In his most in-depth interview ever, Legendary activist investor Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) discusses the lessons he learned from the brink of failure, what drives him, his nutritional and exercise habits, and new details on the biggest trade of all time (26m to 2.6b in a few weeks).
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
I think of philanthropy as something that is not genetic, it is learned, and it was something that my dad reinforced pretty much from the time I was a kid.
I’ve always had this view that success is not a straight line up. If you read the stories of successful people, almost every successful person has had to deal with some degree of hardship, whether that hardship is personal hardship, health-related hardship, or a business issue.
I’ve always had the view that how successful you are is really a function of how you deal with failure. If you deal with failure well and you persist, you have a high probability of being successful.
I admire people who take on unbelievable challenges and succeed.
One of the nice things psychologically about going to an office is that you go, you focus, and then when you come home it’s easier to leave it behind and it’s much harder to do that when your office phone is in the TV room.
I actually think that people will be that much more desperate for human connection after this experience than they were before.
Even Mr. Buffett makes mistakes, which is instructive in and of itself. The good news is when you buy things as opposed to short things, your mistakes become smaller.
One of the most influential things he[Buffett] said to me was if you want to be successful, all you need to do is look around the room and think about the classmate or classmates you most admire and what qualities they have and just decide to adopt those qualities. If you do that, your chances of being successful go up enormously.
- 02:33 Lessons from parents
- 04:46 Driven by independence
- 05:09 Overcoming failure
- 06:11 Hard earned lessons learned
- 07:20 Small improvements; Grounding yourself in the moment
- 07:51 The most important thing
- 08:35 Admiring Elon Musk
- 08:55 What Success Means?
- 09:19 Overcoming setbacks
- 11:49 On divorce
- 12:53 His sleep, exercise, and nutrition habits
- 15:40 What he watches on Netflix
- 16:03 What he reads
- 18:02 How he sources investment ideas
- 27:27 Index Funds and ETFs
- 33:04 His heroes
- 41:52 Herbalife in detail
- 44:28 Dealing with Haters
- 46:46 The biggest trade in history (26m to 2.6b in weeks)
- 56:00 Credit Default Swaps
- 01:00:16 Economic Implications of COVID
- 01:08:57 Economic bailouts
- 01:12:00 Are Malls Dead?
- 01:14:33 Predictions After COVID
- 01:16:51 Berkshire Hathaway
- 01:22:13 Lessons from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger
- 01:26:16 The future of Pershing Square
- 01:27:29 How the SEC should operate