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Jim Simons Quotes

James Harris Simons

Jim Simons quotes: nifty nuggets from the billionaire hedge fund manager.

“Luck plays a meaningful role in everyone’s lives.”

“Luck, is largely responsible for my reputation for genius.  I don’t walk into the office in the morning and say, ‘Am I smart today?’  I walk in and wonder, ‘Am I lucky today?’”

“Let’s suppose you have a coin that is 70/30 heads.  Well, if you get to bet heads, you are going to win seven times out of ten.  Three times out of ten you are going to lose, and that’s bad luck.  So you need a measure of good luck to avoid a long run of tails when you have a 70/30 coin that’s heads.  At a certain point the luck evens out.”

“I’ve always believed, if there’s going to be a hit, take it and then go on about your business.”

“Everything is, to some extent, a compromise.  Not everything can be perfect.”

“Past performance is the best predictor of success.”

“Good atmosphere and smart people can accomplish a lot.”

“Great people.  Great infrastructure.  Open environment.  Get everyone compensated roughly based on the overall performance.  That made a lot of money.  I disparage some for whom model-making was a part-time hobby.”

“We have very high standards and it works.  Our business is wonderful as a result.”

“The things we are doing will not go away.  We may have bad years, we may have a terrible year sometimes.  But the principles we’ve discovered are valid.”

“There’s no such thing as the goose that lays the golden egg forever.”

“In this business it’s easy to confuse luck with brains.”

“When you’ve done your best, there isn’t a great deal to apologize for.  But not having anything to apologize for and not feeling bad are two different things.  Certainly, I feel bad for anyone losing money.”

“It’s supply and demand.  If gold is discovered, then it gets harder to make money mining gold because everyone’s competing with you.”

“We are not a teaching organization.  We are a research organization.  We hire people to make mathematical models of the markets in which we invest.”

“The best way to conduct research on a larger scale is to make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing.  The sooner the better.  Start talking to other people about what you’re doing.  Because that’s what will stimulate things the fastest.”

“You need to build a system that is layered and layered.  And with each new idea, you have to determine, ‘Is this really new, or is this somehow embedded in what we’ve done already?’  So you use statistical tests to determine that, yes, a new discovery is really a new discovery.  Okay, now how does it fit in?  What’s the right weighting to put in?  And finally you make an improvement.  Then you layer in another one.  And another one.”

“It’s difficult to run a business and be so consumed with another passion.”

“I was either going to write a thesis in mathematics, or trade soy beans because it was impossible to do both at the same time so I gave that up.  But always in the back of my mind I liked this trading business and found it interesting.”

“I was always interested in math, even when I was a very little kid.  I wanted to do mathematics from the time I was three.  Literally.  I would think about numbers and shapes and even logic.  I always liked math.  And I was a kid who just liked thinking.  By high school I knew that I was going to be a scientist of some sort.  But I just assumed mathematics.”

“I wasn’t the fastest guy in the world.  I wouldn’t have done well in an Olympiad or a math contest.  But I like to ponder.  And pondering things, just sort of thinking about it and thinking about it, turns out to be a pretty good approach.”

“I’ve always felt like something of an outsider, no matter what I was doing.”

“I do have a capacity to just contemplate.”

“I thought it was the coolest thing – what a life, to go out at two a.m. with friends and do math over coffee.  It seemed like the world’s greatest career.”

“Teaching math and science ought to be a professional activity in which those professionals are well-paid and happy to do that as a career.”

“Why don’t we have enough teachers of math and science in the public schools?  One answer is, well, if they knew the subject well, they’d also know enough to work for Google or Goldman Sachs or God knows where.”

“I want a guy who knows enough math so that he can use those tools effectively but has a curiosity about how things work and enough imagination and tenacity to dope it out.”

“Of course we can’t show the model or tell people how we calculate our forecasts.  That would be like Warren Buffett telling the world what stocks he’s buying before he buys them.”

“Investing and speech recognition are very similar.  In both, you’re trying to guess the next thing that happens.”

“I like big round numbers.  The papers call me the $100 billion guy.”

“For years people have asked me, ‘How much money can you manage?’  And my honest answer has been, ‘About twice as much as we now manage.’  And that’s still my answer.”

“[On whether it was more fun to earn money or to give it away] Both have been fun.”

“I had this new opportunity.  It seemed perfectly natural to just do it.”

“I liked the idea of being my own boss.”

“I’m ambitious and I like to do things well.  I love to create something that really works.  We have lots and lots and lots of strategies, and each new one gives me a lot of pleasure, to see something new that works.”

“I’m supposed to be retired.  But I’m juggling a lot of things.  To myself, I have said, ‘I’m 62; by the time I’m 65, I’d like to pass the baton.’  I’ve always intended to retire in the next two years.  I’ve been saying that for a long time.  The two years is a constant.”

“It’s always nice to see your work picked up by someone else and carried on.”

“I’ve never been on TV in any meaningful way.  And I don’t really have a desire for that.  There’s a wonderful quote in Animal Farm.  The source of all wisdom in that book is Benjamin the donkey.  He observes at one point that ‘God gave me a tail to keep off the flies.  But I’d rather of had no tail and no flies.’  So, that’s kind of the way I feel about publicity.”

Related: Bill Gates quotes.

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