Don’t Chop Down the Tree

Don’t Chop Down the Tree

Daniel Craig is the best James Bond ever. There is no argument about it. I don’t want to read anything about Sean Connery in the comments section. I have seen every Bond movie multiple times. I will bet my career on it.

I’m often accused of being overdressed. I wear suits as often as possible (except in the summer in South Carolina), and it is because of James Bond. There really is no such thing as being overdressed, in my opinion.

Anyway, maybe you saw the news Tuesday that Sony Pictures really, really, really wants Daniel Craig to come back and do two more movies, and they are willing to pay him $150 million to do it, which would make him one of the highest-paid actors of all time. Maybe the highest paid.

Daniel Craig has said he would rather slit his wrists than play James Bond again, when offered £68 million before. He told them to pack sand.

$150 million to do two movies.

Now look, I don’t care if it’s waterboarding we’re talking about, I’d get waterboarded—twice—to get paid $150 million. Playing James Bond can’t be worse than being waterboarded.

I think Mr. Craig had other ideas about what he wanted out of his career, artistically speaking, and he thinks that the Bond movies are uber-cheesy and his acting chops are being wasted on this drivel.

All of that may be true. But if you are born with a gift—like, maybe being the best James Bond in history—then you have to share that gift with people. I don’t care what that gift is. You have to share it with the world. I play my tune on the computer keyboard. Willie Mays played his tune on the baseball bat. We don’t get to choose what we’re good at.

Not to mention, if you are James Bond, you are essentially the coolest guy in the world. So you are going to turn down $150 million, and you are going to turn down being the coolest guy in the world, so you can do stuff like… Layer Cake? Which wasn’t all that great.

It may seem like I’m being hard on Mr. Craig, but I’m being a lot easier on him than the rest of the Internet is—most people think he’s completely lost his mind. I get the art vs. commerce debate. Went through that with All the Evil of This World. Opted for art instead of commerce. Don’t regret that decision one bit. But if you were offering me $150 million and the title “Coolest Guy in the World,” for me to go with commerce instead of art? Tougher decision.

Don’t Chop Down the Tree

Don’t chop down the tree that gives you all this delicious fruit. But people do it all the time.

Most of the time, they do it unintentionally—and blow themselves up. Drug problems, DWIs, divorces, sex scandals… there are a lot of people who lead pretty enviable lives, and all they have to do is suit up and show up, to get that paycheck and whatever adoration they get from the public. They have this gift to give, and they get money and fame in return. It really is that easy. It’s not necessary to come up with examples—I’m sure you can think of a lot.

Daniel Craig happens to be chopping down the tree on purpose, which makes him a little different, but the same principle applies.

You know who is the opposite of Daniel Craig?

Pat Sajak.

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Pat Sajak has been doing the same gig for what, 30 years now? You think he is bored? He is probably bored.

Every day, the same middlebrow dopey contestants, with the same atrocious shirt-tie combos they probably got in a package at Jos. A. Bank, the never-changing wheel, the same corny jokes. How many times can you say, “Oh, maaaaaan” when someone lands on Bankrupt? How many times can you get tackled by some woman for winning less in the bonus round than you make for one taping?

You think Daniel Craig is bored playing Bond? Nowhere near as bored as Pat Sajak.

But Pat Sajak has never chopped down the tree. He has never complained about being a game show host, about watching that wheel go round and round his entire life. He is the best at what he does, and he shares his gift with the world. He’s never blown himself up. Never grew a brain. Never got an ego. Hard to say what he gets paid—it’s in the multiples of millions, for sure, and if you add that up over a period of decades, he’s not hurting.

Pat Sajak gets to be the greatest game show host in history. Which is not bad! I would take that.

I would also take being the best James Bond in history.

Let’s all tip our caps to Pat Sajak, who intuitively knows what many of us need to learn:

You never screw up a good thing.

The Finance Angle

Don’t worry, there’s a Wall Street angle here. I’ve seen it many times before, people who fly a little close to the sun. That holds true from a personal perspective—with money comes all kinds of ways to screw up your life—but also from an investment perspective.

You have a skill, you have an edge, you are good at doing your thing, you make a comfortable living doing it—so you try to scale the strategy and attract all kinds of assets—and you find that running billions of dollars is a different (and harder) game than running millions of dollars.

Also for day traders. I know guys who make a comfortable living scalping one-lots and five-lots of futures, but it doesn’t scale to 10-lots or 20-lots.

Or you go outside your mandate. You are a distressed/event-driven/macro guy by trade, so you branch out into single-name long/short. Doesn’t end well.

It takes a little wisdom to figure out which ambitions are realistic and which are delusions of grandeur. I’d like to have more subscribers, but I’m also conscious of the fact that I have a pretty good thing going, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how not to screw it up.

Some people would call this gratitude. I would call this gratitude.

Daniel Craig, by way of being an annoying artistic purist, has inadvertently finagled his way into the sweetest financial deal of all time. He’d better take it. And take Rachel Weisz out to a nice dinner to celebrate, and then go home and hide his shoes under the bed.


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Sep. 8, 2016, 10:37 a.m.

Also, consider the way Sajak has set this up.
Lives in the Baltimore area. Gets flown to California for one week each month during which they record 4 weeks of shows. Then back to home/family for three weeks.
Seems like a lesson in how to manage for long-term success.

Art Eatman
Sep. 8, 2016, 9:25 a.m.

Maybe Craig hit burnout on that role.  Maybe he believes he has enough money such that even a giant amount isn’t worth it.

Some people reach a stage in life such that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do.  I did.  Since my income exceeds my outgo, I don’t worry about any offer of pay for something I don’t want to do.  Seems simple to me.

Quien sabe?  Maybe Sajak enjoys his work.  Maybe his spending habits mandate his continued work.  I don’t know.  But it’s none of my business.


Sep. 8, 2016, 9:10 a.m.

Really enjoyed that one, Jared! Your articles never fail to brighten the day, and this one actually had me laughing out loud.

gary legon 40861
Sep. 8, 2016, 9:07 a.m.

C’mon, Layer Cake was very good. Otherwise, yeah, Craig is the best and should do the 2 more. He is a good actor and is fine in most films he’s made.

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