ADAM FISHER is the head of macro and real estate at Soros Fund Management as of September 2017, before which he co-founded CommonWealth Opportunity Capital, a global macro hedge fund with assets under management of approximately $2.2 billion. Adam formed CommonWealth in 2008 and acted as its chief investment officer, building on his extensive experience investing in and managing public and private companies around the globe. Prior to CommonWealth, he co-founded Orient Property Group in 2006, focusing on investments throughout the Asia Pacific region.
What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler. The book is inspirational, of course, and an easy read, but it was the first time the connection between physiology and performance became so real for me. It opened my eyes to the need to synthesize how I literally feel as a performer and to use training to replicate the best physiology I can.
For me, the ideal training regarding my physiology is maintaining my routine. This includes a great night’s sleep, heart rate variability (HRV) training, meditation, and a number of deep work sessions per day, as well as some exercise. When I get all of these into my day, I flow well.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Be humble and self-aware. Ignore the concept of “being yourself.” Of course this is literally true by definition, but it is a way to avoid self-improvement. Pursuing your passion is fine.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
I was engaged in real estate investing before I became a macro trader. I always loved, even when I invested in real estate, to think in a top-down fashion and, when done well, I had my best insights by far.
Top down (macro thinking) means I consider the big-picture issues before the small when making decisions, and these [big-picture] issues dominate my preferences. It does not mean I ignore the small issues, as they are necessary but not dominant. For example, I invest in real estate where smart people want to live. While I could make money in other areas of the country, over the long term, this rule will be quite lucrative. There are other factors, of course, but this one is a requirement.
The real estate endeavor had some failures at the end, and many of them were the result of not getting buy-in from my whole team to this way of thinking. For me, the global financial crisis (or the risk of it) seemed fairly straightforward, but to my team, it was not as obvious. Decision-making would have been very different had we concurred on this.
In my current life, I’ve made sure that the platform and the people on it are comfortable with this philosophy. Had I not been in that previous predicament, I would not have appreciated the importance of having like-minded investment philosophies.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
No question: meditation. I can’t write down all the benefits, but they are legion. I almost feel like by not meditating before, my brain was sitting on the couch. I practice meditation in the morning after my HRV breathing. I use the same quiet space in my house every day of the week. I practice for at least ten minutes and do single-point meditation.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
The best investment I have made over the last year is a performance coach. I always believed in the concept of a coach, but I was slow to embrace it as part of my life for whatever reason.
I strongly believe world-class performers need coaching. I suppose mentors function in this role for many, but coaches, in my opinion, are different.
[Coaches] focus on you first. Mentors rightly focus on themselves first and you second. Lastly, a good coach builds regimens designed to make you better, [versus simply] providing advice, as a mentor would.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
“Find an area of expertise.” It’s so weird when I hear this. Just learn how to learn. Then you can always figure out the next thing that you will need to know.
In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to? What new realizations and/or approaches helped?
For me, it has been calendar architecture. I am a lion about it and expect everyone around me to respect it and help me with it. “Calendar architecture” is designing and implementing a repeatable schedule every day. As an introvert, this requires a lot of alone time, and everyone around me protects this in my day. It is also designed to keep my day from being filled up with “gristle.”
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
I do HRV training. Ten good breaths get me to home. Ten good Buddha breaths seeking a quiet mind (no talk).