I’m reading Michael Lewis’ new book Flash Boys. The book is about the world of High Frequency Trading (HFT) which basically amounts to computers that front run a customer’s stock market orders costing the customer more money than if HFT didn’t exist. HFT is basically just another tax on the investor.
The topic is dreadfully boring. It’s all about bits, and bots, fiber optics, routers, and microseconds. I find myself blasting through this book, unable to put it down. Only Michael Lewis could make a topic this boring—-fascinating. He uses the word “fuck” a lot in this book. More so than I remember in any of his previous books. The guy is a master.
When the hero, Brad Katsuyama, approaches investors trying to raise money to start a stock exchange that eliminates the HFT tax, he runs into a problem. The potential investors want to know why he left his cushy job on Wall Street, where he was making millions of dollars, to risk it all starting a business to make the market “fair”. Why was he trying to be Robin Hood? The investors didn’t trust him.
Brad Katsuyama told both himself and investors that the market had become “grotesquely unjust” and that if no one else would fix it then he had to. His potential investors weren’t buying it. He figured out a new way to pitch his idea, when he realized that if his idea worked then he could potentially make a lot of money. He told his investors, “We are long-term greedy.” They instantly liked this response.
Long-Term Greedy. I love it. Focus on yourself, on what you have. Focus on what’s in your wallet, not what’s in someone else’s wallet. Try to increase what you have. What’s the best way to do that? To create value for other people.
If you create bunch of value for others then plenty will come back to you.
This is long-term greedy. This is healthy thinking. It’s in your best long term interest to make things better for other people. Brad Katsuyama wanted to create a fair stock exchange. He’ll turn out ok. Henry Ford made cars available to the masses. No more horses! He did ok. Steve Jobs made powerful computers, ipods, and iphones. People love Apple products. He did ok. My orthodontist Dr. Cooke, fixes crooked teeth and provides the best customer service available. Her patients love her work and have the smiles to prove it. And I can’t stop recommending her and talking about what a great experience I had. She does ok.
When you are long term greedy and you focus on how to better yourself, you’ll come to the conclusion that you need to create value for other people. When you focus on making life better or more convenient, easier, or whatever for other people you are engaging in healthy thinking.
Your energies flow to everyone else.
When I lived my life submerged in self pity, I focused on what I didn’t have. I focused on what other people had and how I didn’t measure up. I felt sorry for myself. I couldn’t get any traction in life because I was only thinking about myself. It’s funny how thinking only about yourself isn’t in your best interests. It’s when you focus on what you can do to improve the world around you that life becomes rewarding.
And you will get great satisfaction when you get feedback from the people that benefit from your services.
It is a simple yet powerful change of thinking that gets dramatic results. It seems counter-intuitive: to get what you what, be long term greedy, make life awesome for other people.
Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself.