An example of pride and falling

“I’ve been painted as a megalomaniac, as someone who is vain, proud. My response to these ‘accusations’ is that none of these things is a defect or anything reproachable.” - Eike Batista

This was a quote that the Financial Times highlighted from Eike Batista's autobiography. Just two years ago, around when the autobiography was released, his assets were valued at $34.5 billion. More recently they've been valued at $200 million. This is related to his oil company, OGX, which recently initiated the largest ever bankruptcy filing in Latin America. The oil company wasn't Batista's only asset, far from it. But he loaded the company with debt that he personally guaranteed. He was so confident he even sold put options on the stock to his company (It's unclear if the $200 million net worth estimate from Bloomberg assumes that Batista will have to buy $1 billion dollars of almost worthless stock or not).

A former associate of Eike highlighted another of his flaws in this Businessweek piece. It is one that many powerful individuals seem to have.

“Management was structured in a way that there was incentive to take only good news to Eike because he had a tendency to shoot the messenger,”

So it probably wasn't just pride that caused this disaster. Pride in and of itself is not necessarily dangerous. It comes before both success and failure. It is dangerous when it causes the actor to become overconfident in their own projections and reject conventional wisdom that is actually correct in their specific situation. "Don't shoot the messenger." "Don't drill with debt." "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket*."

*This isn't always rational if you want to make a very large sum of money. You need all of your eggs in one basket to make a fortune in the first place, as founders of companies who sell too early don't become as rich as the ones who retain ownership as the company grows. But once a significant fortune is acquired, it is irrational to expose the whole fortune exposed to single risk factors.