This Esquire interview of former crack dealer, Cavario H., contains some of the most lucid and impactful commentary on the realities of the business world that I’ve come across for some time. As I’ve often suspected, it turns out that crack dealing and wealth mangement are really just two sides of the same coin. While the full article (link below) is required reading, comin’ at ya are three key take-away points to tide everyone over until you have the time to give this the serious attention it most certainly deserves.
#1 Change is innevitable – Therefore it must be mastered. If you don’t accept the reality that every new environment (or assignment, client, etc.) will both challenge and transform your mentality, you’ll end up out of the game in extremely short fashion. There is a direct path from living in denial to dying in denial. Choose self-awareness at every turn.
- “You had to look at everything from every possible angle. You had to always think about what could go wrong, and you had to think about who the opposition was, whether it was stickup kids or other dealers, or the police. You had to think about what they would do to undermine your operation. And then you had to create contingencies for those possibilities. If it never happened, fine, but if it did happen, you were ready. I followed this in my own business, especially when I expanded into new areas. Each state that I moved into had its own specific dynamics. I always adapted and adjusted my way of moving to wherever I was. But once I got comfortable in that space, I changed the program. I changed how things were done.”
#2 Knowing your employees is essential but insufficient – To succeed, you have to tailor your management style accordingly. No matter what business you’re in, success requires possessing an organization in which you can anticipate and prevent self-destructive conduct before it happens. Focusing solely on the competition is every bit as dangerous as pretending it doesn’t exist.
- “One time, I opened up in the Bronx, in 1986, and I had a guy inside this apartment. I had had guys operating inside crack apartments before, but there was a consistent problem that was happening with these guys. You’d leave them in the crack house overnight, and at a certain point, the crack prostitutes come and they’d negotiate themselves into the goddamn crack spot, circumventing the security. In a lot of cases, the girl was working for a guy who was waiting to rob the crack spot. I’d heard about this, and didn’t want to wait until I experienced it myself. So this one young man that I put into an apartment, when he showed himself to be susceptible to that kind of scenario, I just said, okay, I know what I’m going to do. I told him, ‘When you go inside, I’m gonna lock you in . . .’ Rationality does not work with irrational people.”
#3 Always remember to map out contingecies before you act. Whether you’re facing a perceived opportunity or a perceived set-back, never adopt an “X leads to Y” perspective. Envisioning all of X’s possible outcomes and developing contingency plans creates its own opportunity. You have the ability to master X rather than be mastered by it.
- “I’ve interviewed these guys I know in prison . . . [They] never really thought about what got them there. They sat there and said, ‘Poor me, this is not my life. My mommy was a nurse and my daddy was a mailman. All I wanted to do was make some money. That guy over there, he killed somebody and he’s going to get out of here before I do.’ My thing was, I could always see seven steps ahead. If I was here, I could completely see myself there, no problem. It was a natural thing for me. Most guys saw themselves in a position, and they couldn’t see themselves beyond that position. And that’s why they stayed at the party too long.”
Well worth remembering the next time you’re venturing out in search of that last big score . . . Plus, doesn’t it feel reassuring to know that watching “Breaking Bad” in 10 hour marathon sessions can now be written off as a necessary educational expense?