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EXCLUSIVE: Why This Hedge Fund Manager Likes Naps And Has A Unique Office Setup

EXCLUSIVE: Why This Hedge Fund Manager Likes Naps And Has A Unique Office Setup

Hedge fund manager Guy Spier has some non-conventional tips on how people should set up their offices. Value investor Tim Melvin spoke with Spier to gain further insight.

Based out of Zurich, Switzerland, Spier runs Aquamarine Capital, a fund that follows a philosophy similar to Warren Buffett’s early years. Spier became the focus of the financial media in 2007 when he bid over $650,000 to have lunch with Buffett in a charity event.

TM: You have spent a lot of time building your idea office since moving to Switzerland. Can you talk about what that entails?

GS: I think the main thing, and this was inspired by Mohnish Pabrai when I discovered that he had a nap room, is that I absolutely and firmly wanted to create separation between a place where I could go with no electronic equipment. No telephone, no computer, somewhere I could just go and think and I call it my library. It’s the other end of my office; I have to walk down a corridor to get there and I just spend as much time as I can in that library and not at my desk.

In my busy office, which is next to my assistant's, I have a four-screen computer and I have two telephones and all my iPhones plugged in. But, I put the computer on a variable height desk and I try as much as I can to leave that desk standing, so I have to stand to use it, to reduce my desire to just do email. Every time I walk over to the other side of the office, I get a better sense of my priorities on where I ought to be spending my time.

Related Link: EXCLUSIVE: 2 Investing Tips From Hedge Fund Guru Guy Spier

I think that where many of the behavioral finance texts and experts fall short is that it is nowhere near good enough just to describe the effects of behavioral economics. What we really need to do is create environments where those don’t impact as much. Many of the self-help books will say, ‘here’s how you deal with destructivity,’ or ‘here’s how you deal with having too much to do.’ The problem is it requires more human effort and what I’m trying to do is to create an environment where I slide into the right behaviors without trying.

If I were designing my office from scratch, I would have an entrance which would take me straight into the library and my busy office would be a little bit harder to get to. And then all my potential guests would have to go through an entrance where the closest they could get to the library was through the busy office.

TM: Can you elaborate on your napping habits? I like taking a 3 p.m. nap.

GS: I told Mohnish Pabrai that I sort of like the 3 p.m. nap; it’s a good 40-minute nap and I come out of it feeling awesomely relaxed and I don’t feel the urge to do anything, so I’m a little bit concerned. He looks at me and says, ‘what’s wrong with that?’

Mohnish told me that he’d read something where it turns out that dead people perform far better as investment managers than live people. It was a study of how portfolios did when they were forgotten by the person who is deceased and it turns out that the deceased peoples’ portfolios performed better, which is simply the result of not playing with them and not interfering with what’s going on. Warren’s written, I think more than once in his letters, is that he and the shareholders would have done better if he just snuck out and had gone to watch a movie. Napping is probably the best thing for a portfolio.

See Tim Melvin's exclusive interviews at The Deep Value Letter.

Image credit: Matteo Paciotti, Flickr


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