Just a couple of years ago, Mohamed El-Erian was one of the most powerful financiers in the world, overseeing nearly $2 trillion as CEO of Pimco. Now, he’s, uh... well, he has a Fitbit?

Though we would never scold someone for walking away from a high-profile finance job (although, to be fair, El-Erian took another, slightly less high profile finance job), a peek into Mohamed El-Erian’s post-Pimco life reveals that even zillionaire financial titans are not immune from being weird, boring tech nerds. Witness: El-Erian’s Bloomberg View column today tackles the vital global topic of... having a Fitbit. “What Fitbit says About Me—and the World.”

My guess: it says quite a bit about you, and nothing about the world. But what does Mohamed El-Erian, the chairman of the President’s Global Development Council and Fitbit owner, think?

1. Measurement metrics matter, especially when they end up altering behavior and influencing self-esteem. This is particularly true for inherently competitive people. I have found myself walking around the house and hotel rooms in the evening as I try to register a minimum 10,000 steps for the day (the initial objective set by Fitbit). And when I have failed to make that goal...I have been quite disappointed.

I see.

My Fitbit, even though it’s the most basic model, goes beyond measuring steps and miles. It also claims to be able to tell me how many calories I have burned and the number of “active minutes” in the day — and it sets a daily target for each.

I have no idea how I am supposed to internalize all these data points, including their order of importance. So I find myself pursuing multiple objectives that are highly correlated but, frustratingly, are not sufficiently linear in their relationship — adding to the potential for performance anxiety.


3. I’ve also discovered through my Fitbit analysis that a lot of walking gets done in airports. This was somewhat surprising. One recent day, I met a quarter of my 10,000- step objective just walking from the rental car drop-off, through security and to the boarding gate. A quarter! And having arrived at the gate early, I opted for a bit more walking rather than sitting — again influenced by a measured metric.


5. And like many of us, Fitbit seems somewhat confused by time-zone changes. Returning from a trip to Europe last week, it couldn’t initially decide whether today was indeed “today” or “yesterday.”


What Fitbit says about the world is “No amount of money can make you interesting.”

[Photo: AP]