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I've seen so many posts on here bitch and moan about war stories or back to back to back all-nighters in the office prepping for a client meeting that ultimately didn't happen or dealing with a huge jerkoff of a boss that I thought we could all talk about something a little more positive for our respective jobs. When did you know you actually belonged?

Wayne Gretzky was quoted early in his career as saying one of the greatest feelings playing in the NHL wasn't setting scoring records or receiving accolades but gaining that sense he belonged in the big leagues. As a teenager drafted to play in 1979, he didn't win his first Stanley Cup until 1984 but came in with pretty big expectations. Not to go off on too much of the "sports to business" tangent, but you could draw some parallels to a freshly minted ivy leaguer who joins a bank/pe fund/hedge fund as someone in a similar situation.

Did you ever have a moment that allowed you to really find that you're in the right place and doing the right things?

I've had a few in my career. Early on, at any networking event I was definitely the awkward young guy that no one really wanted to talk to. Over time though as I made meaningful impacts in the work of others that are very highly respected in the industry I started to gain a reputation somewhat as a go-to guy here and there. Once I had the first deal close that I was working on, I think that might have been the best feeling in the world. I did something meaningful. I helped a guy cash out of his business and sold a great asset to a firm that might be able to really execute well on their strategy to grow going forward. That one is an easy one to pick out though.

A few years later I was invited to have a seat at the table of an off-site managing directors meeting to discuss firm strategy for the next 2-3 years. I didn't want to make myself look like an idiot so I figured I wouldn't have a prominent part here, just sit in and learn something. As it turns out they treated me like one of their own and seemed to genuinely value my thoughts on the various topics discussed. That was another great moment to remind myself that I'm making an impact.

What about all of you? Have you had similar stories where you pulled the rabbit out of the hat or had an otherwise amazing realization that you're kicking some ass and people are actually taking notice of it? I would love to hear some positive victories in an otherwise high-pressure and high-stakes industry.

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Comments (70)

  • Beny23's picture

    Thanks for sharing man. I am still a noob when it comes to finance but I would also love to hear other stories.

  • Romy's picture

    agreed, great topic for a discussion tho

  • Austin Powers's picture

    sitting on a private jet with just the pilots, flight attendants, me, the CEO and CFO of a large public company and my MD on my first roadshow... definitely felt like a boss

  • In reply to Austin Powers
    skylinegtr94's picture

    Hard to beat. Well played sir.

    Banker1234:

    sitting on a private jet with just the pilots, flight attendants, me, the CEO and CFO of a large public company and my MD on my first roadshow... definitely felt like a boss

  • Kato's picture

    When you're in a position to help other people.

  • kostcoguy's picture

    This is a great topic - definitely more fun to hear about than countless all nighters, etc.

    I haven't had one at work yet, but I did in grad school. I did my MA in Geopolitics, in the UK (I'm from Socal). Who knows how I got into the school (the Global Studies dept was ranked in the top 3 in the UK, above Oxford/Cambridge), I had my doubts on how I would compete with people who went to undergrad at LSE/Oxford/Cambridge and was afraid I would be perceived as 'the dumb American'. After going through the first few discussions I started to loosen up a little with my comments. By midway through the first semester people from more 'prestigious' backgrounds were consulting me on their term paper topics and other things. I had someone from another program see me in a cafe (I didn't know who they were), and come up and ask, "Are you [kostcoguy]? Can I run an idea by you?" Somehow I gained the notoriety of being smart (which I'm certainly not, SAT 1110 [old SAT]). That's sort of when I felt like I belonged - when my opinion mattered and when people respected me. It really is a great feeling.

  • VanillaGorilla's picture

    I had similar experiences in my Masters program to kostcoguy, and have had clients and other professionals confide in me from time to time, but I haven't quite had a 'fuck yeah, I own this shit' moment in a while.

    Fun topic - would love to hear from others who have.

  • State of Trance's picture

    You know you have made it when you are pleased to see the people you have helped along the way succeed in their endeavors.

  • Zen Monkey's picture

    Wow feels like a B-school essay question...For me, it's relevant to how many people say thank you, and how much they thank you.

  • CRE's picture

    Haven't "made it" yet, but I feel like I'm right on the cusp. I'm right there, staring across THE line, just needing to take another step. Incredibly frustrating but also incredibly exciting

    I did set up a major meeting for my (regional) firm in NYC though with a client that would be game changing for us if we nail it. All of the principals were estatic, surprised, and thanking me up and down. I think if we get the account that'll be the moment for me

  • glide9811's picture

    Well I still don't feel like I've "made it." But the closest I've come so far is when I was directly involved with generating add-on revenue for my group. Being able to point at a project and say I generated that revenue has been the best feeling I've had working so far.

    Also, this is for consulting, so obviously much different than banking.

  • In reply to Austin Powers
    kingtut's picture

    Banker1234:

    sitting on a private jet with just the pilots, flight attendants, me, the CEO and CFO of a large public company and my MD on my first roadshow... definitely felt like a boss

    I'm glad the pilots were on the plane, they really make your story.

    I no longer work in the corp fi, but there was one meeting that sticks out in my mind where I thought "shit, I guess I am a little more than a bump on a log around here". We had monthly meetings scheduled with our CFO, F50 company, where we would deliver our prior month financials and deliver the forecast for the coming month. Usually there were ~10 other people in the room (VP, 3 Directors, 3 Snr Managers, 3 Managers, and Me, the low senior analyst on the totem pole). I don't remember the circumstances, but all of the normal attendees dropped like flies from the meeting.So now it's basically me and my boss and the CFO left as the only attendees. Normally, I just sat in these meetings and occasionally uttered a few sentences when someone needed clarification on a particular item. Given my rank in the company I was just thrilled to be sitting in the room much less actually talking.

    Anyway, my boss shoots a note to the CFO the day before our meeting and asks if they want to reschedule: "No, we need to meet". Two hours later my boss shoots me a note saying that he had a death in the family and can't make the meeting. His note said "You got this". I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening pouring over every square inch of our reports and taking extensive notes on anything I might have been asked. I probably played out the meeting in my head a dozen times while doing this. The next morning I met with the CFO 1on1 absolutely crushed it. It felt better than anything I have ever done in the business world. Our CFO told me I did a wonderful job and jokingly said that we might as well drop everyone else off of the invite list for future meetings. I felt like a fucking boss walking riding the elevator down from the "penthouse".

  • In reply to kingtut
    CRE's picture

    kingtut:

    Anyway, my boss shoots a note to the CFO the day before our meeting and asks if they want to reschedule: "No, we need to meet". Two hours later my boss shoots me a note saying that he had a death in the family and can't make the meeting. His note said "You got this". I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening pouring over every square inch of our reports and taking extensive notes on anything I might have been asked. I probably played out the meeting in my head a dozen times while doing this. The next morning I met with the CFO 1on1 absolutely crushed it. It felt better than anything I have ever done in the business world. Our CFO told me I did a wonderful job and jokingly said that we might as well drop everyone else off of the invite list for future meetings. I felt like a fucking boss walking riding the elevator down from the "penthouse".

    That's awesome. I love that feeling.

    Getting a compliment like that from someone like that probably feels TOO good.

  • In reply to kingtut
    prospie's picture

    kingtut:

    Banker1234:

    sitting on a private jet with just the pilots, flight attendants, me, the CEO and CFO of a large public company and my MD

    I'm glad the pilots were on the plane, they really make your story.

    nice
  • In reply to kingtut
    skylinegtr94's picture

    well played.

    kingtut:

    Banker1234:

    sitting on a private jet with just the pilots, flight attendants, me, the CEO and CFO of a large public company and my MD on my first roadshow... definitely felt like a boss

    I'm glad the pilots were on the plane, they really make your story.

    I no longer work in the corp fi, but there was one meeting that sticks out in my mind where I thought "shit, I guess I am a little more than a bump on a log around here". We had monthly meetings scheduled with our CFO, F50 company, where we would deliver our prior month financials and deliver the forecast for the coming month. Usually there were ~10 other people in the room (VP, 3 Directors, 3 Snr Managers, 3 Managers, and Me, the low senior analyst on the totem pole). I don't remember the circumstances, but all of the normal attendees dropped like flies from the meeting.So now it's basically me and my boss and the CFO left as the only attendees. Normally, I just sat in these meetings and occasionally uttered a few sentences when someone needed clarification on a particular item. Given my rank in the company I was just thrilled to be sitting in the room much less actually talking.

    Anyway, my boss shoots a note to the CFO the day before our meeting and asks if they want to reschedule: "No, we need to meet". Two hours later my boss shoots me a note saying that he had a death in the family and can't make the meeting. His note said "You got this". I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening pouring over every square inch of our reports and taking extensive notes on anything I might have been asked. I probably played out the meeting in my head a dozen times while doing this. The next morning I met with the CFO 1on1 absolutely crushed it. It felt better than anything I have ever done in the business world. Our CFO told me I did a wonderful job and jokingly said that we might as well drop everyone else off of the invite list for future meetings. I felt like a fucking boss walking riding the elevator down from the "penthouse".

  • George87's picture

    Had only a a few moments like this. On my first deal, when the CEO sent my MD a note saying how impressed he was, and how much he appreciated my hard work in getting the marketing materials done in time. On my second deal, when the owner, after a brief discussion about sports cars, felt comfortable enough to hand me the keys to his special edition Ford Mustang Boss 302 and tell me to take it out for a spin. Of course, this was small in comparison to him letting me manage part of the process to sell his business... Sometimes you just have to enjoy the little things.

  • monty09's picture

    I felt like I made it when I hired my first employee... going from 28 year old employee to employer... that was a great feeling

  • That_Aston's picture

    I think you can say you've made it when you have the time to enjoy life's simple pleasures.

    Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.

  • Poff's picture

    I'll feel as if I've "made it" when I only open Powerpoint to review. Not quite there yet.

  • In reply to frooter
    gatorguy87's picture

    frooter:

    moving out of my grammas house, boss moment

    That is the ultimate boss moment!

    I'm working hard and one day I hope to have the 'I made it' epiphany like a few of you on here.

  • In reply to milehigh
    Louboutins and Leverage's picture

    milehigh:

    When I was:

    biggie


    Biggggie!!!

    Lunches, brunches, interviews by the pooooooool!

    Throw your hands in the aya if you's a true playyyyya! Luvvvvvvv Biggie!!!!

    xoxo

    Dirk Dirkenson:
    Shut up already. Your mindless, reflexive responses to any critical thought on this are tedious. You're also probably a woman, given the name and "xoxo" signoff, so maybe the lack of judgment is to be expected.
  • duffmt6's picture

    Can't really pinpoint one event, but probably my 1,000th banana point or the certified user star.

    "For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

  • DBCooper's picture

    Taking my boss's helo out to the Hamptons.

    Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

  • Louboutins and Leverage's picture

    I don't think I've made it yet... Not. Even. Close. Hopefully I will get there someday but I love hearing these stories!

    xoxo

    Dirk Dirkenson:
    Shut up already. Your mindless, reflexive responses to any critical thought on this are tedious. You're also probably a woman, given the name and "xoxo" signoff, so maybe the lack of judgment is to be expected.
  • In reply to milehigh
    idragmazda's picture

    milehigh:

    When I was:

    biggie

    Made my morning. LAWL.

    Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis - when I was dead broke man I couldn't picture this

  • notamonkey's picture

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    All I care about in life is accumulating bananas

  • In reply to notamonkey
    CRE's picture

    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    6th grade? I don't get it

  • In reply to CRE
    notamonkey's picture

    CRE:

    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    6th grade? I don't get it

    That's why you're making $40k/year as an entry-level realtor

    All I care about in life is accumulating bananas

  • In reply to notamonkey
    CRE's picture

    notamonkey:

    CRE:
    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    6th grade? I don't get it

    That's why you're making $40k/year as an entry-level realtor

    Ya, you definitely missed the point

  • In reply to notamonkey
    Louboutins and Leverage's picture

    notamonkey:

    CRE:
    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    6th grade? I don't get it

    That's why you're making $40k/year as an entry-level realtor


    You sound like a jerkface! Don't listen to the haters CRE!

    xoxo

    Dirk Dirkenson:
    Shut up already. Your mindless, reflexive responses to any critical thought on this are tedious. You're also probably a woman, given the name and "xoxo" signoff, so maybe the lack of judgment is to be expected.
  • corto maltese's picture

    I had that experience in reverse on my first "real" job. I had accepted a role in a commodity trading firm without really understanding what the role involved (had a more traditional offers in brokerage and a MM IB, but it sounded better to do something "different"). The night before my first day I was picked up at the airport by a black car, which drove my to a sick company appartment (rent was actually higher than my net salary). I felt like a king, like I had landed a sick job by some lucky twist of fate, until I realized the next day that my job was actually as BO as it gets (essentially the BO of a cost center in the company), and that I was probably one of the lowest paid employees in the company (and the car and appartment were strictly part of the company policy for all employees working abroad), cruel but enlightening reality check!

  • In reply to Louboutins and Leverage
    CRE's picture

    Louboutins and Leverage:

    notamonkey:
    CRE:
    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    6th grade? I don't get it

    That's why you're making $40k/year as an entry-level realtor

    You sound like a jerkface! Don't listen to the haters CRE!

    xoxo

    Thanks :)

    Anyhow his valuation was off and if he actually does work at a hedge fund and didn't know what the concept of a trust fund was until he "made it" the financial world is pretty fucked. :p

  • In reply to corto maltese
    skylinegtr94's picture

    Nothing like a quick snapback to reality eh? Thanks for those that shared. Anyone else have a random/cool/awesome story?

    corto maltese:

    I had that experience in reverse on my first "real" job. I had accepted a role in a commodity trading firm without really understanding what the role involved (had a more traditional offers in brokerage and a MM IB, but it sounded better to do something "different"). The night before my first day I was picked up at the airport by a black car, which drove my to a sick company appartment (rent was actually higher than my net salary). I felt like a king, like I had landed a sick job by some lucky twist of fate, until I realized the next day that my job was actually as BO as it gets (essentially the BO of a cost center in the company), and that I was probably one of the lowest paid employees in the company (and the car and appartment were strictly part of the company policy for all employees working abroad), cruel but enlightening reality check!

  • In reply to Austin Powers
    HarvardOrBust's picture

    Banker1234:

    sitting on a private jet with just the pilots, flight attendants, me, the CEO and CFO of a large public company and my MD on my first roadshow... definitely felt like a boss


    When I did this as a summer analyst. Holla
  • clark49's picture

    As an analyst i have had 2 "I know I've made it events" 1 being when the people at Starbucks started having my Vente ready for me each day and 2 when one of the people at the copy center opened up on her whole life story at 2AM while binding some pitchbooks for the 5th time.

  • Texas Tea's picture

    You know you've made it when you feel comfortable enough to not have to reply to this thread.

    Obviously, I have not made it yet.

  • In reply to CRE
    notamonkey's picture

    CRE:

    Louboutins and Leverage:
    notamonkey:
    CRE:
    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was

    6th grade? I don't get it

    That's why you're making $40k/year as an entry-level realtor

    You sound like a jerkface! Don't listen to the haters CRE!

    xoxo

    Thanks :)

    Anyhow his valuation was off and if he actually does work at a hedge fund and didn't know what the concept of a trust fund was until he "made it" the financial world is pretty fucked. :p

    I knew I had it made when I found out that I had a trust fund waiting for me to graduate...genius

    All I care about in life is accumulating bananas

  • Louboutins and Leverage's picture

    Apparently a lot of people made it really, really, really early...

    xoxo

    Dirk Dirkenson:
    Shut up already. Your mindless, reflexive responses to any critical thought on this are tedious. You're also probably a woman, given the name and "xoxo" signoff, so maybe the lack of judgment is to be expected.
  • BlackHat's picture

    When the CEO of a company comes into YOUR office and pitches YOU

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • In reply to clark49
    prospie's picture

    clark49:

    As an analyst i have had 2 "I know I've made it events" 1 being when the people at Starbucks started having my Vente ready for me each day and 2 when one of the people at the copy center opened up on her whole life story at 2AM while binding some pitchbooks for the 5th time.

    this is the best one so far.

    for me it was when i yelled at the poor guatemalan janitor who empties my wastebasket. made me feel big and powerful.

  • Joralemon's picture

    Working in operations at a Japanese bank/brokerage in my early 20s; one of my jobs was to, when system problems happen on the US side and our trades are affected, get an explanation from the US side so that we can make certain reports to the Japanese government about what went wrong, what was done to fix it, and what changes the US side has made to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

    I spoke with several people on the US side and prepared a summary in Japanese for my boss, and my boss used that summary, verbatim, with no corrections needed for grammar, style, or anything. This is a country where people aren't used to immigrants or slightly non-native speech, and superiors will really nitpick you if your language isn't perfect, so it really felt like I'd "made it".

  • In reply to notamonkey
    CRE's picture

    notamonkey:
    I knew I had it made when I found out that I had a trust fund waiting for me to graduate...genius

    That's not "making it"

  • In reply to notamonkey
    roofstreet's picture

    notamonkey:

    I knew I'd made it as soon as I figured out what a trust fund was


    hahahaahah

    "...the art of good business, is being a good middle man, putting people togeather. It's all about honor and respect."

  • Tommy Too-toned's picture

    I was walking around NY and Derek Jeter stopped me and said hello.

  • hopingtobreakin's picture

    I'm a recent grad from a state school non-target. My goal was to simply get a job in finance, any job! I ended up getting an analyst job at a megafund HF as my first position. Took ~8-10 months of networking & interviewing I believe.

    Do I like what I do - yes.
    Do I like my firm - yes.
    Can I say this is what I want to do with the rest of my life - hell no, I'm 20.

    Did I make it - relative to my goal FUCK YES!

  • Anthropaid's picture

    When I got a reservation at Dorsia.

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