Saturday, January 11, 2014

What Bernie Madoff Told Me and the Meaning of "No"

By James Altucher

Christine Cardinal and I had adjoining paper routes and when we were finished, we’d invariably meet on the line between her route and mine. So one day, in tenth grade, I asked her out. Because, of course, I loved her. She said “yes”. That evening I was so happy I even told my little sister something like, “you are going to have a great life”. Because, of course, if Christine Cardinal was going to say yes to someone like me then all was good in the world and flowers were going to rain down on everyone.

The next day, Lenny Cardinal, her brother, came up to me in the morning. I was like, “brother in law!” And he said, “Listen, Christine really wanted to say no. She was just caught off guard so she said ‘yes’. But its ‘No’.”  Two years later Lenny was president of the student government, AND valedictorian. But for now he was using all of that latent intelligence and charisma to figure out how to let me down easily. Still, I was crushed. And walked right out of school and walked the 5 miles or so to home.  My life was over.

Twenty years later I was sitting in an office in the famous Lipstick Building on 53rd and Third in Manhattan.  I was trying to raise money for my fund of funds and I had just given my best pitch ever. My fund had been going great, the strategy was right for the times, and I thought this was a no-brainer to the billion dollar hedge fund guy I was pitching. “Listen,” he said[...]

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