Jim Simons’ 5 Principles for Life


In the last decade of their lives, Jim Simons and his wife Marilyn focused mainly on philanthropy. Through the Simons Foundation and the Flatiron Institute, they donated billions of dollars to scientific research, especially in mathematics, astrophysics, biology, and quantum physics.

Simons summarized his philanthropy with one phrase:

I made the money, and Marilyn gave it away.

Simons said about all his success, “Luck plays a significant role in life.” He also experienced personal misfortunes, such as losing two sons in separate accidents. He once told a colleague, “My life is either aces or deuces,” referring to the highs and lows he faced.

Considering all of this, Simons has presented his 5 principles for life in recent years through lectures. Frederick Gieschen has well summarized each principle, and today we will introduce these principles.

1. Don’t Run with the Pack

Try something original.

Simons always pursued originality and new ideas. He was not afraid to take a different path from the mainstream. This was true even when he transitioned from being a mathematician to an investor. Originality was a key to his success.

2. Work with Great Partners

Find people who are smarter than you and can leverage your efforts.

When founding Renaissance Technologies, Simons gathered top talents. He focused on building a team that could complement his weaknesses and maximize his strengths. Great partnerships contributed significantly to his success.

3. Be Drawn to Beauty

While it’s easy to find great aesthetics in mathematical formulas, beauty can also be found in many businesses. A well-run business is a kind of beauty.

Simons was attracted to the beauty of mathematics, which was reflected in his investment strategies. He found beauty in data and patterns, which led him to develop innovative investment methods.

4. Have Persistence

Things that are really worthwhile can take a long time to bear fruit, so be patient. If you believe in something, push it to the end.

Simons’ success did not come overnight. He experienced many failures and setbacks but never gave up and kept striving. Persistence was a crucial element of his success.

5. Hope for Luck!

Remember that it’s unlike anything else.

Simons acknowledged that luck played an important role in his success. He believed that while you can’t control everything, luck comes to those who are prepared.


These principles are much more easily applicable to our lives than trying to replicate the $100 billion secret of the Medallion Fund. Many investors have tried for decades but couldn’t achieve the same results. Even Renaissance couldn’t fully match the performance of their institutional funds.

The most important point from this story is that it’s never too late to start something new. Simons left academia at 40 to start investing and became one of the best investors.

Anyone can use Principle 1 (Be original) and Principle 2 (Find great partners) to create something. Then, by applying Principles 3 (Be drawn to beauty) and 4 (Have persistence) and keeping in mind that Principle 5 (Hope for luck) is beyond our control, you can build something. Even if not all principles are followed, adhering to the other four well can help you start strong, regardless of age.

References: SatPost by Trung Phan, “Jim Simons and the Making of Renaissance Technologies”

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