1) Make Friends Through Violence. Even though it would still be 17 hours before I first even heard the words “Howard Lindzon” for the first time, I woke up nauseous and had to position myself in front of a garbage can just in case anything came up. . It was 4 in the morning, January 3 or 4th 2007. At 8am I had to go meet Jim Cramer and do a video with him. At 7am a press release was going out announcing the official launch of Stockpickr.com, my new business, and that thestreet.com was going to be a major shareholder.
I called up my business partner. “I have that sickness,” I said.
“What sickness?” He was not really awake but he sleeps next to his phone for just these occasional 4am phone calls. The last time I called him at 4 in the morning, Turkey had been attacked by terrorists and we were massively long. Now, this.
“The one my kids got. The stomach virus everyone’s getting. I can feel it. I’m going to start throwing up any second. I wonder if I can just hold it in. I don’t want to throw up.”
“Or the other strategy,” I said, “is that I can throw up completely right now. Get it all out. Drink some water. Throw up again. And maybe by the time I’m supposed to meet Cramer it will be all out of my system. And I’ll probably lose some weight also.”
I was scared. A business launch is scary. A hundred thousand people were going to hit the site that day. Could it handle it? Would I cry if things broke down? Maybe even kill myself? Would I throw up ON JIM CRAMER if things didn’t work out and we were in the middle of our video.
And, what do you know, later that night some punk named Howard Lindzon was already saying on some blog. “Whats this NosePickr that TheStreet.com is investing in?” I posted, “WTF!? Howard, I love Wall Strip. What are you doing?” And he felt bad and called me and we spoke for three hours. Howard’s first a punk. And then he’s a friend. But he stays friends for life after that. Or until he’s a punk again. I don’t know. But he kept calling me and I finally picked up and we not only realized that we were distantly related but that we had been to nursery school together. A week later I made my first appearance on “Wall Strip”, we met in person, and became good friends.
For me, I can’t start off picking fights. But Howard is the bull in the China shop and everyone stops to look. It works for him. Don’t think his ongoing fight with Jason Calacanis isn’t a smart, clever move on Howard’s part on his goal of achieving eventual world domination. He’s tricky that way. Or maybe, its just a fight. I can never figure it out.
2) Howard LOVES watches.
Actually, this is not true. But in revenge for his NosePicker. I hacked into lindzon.com. Specfically, lindzon.com/blog. Howard’s initial blog. So I wrote a fake post for him and published it on his blog without his knowing. This is the result. Even his wife was surprised at his obsessive interest in watches that she never knew about. Roger Ehrenberg ended up buying Howard a watch for Christmas because of this post but I don’t even know if Howard wears watches.
3) The Power of Networking. Howard Lindzon is a networking machine. Here’s my rules on meetings. Maximum: I will do one on the morning and one in the afternoon. THATS IT! I need time to relax, to think, to get from one meeting to the next, to bail out of meetings at the last minute or simply not show up and call up later and apologize. Or not.
And if I go to a meeting in an office, everyone needs to be standing up. Nobody wants to stand up for too long so this keeps meetings short. But Howard is different. If he’s awake, he’s in a meeting. He jogs with VCs in the morning, meets with his investments for breakfast, and so on.
So I decided I would do a full day of back-to-back-back meetings with Howard Lindzon and write about it in the Financial Times. It was non-stop without one breath of air. Since FT has a paywall now I reposted the article here. I was exhausted by the end of the day but I couldn’t believe how much I learned in one day and how many people I had met (some of these people have later cursed at me in horrible business dealings, but some have become friends. Just one day of meetings). Howard does that every day. As Turtle says to Vince in the first episode of Entourage, “if I had a face like yours I’d be a zillionaire”. If I could be a networker like Howard I’d be a …whatever, I don’t know what I’d be. I’d be a Jedi Knight or something.
But networking works. And Howard doesn’t seem to get tired. He keeps on calling people, making intros, meeting people. Going to parties. Speaking at conferences. Wining and dining VCs. Introducing as many VCs as possible to as many pretty girls as possible (a key technique). He never stops. Whenever I have a phone call with Howard there’s suddenly 5 intro emails from him, introducing me to all the key players that day I need to meet. How am I supposed to respond to those. This moment I have 92,347 unread emails in my inbox, NOT counting the SPAM box. But networking is what gets Howard deal flow. And gets investors for his deals. And he has an enormous anount of fun and people like inviting him to things. I get jealous. For me, I like to look at the river at night. For Howard, he likes to brainstorm (with no filter at all) alcohol-infused ideas with random Internet zilionaires in Paris, or wherever. And you know what? Some of them work. I think. I have no idea really.
4) Horrible, messy, bleeding. I’ve been doing financial related posts for almost ten years for 8 different publications. I’ve written them, I’ve edited others financial posts, I’ve built financial media sites with millions of readers. So here’s what I like in a financial article. Bleeding. I like wrists cut, eyes rolling around in their sockets and blood in a mess all over the place. But financial columnists are afraid to do that. They don’t want to scare their clients or their potential clients. So they write posts like “10 stocks you need to know in 2011”. They wrote those posts over and over again because they are safe and they somewhat work. But they suck. Howard doesn’t do “safe”.
Here’s a post Howard did where he bled everwhere. It was a mess. His business imploded. His partner stole from him and his clients. The NASD, the SEC, they were all after him. It was ugly and sad. I’m sure he was suicidal. Just looking at him you can see he’s a depressive sort of guy and thats when times are good! When I see posts like that it helps me get more comfortable in my own skin when I bleed. I get insecure about many of posts (see How to be a psychic in 10 easy lesson or Is it bad I originally wanted my kid to be aborted. ) Its not easy to bleed and I give Howard mega-credit for admitting his worst failures. I can count on my hand maybe only 2 or 3 other bloggers who have done that in the past decade I’ve been readng bloggers. (Cramer did it in excellent fashion in “Confessions of a Street Addict” but not so much since then).
Goddamanit! This post is already 1300 words. Its too long. I honestly have 49 other things. I didn’t touch yet on what I’ve leaned from his peculiar negotiating style. Or all the jokes I’ve stolen from him. Or how tricky it was he got everyone in the financial media industry to invest like $14.50 each in the initial round of StockTwits so nobody could dare criticize it.
But I still remember his first comment. “NosePickr”, I had worked so hard to get it to that point. Maybe 1400 hours of non-stop work over 4-5 months in late 2006. My baby. And then…”Nosepickr”. Looking back on it, though, maybe he was right all along.