Chapter Two


My odyssey from dirt floors ended in 2018 at 23 years of age, with Leander Cole, or rather with Leander & Co’. Leander & Co’ is a financial institution started by a former corporate raider, Leander Cole, with the proceeds of his piracy. The Co carried no period, but rather an apostrophe, as it was a narcissistic contraction of Cole—Leander’s private joke. It specialized in high-risk securities that were traded frequently and managed daily. It was made up of wealthy clients, who took pleasure in watching their portfolios grow, and it is my job to manage some of these clients. Among financial institutions, Leander & Co’ has almost mythic status. The company’s bold and unorthodox approach intrigued me while still in graduate school. I wrote my master’s thesis on it. Upon graduation, I continued to be drawn to the company and visited its headquarters. I was not entirely surprised when I was met by Leander himself, since in my research, the company seemed primarily a one-man operation. I presented Leander with a copy of my thesis. Despite my obvious physical limitations, he was polite and took me seriously. Leander read the manuscript. And over lunch the next day, offered me a job, not flinching once over my dietary acrobatics. I was surprised at how seamlessly my infiltration of the company had gone. Thrown-off a bit by how quickly I was embraced by Leander and his company. But I wrapped myself in the cliché: When things are right, they’re right, and thought little more about it.

Physically, Leander is pleasant though not imposing. He’s of medium height, pushing 5 foot 10, maybe, has thick brown hair coming low on his forehead and cut short, reminiscent of JFK, and dresses in a preppy style: khaki slacks, blue oxford button-down shirt, and penny loafers with no socks. On rare days, Leander wears a sport coat, never a suit, and not once have I seen him with a tie. His attire seemed a little young for a man in his mid-40s, but he is unconcerned with what others think. 

His mode of speech is slick, though not quite slippery. Each word tethered to the one before it, like the bar over the words of Sanskrit. Sometimes, I felt like I was talking to a shy used-car sales man, tentatively trying to make his pitch. But I put it all down to his exuberance and conviction. As much as a worker and a boss can be friends, I felt we were friends.

At that first lunch, he said “I’m particularly impressed with the algorithm you derived from your research.”

“It served as the focal point of the study,” I say.

“Yes, it was intuitive, though not precisely accurate.”

I acknowledged this, but told him there was a more precise version in the notebook in my shoulder bag on the back of my chair and I move to remove it. Leander waited patiently as I awkwardly extracted it. “There,” I say as I fumbled through the pages and pointed to the augmented equation.

He read through it, examined a few other pages, then laughed. “I’m glad you came to me rather than publishing it.”

The added detail was the addition of a physics principle that I had inserted into my original equation. Although I had followed through with my commitment to business and finance, I had never strayed too far from science. I supplemented my economic coursework with an add mixture of, physics, biology, chemistry, geology, and anthropology. 

With the receipt of the letter, I went to Leander saying I needed a little time-off. He understood on my first confused telling and made the magnanimous gesture to personally cover my clients during the absence.