John Paulson's first money making-venture came when he was nine years old and hustling Charms candy on the playground. He'd later go on to Harvard Business School and build an enviable career as an investment banker and hedge fund manager. But even with a strong track record - his only down year was 1998, a 4.9 percent loss in his flagship Paulson Partners fund - he remained mired in relative obscurity. Until, that is, he made his famous bet against the housing market.
Recently Wall Street Journal reporter Greg Zuckerman offered some career advice on behalf of Paulson, gleaned from research for his new book, The Greatest Trade Ever</I. None of his seven points are particularly groundbreaking, but they're worthwhile nonetheless. In particular, we like:
No. 2. Swing Big. The chance to hit a career home run doesn't come around very often. When it does, swing to make it count.
No. 3. Believe in Yourself. Sounds simple enough, but if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. It took a year of countless meetings and unreturned phone calls for Paulson to land his first investor when he started his own firm in 1994. His firm, Paulson & Co., now manages $30 billion.
No. 5. Keep Learning. Wall Street has always been a survivor's game. You adapt or you perish. The CEOs of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers ran their companies into the ground in part because they never educated themselves about some of the complex derivative instruments on their balance sheets. Paulson's bread and butter trading strategy had been merger arbitrage for years, but he went all-in on housing, which he knew little about before the big trade.
No. 7. Love It or Leave It. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Despite his overwhelming success of the last few years, Paulson is now working harder than ever. Why? "It's like Wimbledon. Once you win once, you want to win again."