When people are confronted with the Enron scandal, they spontaneously think of numbers and complicated transactions. But in reality, the story of Enron is more like a human tragedy. It’s a story about humans and their flaws, such as arrogance, intolerance, and greed.
The documentary 'Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room' gives us a profound insight into the different backgrounds of the three protagonists in the Enron saga: Lay, Skilling and Fastow.
First of all, there's Kenneth ‘Ken’ Lay, son of a Baptist preacher, who tries to leave his poor childhood behind and has the ambition to make huge wealth for himself. The deregulation of the energy market became his first mission. He succeeded and founded Enron back in 1985, which he would leave in 2001 with 300 million dollars cashed in over the years.
Next, we meet Jeffrey ‘Jeff’ Skilling, a nerdy financial whizz-kid, who has a very Darwinian view of how the world works. When he applied for Harvard Business School, a professor posed him the question “Are you smart?”. His response was: “I’m fucking smart”. Skilling was the self-declared genius who came up with the idea that energy could be traded like stocks and bonds.
Finally, there's Andy Fastow, the clever guy who developed a bunch of dummy accounts to essentially keep up the profits. Andy is an eloquent speaker, a man who uses his charm and salesmanship to convince companies to invest in his fake accounting constructions.
Despite all these skills, the story of Enron ended like a Greek drama. Lay, Skilling, Fastow and other smart guys thought that they were changing the world. Eventually, they all became victims of their own hubris.
Based on the documentary 'Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room'