A Coffeeshop BankerSome of us may have had the pleasure, or displeasure, of knowing people like Talal. A bullshitter of epic proportions whom everyone knows is a bullshitter, yet who carries on bullshitting without respite because with the passing of time his bullshitting knowhow has evolved and overtaken his capacity to tell fact from fiction.

By way of background Talal was an Egyptian lad who was raised in the US. I met him years ago in Washington DC, before he became an alleged investment banker.

What I recall most from that first encounter was thinking to myself: “My God, this guy is an extreme exaggerator.” What I didn’t give him enough credit for at the time, however, was his creative capacity. Only now, looking back, can I admit that he infused high levels of creative genius into his stories.

The way his brain fabricated these tales should be the subject of a National Geographic feature on the intricate workings of the human brain.

Everybody knows a Talal

In practically every group you’ll find someone like Talal. And they’ll generally exaggerate anywhere between 25-30% away from the truth. Outliers like Talal, however, will occasionally hit 100%+. For instance, someone will ask him how many women he’s been with and, without hesitation, he’ll double where he thinks others in the group would fall. So not only does he fabricate rapidly but he gauges his surrounding, constantly adapting output in accordance to input. A magnificent mind.

His were stories we loved listening to even when we knew they were wholly unfounded. If he accidentally bumped into a cute girl at the bar, excused himself, walked away and reached the group and someone asked him what just happened, he’d reply something to the effect: “Oh, she asked me if I was alone and wanted to have a drink but her breath was kicking like Van Damme so I had to escape.” An innocent kiss on the cheek in the real world translated into wild sex in his matrix.

Initially, Talal used to tell everyone he was Italian. Even though his surname was as Middle Eastern as shawarmas. He figured it would yield better returns with the American girls. As we got to know him better and learned that his only link to Italy was a 1-week family trip to Rome when he was eight, he skilfully preempted any attempt to question him on his nationality and dismissed the whole thing as a joke.

Fast forward some years and we’re both in London working in financial services… [READ MORE…]


At first, I couldn’t quite decipher what it was about some fellow bankers and them proudly wearing swatch watches that gave me the creeps.  I just had the feeling that something unusual was at play.  Sure enough, it didn’t take long for me to learn that my suspicions were warranted.