Soul in the Game – The Art of a Meaningful Life

This is my newest book. It has nothing to do with investing. In fact, it is a deeply personal collection of inspiring stories and hard-won lessons that weave together insights from classical composers, ancient Stoics, and contemporary thinkers. It's a tapestry of practical wisdom that has helped me overcome some of my greatest challenges -…

Soul in the Game – The Art of a Meaningful Life by Vitaliy Katsenelson

You can preorder the book at the following link:

When I first started talking about writing another book several years ago, I couldn’t have predicted where that journey would take me. The book that I took time off in 2017 to write is still unfinished, waiting for its moment in the sun. But the book you see in the picture above is real. It’s being printed and will be released on June 21, 2022.

I vividly remember the moment when I decided to write this book. Now, looking back at it, I am very proud of this moment as it was a completely selfless one. 

Let me tell you what happened. It was early in the morning of August 10th, 2020. I had just finished writing an essay. At the time I didn’t have a title for it, but in the book it’s called “Creative Rollercoaster” (it’s one of the free chapters you can read today if you preorder and forward the receipt to ).

This essay started out as a short note about Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence that was going to accompany one of my investment articles. As I started reading about this piece, I was touched by the emotional rollercoaster Tchaikovsky suffered when he composed it. I caught myself thinking that Tchaikovsky’s emotional journey looked very familiar. I don’t compose music, but I write. Both are creative processes where you try to fish content out of your subconscious.

What started as a short piece that was going to accompany music started to turn into a lengthy essay about creativity and writing. After I finished writing it, I realized that this essay could actually help others. But this was not the only “life” (non-investment) essay I had written. What if I put the “life” essays I had written over the last fifteen years into a book? This selfless thought “it could help others” is the one I am proud of. 

I started looking through my essays. I was going to self-publish them. Nine days later I received an email form Craig Pearce, an editor at Harriman House, a British publisher that had published books by my friends Lawrence Cunningham and Morgan Housel. Craig and I had communicated a few years earlier about possibly publishing an investment book I was working on, Intellectual Investor. (I have yet to finish it.) 

I told Craig that I was working on a very different book and sent him a sample. I was expecting a very polite (he is British, after all) response along the lines of “Vitaliy, this looks great. Good luck!” To my surprise, Harriman House expressed interest in publishing it. Now I was a bit confused. I started to question their sanity. I thought there must be something wrong with them. What kind of joint could they be running if they wanted to publish this? 

I reached out to Lawrence and Morgan and asked them about their experience with Harriman House. Harriman House had just published Morgan’s Psychology of Money, which became an international bestseller and quite deservingly sold a million copies. Both gave Harriman House glowing reviews and confirmed that there was nothing wrong with either Craig or the publisher. 

I was excited to get the book out into the world, and we agreed to a publishing date of March 2021. We were in the middle of the lockdown, so I had plenty of time on my hands. I worked mornings, evenings, and weekends on the book. At first, I was mostly rewriting existing published and unpublished essays. Then the writer in me took over and I wrote many new ones. 

Everything was going according to plan, and then… 

Well, I stumbled on Stoicism. It was love at first sight. I wanted to learn and to write about it and share it with the world. I told Craig that this detour might take a few months. I read everything I could get my hands on. This ended up delaying the book by about a year, but I don’t regret it. I ended up writing a book inside a book about Stoic philosophy. 

Soul in the Game – The Art of a Meaningful Life ended up being a very personal and autobiographical book. I was (and still am) somewhat afraid of putting it out in the world for strangers to read. But after sending out advance copies to a number of such strangers, I was relieved to receive glowing feedback from people who are not my regular readers: General Stanley McCrystal, Nassim Taleb, and Wim Hof being some of them (I included their reviews at the end of this email).

So I truly hope that despite its being personal, Soul in the Game becomes not my but your book. I can only hope that I carried the selfless intention that triggered me to write it throughout its entirety.

What is this book about? Here is what the jacket cover says: 

Soul in the Game is a book of inspiring stories and hard-won lessons on how to live a meaningful life, compiled by investor Vitaliy Katsenelson. Drawing from the lives of classical composers, ancient stoics, and contemporary thinkers, Katsenelson weaves a tapestry of practical wisdom to help him work through his most intractable challenges related to work, family, identity, health, success, and failure. Part autobiography, part stoic philosophy book, part creativity manual, Soul in the Game is a vulnerable exploration of what works, and what doesn’t, in the attempt to craft a fulfilling and happy life. 

I am finally directly impacted by the pandemic. Normally it takes four weeks to do a print run of a book. Thanks to Covid, and for reasons that are still unclear to me, it now takes four months. If the hardback sells out in June it will take until October to get new copies printed. 

That’s why I strongly encourage you to pre-order it now – otherwise you may need to wait until October.

If you preorder Soul in the Game and send your preorder confirmation to , I’ll send you three chapters from the book (almost 30 pages):

  1. Born in Russia, made in America: The experience of growing up on the northern fringes of Soviet Russia, moving to America, and life lessons learned in the process.
  2. Last Time: A simple mental practice to be present in the moments that matter.
  3. Creative Rollercoaster: Lessons in creativity from the ups and downs in the life of Russia’s favorite composer, Tchaikovsky.

 I’ll also send you four chapters I have written after the book was complete:

  1. Fiddler on the Roof and Value Investing: A reflection on the creative process through the story of one of my favorite value investing pieces.
  2. On Why: The difference between wanting to accomplish something and the process of getting there + the importance of knowing your “why”.
  3. Data-Driven Hiring: A story of how we tried to turn an incredibly subjective and ineffective task into a data-driven process.
  4. The Chess Saga Continues: How Hannah’s growing passion for chess has led to friendships we  would have never otherwise made.

Feel free to forward this email to every person in your contacts. Send it to every employee at your company, if you like. It will also make a great 4th of July present – that’s the birthday of the United States, and all the people you care for deserve a gift on that day.

The link to preorder it is here. For more information about the book, visit

Here is what some folks have thought about the book:

“A fascinating, often amusing, occasionally jarring journey—just like life itself. Vitaliy Katsenelson’s Soul in the Game is one of those much-needed reminders that although we have no control over when we’re born or when we’ll die, we are the architects of how we live.” 
— General Stanley McChrystal, Author, Risk: A User’s Guide 

“Vitaliy knows how to tell a story. This book reads like a conversation with Vitaliy: deep, insightful, inquisitive and civilized.” 
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Author, The Black Swan

“Vitaliy Katsenelson has been singled out by financial media for his brilliant investment strategies, but perhaps even more impressive are his philosophical writings.”
— Carl Bernstein, Author, All the Presidents Men 

Soul in the Game is a beautiful way to search for the lost value of happiness, strength and health.” 
— Wim Hof, Author, The Wim Hof Method 

“Wow! This is surprisingly good. Honestly I was suspicious (why should I listen to a money guy talk about life?) but I liked it a lot! Vitaliy brings an insightful, fresh perspective to the question of how to live life. He is caring and considerate, with a really engaging writing style.” 
— Derek Sivers, Author, How To Live 

“Touching, honest and insightful — it’s hard to put this down.” 
— Morgan Housel, Author, The Psychology of Money

Part eclectic autobiography of a diverse life, part endorsement of critical thinking, part investing principles, and part how-to guide on how to be a complete human. Soul in the Game is always interesting, often funny, and at times profound.
— Greg Maffei, CEO, Liberty Media

“Vitally has captured much of the awe I hold for composer creators and he uses that insight to offer positive, constructive steps for us today who want to live life to the fullest.” 
— Marin Alsop, Music Director Laureate, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 

Soul in the Game is impossible to categorize. It is part memoir and part self-help book; it is part philosophy and partly about parenting; it is partly a book about writing, music history, and art appreciation. In the end, it is nothing less than a manual on how to live a good and meaningful life and achieve those most elusive and yet desirable of all states: balance and self-mastery. This book has changed me, and it will change you as well.” 
— Robert Greenberg, Composer and Author, How to Listen to Great Music 

Soul in the Game is a wonderful compilation of cogent observations and life strategies, derived from the author’s unique personal journey. From classical music to the Classics themselves, Vitaliy Katsenelson both educates and inspires.” 
— Jim Chanos, President, Kynikos Associates 

“A wise and irreverent narrative, replete with humor, life lessons and philosophical insights, which amply demonstrates that being a successful investor and a compelling writer are not mutually exclusive.” 
— Leon G. Cooperman, Chairman and CEO, Omega Family Office 

“Vitaliy Katsenelson’s engagingly readable life-a-log, Soul in the Game, parses so many spirits it will benefit most everyone. Wisdom, life-long learning, human capital, struggles, music composers, immigrant life, philosophy, family life, stoicism and so much more—presents for everyone in 76 enjoyable bite sized bursts. Have fun!” 
— Ken Fisher, New York Times Bestselling Author; Global columnist; and Founder & Executive Chairman, Fisher Investments 

Superb guidance on how to unravel what’s really important in life. There’s a gem of wisdom in each short, snappy chapter.
— Professor Jeremy J. Siegel, Professor of Finance, Wharton School, and Author, Stocks for the Long Run

“Vitaliy Katsenelson’s craft is investing, his art is writing and his passion is to live a meaningful life. All are abundantly in evidence in Soul in the Game. Part memoir, part meditation, part self-help, with mini courses on Stoic philosophy and classical music, this book is personal, quirky, and marvelous. Invest some time with Vitaliy and you will be richer for it.” 
— Bill Miller, CIO, Chairman and Portfolio Manager, Miller Value Funds 

“Vitaliy Katsenelson’s book is a delight to read and contains a great deal of sound advice, including some nice tips on applying Stoicism in daily life.” 
— Donald Robertson, Author, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor 

“From Murmansk, Russia to Denver, USA. When Vitaliy Katsenelson immigrated to the United States from Communist Russia he had plenty of Skin in the Game. Now, a couple of decades later he has even more Soul in the Game. Katsenelson is a learning machine and is on the road to somewhere. He’s going places. This book is his story. His life journey. You will be inspired. Congratulations Vitaliy on your latest (and best book). Like your mother, you might have been born in Russia, but you were made in America!” 
— Guy Spier, Author, The Education of a Value Investor 

“Vitaliy is a gem and Soul in the Game is a rare read worth relishing. I first met Vitaliy as a fan appreciating his value investing writing, became a colleague appreciating his valued investment ideas, and then became a friend appreciating and learning from how he finds virtue and values in family, fatherhood, and more. Taking threads from markets, music, art, philosophy, personal history, and universal humanity he weaves a tapestry worthy of kings and teaches us how to “go long” the scarcest asset of all: making meaning.” 
— Josh Wolfe, Founding Partner & Managing Director, Lux Capital 

You can preorder the book at the following link:

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