From the insights that changed the course of their professional lives to their most memorable investment, some of the world’s most successful investors will give themselves up to our interrogation. Have the best ideas come from extensive analysis or from the gut? How do they think about risk and defy the most stubborn cognitive biases? What do they look for when hiring key members of their teams? And, of course, where are they focusing their attention—and money—in the near future?
Michael Milken Chairman, Milken Institute
Mark Attanasio, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Crescent Capital Group
John Danhakl, Managing Partner, Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.
Emanuel J. Friedman, CEO and Co-Chief Investment Officer, EJF Capital LLC
George G. Hicks, Co-Founder and CEO, Värde Partners
Mitchell Julis, Co-Founder, Co-Chairman, and Co-CEO, Canyon Partners, LLC
Common Sense From Uncommon Investors
Please welcome your panelists for common sense from uncommon investors moderated by Michael Milken. Good afternoon. It’s may 1st 2008 team and we have five of the world’s greatest investors joining us today and our theories for this panel were. What are the insights their professional lives. Some of the ideas how do they approach making decisions at their institutions. And I thought we’d give you a quick little passed down the panel here on why they went into the investment business. Meche Mitch Joyce canyon was a lawyer and it wasn’t challenging enough. So I wrote a few articles in L.A. Magazine. I interviewed somebody at Drexel by the name of Henry Wolf and Henry said we should be interviewing you for a job and they introduced me to a low Mike and I got to do what I always wanted to do which was to apply the law and finance to restructurings of all kinds. And in addition was able because Drexel was that kind of place bring out some of my closest colleagues Josh Friedman who eventually became my partner Kanyon. All right George chix foreign partners. Well I was a lawyer as well. And so we see a little train here I think you’re setting it up there. But what I noticed was that when when there was a deal closing or you negotiated all day the business guys and gals they got to go home and the lawyers had to stay up all night drafting so I said I got to get it on the other side of business.
So I had a chance to build a portfolio at that time for Cargill and it was right about point in time that we had the big default cycle in about 1990 and the Resolution Trust Corporation came into being selling off a lot of assets. So I guess it was a bit the right place at the right time and that’s how I got into the business or one of the reasons George as you know lawyers work all night as they get paid by the hour. So whether there were Dagley or sleeping there working all night. Man I was 15 years old. My father let me take five hundred hours to buy a TNT shares. He looked at the newspaper on the way down to the broker dealer in Wilmington North Carolina has a blurb about cigarettes and people are alarmed and I decided to buy 10 shares the PRR. The next day I got on a bus and got off in two o’clock at night in Norfolk Virginia. I got the newspaper I wanted to see how I was doing and this stock was up to in five days and I could feel my heart beating inside of my chest. I knew from that time on the only thing that I ever wanted to do was to be in the market. That’s interesting Manny my uncle who was the chairman of the board of Hart Schaffner Marx in Chicago when I was 13 gave me a few shares of heart Shafter and marks. I think he never regretted it because I constantly call them and discuss how the company was doing didn’t like what management decisions were etc.. So John what about yourself. So I have a little different story.
I was actually premed at Cal and I had an accident and ended up in the in the emergency room. I broke my leg in a soccer game and I was there for three hours before they could actually meet me at the end of which it was like why would anybody want to be a doctor. So at that point I came back a econ major and the rest is history. All right Mark well I was a lawyer and a short. The short answer is I found it too boring though apologies to the many talented attorneys in the room. The better answer is I wanted to get closer to the heart of what was happening whether it was financing or a merger transaction and I had very good fortune to interview and get a job offer at Salomon Brothers in New York. Some of you may recall was actually became somewhat prominent among other things for being the subject of a book Liar’s Poker. And in those days Mike was a little bit competitive with the guys at Solly’s and a very difficult time getting attention from Drexel and the second.