#125 - John Arnold: The most prolific philanthropist you may not have heard of

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By Peter Attia, MD, Peter Attia, and MD. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

John Arnold is widely regarded as the greatest natural gas trader of all time, but in his late 30’s he walked away from it all and turned full-time philanthropist. He and his wife have committed to strategically give away most of their vast fortune in their lifetime and are already doing so at a staggering pace of nearly a half billion dollars a year. In this episode, John explains his quest to address the most challenging social programs plaguing the country, including criminal justice, health care policy, and K-12 education. John also shares self-identified attributes that contributed to his success in natural gas trading and how those same traits have translated to his philanthropic aspirations.

We discuss:

  • John’s background, upbringing, and early entrepreneurial tendencies [3:50];
  • John’s time and rise at Enron [16:45];
  • Characteristics that made John an exceptional natural gas trader and how they translate to his philanthropic work [27:30];
  • The collapse of Enron [35:00];
  • The success of John’s hedge fund, and his early interest in philanthropy [40:30];
  • The infamous 2006 trade that brought down Amaranth Advisors [55:45];
  • John’s analytical prowess and emphasis on fundamentals [1:02:15];
  • The decision to become a full-time philanthropist and the founding of Arnold Ventures [1:09:00];
  • Education—John’s quest to fundamentally change K-12 education [1:18:45];
  • Strategic philanthropy—preventing problems by attacking root causes and creating structural change [1:24:30];
  • The criminal justice system—structural changes needed to address mass incarceration, policing practices, and recidivism [1:31:45];
  • Re-imagining prisons to reduce recidivism [1:49:00];
  • US health care policy—John’s focus on drug prices, and the severe consequences of not making system changes [1:56:15];
  • Climate change—the bipartisan role of John’s foundation [2:13:45];
  • Advice for young adults interested in philanthropy [2:17:45]; and
  • More

Learn more: https://peterattiamd.com/ Show notes page for this episode: https://peterattiamd.com/JohnArnold Subscribe to receive exclusive subscriber-only content: https://peterattiamd.com/subscribe/ Sign up to receive Peter's email newsletter: https://peterattiamd.com/newsletter/ Connect with Peter on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

175 episodes