I should preface this book review by saying that nothing went the way I expected with reading this book. I had hoped to get a pretty deep dive into the history of how one of my most valued asset management partners (SkyBridge Capital) came into being. And don’t get wrong – there is a bit of that “inside baseball” I was looking for, but quite frankly, there never really is enough for yours truly to satisfy that insatiable desire for more business chatter. I run a wealth management boutique for a living, serve as that company’s Chief Investment Officer, and am an incorrigible obsessive of all things capital markets. If Anthony were ever so inclined, I could sit with him for eight hours straight, no problem, and pick his brain about what he did at Goldman Sachs, what Oscar Capital was all about, what the transaction was all about when he sold to Neuberger Berman, what working for Lehman was really like, and of course, the nitty gritty of starting SkyBridge, and particularly, folding into it the alternatives business from Citigroup. But thankfully for all of the readers not serving as CIO’s in wealth management, Anthony did something very, very different with this stellar book.
First, quick disclosures. I am a personal investor in SkyBridge and have allocated significant client capital to hedge fund strategy as well. The author of this book, Anthony Scaramucci, is the founder of SkyBridge, and also the founder of the SALT conference, a simply unparalleled conference experience in Las Vegas every year that I have attended for years. With that all said, if anyone were to read Anthony’s book and conclude that it was a book about hedge funds or about making it in the finance business, they would have missed the point, badly. Anthony’s book, rather, is about the human spirit – pure and simple.
I do not write a lot about my personal life story, though I do not shy away from it either. I am reasonably transparent about the various challenges and hurdles I have faced, but perhaps will write more in the future (I don’t know). What I will say is that I am living a life that has exceeded any dream I ever thought possible, and I am not doing so despite various pains and challenges I have faced, but because of those pains and challenges. Without a question the two most hurtful and daunting things that have happened to me as a grown-up were the two things that led to the greatest blessings of my adult life. It’s that simple. Some things happened – they hurt; they scared me; they threatened me – and out of those things, I found myself in circumstances that allowed me to realize my dreams (and I am still realizing them day by day, enjoying the utter thrill of waking up every single morning to fight the good fight, live out my life’s calling, and seek a life of flourishing, both for myself, my family, and those around me).
I bring up this brief interlude of my life testimony because what a reader of Anthony Scaramucci needs to understand is that this guy means what he says about the aspirational society to the depths of his being. Anthony’s commitment to human flourishing is infectious, and whether one’s exposure to him is merely superficial or much deeper, they will know immediately that Anthony is the embodiment of overcoming odds, of taking risks, of personal growth, and of improving one’s lot in life. I have lost track of how many interviews I have seen Anthony conduct (between television and at the SALT conference), but I do not recall one where somehow, some way, he did not bring the interview to the subject of someone’s modest beginnings, and how they became the success they became. Anthony does not see this achievement as a possibility for elites, academics, and very fortunate people (only); he sees it as the striving of all humans, and I see in his eyes a genuine thrill for the basic narrative of human growth – achieved potential – realized dreams.
I do wish, as a finance professional, that the book laid out even more detail regarding some of Anthony’s business biography, but it only took a couple chapters to realize that what Anthony was doing was so much more important. Interwoven between principle after principle that I have basically been swearing to for years, Anthony uses this book to tell readers what it takes to become successful, and more often than not, what it takes, is failure. We may all think we know someone who from their mother’s womb has been doing nothing but hitting home runs, but we don’t. The elite performers who have inspired us and who serve as examples of optimal production in any field (sports, business, civics, etc.) are nearly always people who flopped and failed, learned mightily from those experiences (not just experientially, but existentially), and converted those lessons into incredible life success.
Anthony and I see many things the same (our love of alternative investments, our commitment to free market economics, and our dedication to seeking out transactions in our business lives that work for everyone). But what this book did for me more than anything else is resonate in the core of my being how much I believe that our best selves are discovered through failings and challenges, and that the story of the human condition is often the redemption that comes after a fall. You can call this a theological truism if you’d like (I do). But where I most commend Hopping over the Rabbit Hole is for those people who are prone to skepticism and cynicism, and need a model of optimism and hope and perseverance. Anthony’s work and life testimony is a walking model for what the human spirit is created to be. This book is a must read for all who want to read one man’s genuine and contagious admiration of that spirit.