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#258 : Jay Gould (Dark Genius of Wall Street)
July 22nd, 2022 | E258

What I learned from reading Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr.


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[2:40] John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke. (Founders #254)

[3:46] From the back cover: Though reviled for more than a century as Wall Street's greatest villain, Jay Gould was in fact its most original creative genius. Gould was the most astute financial and business strategist of his time and also the most widely hated. He was the undisputed master of the nation's railroads and telegraph systems at a time when these were the fastest-growing new technologies of the age. His failed scheme to corner the gold market in 1869 caused the Black Friday panic. He created new ways of manipulating markets, assembling capital, and swallowing his competitors. Many of these methods are now standard practice; others were unique to their circumstances and unrepeatable; some were among the first things prohibited by the SEC when it came into being in the 1930s.

[5:59] If he was exceptional, it was as a strategist. He had a certain genius. Time and time again, Wall Street never saw him coming.

[7:22] Jay was in fact the Michelangelo of Wall Street: a genius who crafted financial devices and strategies, and who leveraged existing laws, in stunningly original ways.

[7:45] His success was profound, his productivity was astonishing, and his motivations and tactics were fascinating.

[10:54] Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher. (Founders #242)

[11:11] You can always understand the son by the story of his father. The story of the father is embedded in the son.

[11:43] All ambitious men want either to please their fathers or to punch them in the goddamn face.

[15:05] Persistent. Deliberate in his study. Disciplined.

[16:30] Born of This Land: My Life Story by Chung Ju-yung (Founders #117)

[20:07] Jay stated his outright belief that happiness consisted not so much in indulgence as in self-denial.

[20:28] I am determined to use all my best energies to accomplish this life's highest possibilities.

[21:12] I'm going to be rich. I've seen enough to realize what can be accomplished by means of riches, and I tell you I'm going to be rich. I have no immediate plan. I only see the goal. Plans must be formed along the way.

[23:09] One decent editorial counts for 1000 advertisements. —  Against The Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson and reading A History of Great Inventions by James Dyson. (Founders #200)

[27:32] Jay would always remain acutely aware of the brevity of one's time on earth.

[33:02] Great question to ask: Who would I rather be? Jay breaks down the tanner industry and who is in the best position:

I’ve come to realize that it is the merchants who command the true power in this industry. The tanner appears to take the greatest share of capital, but merely processes that capital, his expenses being extensive, his risk real, and his labor heavy. The shippers deal with the next largest sums, but again have extensive expenses and much work to do. The brokers, meanwhile, take what seems the smallest share but is in fact the largest. Theirs is nearly pure profit made on the backs of the shippers and the tanner, never their hands dirtied.

[38:39] He was aggressive and expansionist by temperament.

[46:10] There are magician’s skills to be learned on Wall Street and I mean to learn them.

[46:51] He fixated on the business and his own future and he appears to have cared little about the wider world.

[47:10] He seemed to have approached all things with a machine like intensity that some found hard to take.

[48:40] As I learned time and again, success in business often rests on a minute reading of the regulations that  impact your business. — Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe. (Founders #188)

[50:46] Action was his hobby.

[50:48] He was relentless in his efforts to bring about the accomplishment of those things which he set about to do.

[57:16] What finding your life’s work sounds like:

We are at a moment where there is a particular, inevitable future waiting to be made.

I see things very, very clearly. I feel inspired with an artist's conception. My road is laid out before me in the plainest of ways.

He felt as if “all the wheels” had finally been installed on his life.

Not only did he have professional focus, "but also the meaning that is family: a wife and child to fight wars and build castles for.

Now that I am at this place, it is a puzzlement to me how I endured before. Everything prior seems to have been boxing in the dark, scraping without reason.

Now I have my road to walk and my reason for walking it. Now the pieces fit, and this thing ambition is no longer blind but divine, a true and noble and necessary path."

[58:33] Work and family would remain his two hallmarks to the end of his days.

[59:56] He only wanted to be around A Players: Jay's abilities as an entrepreneurial talent scout, selecting the natural leaders from among the naturally led, the innovators from among the drones, would loom large in the making of his fortune.

[1:04:18] No one could have guessed that these two unknowns would soon be notorious as the all time greatest tag team ever to wrestle Wall Street to its knees.

[1:05:56] Both men (Fisk and Gould) had an inexhaustible capacity for work and both were unusually intelligent. They made a formidable combination when they joined forces.

[1:07:51] The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations by Larry Tye. (Founders #256)

[1:18:14] It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. —Warren Buffett

[1:25:51] Things are not as they appear from the outside. —John D. Rockefeller

[1:29:16]  Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann. (Founders #192)

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