4:31PM Feb 11, 2022
There are definitely places where we know that we enjoy the search for answers. Nobody ever goes out and buys a printed book of Sudoku puzzles that are already printed and completed. But there are other contexts where you're absolutely right where people say, I'm afraid that if I don't know the answer here, I'm gonna make mistakes in the world that I live in. We know that we're going to make mistakes all the time, that we're effectively just running experiments and getting feedback and then updating our approach and running a new experiment again the next day, and experiments fail. Like that's one of the ways that they eventually succeed is because you found enough ways that that they fail.
Welcome to the knowledge project podcast. I'm your host Shane Parrish. This podcast sharpens your mind by helping you master the best what other people have already figured out. If you're listening to this, you're not currently a supporting member. If you'd like special member only episodes access before anyone else transcripts and other member only content or you just want to get rid of this annoying message. You can join that Fs dot blog slash podcast. Check out the show notes for link. Todd Simkin is here today. Todd is a trader at Susquehanna group. Having also worked as the general operating officer handling personal hires compensation and most importantly for this podcast, he was the CO head of segs educational department where he taught people how to make better decisions. As you can imagine, this podcast is a deep dive on decision making, how we make them, how we calibrate them, how we make different types of decisions from trading to interpersonal ones, teaching other people to make better decisions individually and at scale. What the biggest bang for the buck is when it comes to making better decisions. Identity, an early encounter with his father that still shapes how he thinks about quitting something, being a contestant and winning on Jeopardy, and so much more. It's time to listen and learn. The knowledge project is sponsored by Metalab for a decade Metalab has helped some of the world's top companies and entrepreneurs build products that millions of people use every day. You probably didn't realize that at the time, but odds are you've used an app that they've helped design or build apps like Slack Coinbase, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, Lonely Planet and many more. Metalab wants to bring their unique design philosophy to your project. Let them take your brainstorm and turn it into the next billion dollar app from idea sketched on the back of a napkin to a final shipped product. Check them firstname.lastname@example.org That's metalab.co And when you get in touch, tell them Shane sent you. The knowledge project is sponsored by gray hawk. Successful families know that wealth can create a curious dilemma. It creates benefits it secures the future and creates opportunities. But it also presents challenges. How do you stay true to your values and ensure that future generations use their wealth wisely. Gray Hawk is about helping you solve that dilemma by working with your family on both financial and human elements to build long term well being. If you value independence, transparency and authenticity, and want to learn more connect with them at gray Hawk wealth.com. The knowledge project is sponsored by admired leadership. There are lots of good leaders out there but how many truly great ones, the kind of leaders who are deeply admired, admired at work admired at home, as partners as parents, the kind of leaders who make other people better. For 30 years admired leadership has been uncovering the habits, routines and behaviors of the very best leaders, how they give feedback, make decisions, build relationships, how they motivate and inspire behaviors, any serious leader can learn and master. Better leaders make people better find out more at admired leadership.com I'm really excited to talk with you but a lot of things especially being on Jeopardy and working through depression. But I want to start with why we're here decision making as a trader at Cisco Hana. Did I even say that right? How do you say that?
Si G is is the way to say it to get away with it. Susquehanna I think is the accepted pronunciation but we've got people around the globe, who have all tried their own way of pronouncing it and si G seems to be the safest way to go.
All right, so that's one of the more secretive and successful investment outfits you make a living no effectively making decisions. So I want to dive into that. What's your process for making decisions.
The products that we're trading are pretty much any financial product that you that you can think of being traded. So equities, fixed income products, currencies, commodities. And we really got our start in derivatives. So equity options, and then index products. And our approach is to recognize that we, we are often on the bad end of informational asymmetry, that other people who are looking to trade in the markets frequently no more than we do. And as a as a result, we don't want to back our own limited opinion against a more informed Counterparty. Instead, what we want to do is take the information that we have coming from outside sources, and there are multiple outside sources, different types of products that are being traded, different options series, if we're trading derivatives, and use that information to improve our own information set to then be able to allocate our capital in a way that we think will lead to overturn.
So how do you deal with information asymmetry? I mean, that's a common thing for everybody and making decisions where one party news a lot more than another party.
Yeah, there are there a few ways that we've tried to handle it. One is to is to build out research capabilities internally so that we do have sort of some basis for our initial opinion. But the most important thing, from our perspective, is to be willing to update that opinion, in a Bayesian way to use approaches that are that are going to be inclusive of all the information available to us. And only when we get to mutually exclusive information, or mutually exclusive signals. Can we say something here doesn't jive right? It's totally fine. If somebody says they think that the stock price is greater than 100, no, nothing else, I think the stock price is going to be greater than 100. Somebody else says they think the stock price is going to be lower than 105. I say, Okay, now I've got a market. Now I've got two sides. And then someone else says, Do you think the stock price is going to be lower than 97? Now we don't have information that can coexist in the same universe. I don't need to know who's right. But I do know that it can't both be above 100 and be below 97.
What does that mean beans in thinking? I mean, we all have this idea that what does it mean to you?
So I guess I'll take a step back and just make sure that we're on the same page with with Bayes Theorem. Bayes theorem is is a probabilistic approach to updating probabilities based on new information. So in a simple example, if I said, what's the probability that I rolled a four on a six sided die, it would be one, six. But if I said, What's the probably that I wrote a four given that I wrote an even number, well, now I can then eliminate half of the possible outcomes. So if I know that I wrote an even number, now, the only numbers I could have rolled were two, four and a six. So the probability I wrote a four is now 1/3. So I can update my original probabilities, my priors. With this new information, the new information here being that I rolled in, in even number, in the same way, when we're looking at option pricing, one of the big determinants of the fair value of an option is option options derive the value because the future stock price is not going to be the same as what it is today. And there's some probability that it's going to be higher or lower. And knowing what that forward looking probability distribution function looks like, leads to the ability to price the options to come up with the fair value based on their expectancy. And one of the determinants of sort of how much a stock can move is what we call its volatility. The volatility is just the annualized percentage return on the stock in any given year, or really for a time slice because it can change that can change over time. So if I think that the fair value of an option is say, $3, because of all of the assumptions that I have built into that, and then someone comes and wants to buy 10,000 options from me for a price of $3.10. There are two things I could do one, I could say, well, I know that all of my assumptions are grounded in truth, I know the future better than anybody else. So I know that over the long run, if I sell these options at $3.10, I'm going to make 10 cents in an expected return over and over and over again, that is not the approach that we take at Susquehanna. Instead, I would say this option can be worth more than $3. Given some some possible sets of information about the future. Maybe this person knows something about the fair value of the underlying of the stock that's different than what I know, looking at the stock market. And I can test that by going out and trying to trade stock. Maybe they know something about the forward looking volatility, the forward looking probability density function. And I can say, Well, if that's the case, how long would I need to be to now be losing if I if I entered this trade? And this is where we're based there and comes in? Because I can say I have my prior assumption set my prior probability distribution. Now, how much do I want to weigh this new information to come up with a new a new distribution that will allow me to come up with a fair value And again, in isolation, it's really hard for me just to say this person's wrong. But if I have a similar looking option similar because it's the same expiration, or because it's the same strike and a different expiration, or that there's something about the option that looks close enough to this, I can say, I can find disconfirming information. And only when I find disconfirming information, can I feel more comfortable about taking the other side of this trade?
Walk me through a little bit about why we struggle, though, because this happens in all different types of decisions, right? It's not just sort of buying stocks or trading, we get new information, but we don't appropriately weighted or update our priors, what contributes to that, and what can we do about it,
the what contributes to that is covered by a whole host of literature. And you've had some of the luminaries in this field as guests on your show before. So I certainly can't speak more articulately about this than Danny Kahneman could, but the types of things that that Kahneman Tversky, uncovered 45 years ago about the the failings of of our ability to look at and process and update information is exactly what's happening here. So, so things like confirmation bias and hindsight bias and attribution error and got all of the all the decision biases that that had been covered and behavioral economics come into play here. So if I, for some reason have some stake in believing that the fair value of this option is $3, then I'm going to discount this new information that that someone wants to buy it for $3.10 and say, you know, high fives all around, I just made an extra 10 cents that that the rest of the world missed out on. If on the other hand, I am able to have have better second order knowledge, so knowledge about what I know and knowledge about what I don't know, then I can appropriately weigh this information and act accordingly. And the price of an option doesn't feel like something that anyone's going to have a very strong personal tie to. But certainly there are lots of other things in your life, where you're you've got ego tied up, you've got some part of your personality benefits from sort of the truth value of whatever position it is that you're taking. So when when you get disconfirming information, you're going to discount it. I've been thinking so much about tribalism lately, like this is just something that's been showing up in conversations I've been having all around. The thing that that's very clear is that when people hear information that comports with whatever their tribe believes, or whatever their tribe supports, they're willing to accept it without doing a lot of digging into the the quality of the source, the quality of the information, the sort of the implications of the rest of the information that goes with it. And anything that challenges with their tribe believes they are going to be more dismissive of whether or not it comes from a quality source. I've got children that that feel very strongly aligned with political parties. And, and I also have a quote on the wall in my office that I think is just such a good important quote, to, to help remind me about the importance of habits leading to, to behaviors, I shared the quote with with one of my daughters, my 16 year old, and, and she said, that sounds that sounds kind of interesting. Like I sort of like, like that. And then I shared with her who the quote was trauma, and she's like, alright, I don't need it. And it was because it was from somebody in the in the other camp, it was from the wrong political party.
What is the quote, now we have to know sorry, the character that
takes command and moments of crucial choices has already been determined. It has been determined by 1000 other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments, it has been determined by all the little choices of years passed. by all those times when the voice of conscience it was at war with the voice temptation, whispering the lie that it doesn't really matter. It has been determined by all the day to day decisions made when life seemed easy and crazy seemed far away. The decisions that piece by piece, bit by bit developed habits of discipline or of laziness, habits of self sacrifice, or self indulgence. Habits of duty and honor and integrity are dishonor and shame. And who said that, in order for this to be acceptable to your entire listening audience, I'll tell you that that was either Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter.
I like it that way. You can you can ascribe it to you want,
but it was Ronald Reagan. There's a lot that Ronald Reagan did. And over the course of his life, not only in his presidency that I, I don't particularly respect or honor. There's other stuff that he did that was great and full of honor and stuff to support. But either way, I think that the quote, holds water that the quote is still you know, a pretty good lesson to live by
it now and talk to me a little bit about why that happens is that because we see our identity is the tribe or And then anything that goes against that, isn't that challenging or sense of self?
That the short answer is I don't know. And and, and I'm afraid that I might say that phrase more than a lot of your previous guests because because that is a part of what I value. I mentioned Kahneman, I've got heuristics and choices within with within arm's reach of me, where I'm sitting here. And I think that this is a heuristic and heuristics are the, the shortcuts that we take that are mentally freeing, right, it will be really hard to always to always work from first principles. So it's so much easier. If you can have a heuristic that you can fall back on, that just sort of tells you what to do next, without having to stop and think through, think through the process. And when that's your Ristic is, I'm going to find people who are like me, and if I do what they do, then I'm going to sort of maintain my integrity, I'm still going to be like me, because this is what people like me do, then it's very easy to fall into the trap of have never contemplated, we're not we're not sufficiently contemplating each of those, each of those actions, each of those different behaviors.
So same thing can work for us, right? Like if you make a personal rule in a way that's like, I'm not the person that you eat dessert, so I'm not going to eat dessert, well, no, I don't have to think about it. I just don't eat dessert. So it can serve you. But it also, it can prevent you from accurately weighing new information or contemplating in this case, we're just, it sounds like we're inherently lazy. And we just want if we're part of a tribe, I don't have to digest every little new piece of information, I can sort of just go with the flow and fit in and plus we want to fit in, we want to be a social member of something larger than ourselves, I would imagine,
there a couple of distinctions I want to make. One thing that you just said that I like a lot is that it's so much easier if you have a rule than if you tried to have a principle right that I don't eat dessert is so much easier than each time that you have the opportunity to have dessert to say, well, I don't eat a lot of dessert is this one of the times that I'm better making a change there. And and I'll tell you that I get up and do some type of exercise every morning. And I find it easy to exercise seven days a week, I found it really hard to exercise five days a week. And the reason was because your every morning, it's you know, the alarm goes off at 5am, it's really easy to not have your feet hit the ground and get going, it's really easy to say, well, I need to take two, two days off anyway, this can be one of the days that I take off. So on the I don't eat dessert rule, I think that's a great way to pre decide. And Lacey has a lot of value laid in it, but but to lighten your cognitive load, right, I don't have to stop and think about everything if I've already spent the time thinking about it. And it's led to this conclusion that I've reached, which is this rule that I can that I can follow. So So I love being able to do that. But you're not part of a group of non dessert eaters, right? That this isn't part of a a broader identity that you're now wrapped up in, where if you decide to change that rule, and you have dessert, you don't have other people calling you a dessert denier name only, right? You're a Di Di now who cares, right? Okay, so she used to eat dessert or used to deny dessert, and now he's having an ice cream sundae. Good for him. Maybe it's his birthday, whatever it is, this is a decision, that's totally fine with him. And you don't have to worry that you have now also contradicted all of the other tenets held by the people in the non desert eating group. If it's something that is more tribal, where we are the type of people that do this and don't do that, then a violation of one part of that removes you from this group that you're you know, we just saw Liz Cheney who voted the party lines, something like 95% of the time be drummed out of her seat because of one thing that she said that, that most Americans think is is right. And in fact, it doesn't even matter what most Americans think that that's sort of what the experts in the field say is right, which is that the elections were by and large, fairly executed. So we don't think that Trump is in office because of a lie. But because Biden got more votes.
Yeah, that's really difficult, right? Because if you go against the tribe, especially in a world where we have a call out culture almost to not only are you going against the tribe, but you sort of like, can't go against the tribe quietly, I guess in a lot of ways you're going against the tribe in a very visible signaling were, which adds another layer of complexity to it, I would imagine.
Yeah, and this is this is, you know, again, I'm a fan of the show. So I've listened to, to many of your guests. John Hite talked about this when when he was on, he said that the big problem with callout culture is that we're rewarding people just for the call out that it doesn't matter what their other behavior it is. It doesn't matter what other positions they have, what knowledge they have, what expertise they have. They just get the reward of pointing the finger That's exactly the difficulty with going against the tribe is that someone is standing there, ready to get the gold star for saying, you did it wrong.
What I don't like about cognitive biases is that they seem to be poor at preventing us from making poor decisions in the future. What I do like about them is they seem to offer a language and a framework for thinking about why we've made poor decisions in the past. How do you use that information to make better decisions in the future?
This is a place where maybe not so much color culture, but being able to see other people's behavior really comes out as a strong positive, it is definitely true that it is sort of descriptive of the past that that a lot of these, a lot of these heuristics and biases are things that we that we can see when we after we've already identified that a mistake has been made. And we say, Okay, well, why was the mistake made? Say, oh, because I was anchored or Oh, because of the way the question was framed, or, or whatever it might be, we have a really hard time seeing it in ourselves. But a really easy time seeing when someone else's is making that that type of stupid mistake, a big part of our approach to education is to teach people to talk through their decisions, and to end to talk about why they're doing what they're doing with their peers, the other people on their team. If we can do that real time, that's great. Often in trading, you don't have that opportunity, because things are just too immediate. But certainly, anytime things have changed. If you're doing things differently, it's a really good time to turn to the traders around you. And the quantitative researchers around you and the assistant traders and your team and say, Hmm, it looks like all the sudden Gamestop is a whole lot more volatile than it was a week ago. Here's how I'm positioning for this trading. What do you guys think? And have someone say, oh, it seems like you're really anchored to last week's volatility. If things have changed that much, you need to move much more quickly than you're moving right now. So you don't realize that you're anchored, that's the whole nature of being anchored, is that you don't recognize the outsized importance that the anchor has on your decision, but somebody else who's a little bit more distant from it can. So if we're good at at encouraging the communication, then we're going to be really good at getting other people to to help improve your decision process. Yeah, I know that you are fond of pointing out that that, that you are the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with. So if the people that you're spending the most time with or your co workers who are thinking about trading the same way you are, then maybe you're going to make, you know, combine the same types of errors, it's certainly better than then trying to act on your own. And even better if you have a culture that rewards truth finding, as opposed to rewarding action, if nobody feels personally attacked, because of somebody else pointing out their error, but instead feels like we together have now done more to get closer to, to some truth to the better way to act or the you know, the more accurate, fair value of this asset that we're trading, then everybody feels like it's a win. And they will therefore encourage the involvement of the people around them.
I like that a lot truth finding over action. I want to get into the training and segue. But before we do that, maybe you can give us just this Two Minute vignette of how we get here. And yeah,
and I think that this will be good for my parents who will certainly be listening to this podcast when it airs to figure out what it is that I do for a living question that they've been asking me for. For a couple decades now. I joined Susquehanna in 1997. straight out of college, I went to University of Virginia undergrad, unlike sort of the stereotypical finance background, I studied a combination of anthropology, psychology, linguistics, and education. And I was combined into a major that focused on Deaf culture and language, so American Sign Language and, and Deaf communities. So I came into the firm, not knowing the difference between a call and a put, which turns out to be pretty significant when you're trading options, but knowing a good amount about about how people act and about mistakes that people make, and about how to encourage this truth finding started off working on the floor of the Philadelphia stock exchange trading equity options. And then after going through our training program and returning to the floor for a little while, I then moved on to trade American Depositary Receipts, which are an international equity arbitrage. So foreign companies listed in the US denominated in dollars in the US but also traded in their native currency in their home country. Over time I moved to Europe when we were setting up our operations in Dublin, Ireland, I moved back to the US after a little while in in Dublin to work on the business side for a while to work on some new business development and some of the Business Administration part of the business, then moved back to trading in 2007 to trade fixed income. Two years after that I moved back over to the education side of the business. So I moved from trading, which had been for over a decade to, to bringing in our, our junior traders, teaching them what we know about decision making under uncertainty, the fundamentals of option pricing and finance and how we apply that to the markets.
Talk to me a little bit about that experience. How do you teach somebody to find the truth? Like how much can people improve as they come in the door to where the what they're capable of
Susquehanna has always had a very growth mindset perspective on on teaching trading, you know, before Carol Dweck, had even shared her her views on growth mindset, that is, that has always been the company's position is that traders are made not born, you know, we're now over 2000 people worldwide, and we still have a small company mindset of, you know, we got to, we've got to make the best of what we have. And we're competing with the world, that's, you know, let's, let's figure out how to how to improve our our employees the best way we can. And the way that we're training people today is certainly changed from what it was originally, but there are a lot of things that have stayed the same. And among that is, is this idea that if we have smart people that are editable, and vocal about their thought process, so that we can improve it and willing to be wrong, then we can teach them about trading. Part of my background is studying education. And as I moved through my time at shg, as an educator, I was finding that I was applying things that I had learned in the classroom, you know, over a decade earlier in a way that I hadn't anticipated. When I was originally studying education, I was thinking that I might be teaching sixth grade deaf kids how to do math. Instead, I've got MIT graduates who certainly understand math, but don't know trading. And I'm teaching them how to make these asset allocation decisions with imperfect information. But the approach is still the same. The approach is still this one of modeling the process, finding out where somebody is, and finding out what they can grow to and providing the appropriate support so that they can grow to be a better decision maker. The the philosophy that always comes to mind when I think about it is I'm not sure if you're familiar with Lev Vygotsky. No. So Lev Vygotsky, was a Russian psychologist, he was born at the end, the 1890s grew in prominence in Russia pretty quickly through mid 1930s. He died young, he ended up dying when he was 37 years old. So in 1934, and the ideas that that Vigotsky had around education were contrasted with another prominent psychologist of the day, John Piaget, Piaget had this perspective about stages of receptivity to different types of education, that you cannot teach somebody anything until they reach the appropriate developmental stage to be able to learn it. And then, and then they can learn whatever's sort of presented to them before moving on to the next stage. And Piaget had, you know, a pretty rigid framework for the stages that you move through how you move through them. And that education effectively ended at adolescence. And because he said, Now, that's kind of bunk. That's not how any of this works. All of education is socio cultural, all of education comes from interaction with others. And those others in order for them to be educators have to be more knowledgeable than you are. And that when you have interaction with more knowledgeable others, what those people are able to do is recognize your zone of proximal development, you have a zone of things that you know, and then you've got a zone that is just too far out of your reach that, you know, no matter what if I were to sit down my six year old nephew, and try to explain linear algebra to him, he's not going to get it yet, he just doesn't have the fundamental tools to do that. But somewhere outside of your zone of mastery is this zone of proximal development, the zone that that you can move into with appropriate support and that support in the Vigotsky literature is referred to as scaffolding. And you want it to be the the, the minimal amount of support necessary to appropriately move somebody to be able to handle the next level of mastery. Over time, you can dismantle that support, dismantle that scaffolding and that zone becomes part of their zone of mastery, and you've just pushed out where their zone of proximal development is so that over time you can you can move them into an area where they're learning more and more and they've got greater mastery and competence in whatever area is that that you've been teaching them. And eventually, they become more knowledgeable than other people around them. And they can provide the scaffolding as the more knowledgeable other for their peers as well.
How do you identify that tipping point between competence and Okay, now we're into educated incompetence in a way because you're just outside of your company. And especially in a field where you have imperfect information and uncertainty.
One, one important thing that we don't do is look at the results of the training that they've had and say, well, if they're winning, then they've got it. And we can leave them alone and and assume that they figured things out. And if they're losing, then we need to step in and intervene. And he Duke, another one of your former guests talks about that as resulting. Kahneman refers to that as hindsight bias is something that we we look to avoid as frequently as we can, when people talk about trading decisions that they've made to more experienced traders or to peers who can give them feedback on it. We do everything we can to shield, the person giving feedback from knowing the results. I'm not going to tell you whether or not this trade worked out, I will tell you the information that was available to me at the time that I made the trade, and then what I did, and you can give me feedback on that process. So the identification from in sort of this less formal setting comes from from knowledge about about how, how trading works, or how this particular risk taking works, or whatever it might be in our education setting. It's something that we control a whole lot more cleanly, right, we don't have to present a very complex trade and see who can figure out sort of the pieces of it until everybody's ready to everybody know who's in the trading class is ready to get there, we can build from from smaller pieces up to up to the larger concept, and see who along the way, isn't processing that smaller piece appropriately. And a big part of how information is passed from the mentor to the mentee is by modeling the decision process, it is not enough to say you should have raised the ball by two points when this trade came in. Instead, it's so much more important to say, okay, when this trade came in, I remembered that earlier in the week, somebody had traded this other structure. And when they did, I updated my possible outcome space to look different. This trade confirmed with that other trade did so so now I was I just more heavily weighted this other outcome. And the result was that I took volatility up two points, then someone knows not only what to do, which is really not the important thing to take away. But how to do it, which is very much what we're looking to teach.
It sounds like what you're really doing is knowledge transfer through sharing of reflection, you're opening up people's mind, and you're saying like, you have an experience, tell me how you process that experience, which is the reflection angle, which comes to an abstraction or sort of, which is what you would do in this circumstance, which becomes an action. And I think of this as the learning loop. Right? So you start with an experience, you have a reflection, you you draw an abstraction, and then you do an action. So often, we're just drawn to the abstraction, what should I do? What should I do, but I don't see the thinking behind it, I don't see that, then I can't match the patterns, I can't see the nuances, I can encode it in my brain about when I should deviate when I should follow.
Yeah, you know, we're really discussing how we would behave in a situation and modeling with the conversation really should look like and will disagree with each other. The answer to just about every trading question is it depends, which is a really hard thing for someone to hear when they're first learning because they want the answer. They want to know, when I'm in this exact situation, again, what is the optimal thing to do? The interesting part of the conversation comes in the what it depends on all of these questions lead to the some type of answer of what you could do or what should be in your in the actions that you might take here. And there's some things that are clearly wrong. And it's important to talk about that, too. So when we're talking about it in a trading context, it's really nice that one teacher can say, I think that I probably would have shown a bid for this price and this amount. And someone else says, Well, I don't know that I would because this brokers behaved this way before. So I think that this might be a time where I'd be afraid that I'm opening myself up to selection bias if I if I were to price it that way. And I would do this, and you have these senior traders who are disagreeing. And so there's this really nice modeling of, of how to think about how to improve the process, so that you can reach an answer that you are tentatively more comfortable with.
There's something you said earlier that stuck with me about answers. And when we're given the answer, we sort of stopped thinking but we're we go through life. And we're told the answer to problems. And the thing that happens is when somebody doesn't know the answer, we're stuck because we forgot how to actually problem solve. We forgot how to reason through things. We've forgotten that we can solve these problems on our own. And we have our own way of thinking. And these tools are rusty because we've just gone through an education system that's like this is the answer. This is how you think about it. This is how you do it. And when the answer doesn't appear, we're just we were paralyzed almost right. Right, and we don't know what to do. So we wait for somebody to give us an answer. And there,
there are definitely places where we know that we enjoy the search for answers. But there's they tend to be separate and self contained. Nobody ever goes out and buys a printed book of Sudoku puzzles that are already printed and completed. But there are other contexts where you're absolutely right, where people say, I'm afraid that if I don't know the answer here, and I don't know who to ask for the answer, that I'm going to look foolish by trying to figure it out on my own, I'm going to make mistakes as I tried to go through this. And in the world that I live in, you know, for better or worse, we know that we're going to make mistakes all the time, that we're effectively just running experiments and getting feedback, and then updating our approach and running a new experiment again, the next day, and experiments fail. Like that's one of the ways that they eventually succeed is because you've found enough ways that that they fail. The other thing that that happens when people want answers is they want certainty. Five years ago, meat silver was was everybody's favorite punching bag, because this moron thought that Trump wasn't going to win the election. And then he did, which is of course never with Nate Silver set. Right. Nate Silver said there's a 20% chance he's going to win the election. And 20% chances happen, and we don't think through things. probabilistically. Right. The world is just not set up for probabilistic thinking. I think it was Phil Tetlock who I heard say that we talk about, you know, things with probability numbers. But what we really have are three probability states, it certainly won't happen. It certainly will happen, or it might happen. And those are the only three things that we can process. So when people hear that 538 had Trump at 20%, to win this, okay, that means it's not going to happen. And then it did. So you were wrong. It's really hard to say anybody's wrong about a single probability prediction, unless they said that something was your percent or 100%.
Two things about that strike me interest as interesting one, is that why you use poker to teach decision making is because you're dealing with probabilities and uncertainty. The second is, how do you calibrate it? Like if you're Nate Silver, and you live in this world, where you put this out there and you say, you know, 80% of the time, it's going to be Hillary Clinton, 20% of the time, it's going to be Trump. How do I look at that in the face of Trump winning? And say, was I right? Or was that wrong? Given that information? How do I update? Yeah,
so two really good questions. I think I'm going to take them the opposite, in the opposite order of what you gave me and start with the, how do you calibrate one, if the only thing that you predict are very hard to predict outcomes, and you predict them very rarely, you're not going to be able to calibrate very well at all. On the other hand, if you predict many different things that particularly if they're uncorrelated, so you have a lot of repetitions, where you're going to get feedback, then you're going to have learning, and it'd be great. If you could look back at all the times that you said something had a 20% chance of happening, and see how many times it happened. And if it only happened 10% of the time, you're also making a mistake, it's certainly a mistake if it happened 70% of the time, and you said it was 20%. But importantly, you might be making the mistake of being too conservative in your in your estimate not discriminating enough in your in your in using the probability distribution available to you. Phil Tetlock has built an entire solution around this, which is to look for Super forecasters. And the way he measures the performance of the super forecasters is by giving them lots of things to predict, and to come up with probability assessments on it. And to be able to change their probability assessment as the information set changes, which is a really important thing in decision making, and really avoids the binary will or won't and leads to much better nuance in the middle and really understanding the probabilities. And when you have lots of measurements, then you have feedback that that you can use to to improve the quality of your predictions. Weather forecasters are really good. I mean, just stupid. Good. And if you if you were to plot how often it rains, when they say there's a 30% chance of rain, it's like 30% of the time, it's not 25 or 35. That would be a pretty bad weather forecast. But that's because they get daily feedback, right? They're making predictions all the time. And they always know whether or not their prediction came true. And sometimes they say there's a 30% chance of rain and it rains and that doesn't mean they were wrong. It does mean that the people we're talking about in the next day are going to say they were wrong. They're gonna say, you know, I was listening to Andrew Frieden, my local news, weather forecaster and he said it was 30% chance of rain. So I didn't bring my umbrella now here I am all wet. Thanks, Andrew. Right. But I know that if I listened to the local forecast over and over and over again, that that prediction is going to be is going to be pretty accurate. And the places where, where people are terribly inaccurate or places where they're making predictions about, about things where they either haven't had the opportunity for a lot of feedback or where nobody's going to hold them accountable for for being wrong. And the the worst forecasts are often from people who are experts who make extreme forecasts when they're right, they're going to really write because they said something extreme. And that means that they're going to get on the news program. That's, you know, they're going to be interviewed on the cable program that night, because they were the ones who said, there's 100% chance that, you know, Chelsea wins the Premier League, the people who have the more nuanced view and say, Well, this is what I think the probability is. But if things shake out this way, then the probability is going to shift. Those people don't get, don't get the spotlight,
and then poker as an aid to teaching decision making.
So part of this is the phylogeny, of of Susquehanna, the founders of Susquehanna were in college together, and they studied an array of subjects. But what really brought them together was that they played poker together, and were able to talk about the decision process in their poker game in in a in a really nice way. And they said, We shouldn't just be shifting our own money between ourselves. Let's go to Vegas. And let's see if we can apply these decision principles at the poker table in Vegas. Should they went out to Vegas one summer and did and did very well. And a big part of the reason they did well, is exactly the principles I was talking about earlier that, that they were thinking they were updating their probability space in a Bayesian way. In very importantly, they weren't able to talk about hands real time with each other. But they would finish their session and come back to their hotel room. And they said, you know, so here's the situation I was in, I was on Fifth Street and I had a fluster on a pair of kings, the other person made an open pair of aces, he bet out on Fifth Street, and I thought about it and decided to fold What do you guys think, and they would work through the numbers and talk through to work it out quantitatively, which is certainly something that it's important for us to do on the trading side. And they would also talk about the decision process and the information set that was available. And they realized that, that they were benefiting a lot from the the interaction that we're having together. And they said, this same type of decision process is something that we could apply to the markets. And then they went into into business, first individually, and then they came back together and in 1987, formed SAS by an investment group at the time was the sort of the the first company that came together in May of 87. You know, I mentioned the phylogeny. So this was sort of the evolutionary development of the company. And I'm sort of referencing earns tackles recapitulation theory that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, that the development of a fetus, over time looks a lot like the evolutionary development of that species over time, you know, totally debunked. It's not the way fetuses actually develop. But the idea works really well for the for the passing on of, of the thinking around around how to trade, which is that if we think through trading and build up our understanding of risk and asymmetric information, and the difference between selection bias, and noisy outcomes, that you can make the right decision and still get unlucky. All these things apply to what we're doing as traders,
is it fair to say that probabilistic thinking is probably the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to improving your decision making ability. If you had to isolate that into the top three variables that you could teach somebody to prove their ability to see reality or truth finding, what would they be
talk more is number one, that beats probabilistic thinking that, that beats sort of anything else. And truth finding is, is being able to bring in other people in the decision process in a constructive way. So finding good ways to communicate to improve the input from others. And your decision process, I think is pretty important. Thinking probabilistically I think is definitely a very, very important piece of that I'm trying to sort of diagnose this works by trying to think of where where things fall apart, where people fail. The other place that people fail is really falling, falling in love with their decision process and not being open to being wrong. So in openness to to feedback to finding disconfirming information to actively seeking out disconfirming information, which is really uncomfortable. But that that I think is the other piece that is is super important for being a good trader.
There's something you mentioned there that that I thought was really important in the constructive versus non constructive ways of talking. Let's dive into that. What does that mean? Yeah,
um, Adam Grant recently was talking, talking about how to get feedback from people who are sort of lower on the the corporate echelon, so you know, your direct reports or their reports or whatever. And one of the things that he talked about was By leading with an honest acknowledgement of your shortcomings, that's really constructive, right? Because that allows for feedback. It invites it in an open way where you're clearly challenging behaviors and not the person and then has the open ended, you know, piece of, of asking the important what else question non constructive ways are seeking out? Yes, man answers, right, like, Hey, I just won $10,000 On that last trade that I did seems like that was pretty good. Can you think of any ways I could have improved that, it's really hard to follow that up with? Yeah, I think you probably should have won a lot more. Or you could have done it in a much less risky way, or you want because, you know, you flip the coin and came up heads stop patting yourself on the back, like, this was not all that impressive. You haven't really opened up for that, if you if you frame it as, tell me why my trade was good. Or tell me why this piece of my decision process was good, where you do the framing of what to focus on. And the and the other important thing is to actually change your behavior when you get the feedback, right. If if you get feedback, and then don't do anything with it, people are going to stop giving you the feedback. It's not just not helpful to ask for feedback and not change. It's actually hurtful.
Are there ways that you teach? I mean, you mentioned sort of what constructive versus non constructive is, but how do you teach people to communicate in a constructive way, when it comes to decision making? Or when it comes to life?
Yeah, so So part of that, again, comes from modeling it and modeling it intentionally, in the God's keen sense of the more knowledgeable other conveying information through language is by by saying, You're not going to get this unless you hear how I'm approaching this decision. I think about this a lot more with my own children, that this is something that I think about a lot as I'm, as I'm raising adults into the world, they frequently come to me and my wife and ask for advice. And the important thing for us to show them is not what the answer is, because we're going to be wrong. But how we think about the answer, which is, which is probably going to be much more I know, it's going to be much more important for them as they go forward making decisions when I'm not going to be standing next to them, but they can have sort of the proverbial dad on their shoulder whispering in their ear. Have you thought about this? Did you consider it this way? What is the cost of this? What are the benefits of this? Is this a decision that you can change after the fact? Because you didn't like the outcome? Or is this one that you're sticking with? All those questions that, that I that I would ask and trying to reach a decision, instead of just sort of asking it to myself and then and then handing over the the outcome? I share the process and sharing the process leads to more constructive conversations with my children and with and with our traders?
Are there other things that you do to help your kids learn how to make better decisions that other parents can be like, Aha, I want to do that to you.
One was something that I learned while I was in college, from a book called teacher effectiveness training. When I read it in the book, and we talked about it in class, I said, this is the dumbest piece of advice anybody's ever put down on paper. And it was around reflective listening. And the idea was that instead of trying to step in, and problem solve, instead of trying to reframe instead of trying to provide context or or dig deeper, all you do is tell the person what you heard them say, and that night, a friend of mine was over at my apartment for dinner. And she was talking about a problem that she was having with a roommate. And I was like, just for kicks, I'm going to give this a shot. And she's, you know, salting the chicken or whatever it was, and she's like, and then my roommate never puts her dishes away, and it bugs the hell out of me. So it sounds like you're really bothered when she doesn't put away your dishes. Should Yeah, and it's not just that, it's also that she doesn't appreciate it. When I do clean up. I said no. So it sounds like you know, part of the problem here is that you're not feeling appreciated. She's gonna think I'm the dumbest guy that she's ever known, right? Like, all I'm doing is, is repeating what she's saying. And I was like, well, this, this certainly feels dumb. And I guess at some point, I got to call myself out on and point out that I'm just doing this stupid thing from the stupid book. And that's, and then she turned to me and said, Todd, this is the most beneficial conversation I've had about my relationship with my roommate ever. I feel like I'm coming away with this understanding myself better and her but and, and her experience was totally different from mine. She felt heard, she felt seen. And she felt like she now had the power to make a better decision about her relationship going forward. And I thought, Okay, well, maybe this guy's not so stupid. Maybe this book isn't so stupid. And maybe these methods work in places that I wouldn't have thought they would work. And it's not always the solution. But it's a much better solution than then I would, would have thought it would be. And it's something that I find myself doing with my kids all the time, and it no longer feels forced to me It no longer feels fake. To me, it's very clear that what I'm doing is allowing the space for for them to finish their own thought. That's one of the things that I do with my kids that I think has been been really beneficial. Another one that's sort of related That was pointed out to me yesterday, by by my 16 year olds friend who was who was over in the house, her friend had said something that was happening with, with with her parents, her parents were away. And she was talking about an argument that she had with her parents and something that her father said to her. And my daughter said, Well, how do you feel about that? And, and her friends said, that is the most Simkin thing that I could hear you say at that point? Instead of asking what I want to do next, that you start with, how do I feel about it, which is, you know, and, and it's something that that she is that the friend and my daughter have heard from me and Shelly, my wife, over and over again, because again, it's really hard for us to jump in and start providing advice, if we don't even know where the child is coming from, you know, if we start saying what sounds like that, you know, that other kid was being a jerk? And like, no, that's not what I was saying at all. How do you not get me? How do you not understand what this is just starting with? How do you feel about that, which, again, feels like the Freudian psychologist sitting back, you know, while you're lying on the couch, just, you know, mumbling something. So you'll keep talking turns out to be pretty beneficial turns out to be really helpful,
is there a different process we use, when it comes to things that would be more feeling based, like maybe interpersonal relationships, or making decision
in some, in some ways, I could definitely see that it might feel that way. But I think that a lot of it is, is really very similar, a lot of it is still understanding truth, that if you don't have an understanding of what's really happening as a starting point, if we can't sort of agree on the facts, then then we're not going to be able to reach a good decision trading or interpersonally. Something else that I haven't talked about yet, but that definitely comes up a lot when I'm modeling for my kids. And when I'm modeling decision processes for my classes, is the principle of charity, when somebody says something, assuming that they're not an idiot, assuming that they're coming from from a place of sincerity and good intentions, and giving them the benefit of the doubt in the in the conversation on the trading side. Sure, this principle of charity is really giving somebody credit for knowing what they're doing when they're trading against you. This is what sort of protects you from from being run over by somebody who has better information than you do. On the interpersonal side, this allows for this gift to the other person have an assumption that that they are well intentioned and smart and approaching this for the same purpose that you are, and therefore you're going to end up being aligned in your process to reach a resolution to a conflict or to come to an agreement about whatever it is that you guys are talking about. Every single negotiation is a cooperation and collaboration. But there's there's not a single time, we're almost never really, you know, probably never where the other person has to negotiate with you, they have some alternative, they can walk away, which means that the only reason anybody's going to engage you in a negotiation is because by doing so they're going to get a better outcome than by not doing so if that's the case, then every every negotiation is collaborative, which means that a lot of these principles of how you treat other people and in a personal way, so that you'll end up having a favorable outcome for yourself means that you have to have a favorable outcome for them as well. Otherwise, they're not gonna be part of this conversation, and definitely not future conversations.
We're both believers and looking for people that challenge ideas and not the person, I'm curious as to what that means to you, as well as how you identify it in other people and nurture it.
So we've been talking about what we've been doing with our employees, once they're on board, and we're we're training them, we're teaching them how to do what we do in that hiring process. The best outcome for me for an interview, is if the candidate walks away, and wishes they could have part of the interview back, that means that I did not spend the entirety of the interview in their zone of mastery, where they just got to show off and print and print in front of me. And then I left to decide whether or not they would have the skills to do more. And I did not spend the entire time in the in the zone of frustration, where they couldn't do anything. And it's like, okay, like, you know, I didn't expect you to any way but you know, if you could, that would have been great to see. And I still make a hiring decision. But instead on on multiple dimensions, I've been able to find the place where with a little bit of support, they could do a little bit more. A big part of the reason that I like that is exactly this thing that we're talking about, which is this, this openness to feedback, because when I'm giving them feedback in because I've successfully mapped out their zone of proximal development, and now I'm providing a little bit of scaffolding to see what they can do with support. You will find that some people embrace it and say, Oh, I think I see where you're going. Let me see if I can take it from here. That's a great answer. You will find some people who are just waiting for you to give them more of the answer. Who will just say okay, what else like you know, wait for you to map out the entire selection process and then they'll just fill in the numbers. I think you'll find some people who are totally resistant to it, who will shut you up who will, you know, put their hand up and say, no, no, no. Let me work on it my way. And they're always not working. Yeah. And I know why it's not working. And I can help direct them away from it. But they don't take the feedback. I don't want the person who doesn't take the feedback. And I don't want the person who's waiting for more feedback. I want the person who is hungry and eager to use the tools that are presented and available to them to then do the work themselves. That's what's going to be successful when they're trading. And they get to have a small opportunity of doing that in the interview process.
When you were younger, you had an early morning experience with your dad, where you told him you're going to quit playing lacrosse. Tell me about that conversation and how it still helps you to this day when it comes to stopping or quitting something.
Yeah, I went to high school in Baltimore, I believe that my high school might have been ranked number one in the country in lacrosse at the time that I was in high school. So I was I was very much at a at a a lacrosse centric High School. So the requirement for all the boys there was that they they have an activity in athletic activity. For three seasons. I played football pretty well, when I was in high school, I wrestled really poorly when I was in high school, and I played the cross. But I really wasn't great. And I really didn't love it. And there were other things that I want to spend my time on. And I decided that I was going to quit. So I I woke up, or I got home after practice after having, you know, had enough of my coach one last time. And you know, at dinner that night, I said, I'm quitting lacrosse tomorrow, when I go into school, I'm going to quit lacrosse. And my father was clearly irritated by it, but didn't know how to express it. And the next morning, I went and I showered like I always did in the morning and I came out of the shower. And I remember that was just wearing a towel because I remember how how vulnerable I felt because I was I was just wrapped in a towel around my waist. And my father said, to come into the living room sit down, I want to talk to you. So I sat down in my towel and thought that this was going to be a couple seconds of You can't quit the cross, which which would have made some sense sort of a, you know, a heavy handed edict. But instead, he said, Yeah, I've been thinking about it on that. And it's really been bothering me thinking about the fact that you're quitting, it really bothers me because I haven't heard why you want to quit, other than the fact that you've been frustrated with your coach, there's not enough here. Like it doesn't make sense. So you're gonna have to explain to me in a way that it makes sense in order for me to be supportive of this. And in hindsight, I recognize that this was such great parenting happening here, which was not saying, here's what you have to do, here's what you can't do. But instead, it said, if this is a reasonable and rational choice, or even an even an emotional choice, which near isn't necessarily rational, but But it's an emotional and consistent choice, I'll back you up on on doing this. If it's not if this is rash, and it's going to have long term implications for you, which is that you can't quit the team and then three days later, go back and say you've decided that you want to rejoin, then there are big implications here. So you need to make sure that you've given this appropriate weight and appropriate thought, before following through with the decision that you can't change. Tell me what you're thinking and tell me what your plan is. If you do this, you're gonna have an extra two hours every afternoon, you have an extra 10 hours a week. What are you doing with that time? How are you better off having that time, not on the lacrosse field than when you were on the lacrosse field. And the way we left it at the time was with me still dripping wet holding my towel, feeling a bit frustrated that I was not able to convince my father that this was the right choice. And because I couldn't, I realized that maybe it wasn't the right choice. Maybe what I needed to do was wait, and waiting was the low cost option, right that at the time, I didn't know what options were. But in the way I sort of frame and think about the world. Now I recognize that this is what we would refer to as a real option that that there is a cost to it. It does cost me something, it costs you something in terms of my frustration level. And the fact that I'm tired after running for two hours straight. And I'm not as fast as the other guys on the team. So I've got to play catch up a lot. And if all the stuff that's going to, but that's day by day, and in return, I get this upside of maybe there's some benefit to me sticking with this longer term. I ended up reaching the conclusion, a couple weeks later, that I wanted that to be my last lacrosse season. But I would finish out the season I would finish out both the commitment to the team and also find the opportunity to fill that time with with something else that was going to also be productive and ideally more productive than playing lacrosse, which I couldn't do midseason. I couldn't switch over and start start playing on the baseball team midseason. But the process of having my father model, deliberate decision making for something that was consequential was really was really pretty beneficial early on.
And how do you use that today?
I hope But the same care that my father had then which is that, that he never erupted, you know, his his reaction was never emotional. It was purely inquisitive. Right? It was like, you know, help me understand better. And and the the question of helped me understand better is, is exactly the way I approach decisions that my children are making is to say, look, you know that I love and support you with whatever it is that you're doing. But I can either provide context, or at the very least more support if I understand better where you're coming from. So help me get this, one of the one of the other teachers of the class at Susquehanna has such a lovely touch, he just says, Tell me more, and tell me more doesn't have any value late in it, it doesn't have any, any judgment in it. It's just saying, go ahead and, and add more words to what you've already shared. You want to take this action against this type of order flow? Why? Tell me more. And effectively what my father was saying is the same as what as what Mike, my, my co teacher says, when he's talking to our students, which is just, I cannot reach a conclusion about what you're saying, until I understand it better. So help me understand it better. Tell me more.
I think that's really effective. And one of the things that I like about your father's approach is that it started with I want to support you. But in order to do that I need to understand better. So it comes from this sort of like unconditional love and no judgment about your decision. But not being able to connect the dots for yourself, which I assume would help you communicate constructively about your decisions, and communicate how you're thinking about things, which is the beginning of sort of getting better at them. Yeah,
I think that's exactly right, that. And the other thing that it does, is that it establishes very early, that we're on the same side that we have, if not all of the same goals, we have alignment with our values and our goals, I want to support you says all I'm looking for is an excuse to make sure that you and I are facing the same direction and facing the world together. Help me get there bring me into alignment with you by by telling me more,
you've struggled a bit with depression, I'd love to learn more about your struggles and how you overcame them.
I was when I started college, I started off as a pre med, and I found that I hated it, I hated the classes that I was taking. And I hated the idea about medicine as a career. Like I just felt unmoored and unsure about how to how to get back where I wanted to be, as a result did some really unhealthy self destructive things both both educationally and in sort of, in my, in my personal life. So I was, so I ended up sabotaging myself academically, and I sabotage myself interpersonally that, you know, I was I was doing stupid things like drinking too much alcohol in the middle of the week, and you know, and doing things that that were not going to be productive toward, toward any goal, because I felt like I didn't have a goal at the time, I mean, did end up manifesting in a pretty bad way in college that it got to a point of of a pretty dark, deep depression that ended up with me withdrawing from from classes, working for a while to find the right therapist to work with in school. And then maybe amazingly, or maybe in a totally expected way, riding the ship that once I had the appropriate support and conversations with people who loved loved me and cared about me around me who were supportive of me sort of finding, finding my own way, all of a sudden, I didn't feel the pressure that I was putting on myself and I was able to succeed and I didn't feel like I needed to fulfill anybody else's desires for where I was gonna end up. So I was able to, to chart my path and start doing things that I really enjoyed. And instead of being pre med, I said, I really love these different topics. And that's when I created my own major, which focused on you know, of all things deaf culture and language, which does not let is not a pre vocational path, but instead, you know, education for for the sake of education, which allowed me to sort of demonstrate to the world that I was able to learn. And it also provided a lot of tools that I've been talking about how I deal with my children and how I deal with my students, which is that I learned a lot better how to handle interpersonal relationships and how to communicate more clearly.
Had you reflect in yourself like or do you catch yourself prone to depression? Or do you catch yourself sort of falling into the that way of thinking and then move yourself out of it? Or is it something that's sort of not there all the time in the back background?
It's definitely not something that I feel like I live with and struggle with is definitely feels like a much more of a footnote in my history than it is a you know, a description of something that I that I fight, I do know that that there are certain pieces Hebrews that I tend to fall into when I'm feeling overwhelmed, that are non productive. That is, I don't feel depressed. But I know that there are better ways for me to to approach either the way I'm caring for myself or the way I'm interacting with others. And importantly, it's given me a lot of good tools for, for handling issues that that my loved ones face that I feel like, you know, when my, when my children are facing issues with depression or unproductive, I feel like I've got better tools now to be able to, to help them out of wherever they are. And the other really important thing that I think goes, it's still stigmatized, broadly, is is using mental health professionals that just before we started this conversation, I got a phone call from my dentist to set up my annual cleaning. So in two days, I'm having my annual cleaning, which most of your listening audience is going to think, you know, so what? Okay, great, he's getting his teeth cleaned. If I were to tell you that instead, it wasn't my dentist that called but it was my therapist who called in two days, I'm going to sit down with her and just talk through what's going on in my life. Not because there's a problem, but because it's part of my mental health hygiene. I think that there might be some people who sort of bristle at that a little bit like, what do you see in the shrink for you know what, you know why you sit down with a therapist, like what's going on what's wrong, but I do regularly check in with a therapist, not because there's anything wrong, but but for the same reason that I get my teeth cleaned. And for the same reason that I see my doctor every year for checking, just to make sure that things are staying on track. And that, that I'm catching anything that might be bubbling up as a problem before it becomes a problem. That's really
powerful, not only individually, but for performance to to have somebody to talk to you and talk through things with. And I don't know why I get stigmatized or sort of thought down upon. Yeah, I don't quite understand that. I have to ask, tell me about your Jeopardy experience. And we're talking before you told me you're a contestant on Jeopardy. I wanna I want to hear about this.
Yeah, this was a while ago. Now. This is soon after my my oldest was, was just born, there was an open audition for Jeopardy. And it was a show that I had watched as a family. And I was always so amazed by the fact that my father would be able to answer like two thirds of the questions before the contestants got to and I thought, Man, this is, this is pretty cool. And then there was an open audition. So I went to the Baltimore convention center and signed up for the audition and did well on the test. And then they have you play a practice round, and I ended up getting invited on to the show. And before I went on the show, I knew that there were some things that I needed to really brush up on, Shakespeare comes up in ways that I knew that I didn't have a deep enough knowledge of I went to make sure I knew all the presidents and vice presidents in order, things like that. And Jeff IASS, the founder of one of the founders of Susquehanna, the Chief Risk Manager at Susquehanna, came into my office before I went, and he said, Todd, nobody cares if you know anything about American history. But if you screw up the the betting on the Final Jeopardy and Daily Doubles, don't even bother coming back. Which was a lovely, a lovely reminder that I couldn't embarrass myself by not knowing trivia. And, and a very good reminder that what I do as a profession is put money at risk. So I should probably make sure that I'm thinking pretty clearly about about how I'm gambling in the game. And when I got back, he came in my office close the door behind me said, I know that you're not supposed to share the results until the show airs. But tell me how much money you had. How much money everybody had Final Jeopardy. And I'll tell you you should have wagered Oh, that's and that was all that he wanted to talk about when I when I got back. I won one night, so So yeah, I made it to Final Jeopardy. And you prove to my of my wager Santos, I want to
end with some of the lessons that you learned from your parents growing up.
The first thing that that I thought of when I thought of kind of what my parents taught me or showed me something that I misunderstood when I was little. And when I was little, I noticed that they would sleep late on the weekends. When I was in college, I knew not to call my parents on a Saturday before noon, because they might still be asleep. And I interpreted that incorrectly when I was little as them being sort of lazy. And what I realize now, as they're septuagenarians and still working, is that this was totally the result of the fact that they worked their tails off for my entire life and still still do work incredibly hard. And that the conversation that I had with my father that morning, when I wanted to quit the cross was really wanting to making sure that I wasn't picking the path of laziness, but that I was picking a path for good well thought out reasons. Because there's value in doing work value and doing hard work that there's payment that comes from that in the long run. So my parents did a really good job of showing me that that being dedicated to a purpose and for them the purpose was so very clearly providing for me and my brother and my sister, and providing the life that gave us opportunity was important. To them, and I realized that the reason that they were working so hard is because they valued education. So highly. So this is sort of the number two that I got from them was was the very clear value of education. My siblings and I had private education, we went to private schools, when we were younger, because they saw some failings in in the, in the public education that that we were getting. And they saw that there was greater opportunity, if they could provide us with, with a better education. So they made sure that in spite of the fact that it was more of a financial stretch, certainly the parents sending us to public school that they were willing to take on, you know, the additional mortgage to pay for, for us to be appropriately educated. And in talking to my kids about sort of how that shows up for them. I sent them a group text and just said, Hey, I'm going to be talking to Shane, I know that this is something he's going to ask about, what did you guys learned from me. And the way they responded was that I've done a really good job of modeling for them acceptance and love. My youngest daughter, my 13 year old Jane said that she knows that it's important to leave saying, I love you that that the end of every conversation is I love you. And it's not performative it is a student's a performative using the word that it's very clearly real. And you're and you make sure that that's the the purpose with which you end the conversation. And that was always my interaction with my parents that I remember. So very well, them coming to see me sing in college. So I sang in, in the Virginia Glee Club, and there were 65 men standing on stage in rehearsal. And my father showed up, trying to figure out, you know, where he was supposed to, you know, leave my tuxedo or whatever it was. So he walks onto the stage in as we're rehearsing before the final performance, and he came on, and I went over and greeted him the way I always greet him, which is with a hug, and a kiss. Hello. And I talked to him, and then he gave me another kiss, and he and he walked away. And I always knew that with disagreements with fights, whatever, that my parents always loved me that that was sort of the baseline understanding of, of where I stood with them. And, you know, as a grown man, I was able, then and still am to, to hug and kiss my parents, hello, and goodbye. And only later when some of the other guys in the Glee Club said to me like, you know, it's sort of it was nice to see you give your father a kiss. I was like, Oh, you're talking about? Of course, I would like How else would I greet him and realize that that wasn't everybody's norm. And that's something that that I've certainly taken from them and passed on to my kids.
Thank you. It's a beautiful way to end this interview. Todd, I really appreciate the time.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
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