As the CEO of a rapidly growing fintech company and a frequent contributor to Forbes, I get asked to do a lot of media interviews....MORE
The same questions seem to pop up time and time again, but during a recent interview, I was asked a question I had never encountered before.
The interviewer asked, “What was the most important thing you ever learned in school?” I’ve grown so used to delivering the same soundbites that I was caught unprepared. I thought for a moment, and then the obvious answer came to mind.
“Ingratiate yourself with people of great wealth,” I replied without hesitation. The interviewer was a bit taken aback because it’s somewhat of a blunt answer. However, the seemingly cynical response was, in fact, the most important thing I ever learned in school.
I’m a proud Arizona State University Sun Devil, a graduate of the W.P. Carey School of Business with a degree in finance.
During my senior year at ASU, I took an upper-level finance course taught by a famously eccentric professor by the name of Dr. Glenn Wilt.
Dr. Wilt was, without a doubt, the most entertaining teachers I’ve ever had. He was famous for, among other things, starting his lecture out in the hall while he walked to class. He would stride in the door mid-sentence as though it was perfectly normal.
Once, he arrived to class wearing a bright red suit and a floor-length fur coat which, according to him, was purchased from “an old bag working at Goodwill.”
Despite (or perhaps because) of his eccentricities, he was a fantastic teacher who was able to add blunt, real-world perspective to the world of academic finance.
He was the one who, on his final exam, posed the question “What is the secret to success?” Of course, the answer he taught us was to “ingratiate yourself with people of great wealth.”
While it seemed like a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke at the time, the sentiment always stuck with me. A decade later, after building my company, I realized just how true his lesson was.
Never be the smartest person in the room...
See also the mission statement of Long or Short Capital LLC:
At Long or Short Capital LLC, we leverage our superior intellect and extensive investing experience to recommend explicit Long or Short positions and related abstract trades, which may or may not be possible with real world financial derivatives. We use science to improve the lives of the rich....