75. Norris Pedrino, Venture Capitalist

“Screw Them All!”

Norris is not a nice man, at least when it comes to business. The general consensus is that he is a six-cylinder rat and liar. He is also widely regarded as very bright and very successful. Norris readily admits to being a rat and a liar as well as being very bright and successful. And he credits all those traits to his absolute ruthlessness when it comes to taking over businesses that may or may not be doing well, stripping them of their value, and junking the rest. He claims that it is business and calls people who ask him to do the “decent thing” to be idiots. He recently led a consortium to take over a major food company and to break it into several pieces which were subsequently sold, eliminating thousands of well-paying jobs held by hard-working, loyal employees. He tossed them all out without warning in a company meeting in a rented theater during which he got red in the face while screaming at a mortified audience, after which he went out and had a celebratory steak dinner with the people on his investment team. He started the meal by holding his drink in the air and bellowing, “Screw them all!” A fitting end to this episode, according to more than a few people, might have been a chunk of steak stuck in Norris’s windpipe, leading to his suffocation. But that didn’t happen. He subsequently sued ex-employees attempting to get severance or making claims of employment contracts. He also tried to deny unemployment insurance payments to anyone who had applied. As has been noted, Norris is not a nice man. So, why is Norris such a nasty individual? Did he have a terrible childhood? No on that one. Norris was brought up by loving and indulgent parents in a wealthy home in a very wealthy town. He went to the best private schools from pre-kindergarten through high school, always got good grades, and graduated near the top of his class with two varsity letters.  He attended one of the country’s most prestigious universities where he regularly made dean’s list and was socially popular. After that, he got a graduate degree in business at a top-notch business school. Maybe he has a terrible home life? No again. He is married to an intelligent, caring, and socially adept woman who is generally considered to be a “dynamite babe.”  And he is anything but nasty at home, a loving husband and a loving father who can’t do enough for his two daughters. So, what else might account for Norris’s nastiness? Maybe a couple of things. During grade six, He was raped by his school’s squash coach. He never spoke about it to anyone. But that coach could never explain why someone would sneak up behind him and knock him unconscious with a squash racquet. And then there was the business about Norris being falsely accused of making racial slurs. Norris is a lot of things but not a racist. Norris was sure this deliberate smear on his character had to do with his own family name. He couldn’t figure out what to do about the falsehood except deny it. He was not believed and endured the punishment that he was given without complaint. He just toughed it out. But decided, then and there, he wasn’t going to take crap anymore from anyone. So far, he has succeeded in giving out more crap than he has had to take. But deep down, somewhere in the back of his mind, he knows he has made many enemies and they are all intent on vengeance.

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