A Creative Lesson in Business from the Movie “The Big Short”
An important lesson in business (and life) from the movie “The Big Short” is don’t assume anything, check it out, and seek the truth!
There are always three sides to every story: “My side, your side, and what really happened.”
In other words, don’t make decisions sitting in your office or at your desk, instead get up and get out on the front lines, and find the truth.
Getting out and about (to check on things) is also know by the business term MBWA (Management By Wandering Around) which was popularized by Hewlett-Packard, and in the book “In Search of Excellence.”
Also, gardeners (like Chauncey in the movie “Being There“) know the importance of getting out in the garden to check on things, and growing a business is like growing a garden, you need to get out and check on it.
Get out and be like your customer which means use and eat your own product — eat your own dog food.
When the actor Steve Carell is told that home loans in the United States are worthless and going into default, he and his team fly to Florida to check it out.
He turns into Sherlock Holmes as he expertly decides where to look and whom to ask in his quest for the truth.
First, they go door-to-door on a street lined with homes that are deserted because they are in default including a home with a mortgage made out to a dog.
An alligator snaps at them from an abandoned pool – foreshadowing things to come in the housing market.
The quest continues when they pose as home buyers and tour with a real-estate agent who says the market is in a slight slump which the team knows is a code for no one can pay their home loans.
The team continues to seek the truth from another perspective as they ask a mortgage broker if applicants for home loans ever get rejected, and the broker laughs saying they make NIJA loans which means No Income, No Job.
Finally, Carell talks to a home owner who happens to be a stripper (she put therapist on her mortgage application), and finds out that she has ten loans on five houses because she only had to pay 5% down. The kicker is that she says everyone is doing the same thing.
Steve Carell puts the clues together, and concludes (correctly) that most home loans are worthless, and he makes a multi-million dollar bet that those loans will fail. Unfortunately, for many home owners, he wins the bet and the housing market collapses.
The moral of this story is that in business and life, don’t make decisions sitting in your office or at your desk, instead get up and get out on the front lines and find the truth.