Everything you need to know about famed investor Carl Icahn can be summed up in two words: He listens.
Ok, article over. I’m all finished.
Well, if you’ll indulge me a bit, I’ll continue.
I met Carl — I call him Carl, after all — a few years back at an event for an automotive company he owned at the time. Several people were standing around, waiting to talk to him. When it was my turn, I put out my hand and introduced myself and he did the same. By that, I mean he actually said, “Hi, I’m Carl Icahn” as if I didn’t already know. Incidentally, there was a crew from CNBC who was following him around all day and they were recording our conversation. The spotlight was really on. I thought I really need to sound smart here!
Wait. Perhaps I should have titled my article, “Two Things You Should Understand About Carl Icahn.”
Here are those two things:
He assumes nothing.
After our introductions, Carl and I chatted for about 20 minutes about the automotive aftermarket. What struck me about the conversation was he seemed far less interested in talking about himself and much more interested in hearing what I had to say. Does this seem like a rarity these days?
At the conclusion of our chat, he asked me to write down his direct line to his office in New York. Yes, his direct line. He said if I had any ideas, I should call that number. (I haven’t yet called, for your information.)
Feeling pretty good about myself and my newly made friend, we parted ways and I went about my business. But a few minutes later, I discovered I wasn’t so special. He wasn’t just talking to me because I’m a journalist, he was interested in talking to several small automotive business owners who also were in attendance at the event. He gave them a lot of his time and asked them questions, too, such as, “Well, what do you think?”
Darn. Maybe Carl and I weren’t as close as I thought.
But it was about this time that I started figuring out what really makes Carl Icahn as wealthy an investor as he is: He listens. He assumes nothing.
Think about what those traits could do for you and your career or personal life. My interaction with him has certainly changed how I approach things.
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