Scaramucci isn’t done failing

Rick Newman
Columnist

Anthony Scaramucci needs to add another chapter to his memoir. Maybe several chapters.

Scaramucci’s tenure as White House communications director was shorter than a typical internship, with President Donald Trump firing him after just 10 days on the job. Adding fuel to the flameout, Scaramucci’s wife, Deirdre Ball, sued for divorce recently. Even by the standards of Trump-level discord, Scaramucci’s breakneck downfall is astonishing.

It may also eclipse prior failures Scaramucci has discussed candidly, from the comfort of the other side of the river. “My career has been littered with failures,” he wrote in his memoir, “Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole,” published last year. In an interview with Yahoo Finance last October, he enumerated various failures: Getting fired from his dream job at Goldman Sachs, failing the bar exam twice, losing control of his investment company, Skybridge, during the 2009 financial meltdown. “We started calling it Nobridge,” he said in the interview. “The bridge to nowhere.”

Had Scarmucci listened to his own advice from back then, he might still have a job at the White House. “There are three stages on the barometer of arrogance,” he said. “Confidence, over-confidence and arrogance. You have to be in the zone of overconfidence at the efficient frontier right before arrogance. Once you become arrogant, you become a very big turnoff to the people around you.”

That seems to be exactly what happened to Scaramucci when he finally arrived in Washington, after infighting with other Trump acolytes delayed his debut in the Trump administration. “The Mooch,” as he’s known, waged jihad against doomed chief of staff Reince Priebus and cursed out colleagues in one of the most blunt on-the-record interviews in Washington history. Trump probably loved hearing Scaramucci praise him on TV, but he also probably sensed that Scaramucci’s ego was a challenge to his own.

The press has described Scaramucci as a Wall Street financier, but he’s really more of an operator who’s way better at salesmanship and shmoozing than at investing or running companies. “He definitely has the ability to go on TV or be at a conference or presenting to 200 brokers, the ability to put on the charm, very much like a politician,” says one associate who’s known him for years. “But he had a very hard time keeping business relationships at senior levels. He called Priebus a paranoid schizophrenic, but I would characterize Anthony as highly paranoid.”

When Scaramucci held forth on his career failures last year, he did so as somebody who had ridden the wheel of fortune back to prominence. His firm, Skybridge, had rebounded and was doing well. The annual conference he ran in Las Vegas for hedge fund managers had become a marquee event. And he was a key Trump aide who spent a lot of time at Trump Tower strategizing with the future president. It was a comfortable time to look back on failures.

Now, he has more lessons to learn. Scaramucci, now more famous than ever, will be back, once again glad-handing power brokers and journalists and anybody willing to endure his self-deprecating self-promotion. You’ll undoubtedly see him on TV, though probably not as Trumpophilic as before. He’ll probably remain involved in investing. And he’s got plenty of new material for another volume on what he’s learned through failure.

Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com. Encrypted communication available.

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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman

 

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