The James Altucher Show

Ep. 148 - David Levien and Brian Koppelman: How to Get Inside The Mind of Billionaires


For billionaires, every exchange has a winner and a loser. That’s what producers David Levien and Brian Koppelman tell me. They've made some of my favorite movies: Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen, Solitary Man. Now, they’re coming out with 2016’s most talked about show: Billions on Showtime. You can learn a lot from them. David and Brian are producers, creators and risk takers. If you want to create, listen to today’s episode. You’ll see how important it is to follow your curiosity. That’s what David and Brian did. Sometimes starting something is that simple. Since they were kids, David and Brian were fascinated by two things: power and wealth. They wondered, “What makes a billionaire unique?” They had a question, an idea, and conviction. “We were all the f*ck in,” Brian says. They had dinner with a bunch of billionaires. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun, but it wasn't. David and Brian were manipulated, belittled, and snubbed. But they were mesmerized. I’ll give you one story. It’s to tempt you to download this episode. Because I really think you’re going to get a lot out of the interview. You’ll hear their stories - the behind-the-scenes of 2016’s most talked about show. You’ll get motivation to write, build, and be creative. You’ll hear about how a partnership is born. And you’ll learn why people knowingly make the wrong choices. And maybe, you'll make the right ones. Whatever those are... the right choices for you. Ok so one story before you press play: Over dinner, David and Brian met with their first billionaire. It cost more than $2,000. He racked up the price and made them suffer. “There was clearly a power dynamic,” David says. He acted like he wasn’t thinking, but “billionaires don't just accidentally stumble along and amass great fortunes,” David says, "He was showing us that he was no sucker. And we were.” Before that night, "I've never thought, ‘Who's gonna win the dinner?’” Brian said. If you’ve watched the trailer, you know what this guy did – “What’s the point of having f*ck you money if you never say f*ck you.” And they felt it. Morally, David and Brian believe in loyalty, honor, and ambition. And that you can balance these things. But not everyone does. Some people believe nice guys finish last. This interview reveals how to get inside the mind of billionaires. It might make you sick. Or it might make you hungry. Listen now. Resources and Links: • Watch the trailer for Showtime's Billions here • Check out my last interview with Bryan Koppelman here • I also highly recommend Bryan's podcast The Moment • Follow Bryan on Twitter and visit his website • Also check out David Levien's book, Signature Kill and read an excerpt here • Get my favorite movies: Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen, Solitary Man and The Girlfriend Experience