"The nice thing about being the founder," Armin was telling me, "is that you can put the company anywhere you like." I was trying to play off as if I wasn't particularly impressed with all that I had seen since my dinner the night before. I wasn't, I think, succeeding very well in my efforts at deception.
Some months after the attack on the twin towers, Armin's wife had literally drawn on a map of New York a 50 mile circle around Manhattan, where they had been living on 9-11, and said "anywhere outside here." Armin actually took the map to the realtor who had proposed several options culminating in the property I was, at that moment, standing on.
It had been quickly, and quietly purchased from a quite famous "raider," still in the business today in New York, a name you would no doubt recognize, from the glory days of 1980s junk. Though Armin claimed to hate going into New York because of the traffic and such, I suspect it had more to do with the serenity of surroundings here.
The estate was so big that every other room had one of those Motorola two-way radios sitting on a table in a charger. If ever you went anywhere you would just grab one and take it with you around the grounds. The result was that an intermittent beeping accompanied Armin around the grounds as he back-and-forthed with the staff, gave directions and otherwise managed the day to day affairs of the estate by remote control.
It is impossible to overstate the impact the estate had on me. When I was younger my family were close friends with a well-known author and his family who had a similar, though admittedly smaller, estate I used to play on when I was young. The kind of almost primeval spark that Armin's place set off in the lizard portion of my brain was potent. In combination with the picture perfect weather Armin had managed to order down through whatever level of contacts are required to get that sort of thing done, it jolted me into a sort of suggestible trance or something.
He was going on about his motivations for starting the firm (a lust for "the deal" and a disdain for large corporations as a vehicle for growth), the firm's acquisitions philosophy (acquire majority stakes in midsized firms where there was an opportunity to positively adjust the capital structure and apply real management supervision), and what he was looking for out of a new member of the team (a "hunger" for "the deal," potent modeling skills and an interest in "having some fun together.")
As I looked around the estate, caught sight of a far off deer in the woods and began to fall into the favor of Lord Mountbatten and Admiral Nelson, Armin's two whippets, it all seemed like a dream come true. By the next evening I was talking about timing for my start date.