tennis

When I arrived at Taft, they lost my paperwork, so I spent five days in solitary. It was brutal, absolutely brutal. But it was minimum security, and after solitary it was like a boys’ club — and who’s my bunkmate? Tommy Chong from Cheech & Chong. I couldn’t believe it. He was in the process of writing his book. We used to tell each other stories at night, and I had him rolling hysterically on the floor. The third night he goes, “You’ve got to write a book.” So I started writing, and I knew it was bad. It was terrible. I was about to call it quits and then I went into the prison library and stumbled upon The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, and I was like, “That’s how I want to write!” When you’re in jail, you have a lot of time to think about your mistakes. It was completely mellow. I played tennis three hours a day, and I’d write for maybe 12. [THR via BI]

Earlier this month. Jamie Dimon’s office at 270 Park Avenue. Dimon is on his computer scrolling through pictures. As we get closer, we see that he’s looking at old Kardashian family Christmas cards that Kourtney and Khloe have tweeted, before the big reveal of this, which elicits a “Oh for crying out loud” from Dimon. After a few more moments he picks up the phone.

Judy Dimon: Hello?
Jamie Dimon: It’s me.
Judy Dimon: Oh hi honey, I’m glad you called, do you want me to pack your flannel shirt for the weekend? And what time will you be home, because I think we should get on the road by 5 and–
Jamie Dimon: Yeah, listen, you need to call the Blankfeins and cancel.
Judy Dimon: What do you mean cancel? We’ve been trying to do this weekend in Vermont with them for months.
Jamie Dimon: Can’t do it Judy. Cancel with Laura and then call the girls. Tell them to be at the house for a family meeting at 1900 hours.
Judy Dimon: Jamie what is this about?
Jamie Dimon: You know what it’s about.
Judy Dimon: I want to hear you say it.
Jamie Dimon: Don’t make me, Judy.
Judy Dimon: No, if I’m going to be forced to cancel our weekend with the Blankfeins and devote the next two days straight to what you have planned, I want to hear the words come out of your mouth. Read more »

He reported to a federal prison camp in Taft, Calif., in 2004. It was during his 22 months there that he decided to write his memoirs. Incredibly, his cellmate was Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong, who was serving a nine-month sentence for selling drug paraphernalia—bongs in particular. As Chong describes it, the Taft Federal Correctional Institution would beat many Manhattan hotels for comfort. He says Belfort’s arrival “was like Elvis coming to jail” and that his roommate spent his days playing tennis and backgammon, cleverly hiring other inmates to do his chores for him. “We were part of the elite gang,” Chong says, adding that for a stretch they ate meals “Goodfellas-style” with another famous inmate, the PGA Tour caddie Eric Larson, who was serving time related to drug charges. Larson “worked in the garden, and he grew these fresh, delicious vegetables, and he used to cook them,” Chong says. “We had these beautiful vegetarian, healthy meals every night, and Jordan was part of the gang. We had a nice little hierarchy there, intelligent famous guys hanging out together.” [BusinessWeek]

In a pinch, Steve Cohen has made himself a few zip-up fleece jackets with only a travel sewing kit and some Silly Putty at his disposal. Alone in the woods and miles from home, Ray Dalio has been known to fashion slingshots out of the remains of wildebeests. Having blown through all his 100-count packs already and in a race against the clock, George Soros has constructed condoms out of strips of bacon; old tea bags; and British pounds. According to Dealbook, however, today they must all bow down to the master. Read more »

How do the world’s leading hedge fund managers go about assembling their teams? While some choose the standard head hunter and “pitch me a stock” route with candidates who’ve had at least a few years of business experience and proven track records, others prefer a more outside the box approach. Bridgewater Associates, for instance, has said that instead of going after veterans of Wall Street, it likes to hire people straight out of college, when their minds are still malleable. Founder Ray Dalio has stated: “Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration…We are first interested in people’s values, second interested in their abilities, and least interested in their precise skills. We want independent thinkers who are willing to put aside their egos to find out what is true.”

Similarly, Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman, who has never been one to follow the crowd, eschews the typical hiring process in identifying talent. Instead, Ackman relies on gut instincts when it comes to making personnel calls, many of which occur outside the confines of the investing world. For example, one former analyst named Oliver White was hired after serving as Ackman’s guide on a fishing expedition in Tierra del Fuego. (Per Christine Richard’s Confidence Game: “For six days, Ackman and White, a philosophy graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talked and fished. White explained technical details to Ackman about fly selection, casting the line, and luring the fish. Meanwhile, Ackman spotted the next member of Pershing Square’s investment team. “At the end of his stay, he asked me– no, he told me– I should come to New York and work for him.”) While Ackman was obviously impressed with White’s talent, it seems the offer was made on the basis of spending six days peering into the guy’s soul and seeing something special he knew in his plums would carry over into activist investing, rather than as a barter deal for White to teach Bill his craft, which is another way people have been hired at the fund. Read more »

  • 29 Aug 2011 at 7:06 PM

What Wall Street Can Learn From Serena Williams

From time to time around these parts, we like to canvas the world outside Wall Street to see how they deal with certain issues, particularly those related to crisis management. Often times, there are helpful tips to be borrowed and applied to any pre or post Code Red office situations in which you might find yourselves. For instance, thinking about taking a few minutes to evaluate the attractiveness of your co-workers to the guy or girl who sits next to you? Consider not doing it over the PA system, into a bullhorn, or near a recording device. Love to upload home videos of yourself sucking on a partners’ toes to the internet but value your privacy and/or have a board to answer to that doesn’t want to read about your personal life in the press? Rather than telling the press “this is a personal matter,” don’t return their calls. And in the future, consider 1) investing in one of those machines they use to throw voices (like in Scream) and 2) not letting your face appear on camera or, alternatively, have a mask created in your sworn enemy’s likeness to wear while you are filmed using jello molds in a way they were definitely not intended. Do or say some stuff in public that makes you sound a little nuts, that 10 years ago no one would’ve cared about but in this killjoy day and age would get a lot of panties in a lot of bunches? Lay low for a while and later, if asked about it later by some pissant reporters, tell them you really can’t recall if you told someone “If I could, I’d take this fucking ball and shove it down your fucking throat.” Read more »

One thing you may have picked up from Bill Ackman’s investing style is that he gets involved with companies he believes, very passionately, can benefit from his help. He comes in armed with a plan, and while some people might not be open to the unsolicited suggestions for improvement, few can argue that he’s just trying to make the world a better place. What you may not know is that what Bill does during his 9-5 doesn’t stop when he punches the clock and gets off his shift as as foreman at Pershing Square. The make-overs (aesthetic and spiritual) aren’t just for Target but for you, too. “Bill’s a fixer,” former Bloomberg reporter Christine Richard told the Observer. “He just looks at everything as how can I sort this out, including people.” For instance…

Your ass. Can you deny it could benefit from some squat thrusts?

Almost everyone who has met Mr. Ackman has either been complimented or insulted regarding his or her appearance, and those falling into the latter group usually find themselves with an appointment to see his nutritionist and sometimes his personal trainer, too. He has been known to stop people on the street corner and give them advice or even find them a job in the time it takes for the light to change.

Or how about your love life? Wasn’t it time you stopped running around with these slag heaps and got serious about settling down? Read more »

  • 08 Dec 2010 at 11:22 AM

Bill Ackman To Take On John McEnroe

The Post reports Ackman and Scoggin Capital manager Craig Effron will do battle with McEnroe and his brother, Patrick, after bidding $100,000 on one hour of tennis at a charity lunch the other day. If the brothers are trying to gather intel on Ackman’s style, the Pershing Square founder’s formidable game was described in a book by Christine Richard, Confidence Game: How a Hedge Fund Manager Called Wall Street’s Bluff. Read more »