First of all, I hope you all had a long and relaxing Christmas break. You know why? Because while you were stuffing your faces with mince pies and turkey sandwiches, I was busy extending my competitive advantage over you. That’s what sets apart people like me: an absolute dedication to our personal brand.
(Of course, social niceties dictated that I had to take Christmas Day off. But I can’t say I enjoyed it. Mother’s goose was over-cooked, and it was absolutely impossible to get anyone to talk about LIBOR. It baffles me that I’m related to these people.)
Unfortunately it appears that the Greeks aren’t really into self-enrichment over Christmas either, as nobody answered any of my calls from about mid-December onwards. I was actually starting to get moderately nervous, until I finally got hold of Georgios on the day before Christmas Eve. Turned out he was up in Thessaly with his family and wouldn’t be working until the new year. “Fear not, Nicky,” he said reassuringly. “Nobody in Greece works in December.” No wonder the country’s bankrupt.
On the subject of Christmas, though, there’s no doubt what my best present was (albeit it arrived a few weeks early). On December 3rd at 19.56, I was sitting in the office, just chilling out with a pile of analyst notes I’d been saving, when the phone rang. I picked it up with my inimitable greeting of “Pye?”, and heard the immortal words:
“Hold for Mr. Leviathan, please.”
I almost choked on my scallop sashimi. The great man himself, calling me in person? What an unprecedented honour!
“That you, Pye?”
“Yes sir. Very much so, sir. In the flesh. Well not in the flesh, but…”
“Pye,” he cuts in. “I want you to talk to me about this Greek deal. Are you going to make me some money here?”
“Count on it, sir. This is an unprecedented value opportunity in one of the most counter-cyclical industries in Europe, with…”
“Save it for the press release, Pye. Tell me about the management team. I don’t know about Greeks. Aren’t they just a bunch of work-shy tax dodgers? I mean, when have the Greeks ever done anything useful? And don’t give me any of that democracy and philosophy crap. Nobody’s going to lend me three turns of EBIT on ancient history. I’m talking products and services.”
“Sir, I’ve personally been out to visit the guys. I found them top drawer. I –”
“Pye, do you realise who’s money you’re going to be spending here?”
I misunderstand. “Ah, sorry, sir. I mean, the funds went out to visit the guys, and the funds found them top drawer. And, erm, the funds…”
“Are you on drugs, Pye? Why do you keep saying the word ‘funds’? No, you weak-chinned Oxbridge moron. Let me make this very clear: this is my money you’re spending. Mine. Maybe it technically belongs to the fund, but it couldn’t be any more mine if you’d taken it straight out of the pocket of my pants.”
“Sir, let me assure you, I would never dream of intruding into your pant-.”
“Listen up, Pye. I like you. I like this crazy deal. But if you lose any more of my money on that godforsaken continent I am personally going to come round and skewer your vital organs with my tiepin. Are we clear?”
“Absolutely, sir. I personally guarantee that…”
But he’d already hung up. Now that is how to motivate and inspire your staff, my friends.