I remember reading Kitchen Confidential like a bolt of lightning had struck me. I’m an avid cook and whenever you really love something you have illusions that, someday, you might do it professionally. Kitchen Confidential cured me of that in a hurry. Reading about:

  • Just how hard you have to work in a professional kitchen
  • The amount of drugs and sex
  • The absolutely pitiful pay scales
  • The rampant sexism
  • The level of theft and illegality

Well I no longer have the desire to work in a kitchen. I’m plenty happy cooking for family and friends and I do far better financially than I would unless I had that lightning in a bottle moment where your new restaurant is temporarily the new hot thing. And the odds there seem equivalent to that of your startup succeeding so …

Reading Straight to Hell: Tales of Deviance, Debauchery and Billion - Dollar Deals makes me want to term the author, John LeFevre, the Anthony Bourdain of finance. This book is based on the popular twitter feed “Heard in the Goldman Sachs” elevator. If you scrub out “kitchen” and replace it with “trading floor” and change the location from Manhattan to Hong Kong, well, its pretty much the same book. In the book you read about how a young trader rises thru the ranks and with every success descends deeper and deeper into a morass of bad behavior. Anything bad that you’ve ever thought about people in finance appears to be true. I particularly liked the description of chatroom bingo where they assign points to people who say increasingly ridiculous things on investor conference calls. Given how many times I’ve played buzzword bingo in long meetings myself, I certainly can’t fault him for this.

Overall it is a very entertaining read. There’s not a lot about finance specifically here – it is really about bad, frat boy like, behavior.

As a parent, I will say that I don’t ever want any of my sons to enter the finance world after reading this. Wow.