Quantitative Analyst Toby Carrodus Explains How to Do Great Things in Life by Mastering Your Mindset

Quantitative analyst Toby Carrodus understands that anyone can achieve great things by utilizing the power of the human mind. By understanding how the brain works, people can harness its power, within reason, to generate positive outcomes in life.

Carrodus attributes his success at an early age to his mindset. In a rags-to-riches story, he went from living off government support in a single mother household to being awarded multiple scholarships to help him acquire 2 bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. He then became a multimillionaire in his early 30s via investing and trading.

Today, Toby Carrodus works professionally in investment management as a global quantitative analyst in Sydney, Australia. Having worked in investment banking and hedge funds in Frankfurt, London, Los Angeles and Sydney, Carrodus wants to improve the profession’s culture. “I’m consciously trying to create a nicer, more thoughtful environment in the trading industry,” he says. “This is in contrast to the menacing ‘dog eat dog’ experience which tends to prevail.”

This aside, while Carrodus has got to where he is with hard work, he has also utilized a few tricks along the way that have unleashed the power of his unconscious mind. Luckily, these methods are general and applicable to realms outside of investing, too.

Toby Carrodus Explains How Visualization Trains Your Brain

A lifelong learner, Toby Carrodus understands the science behind changing the brain’s perceptions to help you achieve your goals. It is no secret that our brains are universally wired to recognize food, sex and danger, as accurate identification of each of these has been critical to the survival of the human species. Our brains actually ignore much of reality, as it is far too complex for us comprehend in its entirety.

But there is one part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that allows for certain information to pass our brains’ filters. Essentially, the RAS filters the information fed to our brains from our senses based on our emotional attachment to that information.

A peculiar feature of human existence is that the body does not know the difference between an imagined reality and actual reality. For example, if you imagine a negative experience, such as a fight, your heart rate and general tension in the body tends to increase. As your RAS filters information based on your emotional attachment to it, by visualizing what you want and invoking an emotional response, your RAS begins to allow information relevant to your goals to enter your subconscious mind.

For example, did you ever notice that once you decided to buy a particular type of car, you start to see that car everywhere? Those cars were always there, but your RAS had filtered out that information as irrelevant until you formed some kind of emotional attachment to it. This is why visualization can be such a powerful tool.

If you’re able to clearly visualize what it will feel like to achieve your goal using all five senses – enough to create an emotional attachment to it – slowly but surely your subconscious mind will allow more and more information related to that goal to enter your mind, leading you closer to your goals. Regular visualization also allows you to keep your focus on what is most important and cut out the noise of the busy world of distractions around you. Some may even claim it is a form of mediation!

Interestingly, numerous studies have shown visualization can even benefit the development of fine motor skills, such as hitting a golf ball or shooting a target without even physically engaging in such activities, or even stimulate some level of muscle growth without engaging in resistance training.

Record Your Goals In Writing

Toby Carrodus reveals another beneficial technique for success: Writing goals down daily. Similar to visualization, by consciously writing down your goals, your brain subconsciously focuses on information relevant to these goals.

An optimal time to record goals is in the morning, Carrodus says. This practice redirects your unconscious focus to what is most important and allows you to prioritize effectively. “In time, you will open previously closed doors or identify doors you didn’t see,” Carrodus says.

While Carrodus highlights that such practices do not guarantee success by themselves, he has personally found them useful and believes they at least tilt the odds of success in your favour. “We’re all authors of our own realities and you can help construct your reality with your conscious and subconscious thoughts,” he says. “These tools exist – why not use them to our advantage?”

Confirmation Bias

Another interesting aspect of the human mind is ‘confirmation bias’. Confirmation bias is the brain’s tendency to seek, interpret, favor, and recall information to confirm a given statement or set of values. It is largely an unintentional byproduct of cognition.

Confirmation bias causes a person to ignore information inconsistent with their beliefs. Carrodus says this subconscious behavior is problematic given how much it can influence our decision-making abilities. But like the RAS, it is another tool we can use to our advantage.

Leverage Confirmation Bias by Changing Your Narrative

Due to the pervasiveness of confirmation bias in human thought, Toby Carrodus advises people to slow down and seek to analyze where they may exhibit this bias in their own lives. He also advises to subtly use this bias to our own advantage.

As your brain will generally seek to find information consistent with a statement or underlying narrative you have told yourself about your life, how you ask yourself questions matters. Instead of asking “Why can’t I seem to do this?” ask “How can I do this?” As Henry Ford, inventor of the modern automobile, famously said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right.”

“You can’t change the events of the past,” Carrodus says. “They happened. But you can change the meaning you take from those events and do so in a way that serves you.”

Part of confirmation bias stems from the narrative you create about your identity. The story you tell yourself about critical events in your life gives them meaning.

By being conscious of the meaning you attach to events in your life and the narrative you tell yourself about them, you can change the story your subconscious produces. Over time your brain will look for evidence to support this new story, so it is best to have an account that helps you.

Could Your Worst Day Actually Be Your Best Day?

Toby Carrodus outlines a concrete scenario in which the subconscious mind can tell a negative or positive story.

“Let’s say your father left home right when you were transitioning from being a child to becoming an adult,” Carrodus says. “You can blame all of your life’s problems on this event and say, ‘I never had a chance in life because of my parents.’”

But you can also change the meaning you ascribe to this event to serve you in your life’s journey. For example, you could completely flip the above statement on its head by saying “I had a strong foundation to build a successful life because I had to learn how to stand on my own feet early, which gave me resilience and a head start in life.”

By consciously using tools such as visualization and writing your goals down each day, you can break your brain’s hardwired patterns and generate new ones. Over time, you can train your brain’s subconsciousness to work for you.

“Let’s say you want to embark on a new challenge, such as starting a new business,” Carrodus says. “If your underlying belief was that it was doomed to fail, you probably won’t put in much effort and when it doesn’t work, you’ll say ‘see, I knew it wasn’t going to work.’ If instead your underlying belief is that it will work, you will likely put in a huge amount of effort. This thinking gives you at least a shot at succeeding.”


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sgYCacP9_66iHnhRc7ngK3zJ1x1pUtMxNb5GrxXIaiU/edit– Toby’s book chapter about the brain


Harvard: Individuals who characterized their thoughts as more negative and personally significant scored higher on constructs associated with Depression and Trait Negative Affect, whereas those who characterized their thoughts as less specific scored higher on constructs linked to Rumination. In contrast, individuals who characterized their thoughts as more positive, less personally significant, and more specific scored higher on constructs linked to improved wellbeing (Mindfulness).

https://betterhumans.pub/visualization-how-mental-imagery-can-make-you-better-at-life-12360661870c – explains science of visualization

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02701367.1985.10608454 – data on hitting golf balls through visualization

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02701367.2003.10609100 – data on shooting targets through visualization