"What Do You Do?"

This simple question put me in the middle of a battle with Barron's Magazine.

“What do you do?”

What if answering it get's you in hot water?

My fund was #1 in the world, and I was hiding.

Here's the story 👇
From 1996 to 1998, I was running a technology fund inside an insurance company.

The IPO of Mosaic in 1996 started the internet craze of the late 1990s, where taxi drivers were tech investors.
If I answered “I run a tech fund”, the rest of the conversation was them hounding me for stock tips

If I answered: “I work at an insurance company”, which was also true, the conversation meandered around to their life.

My "What do you do?" filter worked.
In June of 1998, I left Farmer’s Insurance and joined a mutual fund company.

The Chief Investment Officer believed in me. She had me launch a technology fund 3 months after I joined.

Through long hours, luck and strategy, my fund was up 630% in the first 12 months.
August 1999, I was on CNBC, in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, etc.

The question had changed from “What do you do?” to “How do you do it?”

Barron’s went further. They wanted blood. Something juicy.
In the interview, Barron's asked if I was losing focus, caught in the limelight with my huge returns.

I was not paid that much at the time. My peers were paid 10-20 times what I was paid. I lived in a small condo and just did my work.

None of that would have made good press.
I was an unknown 12 months prior and still on that salary.

I kept to the script: “No, I have my system and stick to my discipline. No, I am not distracted.”

My truthful answers weren’t click-worthy. Barron’s pressed on.
“But don’t you go to cocktail parties and brag about your 630% returns and your #1 fund?” In frustration, I blurted out:

“I don’t go to parties, I go to bed early!”

Barron's got their quote. Broken out in the article for all to see.
Our “office” was a trading floor with the culture of a rowdy frat house replete with basketball hoops, yelling, and lewd comments.

Barron's came out Sunday.

Monday, I came to work to the entire floor chanting: “I don’t go to parties, I go to bed early.”
Who knew “What do you do” could be such a loaded question?

Mere weeks after the Barron’s article, we had our annual reviews. I was told that I was paid “too much”, and other people’s salaries needed to “catch up”.
When you do well, someone will pay, just not necessarily the person you are working for.

In November 1999, the answer to “What do you do?” changed to working at a top hedge fund for the reclusive genius Glenn Doshay (even Google can’t find him).
Glenn did a few things differently. Top among them was: never talk to the press.

As of November 1, 1999, I was no longer running that tech fund, but the fund was still #1 in the world. The press, including Barron’s, kept writing about it.
My old company didn’t mention that I wasn’t there.

Barron’s found out I wasn’t running the fund for the last two months of 1999,

They’d been writing about “my” fund because it had been #1 for every quarter plus for the year, with an annual performance of 495%
I imagine Barron’s is used to being on the "tricking" side, having me slip out a clickable quote, not on the "tricked" side.

My hands were tied. I had left my previous firm. My new firm forbade me from talking to the press.
When Barron’s found out, they went out for blood, using the full force of their voice.

They published an “expose” on the list of “star managers” being poached by hedge funds, questioning if mutual funds would be able to hang onto any talent.
If mutual funds couldn’t keep talent, then how could they beat the market?

Front and center:

Emmy Sobieski has left the helm of the #1 Nicholas Applegate Technology Fund to work at an undisclosed hedge fund.

At first, my new boss was upset I was mentioned in the press.
Barron’s hadn’t figured out where I worked.

I hadn’t talked to the press; they were just writing about me. The focus was punishing my old firm, not my new one. Glenn let it go.

“What do you do?”

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