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Six Life Lessons We Can Learn From Bobby Axelrod

With Money, Comes Freedom

by Nataly Owala | TVOvermind | November 18, 2021

There are many ways to describe Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). The description that reigns supreme above all is a one-word wonder: Billionaire. According to Axelrod, being a billionaire is simply like being a girl with a good bust, or one with pretty eyes. Whenever a billionaire walks into a room, they already know what everyone is after. Through the seasons, Axelrod and his team have kept viewers glued to the screen thanks to his cold brush with the long arm of the law, and his protégé, Taylor ( Asia Kate Dillon), who nearly beat the master at his own game. While Axelrod as a character is your typical hedge-fund boss who’s larger than life, underneath lies a human with wisdom beyond his years. Here are a couple of life lessons we can borrow from him:

1. Always Be Prepared

Time and again, it has been said that opportunity is simply luck meeting preparation halfway. So, when Lara (Malin Akerman) went into a nurses’ business not fully prepared, Axelrod, who had been fairly successful in business, had some schooling to do. “ I tried to tell you. You weren’t ready, but you wouldn’t hear it from me…What is it that you do that you’re the best in the world at? You work for a service you didn’t invent, a formula you didn’t invent, a delivery method you didn’t invent. Nothing about what you do is patentable or a unique user experience. You haven’t identified an isolated market segment. Haven’t truly branded your concept. Do you need me to go on? So, why would an investment bank put serious money into it?” Axelrod told a perplexed Lara.

2. The Numbers Tell The Story

According to Axelrod, the numbers will always tell the story. No one would run a hedge fund for a long time without knowing so. Neither would one bet on a racing horse without using the numbers to understand what’s happening. Axelrod, in conversation with one of his most trusted people, Orrin Bach ( Glenn Fleshler), said of the betting game: “ I watched people running towards the betting window with high hopes, no plan, then I watched them walk away from the track ripping up their tickets in disgust. That wasn’t gonna be me.” Instead, Axelrod figured out where the action was. Where the guys who had a plan were. He found out that they bet late, and they bet heavy because they weren’t focused on the track, but the stories the numbers told.

3. With The Money, Comes Freedom

Money does not buy happiness. It paves way for someone, anyone at that matter, to buy the things that make them happy. There’s one thing money can buy: Freedom. And when you have a billion dollars, your everyday schedule can be anything you want it to be. For Axelrod, each day has no formula and he has the power to do whatever he wants. The meeting can only start when he shows up. And when Axelrod wants a cheesesteak, he not only orders for himself, but for his entire staff. Part of being Axelrod means everyone brings themselves to you, and not the other way around. Sometimes it’s a head of state who’s requesting a favor, or an employee whose Ivy League degree does not equate to the experience you have amassed by being on the field. Either way, with a lot of billions does come a lot of responsibilities, and a lot of freedom.

4. You Don’t ‘Try’ To Be Loyal

Loyalty is a word that is often thrown around, yet not so many get to live up to it. In Axelrod’s case, a test of loyalty presented itself when one of his traders, Mafee ( Dan Soder), received an offer from a rival firm, declined it and assured Axelrod of ‘trying to be loyal’, only for Axelrod to say, “ You don’t try to be loyal. You just are.” True to Axelrod’s words, it didn’t take long before Mafee joined Taylor’s new firm, proving that, when it comes to loyalty, it’s better to just be instead of trying to. 15 years of working with Axelrod on Wendy Rhoades’ ( Maggie Siff) part, despite the cognitive dissonance she had to undergo being married to his arch-enemy, is as loyal as one can get.

5. Have A Passion For What You Do

True to the piece of advice Axelrod gave his ex-wife Lara, the one thing in the world he could do, even with his eyes closed, was trading. It was how he got the trust of investors in the first place. It was also why he was an extremely successful businessman. He had his employees, who did the work for him because he could afford to. He had a psychiatrist to help keep his employees sane. That is unheard of in most, if not all institutions. To go to those lengths, one has to be extremely passionate about what they do. More than anything, Axe Capital survived because Axelrod would go to the ends of the earth to make sure his business kept running, and his investors were happy.

6. Never Forget Where You Come From

Earlier on the show, one of the very first times we got to see Axelrod was in reference to his childhood. He and his then-wife, Lara were at a pizzeria, indulging in a slice just like he did when he was a child. Except we learned that the owner of the pizza shop was having trouble making rent, and Axelrod was ready to step in. That wasn’t the only time Axelrod tried to use his billions to salvage his childhood (link to “Bobby Axelrod: The Boy Whose Dad Never Came Back” by Fan Fun with Damian Lewis blog).

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