trader hobbies5 Unusual Trader Hobbies That Helped Them Succeed. Photo: Marcela Laskoski (Unsplash)

5 Unusual Hobbies That Helped Top Traders Succeed

All work and no play makes you not only more dull but also less rich, judging by these highly successful traders whose interests go beyond the markets...

Warren Buffett: Bridge

Renowned US investor Warren Buffett is known for his tight focus on activities related to his investments. But he does find time for around eight hours a week of bridge, with sparring partners including Bill Gates.

While bridge might not be the sole secret of his financial and business success, Buffett thinks the game enables to him to sharpen the skills he uses in his work.

“The approach and strategies are very similar in that you gather all the information you can and then keep adding to that base of information as things develop,” he told Forbes.

When Buffet is playing bridge, it can take a lot to distract him. A 2008 biography by Alice Schroeder relates that he was once so absorbed in a game that even a bat flying into his living room, getting entangled in the curtains and terrifying his wife failed to win away his attention.

David Solomon: DJ-ing

Former junk bond trader David Solomon recently took over as chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs. He has also played DJ gigs in New York, the Bahamas, and at the MTV Europe Music Awards in London.

The top financier started DJ-ing as a private hobby. Then, after meeting Paul Oakenfold, he was persuaded to try an early-evening set at a Manhattan club, and things progressed from there.

He sees DJ-ing as a good complement to his work in finance. “David’s always believed that having a wide range of outside interests leads to a balanced life and makes for a better career,” a spokesperson told the New York Times.

Solomon, also known as DJ D-Sol, likes to play dubstep and thinks his hobby helps him connect to younger colleagues. People who used to “cower in a corner” when they met him, he told Business Insider, now instead say “Hey David, I heard your track.”

Brett Gallagher: fish-keeping

Finance data provider Bloomberg is famous for attempting to inspire its staff with enormous fish tanks in its offices. In Chinese culture, fish have long been symbolically associated with money and wealth.

One American trader seems to have taken connections between fish and financial success particularly seriously. “I had fish for a while, and after they died the market didn't do so well,” Brett Gallagher, then-head of US equities at Swiss private bank Julius Baer, told CNN a few years back.

He went to to say that he had noted one of his colleagues saw more trading success after investing in a failsafe self-sufficient ecosystem, where shrimp ate aquatic plants and then went on to fertilise those same plants with their waste.

Since then, Gallagher has gone on to become a vice president and deputy chief investment officer at Julius Baer, and is now president of US investment manager Strategic Global Advisors. Something fishy going on?

Paul Tudor Jones: collecting duck decoys

Top hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones has collected some strange things over the years. These include a pair of Bruce Willis’s old tennis shoes which, he said in a documentary, produce “a $30 rally in stocks every time I put them on”.

But one of his most-longstanding collecting passions, he told Business Insider, is for duck decoys. These model birds, often elaborately decorated, are used by hunters to attract real ducks.

Duck decoys seem to help Tudor Jones switch off from the stressful business of trading. “When I hold a decoy in my hand, I try to transport myself back to the last time that [it] was used in a rig, on a marsh, or in a bay or river, and feel and experience the same wonder, awe, and excitement,” he says.

But, judging from the success he continues to enjoy as a trader, they are helping him avoid a few lame duck stocks as well.

Victoria Woodhull: medicine, politics, journalism and education

None of the traders above, however, can compete in terms of breadth of interests with Victoria Woodhull, who co-founded Wall Street’s first female-led brokerage with her sister Tennessee Claflin in 1870.

Then aged 32, Woodhull had already made a considerable amount of money as a healer and medium. She switched to advising clients on the stock markets, including billionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt, with considerable success.

Next, came a move into journalism. Using the money she had made from her brokerage, Woodhull set up a newspaper. She was its editor and used it to promote her views in yet another area that interested her: women’s rights.

Woodhull went on to become the first woman to run for the US presidency, nominating former slave and key abolitionist Frederick Douglass as her prospective vice president. She ended her days living in the UK and working for better primary education in English village schools.

Have we missed out any other unusual trader hobbies? Let us know via Twitter @_TraderLife_