octubre 17, 2004

How Meriweather created loyalty

Meriwether obviously did a fantastic job of creating loyalty among his team. They were furious when Salomon sacked him, so they eventually jumped at the chance to join him at LTCM.

1. Brought in his own people. By being the first person to hire academics, Meriwether not only brought in the best in the business, but they were his people. Until Meriwether, they were academics who studied the issue. Then Meriwether gave them the opportunity to put their ideas into action and make a few million bucks.

2. Chose his traders over the firm. Salomon did a china service lunch for its partners, but Meriwether chose to eat with his traders. So every day a waiter would bring Meriwether a bologna sandwich, a TAB soda, and two apples under a silver dome. Every day Meriwether would give one of the apples to one of his traders as an "attaboy." The traders were soon competing hard for the apple.

3. Didn't make people work when they didn't need to. One of the great things about Salomon's group is that they didn't need to make every trade, just find a few very good trades. So they would take the time to leisurely discuss the merits of a certain position. Or they would gamble.

4. Encouraged gambling. As bestselling Moneyball author Michael Lewis wrote in Liar's Poker, the group played liar's poker constantly, both at work and not at work. When the group went out to dinner, they'd play liar's poker to see who picked up the check.

Of course, this was a good way to keep his trader's instincts sharp. What do you do in gambling? Assemble information, analyze it, figure out the odds, and pull the trigger. Same thing as in trading.

5. Group outings to compete. His group would frequently go -- and were expected to attend -- compete against each other. They'd go to the horse track together and place wagers. They'd go to Antigua with their families for yearly vacations. Day trips to Atlantic City. Betting on elections, sports. They bought a resort in Ireland to play golf. In Ireland, they devised elaborate betting pools on their scores.