Bobby Axelrod plays Damian Lewis, founder and CEO of Axe Capital locate din Westport, CT, the fictitious hedge fund company in the popular TV series “Billions. As the uber alpha male, Axelrod is the 21st century Gordon Gekko in many respects in that “it’s all about the bucks kid. The rest is conversation.”
Like Gekko he came from humble backgrounds. Gekko was a CUNY grad while Axelrod grew up in a blue collar family in Yonkers, NY and graduated from Hofstra University. Both universities are highly regarded in academic circles yet they’re not perceived at or even near the same level as Ivy League or other prestigious private universities. For this reason, despite their respective tremendous successes their Ivy League competition still slight them in a subtle disparagingly way at their so-called inferior educational pedigree. This is why both men are obsessively driven to not only win but completely crush and humiliate their lofty educated competition.
But getting back to Axe Capital, the architectural design of the building is an oxymoron. Axe Capital’s interior is light and airy – practically a large white canvas with few visual distractions to foster greater collaboration, creativity, cross-fertilization and encouragement for a free-flow of energy & information with endless possibilities. Except for the firm’s in-house psychologist whose office justifiably has a solid door for complete privacy, the work spaces are open cubicles. Even Axelrod’s and upper-management’s offices are floor-to-ceiling glass enclosures with floor-to-ceiling glass doors.
However externally the building itself is isolated from everything else – hidden in plain sight, a standalone structure, a gated community within a gated community, essentially an open air corporate inner-sanctum. In other words the only transparency is strictly within the firm, not with the outside world that creates an odd transparent exclusivity.
With respect to Axe Capital personnel, Bobby Axelrod hires whoever gives him the best bang for the buck regardless of race, religion, ethnic background or even gender including non-binary gender as portrayed by actor Asia Kate Dillon Asia Taylor who, by the way, actually is a non-binary gender individual. It goes without saying that Axelrod treats all of them equally ruthlessly, well, because it’s a ruthless business.
In fact he’s attracted to these unconventional types because he himself is an outsider and contrarian, not with a chip on his shoulder, rather a mountain range, another subconscious snub at the establishment and traditional way of doing things in the finance world, even in the cowboy world of hedge funds.
This makes Axelrod the pure capitalist beast by hiring and firing personnel specifically on performance - their performance. One could interpret his humanity when he fired an analyst because of his recommendation to sell a high-risk investment. But when Axelrod decided to hold the investment resulting in a massive loss, he went directly to the analyst and “re-hired” him because it was Axelrod’s final decision, not the analyst’s, that resulted in the loss. This wasn’t an act of humanity rather responsibility which Axelrod accepted immediately and publicly which is what you really want in a leader.
I certainly abhor and vigorously condone Axelrod’s amoral, illegal and other innumerable transgressions and irregular activities for monetary gains. Notwithstanding individuals and firms can certainly gain enormously with respect to Axelrod’s hiring process which is to not only select, rather uncompromisingly and enthusiastically embrace the absolute best which often doesn’t come in standard packaging. To put it bluntly, personnel diversification not only works, it succeeds spectacularly.
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