I’m going to visit the New York Stock Exchange today as a tourist. Last time I was there I felt like killing myself.
Last time I was there was around 2010. I used to live on 15 Broad, right across the street from the Exchange.
I moved there because before that I lived in The Chelsea Hotel. And even though I lived in the Chelsea for most of the 90s, there was a particular reason I had to move out of there.
I was dating a woman in 2008 who was a therapist. One time she came to my “home” which was essentially a run-down room in a 120 year old decrepit hotel (the Chelsea).
The Chelsea had been home to Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Ethan Hawke, Sid & Nancy, Madonna, and maybe hundreds of others artists, writers, musicians. I loved living there.
The next day the therapist called me. She had just been to HER therapist. “My therapist says you need roots.”
“But this is my roots. I lived here for years in the 90s and now I live here again. This is my home.”
“It’s a hotel.”
So, because I am insecure and do whatever is told to me by someone I am dating, I moved and found myself living across the street from the New York Stock Exchange.
I always like to live in places that are either tourist attractions or feel, in some way, like a creative choice.
Whenever CNBC, the TV station, would call me about coming on I would say “yes”. I’d crawl out of bed, put on a tie, and go across the street to their booth at the Exchange and make important announcements about the future of the world.
Then I’d go back home and cry myself to sleep.
But one time I decided to take it one step further.
The market was crashing. The S&P had just hit an ominous low of “666” and everyone thought capitalism was dead.
In the morning I got up early and bought a bag of chocolates.
Eating chocolate triggers oxytocin in the brain, the same neurochemical triggered when you have sex. It helps you to take more risks. It makes you feel like king of the world. It makes you feel more bonded with the people around you.
It makes you pick your head up when you are looking at the ground.
I know this because I handed out the chocolates all morning to people walking into the Exchange.
I needed those traders to get back to work and start taking risks. I had looked at my bank account a few days earlier and I thought I would go crazy. I had lost so much money I couldn’t believe that “here I was again”.
Everybody I approached was looking at the ground. Everyone was scared. When I approached them with a chocolate they would take an instinctive step back.
“Here”, I said to each one of them. Like talking to dogs. I don’t mean to insult them. But I was scared also.
I’m about to take full credit for something.
Forget about “The Fed”. Forget about the economy. Blah blah blah. “Economics” is a science of imaginary numbers.
The stock market started to go up that day and the next and the next and the next and is now making all-time highs.
How come? Because traders started buying things that day instead of selling. They started taking risks again.
And I had once again practiced something I was uncomfortable with – walking up to complete strangers and getting them to do something. I like to practice this every day.
Today I’m just going to get a tour of the Exchange even though I’ve been there 100s of times before. But I was always scared there.
Now I’m not. Now I look around and think, I saved the world from this place.
It’s not bragging if it’s true.
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