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#LifeTested

John Carlson

Before pivoting to finance, John Carlson studied for a PhD in meteorology at MIT. He even wrote a dissertation that he never submitted. However, he's never lost interest in climate. In January 2016, John had the opportunity to take part in an expedition to Antarctica aboard the National Geographic Explorer along with researchers affiliated with National Geographic and MIT. We caught up with John after his trip for a deep dive into his journey to the poles, and his path from PhD candidate to internationally renowned money manager.

Some of my boyhood heroes were the early Polar explorers.

Travel has always been a love of mine. I believe that it broadens one's horizons, and makes one look at where they are in life – as well as where they've been – through a totally different lens.

After about three or four days, you had this brilliant, blue sky that went on forever, contrasting with the whiteness of the snow and glaciers.

The immensity of it – the sheer size of these glaciers coming down – I had no idea.

We got to climb these mountains – well, they were more like hills, about 800 feet or so – but watching us all sweat and puff getting up the top, then seeing these penguins just waddle up and come sliding down into the sea? I’m thinking, ‘Aw man, the fact that they figured out how to do this – this is real adaptation.’

I remember my father reading the financial papers, and on the back there'd be the Dow Jones plot which, to me, looked like the same pattern I had been seeing in the weather. As I got older and studied at MIT, I realized that there were limits to this predictability.

It’s about the constant search to do better.

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