Perhaps you've just put the finishing touches on a fourth quarter letter to investors that includes lines about being "disappointed," "clearly wrong in our judgment," and last year being notable for being "the worst in the firm’s history," and are freaking out about how you're going to turn things around in 2012. Or maybe you've spent every day since the financial crisis waiting to get fired, on account of not having made your firm any money and in fact lost it quite a bit, having only been spared because every time you receive an email from HR requesting to see you in the conference room, you've responded with an out of office message, but know that jig will soon be up. Or maybe you did get fired and have remained unemployed but feel confident that you could easily get a new gig, if only you could demonstrate during an interview that you could beat anyone there at an arm wrestling match, right here, right now. Or maybe you're a lady trader who knows you deserve more capital and could get it if only you could show the boss you've got balls, literally. If any of this is resonating, your prayers have been answered.
Until a few years ago, doctor Lionel Bissoon, who practises what he calls integrative medicine on Manhattan’s smart Upper West Side, mostly treated middle-aged women for what is politely known as cellulite. Then the financial crisis hit Wall Street and a strange thing happened: a stream of financial executives and traders began coming to him in the hope of being turned into alpha males. “Since the recession started, more guys want to be on top of their game,” says Dr Bissoon. “All of these men are under tons of stress, and stress will reduce their levels of testosterone. As one patient told me: ‘There’s a whole bunch of whizz-kids beneath me who are ready to take my place.’"
Dr Bissoon says that when he first started offering testosterone therapy, he thought most of his clients would be gym rats hoping to build Arnold Schwarzenegger-style physiques. “I was surprised that 90 per cent of my patients have some involvement in the finance industry,” he says. “They are upper-level management and most of them are in their 30s and 40s.” They typically complain of exhaustion after working Stakhanovite hours, an inability to focus and a general malaise about work. While some argue that too much testosterone, machismo and aggressive risk-taking are partly to blame for the financial crisis, many Wall Street workers apparently believe similar traits will give them the competitive edge to survive the downturn. With thousands of jobs expected to be shed within months, Dr Bissoon says that there is a pervasive fear among his patients that individuals who do not outperform will be summarily replaced.
Take John, a 40-year-old executive at a venture capital firm, who asked that his last name not be used. He went to Dr Bissoon feeling lethargic and unable to handle the 12-hour working days common at his firm. His regular doctor told him he was probably stressed out and depressed and should take antidepressants, which he felt did not adequately address his problem. “Wall Street is a play hard, work hard environment,” John says. “I now have a bit more of an alpha male personality, and I’m able to get by on less sleep. It’s the positive side of aggression. You change your mentality and start looking positively at the future.” Dr Bissoon says he even has a number of female patients from Wall Street who take testosterone because they want to appear more confident. They get much smaller doses than men because there is a risk they might grow facial hair or display other male characteristics.
According to Bissoon, T injections allow men and women to "focus more clearly" and "exude confidence on the job," which is 99% of the battle. “If you’re going to be trading on Wall Street or dealing with large sums of money, you had better be confident,” he says. “The man who is wishy-washy is not going to be successful.” Obviously, there are some people who would violently disagree with the doctor, but why not at least give it a shot? What's the worst that could happen?