What I learnt from Billions.


We should be analysing things much, much more deeply

There’s a scene in Billions (Ep2 S2) where Taylor explains a potential trade to Axe which can damage a rival.

Axe’s rival Todd Krakow has been bullish on China in recent speeches.

Taylor looks at his holdings in China and surmises that Krakow has been watching factory activity in Guandong via satellite images.

The factory has been quiet recently until suddenly lots of truck movement happens.

Taylor and Axe reason that the Chinese know that the factory is being watched by satellites, so they simulate movement.

This means that the factory is sham and instead of being LONG the factory’s company, the right side to be on is SHORT the company.

Taylor says they should SHORT the company whilst Axe says no, because you never know how Chinese markets will behave.

Instead, he says to look at the companies who will be affected by there being no output from this factory and SHORT those instead.

What’s just happened here?! I had to watch that scene four times to understand it.

What blew me away was that there are people out there who play at this level, who can see and analyse more deeply than others.

Most people Axe says would have stopped at the speeches or stopped at the satellites.

Taylor and Axe went to the end of the string and that’s why they get the disproportionate rewards.

It’s like exercising. You shouldn’t stop at the first feeling of pain and discomfort. You need to push through the instinct to give up the effort of deeper analysis.

Keep going and going and going.

“You got one life. Do it all.”

Why do we decide between things? We think it’s all a binary choice.

Axe tells Taylor not to choose but to do it all:

We should aim to play at a much higher level

Billions is about global markets, gubernatorial politics, hedge funds, prime brokers, SEC, US Attorneys offices, FBI, etc.

This is big player stuff.

Okay so maybe this is a TV show, but there are people in real life who play and operate at these levels.

Stop and ask yourself ‘are you playing at the highest level you could be playing at?’

And if not, how could you start?

Get a brokerage account.

Get a lawyer.

Get an accountant.

Invest in some learning for your self.

Deepen your knowledge of your industry.

Give talks. Write articles. Become an influencer.

Join a club. Hang out with interesting people.

We should be much more competitive

We’ve been told a lie. The lie is that competition is bad. That being competitive is bad.

We’re letting down the next generation by not preparing them for competition.

The characters in Billions are animals.

They plot and scheme to get ahead and beat their enemies and rivals.

Imagine multiplying your talents and strengths with a strong competitive streak.

At the very least, you should be competitive enough to not to get fucked over.

Next time there’s something to fight for at work, go for it and don’t give in at the first sign of resistance.

One of my best mates once gave me some advice: ‘In life, you have to go for what you want.’

Be competitive. Go for it and don’t give up.


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