Olav Alexander Dirkmaat (born January 28, 1988) was born in Almere, the Netherlands. He earned his first ƒ 1.000,- at age 12 during the peak of the dotcom boom. Always fascinated by the world of investing, he bought his first stock at age 16. He is a devout student of value investing, economic cycles, and asset bubbles. Besides investing and economics, health is a key area in his life. He is a biohacker — a person that consciously optimizes his own “biology” through a myriad of methods — as well as a staunch advocate and devotee of personal development.
Investing involves understanding a big, three-dimensional puzzle that is always changing. A puzzle that already fascinated Olav as a little boy, witnessing the apparent erratic behavior of stock ticker symbols on the major television channels. What drives changes in asset prices? After buying his first share, he embarked upon a quest for knowledge. Inspired by investors such as Jim Rogers, Seth Klarman, Warren Buffett, Mark Spitznagel, and many others, he continuously refines his own investment philosophy. As Tony Robbins puts it: “The way to expand our lives is to model the lives of those people who are already succeeding.”
Investing is Olav’s greatest passion. Everything he does is focused on becoming an outstanding investor. Biohacking — optimizing your own biology — enables him to fulfill his potential as an investor by improving his physical and mental capacity. Without health, there is nothing. Economics serves his top-down investment philosophy, helping him to choose the right asset classes in the right geographic areas over the right period of time. Travelling improves his ability to view geographic areas from a cultural viewpoint and his sharpness in seizing opportunities. Furthermore, he learned in his marketing studies what encompasses a competitive advantage, the underlying catalyst of increases in long-term stock prices for companies.
While picking up an important habit of book reading, he once ordered a book by C.K. Prahalad, named The Future of Competition. When the book finally arrived, it had no book cover. He kindly returned the book and ordered it again from a different retailer, again receiving it without any book cover. The fourth and last time, he decided to order his book through Amazon.com. The book, however, still came without book cover. He gave up and started reading the book. Midway, he discovered a small note on the inside: “Cash Flow 101,” it said. He found out that it referred to an educational game by Robert Kiyosaki. Whilst reading one of Kiyosaki’s many books, he encountered references to a few economics books and became interested.
He discovered economics thinkers such as Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises. He read Mises’ Human Action, an important economic treatise. He found out that Ludwig von Mises and, later, Friedrich Hayek had elaborated a theory of the business cycle, which came surprisingly close to explaining the recession in 2008. Olav saw an enormous opportunity in the application of this theory to the realm of investing. As a result, he decided to move to Spain to learn more about recessions and asset bubbles and to, consequently, become a better investor.
In December 2008 he decided to move to Argentina for an internship and to explore the world. He worked and lived for over half a year in Buenos Aires, which was a life-changing experience. Afterwards, he traveled to the south of Argentina and later Brazil. In 2009 he came back to Latin America, making a two-month trip through Brazil to see more of the largest country of South America. Later, he went on to live in Spain and made several trips to countries such as Venezuela.
Having lived in the Netherlands, Argentina and Spain, he learned the importance of intercultural awareness early on in his life. Experiencing different cultures evoked his immense passion for travelling. He now has the ambitious goal to visit every country in the world during his life and to become an adventure capitalist, also the title of a book by one of his inspirations, Jim Rogers. He enjoys combining his trips with trading, investing, and economic analysis.
Born with eczema, Olav was told to be at increased risk for future diseases, such as bronchitis and asthma. Despite this warning signal, he lived an unhealthy lifestyle for most of his childhood. Sweet indulgences and fast food came to replace whole foods. Over time he developed severe psoriasis, rosacea and chronic fatigue — besides other aches. When he found out that his philosophy about health was faulty — looking for quick fixes instead of focusing on the underlying problems — he set out on a journey of research-based medicine and self-experimentation. Health was no longer to be relegated to an “expert”. He is very grateful for this episode of illness in his early life: without ever being ill he wouldn’t have changed his habits.
His appetite for optimal health has become an important part of his life. He calls himself a “biohacker”. Biohacking is the art of managing one’s own biology using a combination of nutritional, medical, electronic, and Quantified Self techniques. In fact, his first “biohack” was a vitamin D supplement that improved his condition significantly. In an endless quest for knowledge, he now considers any method for improving his health. He enjoys self-experimentation and sharing his own experiences.
Olav’s political philosophy is heavily influenced by Friedrich Hayek. He believes that social institutions are a product of human action, rather than deliberate and rational human design. Our world is characterized by a continuous social evolution in which — through a process of trial-and-error — effective behavior survives and defective behavior dies out. We currently live in an era of extreme rationalism, with science and government trying to impose their supposedly perfect models on society.
In its core, economics is an empirical science with theories deducted from assumptions or premises that must be as realistic as possible. It is a social science, but with very strict limits to its domain. Olav is highly sympathetic to the idea of skeptical empiricism, as presented by Nassim Taleb. A very important subject is the study of our limits of knowledge, a study not very popular among scholars. Disconfirming a theory is, perhaps, more important than confirming a theory.
He is a (classical) liberal and believes in little government intervention, mostly because the market is a mechanism that tends to satisfy the demands of the consumers — both latent and apparent — in the best possible way.