this?” he probably thought.
Shane Parrish’s Blog: Story of Starting
A byproduct of Parrish’s MBA, the blog site came into perspective when he understood that he was taught to digest a material to sweep in points. There were very little occasions when they were conditioned to integrate their thinking capacity and disciplines in their work. There was no challenge.
Frustrated and confused, he couldn’t give up on his career.
Meanwhile, his interest to learn and develop for critical thinking was important. In the beginning, his main focus was academics. Then, he inculcated journal-based materials such as Tversky and Kahneman while in school.
After some time, he developed the website for personal reading. Back in those days, the original URL of his blog was the zip code of Berkshire Hathaway. Because of the uniqueness of the URL, he didn’t expect anyone to discover the website. Eventually, more people nurtured an interest in his continuous learning pattern so that, like Parrish, they could apply different learning models to improve their minds in a practical manner.
At first, Parrish was surprised by the strong reception he got for the blog site. After some time, the community grew even larger while encouraging and stimulating different individuals. Furthermore, he points out that his content is less than original – which is obvious in the way he combines the knowledge of Bevelin, Kaufman, Munger, and Buffer.
The Purpose of The Blog
The main goal of his blog was to teach self-improvement tips. And the blog came into being when Parrish was struggling with job pressures at the time when hacking was a big deal. But the story took a new turn when his musings became the point of interest of an even bigger audience who were looking for tips to think better, learn deeper, and read more books with different strategies that honed their decision making processes.
During his research, he found out that the business titans found solace in his words after they had been charred by the severe economic meltdown. In a few months, his blog became the hottest thing on Wall Street.
The mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it isn’t open
Basically, Parrish’s blog preaches one thing –Upgrade Yourself. Perhaps his audience was thrilled by the beautiful weaving of words that sought to instill self-betterment skills instead of bland self-help fares. What more; he was fond of quoting the bigwigs – Bertrand Russel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Frank Zappa – in his write-ups.
Presently, his growing community cannot have enough of him. His blogging game has transcended several platforms and these financiers recruit his help to share his thoughts and ideas with both clients and employees in order to leverage on his personal experiences.
More so, they are regular audiences at his ‘read and think’ weeks in Paris, Hawaii, and the Bahamas apart from the times when they hire him as a personal coach to help with a life-changing decision in their personal life or at work.
So far, it has been a great year for the self-help guru.
Parrish’s Fan Base
According to him, men of such high caliber thrive on competition and reputation, forcing them to an incremental edge. He also reiterated that one of the main reasons for establishing his blog is to make people question themselves and reflect on their choices. Eventually, he believes the tool may facilitate the adaptation of such persons to dynamic and fast-paced environments.
For instance, he narrates the experience of the founder of Greenhaven Road Capital, Scott Miller, an investor whose problem was a deep connection and focused reading. Being an early sponsor of Parrish’ blog site, he would always starve his distraction (the computer) and move into another room.
Currently, he reads a book by James Clear called ‘Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones’. Regardless of how weird it feels to read the book in the brightness of the day, he forges on.
Another bigwig worthy of mention is Dan Loeb. A guru in finance, this big fan of Parrish’s is a prominent executive on Wall Street as well. Dan Loeb, without a doubt, considers Parrish a special person. In addition to Parrish’s fan base is Ray Dalio who belongs in one of the largest hedge funds in the world, Bridgewater – and he has had a podcast with Parrish in the past.
Founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Royce Mutual funds, Chuck Royce, who currently sits on an investment of $4 billion came across the blog when he needed it the most. And he was quick to adapt the experiences at first sight.
In the 1970s, Royce built his portfolio in the industry as an astute fund manager across small and topnotch companies. Unfortunately, the performance of his main mutual fund crashed in the period of low-interest rates. Royce, in his words, couldn’t understand that inferior companies would outrun their bigger contemporaries in the period of zero rates.
A couple of years after, he was in Hawaii with a group of people who were there for the sole purpose to discuss books and ideas with Parrish.
One of the core principles of Parrish is about goal setting and habits. In practice, Royce would always wake up around 5:30 every morning to settle down to a good book. At that time, he was reading ‘Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Bets When you Don’t Have All the Cards” by Annie Duke. Annie Duke, a former poker champion, was a favorite of the big investors who were in search of a big break.
Back at the office, Royce works in the convenience of his couch laden with numerous papers and jottings from books while his Bloomberg terminal is several feet away in a different room.
Royce reaffirms that reading is habitual. While setting the goal may be quite easy, it is more difficult to reach the peak without discipline.
More executives are pouring their hearts into the blog, especially the printed page and business sections of the blog. The Chief Executive Officer of Pimco (the bond giant), Emmanuel Roman states that reading is ‘pure passion’ as he draws some ideas from ‘On Grand Strategy’ – a book by John Lewis Gaddis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who assesses the decisions of notable historical leaders.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, highlights the many benefits of reading, whether or not it is related to finance or economics.
In Wall Street, you will likely find a few obsessions that are of more importance than reaching the edge of an investment. Back in the days of ‘no little technological advancement’, everyone relied on brain power to execute the bulk of their tasks. An instance is George Soros placing a bet against currencies or Warren Buffett digesting a nugget from a report.
Things were quite easy at that time. With more technological tools in place today, information has become a steady commodity. And the investment edge has been replaced by funds, data sets, and algorithms that monitor investment themes and indexes. The unfortunate incidence has forced more mutual fund and hedge fund managers to consistently try to outwit the stock market; mostly to no avail. The predators of business models also put them at a disadvantage of searching for quick fixes.
But Shane Parrish offers a traditional solution to their problems – read, reflect, and learn.
Recounting his experience with the book ‘The Laws of Human Nature’, Parrish states that that times are changing and the normal human must get better with time if he doesn’t want to be left behind. The book itself draws on the cross-examination of human behavior based on the experience of Robert Greene.
Parrish’s belief is that reading is a form of blissful escape that allows the reader to feast on the experiences of people for learning and application purposes so that the reader is not necessarily a victim of bad decisions, haven’t learned from another person’s fate.
Autobiography of Shane Parrish
Shane Parrish originates from Halifax in Nova Scotia. A computer scientist cum guru, he is totally dumbfounded about how his interest became a sensation among business leaders. Recently, he was seen attending a meeting with clients in New York wearing a simple T-shirt, shorts, and a backpack across his back.
Even with his receding hair, the wealthy executives of Wall Street always referred to him as an unhurried graduate student.
Parrish became a member of the Communications Security Establishment – a division of the Defence Department of Canada – as soon as he left college. The first day of his appointment was the 28th of August, 2001 but was promoted in the heat of the 11th of September. At a tender age of 24, he was already in charge of a large staff.
In a bid to improve his skills in making decisions, Parrish was inspired by Charlie Munger – the longtime investment partner of Warren Buffet. Gradually, Parrish rose to the position of an acolyte while feasting on the mental and thinking models of Munger.
After a while, he analyzed the annual reports of the billionaire investor, Berkshire Hathaway. Perhaps he gained a reputation for his analysis enough to make him an attendee of the yearly meetings of Warren Buffet in Omaha. In fact, his site was named after Hathaway’s Omaha address.
In 2017, Parrish abandoned his duty at the Intelligence to concentrate on his blog site. However, he refused to reveal the gross income of his various projects. Now, his blog comprises podcasts, essays, book lists, and a strong social network which are sponsored by the self-improvement musings of its founder. Other important bookmarks are his decision-making journal and the blog’s thinking cap.
Parrish’s weekly newsletter called Brain Food has over 190, 000 members. To become a member of his ‘knowledge community’, it costs $250 per year. The ‘knowledge community’ is the premium site where there are additional content and private discussions from people with mutual interests.
Moreover, they have trooped to his trading book ideas, social network, and meet-up suggestions across London, Dubai, and Toronto.
In 2012, an independent investment adviser in London James Aitken and counselor to the biggest investors in the world became a member of the Parrish’s reading club. Aitken, since his membership, has enhanced his habits to work so that he consistently starves his distraction (screens) to read more books that are particularly aligned to his set goal.
It is also mandatory that he reads for a period of two hours every day.
According to Aitken, he considers Shane Parrish as an indispensable human in his life. Based on his personal commitment, he promises to always write Parrish a letter by the end of each year, apart from being a solid member of his network.
Again, Aitken is saddled with the responsibility of helping his clients to increase their reading and thinking times while they are disconnected from peculiar distractions. Usually, he sends a list of books to his clients twice including biography, history, economics, self-help, finance, and more; the bulk from which the clients can reselect more books as gifts.
For a period of 10 years, he has distributed more than 2,300 books in total.
In his words, he says that methods of improvement are the major concerns of world-class investors. In an era where everything is driven by data, algorithm, speed, it is important to combine perspective, judgement, and time.