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#285 Jay Gould (How Jay Gould Built Wall Street's Biggest Fortune)
January 10th, 2023 | E285

What I learned from reading American Rascal: How Jay Gould Built Wall Street's Biggest Fortune by Greg Steinmetz.


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[0:01] A series of spectacular financial triumphs had made Gould fabulously rich. At age thirty-six, he was the most notorious businessman in the country.

[1:00] Vanderbilt told a newspaper that Gould was "the smartest man in America." Rockefeller, when asked who he thought had the best head for business, answered "Jay Gould" without pausing to think.

They  recognized Gould as a master of his craft. No one disputed that he was an extraordinary problem solver, an unparalleled negotiator, an expert communicator, a lightning-fast thinker, and a masterful tactician with a staggering memory.

[2:00] Railroads changed America in the nineteenth century much as automobiles changed the country in the twentieth century and the internet has changed the twenty first century.

[5:00] American Rascal shows the complex and quirky character of the nineteenth century's greatest robber baron. He was at once praised for his brilliance by Rockefeller and Vanderbilt and condemned for forever destroying American business values by Mark Twain. He lived a colorful life, trading jokes with Thomas Edison, figuring in Thomas Nast's best sketches, paying Boss Tweed's bail, and commuting to work in a 200-foot yacht.

[6:00] I consider this part two in a two part series on Jay Gould. Make sure you listen to part 1: Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr. (Founders #258)

[9:00] He read whatever he could get his hands on. Jay was often nowhere to be found. He was off hiding somewhere with his books.

[10:00] He would wake up at three to study by firelight.

[10:00] My Life and Work by Henry Ford. (Founders #266)

[12:35] “As you know. I’m not in the habit of backing out of what I undertake, and I shall write night and day until it is completed.”

[13:00] Relentless and self-confident: Gould toyed with the idea of college. He visited Rutgers, Yale, Harvard, and Brown. He concluded college was an expensive indulgence. Why bother with college when he could teach himself from books?

[13:00] I am determined to use all my best energies to accomplish this life's highest possibilities.

[22:00] The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson. (Founders #191)

[22:00] All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There: Buffett & Munger – A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense by Peter Bevelin

[26:00] Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday. (Founders #31)

[30:00] The good ones know more. — Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (Founders #82)

[37:00] The story of how Gould seized Erie shows his brilliance as a financial strategist, his deep understanding of law, a surprising grasp of human nature, and a mastery of political reality.

[41:00] Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer by Stephen Dando-Collins (Founders #55)

[42:00] There isn't any secret. I avoid bad luck by being patient. Whenever I'm obliged to get into a fight, I always wait and let the other fellow get tired first.

[44:00] James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest by Michael P. Malone. (Founders #96)

[52:00] Edison and Gould shared some traits. Both were born into poverty. Both thought about little beside their obsessions —inventions for Edison, money for Gould. Both worked all the time. Both had spent their childhoods reading anything that came their way.

[53:00] Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson. (Founders #267)


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