205. Howard Fischer of Gratitude Railroad: Refocusing the Intention of Capitalism as a Force for the Greater Good

Howard Fischer was the original founder of Basso Capital hedge fund and the co-founder of the Gratitude Railroad initiative in 2013. He is now the Chairman Emeritus of Basso Capital and “Chief Evangelist” at The Gratitude Railroad. The Gratitude Railroad is an initiative that unites 9 “tracks” or different concepts using capitalism to solve a social or environmental problem.

Our conversation starts by tracing Howard’s route into finance and some of the serendipity and chance that led to his first training in the field. We follow this through the areas of merger arbitrage, convertible bond arbitrage and special situations and hear about what led to his founding of his own firm, Basso Capital. We discuss then the deeply humbling process of capital raising and learn about some of its ups and downs.

Market volatility has been a constant backing sound track to the years that Basso Capital has been in business and Howard discusses the impact of particularly difficult market periods such as 2008 and the mindset that assisted him in navigating it.

We move then to Howard’s current evangelical passion – with the Gratitude Railroad. We discuss how it originated, following his participation in the Harvard Leadership Initiative – https://www.advancedleadership.harvard.edu/, which is designed to unleash the potential of experienced leaders to help solve society’s most pressing challenges. The Gratitude Railroad (https://gratituderailroad.com/) has various intersecting strategies focused on impact and includes direct venture capital, incubation, education, collaboration and partnerships.

In the discussion we discuss what impact means and touch on subjects as diverse as grassfed beef, rotational grazing, regenerative agriculture, social justice, renewable energy and other concepts that fall under the definition of conscious capitalism.

This podcast is brought to you with the kind support of Tom Raber and Alvine Capital, a specialist investment advisor and fund placement boutique with offices in London and Stockholm. An early adopter of the “reverse enquiry” form of placement, Alvine relies on insight and dialogue with its pan-European investor base to develop and source investment solutions from a wide variety of industry providers