GUY SPIER 00:00
If you would have taken me eight years ago and told – asked me if I would believe some of the things that happened in my life happened, I would've been quite surprised.
And I was after success in my life, but I didn't really know how to go about it. And I feel like over the last few years, partly by stumbling across some things and staying with them, partly through a tremendous, very difficult beginning to my career where I worked at a terrible place, you will see.
I started figuring out – and I don't know. I'm with a bunch of scientists and engineers, and I studied sciences at high school, but I feel like I started figuring out sort of the ways in which the universe works, maybe the laws of attraction, and I'm just blown away that I'm standing here.
You know, Sarab meets me at the airport yesterday and he's so excited to meet me, and sort of he's treating me like I'm some kind of special person. I'm thinking, I'm just like you. I know as little as you do.
So with that, so I have – I'm going to talk. I'm going to try and keep it to under half an hour. I'm just going to blast through some things, just to give those of you haven't read the book a sense of who I am, and what I want to talk about, and what I think I can talk about, and then we can try and make it interactive. So, what do we have here?
You know, I really think I don't understand – well, I do understand, and it's got nothing to do with all the things that I thought success had to do with. So I really I'm blown away that I'm here, because I feel like I'm quite normal. Or I'm like everyone else. I'm not special in any way.
And I never thought I could write a book, and there are some incredible things that came together for me to write a book. I'm not a natural author and I'm not a great writer. But that was the guy that I wanted – I didn't – When I graduated business school, I would never have said, if any one of you would have asked me, "what do you want to be?"
I would have given you some mumbo jumbo about, I want to sort of get into the capital markets. And I find it really interesting to be at the nexus between where savings meets investment, and it's really fascinating, and maybe fund some companies.
But basically I had an image of this guy and I see that now, I didn't see that then. I had an image of this Gordon Gekko guy in my head, and I kind of fancy that lifestyle. I wanted to be a master of the universe. I'd read about people like George Soros and I thought that was pretty cool. And I wanted to be rich. I wanted to control companies. I wanted to control people.
And I had an educational experience that I think that many of us have had. I know how to take exams. I'm quite good at studying. If you put me under pressure I do well. And so I just kind of blasted through my education and I thought the world owed me living.
And don't ask me how – well, I guess you can ask me, because I'm here for you to ask me.
So I graduate business school and I end up working at a place. So, I don't know, I'm sure some of us have seen this movie. So the firm that this was modelled after is called "Stratton Oakmont." And the firm that I worked at, where the large part of it is being shut down, is called, or was called, "D.H. Blair." And there were people who came from Stratton Oakmont to D.H. Blair and vice versa.
So I was an investment banker looking for deals, and I watched that movie and I thought, wow, that is really – it's exaggerated, but accurate. So they take it – they take exactly the same things that were happening at the firm that I worked at and they turned the volume up.
And you know, I ask myself today why on earth I went to work there, but then even having gone to work there – I spent 18 months there. And so within 18 months of graduating from Harvard Business School with this great education, and I was unemployable, because once I left that place, and I did finally leave that place, people either said, either this guy who's willing to play close to the line the way people from Stratton Oakmont and D.H. Blair did play, or he's just stupid, either way, we don't want to hire him.
And I also, when I go back and look at it, and I see people like this guy, Mathew Martoma, who's just been given nine years in prison, you know, I would like to say, and I think many people would say, oh no, well I'm completely different to him. And I'd like to stand here in front of you and say, oh, I was. I think there's a lot of me in him. There's lot of him in me.
I was a greedy guy willing to make compromises and some – the head of the firm two years prior had promised me the opportunity to make a lot of money very fast and I went for it. And I was in the place where in order to make a lot of money very fast, I would have to push the boundaries. That's the way it was set up. Mathew Martoma, the same thing.
He was put in a position where in order to make a lot of money he would push the boundaries. The senior people at his firm, just as the senior people at my firm, knew exactly what situation they'd put me In.
And I actually, to this day, I think that if I had not discovered this savior, Warren Buffett, who I started reading about while I was working at this firm, I don't know exactly what would have happened to me, and it kind of scary to think about. And I see Mathew Martoma and I think, maybe I would have gone in that direction.
And it also bothers me terribly to know that I'm really well-educated, I studied moral philosophy, I was at Oxford, I had all these philosophers around me. That's what we do. We study right and wrong. And how is it possible that I am then finding myself in the place that is morally compromised and I don't actually get the hell out of there, or I don't blow the whistle, or I don't do something?
I think that's a really important question for American society, global capitalism to answer. I don't think it's been fully answered.
I think that there are people like me, the version of me 20 years ago, who will always go back. There will always be young guys who want to get rich fast. And so the Mathew Martoma's or the sort of rogue traders will always exist.
And so what do you do about that? Well, one thing you can do is write about it. Try and write about it honestly, and then maybe you generate a debate, and maybe the world sees a few things differently. So I was at an absolute low, and there I am a, you know, highly educated guy, and I couldn't find a job out of there.
And so something happens to me which is absolutely wonderful. I discover Anthony Robbins. So I don't know who's been to an Anthony Robbins seminar, but the amazing thing is I was so arrogant. And I thought that I knew everything, and that everything to learn was to be learned from Harvard Business School and from Oxford and similar places, that I didn't believe that a guy like Anthony Robbins could teach me anything.
But at around that time I came and did an Anthony Robbins seminar, actually not far away from here. It was somewhere in the Bay Area. And it kind of opened me up to a whole new way of looking at the world. And again – and I sort of think that I started figuring out rules for how to improve my life from that point.
And then fast forward 10 years, I got some modicum of success and people start misattributing it. They start saying, oh yeah, you have – you went to this elite educational, you're very smart. Or you have the right friends. Or you have – there's a family business that invested with you.
And I felt like they were misattributing any success that I had to the wrong things and I found myself time and time telling people, no, it's not like that. There are other things that happened.
There are other things that actually – this sort of sounds strange to say, there's a technology of success. There's a top technology of going about succeeding in life that I didn't – I learned it because I had this terrible fall straight out of business school.