It’s tough being a hedge fund manager, author Michael Lewis says. Just ask them.
The author of Flash Boys, a book that takes apart robotic trading gone wild, used to work on Wall Street and is familiar – if not apparently disgusted – by its self-absorbed nature.
Michael Lewis: Wall Street tycoons cutting down golf games
In a Bloomberg View article titled “A Bazillionaire’s Guide to Stress Relief,” Michael Lewis notes that stressed Wall Street tycoons are having to cut down on their golf game what amid all the bankers killing themselves, being investigated and their concern for the world economy.
“Wall Street guys have been fleeing their game because their anxiety has them feeling they need to text all the time, and they can’t free up their hands long enough to swing the club. It’s like we’ve all become teenage girls,” he writes.
Michael Lewis notes the trend towards meditation which doesn’t tend to “give people a soft voice,” as is the hippie stereotype. But rather meditation gives the hedge fund manager the unemotional, unfeeling world view of a homicidal killer. “Samurai practiced meditation to become more effective killers,” he writes. “It’s value (is a) neutral (attitude).”
Michael Lewis offers three pieces of advice for mediation in sarcastic whit
To this Michael Lewis offers three pieces of advice for mediation in sarcastic whit that slaps at a culture that only thinks of its own needs.
“Find a fat kid and sit on him,” is the first piece advice. Forget about the kid your sitting on, he doesn’t matter. Michael Lewis says the “strategy comes with the small risk that some police officer witnesses the scene and fails to understand your actions.”
“A lot of people think that sitting on fat kids is just a mean thing done only by high school bullies,” says one hedge-fund trader — who, like many extremely successful hedge-fund managers, struggled with his appetites when he was himself a child. “That totally misses the point of sitting on a fat kid. The act itself — of hurling a little fat kid to the ground and using him as a human stool — is terribly relaxing. And it’s value neutral, especially after the kid stops screaming.”
Can’t find a fat kid or don’t have fat kid issues? This leads to the second meditation strategy. “If a fat kid won’t work, identify people who have no hope in life and use their distress to soothe your own,” Lewis hilariously writes.
Michael Lewis identifies the key to enjoying life
Then Michael Lewis seriously identifies the key to enjoying life, something not often seen on a little island of thought where people believe they are the best of the best. The strategy? “Find someone who can help you to see the humor in your problems,” he advises, before quickly realizing the serious nature of the elite Wall Street mindset.
Michael Lewis can already hear a lot of guys thinking, “But there is no humor in my problems.” Lewis has the answer.
“The answer is to cast your mind back in human history and ask: Who in the past most resembles you, in the seriousness of their emotional and psychological trials? To ask the question is to answer it: monarchs. The rulers of nations also shared our biggest source of stress: that no one dared make light of them,” Michael Lewis write, hitting a key point. Monarchs, like Wall Street’s ruling isn’t questioned often either.
“In the end, Michael Lewis observes the hedge fund view, “we who sit on top of the financial world all need to remember that anxiety is a relative thing. The best among us realize that it doesn’t matter how much of it we feel, so long as everyone else in the financial markets feels more of it.”
If the strategies Michael Lewis recommends don’t work, he concludes, “you can always just give up trying to reduce your own stress, and instead create more stress for other people. Stage a raid on some totally unsuspecting company, for example, or just go on TV and say you’re getting the hell out of the markets and putting everything into cash.”