The cover story of the Sep-13 issue of Wired UK: The Inspiration Issue is about Make the Impossible Happen. 23 rule-breakers talk about extreme how-tos.
I select Ranulph Fiennes' expert advice, probably because his story of a life of extremes should not be the desired image of a quant?
Sir Fiennes has trekked alone through the Arctic, run 7 marathons in 7 days, traveled the Earth along the polar axis, ....
Explorers push themselves to the extreme
Here is a selection of his experiences: expect moments of mild fears, know how far you push yourself, never underestimate luck, think fresh, know when to quit. It is about the passion to break records. One of the greatest living explorer does not like failures, only quits when a further move is impossible and estimates the element of luck high in every expedition.
One story touched me in particular: he tried to get rid of vertigo (a phobia I also suffer from) by climbing the Eiger north face. It didn't work - it led to a dangerous panic ...
Quants shall never leave the comfort zone
However, the experiences might sound similar to what an "extreme quant"(radical innovator) might see? But, IMO, quant work should be completely different: think fresh, try new approaches and methodologies, ... but never leave the comfort zone.
In search of optimal risk, don't go solo, accept advice from other financial experts, use robust foundations and tools, validate models and methods carefully, turn failure into experience, ... don't expect luck.
IMO, the best personal brand of a quant is not "explorer" but "enabler", by supporting financial professionals to leverage expertise.
This does not mean that quants shall not explore new things - as I have written in Young Quants - Rethink It, Rebuild It.