In a new series of interviews conducted by Hedge Funds Club boss Stefan Nilsson, we are aiming to get under the skin of interesting people related to the hedge fund industry. The interviews focus on the people and the good life. Here’s our chat with Mio Kato, founder of LightStream Research in Tokyo.
From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?
I like the Nikkei Asian Review though I also look at the Japanese language version. Zero Hedge is useful for alternative viewpoints and then, of course, you have the usual Bloomberg, etc. I do find though that LinkedIn is increasingly useful as long as you put a little effort into cultivating a high-quality network.
What do you do to unwind on a weekend?
Mostly collapse in a heap. It has been difficult to find time during the first two years of my company’s life but as it matures and stabilises, I am finding a bit more time to read and play video games like a proper Japanese teenager of the 90s.
Can you name a great book you have recently read?
I go back to Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series every so often. I have read it every few years since my early teens, so it seems to help me centre and collect my thoughts.
What is your soundtrack of choice?
Typically, Bach or Hans Zimmer these days. I used to hate classical music, but I seem to have mellowed.
What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?
Black tea to start and just water at the end. I have found that tea helps my attention span without the downer you get if you are used to coffee.
What gives you energy?
Seeing people you are trying to teach have that lightbulb moment and “get it”. Trolling those same people when they don’t get it. You have to be hedged in these times after all.
How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?
I’ve never really been one to get too swayed by emotion, so I usually spend times like these observing how other people deal with stress. Even if that is a little creepy. Just a little.
Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?
Maybe Seryna in Roppongi. Shabu shabu or teppanyaki.
What’s your favourite museum in the world?
Never really been a fan of museums. Typically, I like to learn about history, but mostly to understand how and why people made various decisions and how they used to think. I like to understand how things work and I found it difficult to really get into the story behind things from visiting museums.
Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?
Not particularly. I don’t post on Facebook or Twitter although I increasingly like LinkedIn. I do read Twitter regularly, however, as it is a useful source of news if you can filter all the noise.
Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?
I suppose gaming is the only thing I do which might be a bit strange, but it’s neither secret nor guilt. And trolling people, though again, neither secret nor guilt.
What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?
A t-shirt and shorts or jeans. Way ahead of the work-from-home wave over here.
Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?
I’ve found over time that it’s best not to, or perhaps better to keep things low key. I find the emotional wave from dwelling on the wins distracts me from maximising the probability of the next win.
What makes you happy?
I think over time I have boiled this down to understanding things and helping talented people maximise their potential. Understanding things at a deep level gives me a lot of self-satisfaction and I think that type of personal development is key. For me, I tend to focus internally rather than externally so that suits my personality. In terms of training and developing people, when I have managed large teams, I have always felt limited satisfaction due to how constrained you are in terms of the time you can invest in a given individual. So, running a small team or company and trying to stretch people as far as possible is the right role for me.