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An Interview With Richard Burry, Founder Of Smartvu Ltd.

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Below is our recent interview with Richard Burry, founder and CEO of Smartvu Ltd., an international investment company that specializes in online e-commerce businesses.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

Richard Burry: I deal globally, but am currently based in an idyllic village in Portugal, located on what we like to call the Portuguese Riviera. The Internet and other advances in online commerce have made it possible for investors like me to work anywhere, live anywhere and be just as effective as if I were sitting in a wood-paneled suite in a downtown office block.

So my day begins with an appreciation of the beauty around me. I look out on the ocean and organize my thoughts. Most people that I deal with live in the U.S. This allows me quiet time to read in the morning and then do calls and meetings in the afternoon. I network with industry peers, research new opportunities and track the trends that will be shaping e-commerce in the near- and long-term.

Q: With this kind of flexibility and freedom, how do you stay on track?

Richard Burry: It’s true that working independently only functions properly if you develop a certain personal discipline. You often need to focus on finding new ways to stay productive. For me, making lists is a great way to pace my day, making sure I check all the boxes for what I hope to accomplish.

The idea of a list is pretty simple: If you don’t know what you need to do, you won’t do it. Lists can be compiled by advanced software, but if a great thought occurs to you and you haven’t powered up your mobile, I reach for whatever is handy — a napkin, an envelope, a matchbox.

Another secret to making your remote office life work, managing a business and investments from afar, is to keep everything in perspective; and that includes the work-life balance. You must remind yourself that you are not your work. You cannot take everything that happens during the workday personally; you’ve got to separate it out, compartmentalize it. Otherwise, you will always be on edge, in a constant state of stress.

Part of reducing stress is understanding another important truth: Business is irrational and unpredictable because it involves humans who are emotional by nature. That’s part of the challenge, and often part of the fun.

Q: What are some of the other keys to business success?

Richard Burry: It sounds so obvious, but in business you need to lead with your strengths. A foundational career lesson for me was that I cannot be great at everything, and I need a team to be successful. Early on, I failed at a job selling computers. I’ve been told that I am the worst salesperson ever, mainly because I tell the truth.

Once you’ve found your niche, you must allow yourself room to dream, to imagine and to improvise. That’s another key, in more than one sense. You see, for me business is like a jazz quintet, rather than a concert whose pace is set by a conductor. I’m more Cole Porter than Tchaikovsky. I love to create new music — and to do it in the moment.

In practice, that means trying out a lot of things to see what happens. I often look at what others are doing, and try to figure out why they do things in a certain way. Then I imagine new ways of achieving the same result, and see how people in the marketplace react to the changes.

Most ideas will fail, and the composition you’ve created may end up off-key, discordant. But there’s always the chance that you’ll create something that will live on in memory, something that will be popular and important. There’s always the chance you will compose beautiful music.

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