From Wikipedia, Edward Oakley Thorp is an American mathematics professor, author, hedge fund manager, and blackjack researcher. Ed Thorp was one of the world’s best blackjack players and investors. His hedge funds were profitable every year for 29 years! He’s currently 90 (born in 1932), looks 60, and has the mental acuity of someone in their 30s!
I had no idea it was even possible to be as mentally sharp and physically agile as Ed Thorp is in his 9th decade. The few 80-year-olds and 90-year-olds that I’ve known could barely carry a conversation without getting tired. And they were all mobility impaired. Knowing Ed Thorp exists, opens up a world of possibilities for old age!
Most people would be listening to Ed Thorp for investment advice. For me though, I’m much more interested in how to live a happy, healthy, active life all the way until my 90s. Going forward, I’m going to start asking myself, “What would Ed Thorp do?” on matters concerning aging.
I listened to this podcast episode twice (8/28/2022 & 8/29/2022) and read the transcript twice (8/29/2022 & 8/30/2022). They talked about a number of topics and I want to share with you some of my favorite parts to encourage you to listen to the podcast when you have time!
What I Learned From (WILF) The Tim Ferriss Show: #604 Ed Thorp
- “And measurement is important because you want facts on which to base what you do instead of hopes, beliefs, wishes, and so on.”
- “Awareness, analysis, action.”
- “The whole thing about health and fitness as I see it is you want to do things that are preventative and you want to make sure you’re not missing something important because it’s the things you miss that are going to do more damage than the positive things are to save you. I mean, you can work out and be fit and have high aerobics and so on, but if you’re not going in for routine colonoscopies and skin cancer checks and so on, you’re leaving a big risk factor open for yourself.”
- “Life is a lot like running a marathon.”
Measurement is Important
Ed Thorp stresses that you’ll want facts on which to base what you do instead of hopes, beliefs, wishes, and so on. Because for many people their words are not synchronized with their actions. For example, Ed Thorp has a relative who was significantly overweight and wished to lose weight.
Ed Thorp says he told the relative, “I’m not going to tell you what to eat, or how to eat, or anything else. The first thing you do is, you get on a scale every morning, and you write down the date and how much you weighed. And just observe that number. And do that day after day.” Well, it turned out he didn’t really want to lose weight. And so after a while, he stopped doing this.”
Regarding weight issues, like Ed Thorp’s relative, I’ve struggled with my weight and constantly complained about it for over 25 years, and yet I didn’t own a scale! It wasn’t until 2017 that I bought my first scale and started weighing myself every day in hopes of keeping my weight somewhat consistent. I was happily surprised to find that it was instrumental in me being in the same weight bracket of 105lbs to 112lbs.
These days other than my weight, I also track my heart rate, the number of hours I sleep, the number of hours I spend writing, what clothes I wear, the time spent on meditation, and the time spent working out daily. Most recently, I started to track the instances Mark is acting Mark-centered.
Currently, I don’t yet love the act of actually keeping track. I continue because everything I’ve kept track of eventually leads to the results I desire or close to the results I desire.
Thank you Ed Thorp for the reminder to keep on measuring and tracking what is important to me!
Awareness, Analysis, Action
Ed Thrope talks about how “…there are things in everyday life, somebody starts shooting here in the crowd.
“You have very little time to decide what to do. I mean, I would drop to the ground, first thing, and then figure out what to do next because you’re a small target, and then see how you can help. But people have these things suddenly thrust upon them. And if you have some thought about how you’d act in some of those things, like I know what I’d do in my high rise office building if there was an earthquake, if you have some idea of how you’d act ahead of time, it helps prepare you so that you can probably have a better chance of coming out of it with less loss or damage. So that’s another approach or big risk, the sort of things most of us don’t like to think about and prefer to think about happy things.”
Until Ed Thrope brought up the topic of thinking of what to do if one happens to be unlucky enough to be at a place where there is an active shooter shooting randomly at people, I’d never thought about what I would do. I had no idea that I would need to drop to the ground and scuttle away. I preferred to not imagine the possibility that I may one day be in the same place and time as an active shooter.
Don’t Skip Preventative Healthcare!
Pretty much all of my relatives do not believe in preventative healthcare. They think if they are unhealthy or have poor mobility, it is their fate. For most of my life, I followed their beliefs without even stopping to ask myself why.
It wasn’t until I was 36 when I realized that maybe I need to stop taking unsolicited advice from people whose lifestyle I did not wish to emulate that I started visiting my doctor regularly to get an annual physical.
Before listening to this podcast:
- I was actively against getting a routine colonoscopy because an acquaintance almost died from getting one due to their doctor’s carelessness.
- I had no idea I was supposed to get yearly skin cancer checks.
- I thought getting a mammogram was not necessary because there is no history of it in my family.
With Ed Thorpe saying that if I don’t take preventative actions, I’ll be leaving a big risk factor open for myself that no amount of working out can make up for it, I edited my views. Going forward, I’m going to go for a yearly full body scan for skin cancer checks and suspicious moles or skin lesions, a mammogram and a colonscopy when I turn 45, and a bone density test when I turn 60 as well as pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations.
Thank you Ed Thorpe for informing me of the risk factors that I would be leaving myself open to if I skipped preventative healthcare!
Life is a Lot Like a Marathon
Ed Thorpe: “So if you’re running a marathon, you don’t sprint because you’ll burn yourself out early. You are careful not to step in potholes. There are all kinds of other things that you need to take care of in order to get to the finish line.
“And you eventually learn, some of us learn, how to get through the wall without there being a wall anymore, which it took me seven marathons to figure that one out. And so, I thought to myself, “Well, the same thing about life.” If you plan ahead, you can avoid a lot of problems that sink other people: knee replacements, heart clogging up, catching diseases because you don’t do proper vaccination, going to countries where there are horrible diseases to catch in the first place and you can’t protect yourself fully maybe. That sort of thing.
“So thinking long-term is one thing that running a marathon teaches us. And so, I tend to think long-term anyhow, but that was a great reinforcement.”
Overall Thoughts on The Tim Ferriss Show: #604 Ed Thorp
I highly recommended this podcast episode to people who are seeking investment advice or to live well into old age or to simply be awed by how incredibly sharp Ed Thorp is!