I don't know about you guys, but I got f'ing slaughtered with all-nighters in my early days. I seem to remember doing 1-3 all-nighters a week for the first six months. Doesn't seem like it could be true, especially given how few of them I see people doing these days, but that's what I remember. One thing I do know is, it fucking blew.
Things evened out for me once I learned that there's an art to it. The successful all-nighter is a game that takes place almost entirely in your head. If your head's in the right place, the right behavior comes naturally.
What's the right behavior? You don't whine. You don't do little passive-aggressive things to let people know you worked all night. (Shave and shower, my bros. Sorry.) You hand over the work product with a smile the next morning (or whenever they want it) and go about the rest of your day like you just had a full night's sleep. This says, "I'm an adult." People notice this.
So that's the goal. Now, how do you get your head in the right place and keep it there? Feel free to chime in with your own tactics, but here are my cherished mantras from back in the day:
- “My job is to take shit. Tonight I'm doing my job.” A lot of people (maybe even most people) are intellectually capable of doing the work of a junior banker. What differentiates you is that you can also take the shit that comes with it.
- “I’m earning a thousand bucks tonight.” Yes, this is the same mantra strippers use. And yes, I used it a lot too. It was based on the assumption that I’m going to do 70/90/whatever all-nighters this year and walk away with a $70k/$90k/whatever bonus, so whenever someone asked me to work all night long, it was like a 4-figure check had just hit my bank. Unfortunately, due to the ever-shrinking bonus pool, plus taxes, variability, and the possibility of getting canned two days before bonus, this is not actually true today. But mantras are supposed to get you through the night, not make you want to jump off the roof.
- “Elevate the hate.” This may look like it’s my associate’s fault, but it isn’t. His life is almost as shitty as mine. Way safer to blame this on somebody higher up. Always elevate the hate as high as possible; it makes life easier. Also, senior bankers will never notice if you hate them, but your associate definitely will.
- “Love low.” Show as much love as possible to the print shop guys, security folks, restaurant bicyclists, secretaries, presentation shop guys, black car drivers, summer analysts, junior analysts, and fellow analysts as possible. Even if they don’t work as hard or take as much shit as you do. Those guys are your brothers in arms. Now put the prior two together: “Elevate the hate; love low.” Remember this if you ever want to point out to your associate, subtly or otherwise, that it's his fault you were here until 6 .
- “This is actually kind of funny.” Even if you don’t see the humor at first, keep reminding yourself of this. Eventually you will laugh. Or you will crack.
- “We’re all going to get together and laugh about this over beers in ten years.” Except those who are VP and above. Those are the ones you’ll be laughing at.