Young white man smiles by several computer monitors

Approaching Life as a Role-Playing Game

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By Renata L. Capelj

Editor: Katie Williams

Renato Leonard Capelj is a 24-year-old Oakland University graduate. Currently, he is a finance and technology reporter for a news and media company. He is also a trader and the founder of Physik Invest, a platform that offers insights into his methods, research, and performance for financial markets.

Capelj comes from a family of immigrants and refugees, something very significant and impactful to his upbringing and success.

As communism declined in Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to claim independence. However, things did not go so well. Instead, a four year long civil war followed, spanning from 1992 to 1995.

Tuesday evening, Capelj got to switch roles. Typically, his day-to-day consists of many meetings and interviews that he conducts, but this time he got to sit in the chair and be the one interviewed.

RLC: How did your family meet?

Capelj: Unknowingly, my parents grew up in the same city, Sarajevo. However, they didn’t meet each other until a mutual friend connected them in London.

London wasn’t ever planned for, it just happened; it’s where they obtained asylum from the Bosnian War.

My grandparents were the first to get citizenship to come to America, then my mother, father, and uncles followed. That’s where they all officially reunited.

Family of five huddled around a table with food
Capelj’s mother snaps a photo of his father, brothers, and parents, reunited, in their
shared apartment in Shelby Township, over 20 years ago. Photo credit: Capelj family

RLC: What experiences most influenced you and why?

Capelj: A few things. Growing up on the edge of poverty. A series of traumatizing events. Working as a reporter for Benzinga and being published in the likes of Yahoo, MarketWatch, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and more.

Growing up in poverty, I learned the difference between a want and a need. Today, I live a very minimalistic reality and have great respect for what it takes to remove oneself from poor living conditions.

My sister and I lived through a series of traumatizing events. These events resulted in hyper-awareness, a realistic mentality, and a so-called hustler attitude.

Working as a reporter offered me the perspective and know-how few come by. Some of my biggest works include interviews with leaders like John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others.

RLC: Who are the people who have most influenced your life?

Capelj: My father, Renato Capelj. My friend, Pujan Shah. Jason Raznick, founder and CEO at Benzinga.

To elaborate, my father – a prisoner of war and refugee – instilled in me a sense of self-worth, unparalleled work ethic, and respect. Because of my father, I am able to approach situations with no bias, respecting all sides regardless of background, as long as they have done nothing to hurt me. I can also remain in the game, so to speak, when challenges make it so that many in a similar position would likely quit.

My friend, Pujan Shah, instilled in me open-mindedness. Given his advice on opening myself to opportunities not frequented by the majority – fleeing from the corporate world mentality – I was able to pursue my dream of developing a network with individuals in the highest ranks of government and business, as well as trading for a living.

Additionally, without Jason Raznick, CEO at Benzinga, I would have not procured a sense of shamelessness, awareness, and communication. Oddly, those are characteristics essential in leadership and entrepreneurship.

RLC: Describe a story when you have felt oppressed or constrained by power structures. How do you feel you have overcome these constraints?

Capelj: There’s a saying that you are the result of your environment. Is that really true? I was overweight, spoke terrible English, and was practically poor, constantly ridiculed by those my age and older (e.g., teachers). To me, the response by those around me constitutes oppression and I should have been plagued by depression.

Not the case, obviously.

I overcame this so-called oppression by being put on a pedestal by my family. My parents, always, treated me as a close friend and not a son. They forced me to disregard the teachings and commentary by those in non-home environments while having the utmost respect for them.

I learned how to learn on my own, at home, and conduct myself in a manner well-received by those much older. Physically, I’m young. Mentally, I’m old.

RLC: What do you want your family to know about you?

Capelj: I tried, legitimately, at every turn. Whether it be school, friendships, my professional career. I tried, always, to organize information better than the next person, provide more value in relationships, and be a better person.

At times, I want to give up. At times, I want to beat everyone. Life, to me, is a role-playing game with no limits. You are free to structure it any way you want. You can start or stop whenever you want. The success of the game is predicated on conducting yourself in a way that brings the most value to you and those closest to you. Otherwise, you “waste” your life or roam aimlessly as you would in a role-playing game like Grand Theft Auto.

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