Anthony Scaramucci: How Perseverance Got Him Through Harvard Law and to the White House

The former White House communications director learned not to burn bridges.

Anthony Scaramucci might best be known as the former White House communications director. But he’s had an extensive career, including founding global investment firm SkyBridge Capital. Along the way he’s been fired, rehired, and overcome adversity on his job. In this episode of HawkeTalk, Scaramucci sat down with CSQ ally Erik Huberman to share his life story.

Scaramucci explained how life realizations pushed him to persevere in school and bloom to have a fulfilling career. He talked about how being the son of a construction worker and coming from a lower-middle-class family background was not a hindrance to getting a good education and entering the prestigious Harvard Law School.

Realizing What His Father Sacrificed for His Education 

Scaramucci’s father wanted him and his brother to go to Tufts University for college. He wanted a different path. He went to another school with a more affluent environment and realized he would have to struggle to keep pace. Then his father came to the rescue.

Anthony Scaramucci: In April 1982, my pops handed me an envelope. I opened up the envelope, and it was a check for $10,000. He had some kind of life insurance that was tied to his union. He had a cash value of the life insurance, and he traded in the life insurance, and he gave me $10,000.

He said, “I can’t really pay for your college, but I’m giving you $10,000 to get started.” College at that point was like $24,000 or $25,000 with room and board. That’s when I had my seminal epiphany: Oh my god, I’m a complete jerk off, driving around in my car, chasing Irish Italian Catholic girls all over the place. I gotta get my you-know-what together. And so I promised him that I would go to Tufts, and I would work super hard, and I wouldn’t let his $10,000 check go to waste.

Why Scaramucci Values Reading

Scaramucci: I was a big reader because when you grow up like I did, and you don’t teach yourself and you don’t become a little didact, you can’t get to where you want to go. You just don’t have enough people around you from a mentoring point of view.

On Barely Finishing Law School at Harvard

Scaramucci had to work hard to get himself into law school. He got a summer job at a law firm and had to work nights and even weekends. He hated every minute of it and even questioned why he wanted to be in law school in the first place.

Scaramucci: So I left there with about $18,000, which helped me get through the first year. But also, I hated every goddamn minute of that. And when I got out of there I said, What the hell am I doing in law school? I shouldn’t be in law school, this sucks, I don’t want to do this for a living.

So I come home for Thanksgiving, my parents don’t know the difference between Hartford Law School and Harvard Law, so honestly, they had no idea. My son’s gonna be a lawyer, and I think that’s great. I walk into the house, I tell my mother I hate law school and I want to quit. And then my mother pulls the full-on guilt, she goes berserk, and I said, OK, forget it. I finished law school.

On Getting Fired and Getting Back Up

On August 14, 1989, Scaramucci began working at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker—18 months later he got fired because he didn’t perform well in his job.

Scaramucci: I got fired because I sucked at that job. This is a cautionary tale to the young people listening to this: Do not take the job that you think is cool, that you’re trying to use to impress your friends. You gotta take the job that you think you can do.

So now I’m fired from there, and I’m hustling now to go find another job. My buddy calls me and says, “Hey, there’s a job open at Goldman Sachs.” I said, “Are you kidding me?” He said, “Yeah, it’s on the 28th floor, it’s a sales and training job, and that’s probably better suited for your skill set.”

So caution number two: Don’t burn any bridges. When John Kelly fired my ass from the White House, I didn’t burn the bridge; he and I had become close personal friends. So I got fired from Goldman on February 1st, and got rehired on March 28th.

On Pivoting and What Others Think

Scaramucci has always believed that luck and good decision-making have a lot to do with success. He believes in perseverance, hard work, and making the right connections, and building good relationships in business. He believes the right people can help get you where you want to be. Here are more of his insights:

Scaramucci: You’ve got to work hard. You have got to prepare for the worst, pray and hope for the best. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to roll. You need to adapt and pivot. The No. 1 thing is, what other people think of you, it is absolutely none of your business. If you can build your life up like that, you can have a great life.

Watch the full interview here.

Top photo courtesy Jdarsie11 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. No changes were made. 

Anthony Scaramucci is Founder and Co-Managing Partner of SkyBridge focusing on marketing and business development.