Written in 2003, Capital Instincts: Life As an Entrepreneur, Financier, and Athlete follows Thom Weisel’s journey from talented youth athlete in Milwaukee to his position “as one of the most influential investment bankers of our time.” What makes the book interesting is that, in addition to Richard Brandt’s own personal research, which included dozens of interviews with Weisel, his friends, and his competitors, the book also features essays from Thomas Weisel himself on such varied issues as crisis management, creating and running a business, and what exactly burst the dot-com bubble. The end piece of the book, in fact, is an essay by Weisel discussing the future of growth business and the stock market.
The book discusses in depth how Weisel left New York in 1969 to move to Silicon Valley, a place that author describes as “a place of pioneers, daredevils, and risk takers.” In doing so he became one of the leading figures of the successful financial scene that developed there and worked to take such companies as Amgen, Micron Technology, Siebel Systems, and Yahoo! public.
But the book isn’t all business. In addition to speaking about his experience in the financial markets it also discusses his contributions to art, especially his interest in Native American Art, the New York Abstract Expressionists, and the California Bay Area Figurative Artists. Weisel is also deeply competitive and has remained active in athletic pursuits all of his adult life, and the book delves into how he helped to revive U.S. Olympic skiing and U.S. cycling.
In the end, Capital Instincts works to distill Thomas Weisel’s approach to success throughout his life and explain powerful lessons in how to be an entrepreneur in an ever-changing and difficult modern world.