In a 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 Yoshinori Nomura, CEO and CIO of Mirage Mountain Technologies, in Tokyo.
From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?
Except for normal news sources, I follow many knowledgeable people on Twitter. Hedge fund managers, machine learning engineers, M&A bankers, physicists, executive secretaries, high net worth people, politicians, medical doctors, etc. Their super-quick reactions to the news are a good stimulus for me to rethink my ideas. It is very interesting to me.
What do you do to unwind on a weekend?
As we cannot go to the gym these days because of COVID-19, I play with my two-year-old kid – catching balls, drawing pictures, building a home athletic set with a jungle gym, a swing and a slide. There is a kind of side effect: The relationship with my wife seems to become better because I have time to take care of my kid more than before.
Can you name a great book you have recently read?
I don’t read books recently but read machine learning programming-related social media channels and blogs. From this experience, I can learn about great ideas from real geniuses.
Your soundtrack of choice?
I can only listen to my son’s screams.
What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?
I usually start the day with Doi Coffee which is a very famous traditional coffee boutique in Japan. Their coffee is from a single estate. They only use single farm-made coffee beans. Doi’s beans are grown in highland farms where the big temperature differences in a day make the taste of beans condensed. In the evening, I drink some red wine because my son likes to make a toast with grape juice.
How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?
By not looking at the markets!
Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?
If you like high-quality sushi, my recommendation is Sushi-Sho Saito. Traditional sushi restaurants provide small seasonal dishes first and then 10 to 15 kinds of sushi will follow. However, the Sushi-Sho restaurants provide seasonal dishes and sushi one after the other. After you finish all the courses of the day, you will be asked if you are full. I usually order only a few kinds of sushi because high-class sushi restaurant usually charges at least 1,000 yen for each additional piece of sushi. But at Saito’s, I guess they don’t or only marginally charge you for additional pieces of sushi as long as you are a good guest. Besides, you can bring babies on weekends!
Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?
I guess that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GitHub are famous, so I mention the following less known ones: Qiita is for Japanese programming engineers. I heavily depend upon this site. This is very concise for beginners because of young engineers post articles about issues and solutions. Thus, I can avoid the same pitfalls and learn a lot. If you are a complete beginner of programming languages such as Python, you should go to Udemy. There are very good online learning courses and themes are diversified so you will never get bored. You can learn about everything from basic Python language to machine learning.
Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?
I like Japanese animation and sometimes I watch them in the middle of the night. The name of my company, Mirage Mountain Technologies, comes from a Japanese cartoon. In the story, there is a mountain called Mirage Mountain. People believe there is a huge amount of gold ingots at the top of the mountain, but no one has ever climbed up to the top before because of the harsh climbing conditions. The mountain is located on some planet in the universe. No one knows the height of the mountain which is surrounded by vertical cliffs and nonstop blizzards. To make matters worse, if climbers’ minds are beaten by the surrounding environment and they think “I can’t go any farther”, “there might not be any gold at the top” or “I shouldn’t have done this crazy challenge”, the mountain suddenly disappears just like a mirage and the climbers fall to their deaths. Yes, it’s a bad one. However, the main character was able to climb up to the top because his purpose was not finding gold but just to save his partner who was supposed to be there waiting for his rescue. The implications of the story are “don’t be afraid of pursuing what you believe in despite other people believing it is too difficult to achieve” and “there is a goal which only those who are inevitably involved in hardship can achieve”. When I was trying to find my strategy, I felt like that I was a climber of the mountain thinking “climb or die”. Therefore, my company is named after a cartoon story that I read in junior high-school.
What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?
I normally wear boring business suits. But when the market becomes volatile and fragile, I wear black swan cufflinks to pray for a big turbulent fall. For those who want to get this rare item, I need to tell you that it’s super difficult to find it. I could not find it in Tokyo or Singapore, not even on any online shopping sites. But I finally and fortunately found and bought the cufflinks in a Swarovski boutique at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?
I hope I could hold a crowded dance party!
What makes you happy?
I am happy when I can sit up late and read machine learning articles.