I’m sitting outside in a cafe on a rare sunny day in my part of SF, reading a fascinating book, Nexus, about the next stage in human evolution. Will we use our technology for creation or destruction? To lift people up or enslave them? Will we lead with compassion and love or hate and anger?
Two guys sit next to me. One, late 20′s Asian in a tee shirt, the other a “bro” in sunglasses and a faux tux shirt. Think 20-something, less-handsome Christian Bale from the movie American Psycho.
Bro starts talking about a girl he met while with his girlfriend, Hailey, at a bar. He describes her as “ugly, like Windows 8″ (which was kind of clever, but clearly it was a new joke he was working) and talks about giving her advice on men and suggests she lose weight. He sells it to her with the line, “I wouldn’t be telling you this if I didn’t think you had potential.” His girlfriend, “Gave me a talking to about this, but it felt good though to tell an ugly girl to lose 20 pounds.” he said laughing.
Then he the proceeds to talk about what women “really like.” It starts with them knowing they have lots of competition. “I got three fresh new numbers the night after I first met Hailey and she wouldn’t hookup with me.” She complained when she found out, ‘Why wouldn’t you wait for me?’ He points out, “Women, SAY that they want you to be nice but they really don’t. They don’t respect a guy who stays home waiting for her call.” And he gives the advice of an abuser, “You make them feel insecure then you open your arms and they come back. And then you’re the man, you’ve got the power again.”
Asian guy describes his pick up technique in cafes, “I tell the girl I want to meet to watch my laptop while I go to the bathroom.” (Holy crap, now I understand why all the people I asked to watch my laptop kept giving me their phone numbers!) He describes the older woman that Bro spotted him with at a Japan Town cafe. Asian guy kind of likes her, thinks she’s “high level.” Bro thinks he’s getting too emotional, and explains how he could “sweep in” on this older women by “removing yourself from the whole situation, kind go on ‘autopilot.’” Bro says, “She will probably hook up with you on the first date and take you back to her place.” (BTW, how did they know she was older? Her confidence. Plus her shoes, socks and hair. “Did you see her hair? She definitely had older lady hair.“)
Bro asked Asian guy, “Do you like white women? Because if you do, you totally want to go to Walnut Creek.” Why? That’s where the dumb blonde girls are. They make plans to go down to Walnut Creek with “fake stories” and score with some “slutty suburban girls.”
Next he talked about this woman he broke up with, Stacy, who was “crazy” and contacted his old employer accusing him of “crazy stuff I never did.” After the HR department told him they had received info from her he said he could prove it was all made up and he was going to the police department to file a restraining order on her.
So, already I think this guy is a major jerk on multiple levels. Then he proceeds to describe how Asian guy can game the system at Levis by spending $250 on jeans to get 40% off the purchase, then returning three of the jeans so he can get the one he wants at 40% off. It’s a system that the Levi’s “cashier lady” was too slow to understand how he was going to get his 40% discount on one pair of jeans. He’s a financial genius!
Finally he talks about his interview at JPM and how he hadn’t heard back from them. At first I heard JPL and wondered, “Jet Propulsion Lab? Really?” But then the Asian guy asked, “Would you ever work in “Wealth Management?” Bro said, “Only if it was for a name firm like Blackrock or Pimco, not some D-Bag Assets place” So JPM is clearly JP Morgan since he mentioned two other firms he had interviewed with.
The “Qualities” of the Wall Street Mindset
So this guy in one conversation proceeded to show the following that mirrors many WS corporations:
1) Extreme focus on external appearance.
They see this as a reflection of interior value
2) Make cruel comments about others. It’s seen as a source of amusement and shows superiority
Remember the Enron Traders laughing at “Grandma Millie?”
3) Mock people seen as lesser beings while holding out hope they could play in Bro’s league
Remember the WS bragging about ripping off their customers privately while publicly telling them what a great investment it is? I’m looking at you Henry Blodget.
4) Misogynistic attitudes across the board.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Larry Summers
5) Do whatever it takes to reach a goal
The goal must be reached, even if it involves lying and cheating the flesh they are “hooking up” with, or the customer who hires you.
6) Teach others your tricks. Don’t respect the hook-up/customer. If busted, it’s their own fault for trusting you.
Share the twisted Bro-code. “This is the culture dude, this is how it’s done. You want to treat your “hook up/ customer with respect? Forget it, they will go crazy when they find out you betrayed them. They will try and hurt you, but flip it back on them. Make them pay for your sins, which you TOTALLY DIDN’T DO.
7) Trick people. Don’t let your conscience be your guide.
Got a twinge of conscience? Get over it by going on “autopilot.” Remove your emotions and conscience, they get in the way of the goal.
8) Game every system to benefit yourself
Bonus points if you can do it by using other people’s money. Then lord it over the stupid people trying to make money the old fashion way, by selling products.
Conclusions and Action
Here is the the part of the story where Ol’ Spocko tells you what you can do about this. But this time I don’t have an action. I just wanted to show you some of the attitudes and actions I see on a very personal level and how it goes up to the higher levels. If you are to do anything, you might want to start on a human level then see if it can be modeled to a larger level, a group level, a corporate level or a cultural level.
I’m pretty sure the Bro will get one of those jobs. This guy, and the system that produces, encourages and rewards him is firmly in place. He already has figured out how to avoid consequences of his actions.
Last week David Atkins wrote a great piece titled. “Why are so many Americans in love with causing pain?” And I pointed out that instead of people looking “up” at the 1% or at “The People Who Have Been Making the World Worse” they are looking at the people around them that are doing slightly better in one area or another.
I suggested to David this is why prosecution of financial crimes would have helped America’s morale. Not just because of the people crying out for justice, but because without it we are turning our anger and desire to see punishment on the wrong people. I don’t mean a scapegoat, but many people who did actual crimes . With out it many feel there is no hope, that the right people will never come to justice. Some people think that we don’t need criminal convictions, but to focus on fixing the systems. (I just heard this from journalist Tim Noah on Virtually Speaking tonight. I called in because I begged to differ.)
Like most people, I like to watch the bad guys get their comeuppance in books and movies. I like it even more in real life, but if people can’t put Mr. Potter in jail, they focus on the closest non-tribe member. The feeling is “at least someone is punished for something.” It’s a low level catharsis, but since it’s local and personal it might fill some small need.
I suppose I could have tracked down Bro and alerted his current girlfriend Hailey, but I’m pretty sure she will find out what a jerk he is soon. Hopefully she will become just as “crazy” as Stacy and alert his new employer to some of the stuff he “totally didn’t do!” Only this time I hope she will have solid evidence of the things he does. I would tell her, “Guys talk about being responsible and accountable in public but in private they really aren’t. They want to turn off their consequences, but frankly, they really need them. Otherwise they will never change.”
If Asian guy doesn’t want to become one of The People Who Have Been Making the World Worse he should listen to the small voice inside him that says to go with the older, confident woman who is “high level.” She might change his life.
Personally I think “older lady hair” looks cool. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Janet Yellen.
P.S. Oh, and I loved this part. At one point he noticed this lady had a really cute dog. He said, “Man that is a cute dog. I would do anything for that dog. If he told me to “Go in and rob that store.” or ‘Go and mug that man and get me dog food. I would.” He couldn’t just admire the dog. He had to imagine the dog giving him orders to rob and mug people. Because we all know dogs think about stealing and hurting people. Project much? Now who else had a dog telling him to hurt people?