Powerful Reading: Smartest Guys in the Room

In a new blog series that we're calling, "Powerful Reading," our team of energy trading consultants at MidDel Consulting will be sharing and summarizing some of their favorite books.  These books have not only influenced them in the excellent work that they do for our clients as energy consultants, but have also helped them gain perspective on a variety of global issues as we continue to strive to build a culture of lifelong learning. Today, we start with a book entitled:


Smartest Guys in the Room


by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind 2004



Although it has been more than 15 years since the fall of Enron, the lessons learned, the factors that led to its demise and the repercussions of the actions of a few must not be forgotten. Few scandals have been documented as well as that in Smartest Guys in the Room.


After several years of massive growth and a skyrocketing share price, co-author Bethany McLean, while reporting Enron’s activities for Fortune magazine, began asking the right questions and subsequently released the article, "Is Enron Overpriced?" in April 2001. Others, both inside and outside Enron, began digging deeper and found that the financial structure propping up the entity was not as it seemed.


Within months, the stock lost its value and was delisted, the company declared bankruptcy, and employees lost their life saving and their jobs. The book describes in detail the personalities involved in creating the seemingly perfect company and how they manipulated investors, creditors, auditors, rating agencies and regulators.


Anyone working in the energy industry, accounting, finance and many other related disciplines will find numerous takeaways from this definitive narrative on one of the biggest scandals in US history, including the notion that a company cannot run exclusively with type-A personalities.



Scott Pederson is a Certified Public Accountant and a Senior Consultant with MidDel Consulting, a System Integrator and Professional Services firm specializing in services supporting the business systems for Front, Back, and Mid Office. MidDel has been in business for over 16 years, and our consultants, on average bring over 25 years of senior level energy industry knowledge to our projects. We have deep relationships with our clients, often working with them for more than a decade.