Doo-Doo Diligence and Buccaneer Businessmen
Then I started buying The Daily Racing Form every Saturday to study the past performance data for the cards at Belmont, Aqueduct or Saratoga. This was not for serious betting, but rather a mental exercise to try and make sense out of myriad facts and numbers—much the same as crosswords or Sudoku are to their aficionados.
The bottom line: In one or two races a day (three at the most), the winning horse with attractive odds would pop up through the vast clutter of data and whinny rudely, “Bet me! Bet me!” Sometimes I would spring for $2 on the phone; mostly it was just fun to see how I did the next day.
If I had one takeaway point to suggest to horseplayers—and private equity firms and venture capitalists—it would be: Winning is knowing when NOT to bet.
A Personal Digression
As readers know, I had nine jobs in my first 12 years in business—three of them lasting less than a month. At one company in the 1960s, I worked nights and weekends, launched a successful new product and did a great job. Whereupon a fat little toad of a new boss was hired, and I was suddenly fired with two weeks pay. The toad subsequently brought in his chums.
It was devastating. But at least in all the times I was fired, no company ever publicly humiliated me.
It was sickening to read in The Virginian-Pilot about the surprise bloodletting four days before last Christmas. Carolyn Shapiro wrote that the terminated workers were prohibited from returning to their desks. “Supervisors brought them their belongings and escorted them out of the building immediately after they were given notice. Some of the laid-off employees had worked for the company for almost 20 years.” Axed employees were given two weeks severance if they agreed to sign a termination letter.