Liar’s Poker — Lessons From The 80s Wall Street

I just finished reading Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis. It’s a great book, well worth reading just for entertainment. But it also offers valuable insights into the behavior of organizations and people.

Here’s a few of them:

  • Investors (and people in general) would rather fail in groups than succeed as individuals. This translates into huge opportunities for people who can afford to look foolish.
  • Incentives are incredibly powerful, and will eventually determine the culture of an organization.
  • Special treatment (e.g. higher salary) feels good in the short term, but your peers will resent you in the long run. Always consider second order effects.
  • People will happily use flawed information or data as long as it comes from a “credible” source, as they won’t be held accountable if something goes wrong.
  • When it comes to compensation and promotion, a lack of transparency creates politics. If politics is necessary for succeeding within an organization, the organization will eventually be run by politicians.

Thanks for your two minutes!