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12/4/14

Mod Note: Throwback Thursday: this post originally went up 4/25/12

Like a majority of people who are on this website, I used to come on here and write bullshit about a life partly my own, partly fantasy. I'm now going to uncloak the anonymous man and tell you my story.

My name is Stephen Ridley. I graduated from a top tier British University with a First Class Honours Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2010 and went straight into IBD at a top tier European Investment Bank, after interning there in 2009. I worked in the top team (on a revenue basis) for 16 months, before quitting in October 2011. I want to tell you about that experience, and about what has happened since then, about how I left the green to chase my dream. This will be blunt and honest. I do not mean to offend, quite the opposite, I hope to inspire! Again, this isn't an attack on those who choose to be bankers, it's just me sharing my experience together with the lessons I've learnt, and hopefully it speaks to a few people. If you look at the picture above you'll see a picture of what I do now. It's a little different from where I was 6 months ago!

Banking is fucking brutal

I knew this after my internship, but I didn't care. I wanted money. I wanted respect. I wanted to be a somebody in the eyes of myself and others. But most of all, I wanted money. Why? Because money is freedom. Money means I can wear what I want, live where I want, go where I want, eat what I want, be who I want. Money would make me happy. Right? Well... not exactly I'm afraid. In fact, money didn't seem to make any of the bankers happy. Not one person in the roughly 200 I got to know in banking were happy. Yet all earned multiples of the national average salary.

The reality of banking is this. Like everyone there, I worked my ass to the bone, working mind numbingly boring work. My life was emails, excel, powerpoint, meetings, endless drafts and markups about shit I couldn't give less of a fuck about, edits, drafts, edits, drafts, edits, send to printers, pick up, courier, meetings, more work, multitasking, boredom, boredom, tired, boredom, avoiding the staffer on a friday, more work, depression, tired, tired, tired, fucking miserable. 15 hour days were a minimum, 16-17 were normal, 20+ were frequent and once or twice a month there would be the dreaded all nighter. I worked around 2 out of every 4 weekends in some form. I was never free, I always had my blackberry with me, and thus I could never truly dettach myself from the job. These are the objective facts, contrary to what any 'baller' wants to tell you. The only models were excel models, the only bottles were coca cola, which I drank a lot of to stay awake.

Though I managed to maintain relationships with certain friends (testament to how good these friends were), I never was really 'there' and never really relaxed to enjoy their company, I was either pre-occupied, exhausted, or too self-centred to really have a 2 way conversation. I was constantly tired, constantly stressed, and I had this constant reoccurring thought. The thought went like this. I'm not happy. These are my golden years, my 20s, the years I want to look back on and talk about with fondness and pride. I should be making interesting stories, having the time of my life whilst I have no dependents. I'm richer than I've ever been, yet I'm not as happy as I was backpacking around South America on a shoestring. This is bullshit.

The work isn't interesting

That placed me in the 95% majority. Your not golfing with CEOs, talking about strategy, then driving your lambo home at 3.30pm to have sex with your hot girlfriend. No, your sat at your computer, haven't spent more than 5 minutes in the sun in weeks, your out of shape, bad skin, tired, overworked, and your facing yet another office dinner before calling yourself a cab somewhere between 1am and 5am to take your lonely ass to your empty bed. In those rare moments you do get out your tie to go talk to a client, you're not having a nice interesting chat with an interesting person, you talking finance to some other depressed office drone in some corporate office, who either pretends to give a shit or, more often than not, doesn't pretend. Of course, every now and then, I did meet that rare breed who got their kicks from debt-restructuring or endless levels of back-solved pseudoscientific analysis, but this only depressed me as it reminded me how little I cared about this nonsense, and thus made me further question why I was spending every waking moment - and half the ones I should have been asleep - devoted to it.

You're never going to get as rich as the superstars you admire on the TV and watch in films

Even though I got paid well, I wasn't going out buying a different coloured helicopters every weekend, rolling in designer threads, splashing PS30k on a night out and holidaying every other week in some exotic location whenever I can be bothered to charter my private jet. You'll be above average, but still pretty average. Sure, you can buy an macbook air without really thinking about it, and you can take taxis instead of the bus. But that's it. I was amazed how modestly people lived in banking given all the hype that surrounds it. They were just sad middle class bland people, with unexciting lives, and unexciting prospects. A bunch of nerds who got caught up in a cage made of money and dreams and greed, and never got out. There had to be more to life than this.

Eventually, I thought fuck this

I got to the point where I wasn't buying myself nice things anymore because doing so only reinforced my dependency on a job which I hated, a job which was taking over every aspect of my shortening life. I had worked hard at university to have a good life, a happy life, a 'successful' life. And I wasn't finding it in IBD. And nobody above me was either. Even the 'baller' MDs were really just miserable, uninteresting, and often pathetic old farts. I didn't want to be them. I wanted to be a colourful, shinny person with love in my heart. Someone with passion, happiness, laughter lines, someone who has taken life by the horns and lived on the edge, taken risks, had love and loss and seen the world.

I made my plan to leave in baby steps

First I started interviewing at other city jobs - everything from hedge fund analyst to private equity analyst to inter dealer broker to insurance to wealth management to sales to trading and even equity research. These all looked boring, these all involved wasting away the majority of my life at a desk. These all involved long working hours, even if a little better. None of these lit the fire I once had before being crushed by banking. So I looked at jobs in corporates, in their M&A team, their finance team. Again, I went to a few interviews, got offers, but it was just the same shit. I didn't want to be a drone in a suit and tie. Fuck that Stephen, fuck that!

Eventually I snapped

Despite being staffed up to my eye balls, I left the office at 7pm to prepare for an interview I had the next morning at 8.30am. The AD I was working with (5 years my senior) consequently had to work until 5am. The next morning, I wasn't at my desk at 8am as I should have been. I was at my interview. Just another mind numbing 'opportunity' to work in debt refinancing team at Tesco's head office. Fuck that. I'd had enough. There was nothing for me in any spectrum of finance. I'd had enough. I walked into work at 11am, and by 11.01, the AD had dragged me into a side room to rip me a new asshole (she'd got a little cranky after 90 minutes sleep and a lot of stress). She said that she was going to go and talk to our team head about this and stood up. I told her to sit her ass down, I'd do it for her. I walked over to his desk, and I respectfully told him I'd had enough. I thanked him for his time, he did the same, we shook hands, and I packed my shit together and sent my bye bye email around the team.

Within 20 minutes of quitting, I was out of the front door. Bye bye blackberry, bye bye security pass, bye bye banking. The sun has never shone so bright, the air has never tasted so sweet, I have never felt lighter, than that moment. I was free. I was free. I was so fucking free I could taste it!

Now, oddly, I chose this moment to go to a shopping centre (long story) with a friend. Upon walking around in a slight state of shock I saw a piano in a suit shop, and this was exactly what I needed. To play a little tune and unwind. I didn't even ask if I could play, I just went in and started playing. A man quickly came up to me, paid me a compliment and then asked me what I did. I responded 'I'm a musician' (why not?!). He asked how much? I said PS100 for 2 hours. He hired me 5 days a week. Just like that I'd become a musician, working around a ninth of the hours for about the same money.

Now I'm going to speed up the story a little. I quit this in a couple of weeks because I realised I didn't want to be a background musician in a shop, I wanted to be in the limelight. I wanted to entertain the world. I wanted to try and make it in music. I rolled a piano onto one of the busiest streets in London, and I started playing. Within 1 month I had 9 management contract offers and had started recording my first album. It's now been 6 months. I've travelled around the world, I've got an album on iTunes, named 'Butterfly In A Hurricane'. I've played to literally tens of thousands of people. I've felt all the love and beauty of the world. I've laughed until I've cried. I've enjoyed more female attention than I thought a guy with my face could get! This is the most alive I've ever felt.

I used to do something I hated all day everyday, I used to hate myself for doing that. I was bad company around people and nobody really liked me. Now I do something that I love, that makes me bubble with excitement daily. In return for doing the thing I love the most, people are made happy, people are overhwelmingly kind to me, people open their hearts to me, and I do the same to them. I roll my piano around the world sharing this love which grows inside in the soil of my happiness and fulfilment. I never ever thought I'd be this happy.

Okay, I can't afford the Prada suit right now, but I can't wait to wake up tomorrow, I've got a singing lesson in the morning and I'm meeting Coca Cola in the afternoon to talk about being in an advert for them. My future is unpredictable (which I love), but I know that it will be fine because I'm the one in control. I spent 23 years developing my brain, and now I'm using it.

I just wanted to reach out to all those people who are in banking and miserable but too scared to leave, I want to reach out to all the nerdy kids with the great CVs who want to go into banking, I want to reach out to everyone who has got this far reading and I'm telling you to take a leap and do something you love. You might not know what that is, but you sure as hell aren't going to find it sat unhappily at your desk trying to multitask all day long. You only progress by taking a leap of faith, not in God necessarily, but in yourself. Know that you have all the tools within you already. You can do and be whoever you want to be, and you deserve to be so much more than a tired suit in an office. Of course if that's where you get real happiness, then that's fantastic. I'm just saying that wasn't my experience, nor was it for the majority of those I met.

Life is short - you're young, you're old, you're dead. React to that knowledge. You have nothing to lose!

With all my love,
Stephen Ridley

In the interests of proof (and self promotion), here are the links to some YouTube videos and my Facebook/twitter.

www.facebook.com/stephenridley.official
https://twitter.com/ThisIsRidley
http://youtu.be/gEeu2oNS2uc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikMKtok0pm8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nnYgVPy7gA

Comments (292)

Best Response
4/25/12
anonymousman:

I wanted money. I wanted respect. I wanted to be a somebody in the eyes of myself and others.

You still do. This is why you're 'sharing' your story here. You want to read all of the 'good for you' replies and feel special. Now you've switched your focus from money to fame/attention.

Banking was just too hard for you. Good for you if you're happier and doing something you love, but the last bit was a little condescending. Most analysts don't need a knight in shining armor to help liberate them from the banks because we're "miserable but too scared to leave". Come on man.

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4/25/12

thanks for sharing your story Stephen

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

4/25/12
4/25/12

This will be epic.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

4/25/12

interesting, thanks for sharing

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

4/25/12

At a loss for words, but this was epic in that it was well written and hit the spot. I guess I'll have to check out the album too.

4/25/12

I just read it again (well, I skimmed it the first time), and +1 for you man. I'm definitely checking out your pages to see what you got going on!

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

4/25/12

this thread is going to be interesting. front page this andy!

In reply to OMS
4/25/12
oldmansacks:

this thread is going to be interesting. front page this andy!

got it

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

4/25/12

How did you keep your piano skills sharp while working banking hours?

In reply to Rupert Pupkin
4/25/12
Rupert Pupkin:

Cool story bro

nicely done

4/25/12

Man, looking through this guys thread history you can see how banking basically wore him down progressively.

OP, best of luck to you. If I ever see you in concert I expect back stage VIP shiz and bishes, I'll say "WSO represent muddafucka!", and you'll tell security to let me through.

Aight? Respect.

4/25/12

Congrats. Wish you the best in your endeavors.

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

In reply to Aero
4/25/12
Aero:

How did you keep your piano skills sharp while working banking hours?

Oddly enough the bank I worked at had a grand piano in the foyer (just for show), and I would used to play that every day, even if just one song, before jumping in the taxi home!

In reply to anonymousman
4/25/12
anonymousman:
Aero:

How did you keep your piano skills sharp while working banking hours?

Oddly enough the bank I worked at had a grand piano in the foyer (just for show), and I would used to play that every day, even if just one song, before jumping in the taxi home!

Really enjoyed your story... by the looks of your playing, I assume you play by ear (don't read write/music)? Looks like you found a way to use some natural talent! Good luck with this endeavor, I'll check out your album.

4/25/12

Reminds me of the novel Bank by David Bleden. Awesome story dude! I'd say that banking was necessary for you though, you needed the misery to drive you and the money to make it all happen.

4/25/12

Congrats man, I'm glad you found something to make you happy. Yea, if only my parents gave me the right genes to play professional sports I would totally not be going after the banking route.

In reply to Mammon
4/25/12
Mammon:

Reminds me of the novel Bank by David Bleden. Awesome story dude! I'd say that banking was necessary for you though, you needed the misery to drive you and the money to make it all happen.

I would not say that banking was necessary, but I'd say it taught me as much as it took from me in that period. But you are right, there is no drive as strong as misery!!

4/25/12

Awesome story, congrats! Also I checked out the videos and you are really good in my opinion.

4/25/12

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

4/25/12

Cool, nobody disputes what I said--they just throw MS.

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

please go

GJDM OP! Welcome to my world - I turned down my banking offer to work at a non0-tech startup

Best decision ever

In reply to formerBBbanker1254
4/25/12
formerBBbanker1254:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

please go

GJDM OP! Welcome to my world - I turned down my banking offer to work at a non0-tech startup

Best decision ever

Cool, why don't I go to a tech forum, tell people I hate tech jobs, and then when someone politely disputes that I'll ask them to leave the tech forum. That makes a lot of sense.

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

I think we are just different peas in different pods my man. I can only speak from my own experience, but I was adding no value to the world whatsoever. In banking, I was either making pitchbooks or making mostly fictional pseudoanalysis to fit the stories and answers that either the client or MD wanted. In music, I've connected to people, given and received love, and hopefully made quite a few people's days a little better. Hopefully I'll make quite a few more people's days a little better in the future. Best of luck to you man.

p.s. As an FYI, when you quit your job in IBD, you're out of the door as fast as possible, due to the confidential and sensitive nature of what your doing, but thanks for the snide insult.

4/25/12

so as a musician how many girls do u b... meet

4/25/12

IB4 Media

@JustinDDuBois
WSO Company Database | Job Board

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

I don't know about you, but I'd take a less efficient, even lower quality of life society over a society without pianists any day. I also know for a fact that most intenrs getting into Goldman, MS, etc.these days (even the two sophomores I know interning there this summer from Ivy league finance majors) really only say they banking interesting. When you get them one on one, it's almost obvious to them that "most people are in it for the money, but they love money enough for it to be worth it to them. Bravo, OP for pursuing your dreams. I've met very few people who actually find finance intellectually stimulating (mostly more mathematical people), and neither of them have finance internships this summer.

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IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation +

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4/25/12

Best career story I've read on WSO.

Glad that you found the right shoe, you keep playing that piano like a junkie man!

4/25/12

OP you look like Tim Tebow in your picture

In reply to Commuter
4/25/12
Commuter:

IB4 Media

this.

Good to hear OP, I once fell prey to the BBC, but luckily I wasn't snatched

Whats the matter? Scared of my little red fuzzy anus? Don't be shy,let me show you the way, give me your hand and I will take you to paradise <3

Kind Regards,

ElmElm

In reply to Warhead
4/25/12
Warhead:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

I don't know about you, but I'd take a less efficient, even lower quality of life society over a society without pianists any day. I also know for a fact that most intenrs getting into Goldman, MS, etc.these days (even the two sophomores I know interning there this summer from Ivy league finance majors) really only say they banking interesting. When you get them one on one, it's almost obvious to them that "most people are in it for the money, but they love money enough for it to be worth it to them. Bravo, OP for pursuing your dreams. I've met very few people who actually find finance intellectually stimulating (mostly more mathematical people), and neither of them have finance internships this summer.

Well, "Bittersweet Symphony" is about the extent of my piano listening, as it is for the vast majority of the Western world. Just a matter of opinion, but I doubt the man on the street in our societies would accept a lower quality of life, but most people, even the people who work in finance, don't appreciate the fundamental importance of this business. It's little wonder that the industrial revolution emerged slightly after the founding of what is now considered modern banking.

I'd say John Law has had a far greater impact on this planet than Mozart (although this is not discounting the work of Mozart, simply comparing the relative impact).

4/25/12

Absolute amazing story! Thanks for sharing it with us, and congrats on your success! :) It takes a lot of courage to think outside the box and to follow your passion. Good luck with everything!

4/25/12

Awesome story, man. Glad you found your passion. You're an incredible musician also.

In reply to Commuter
4/25/12
In reply to Chocobo
4/25/12

Moni:
Absolute amazing story! Thanks for sharing it with us, and congrats on your success! :) It takes a lot of courage to think outside the box and to follow your passion. Good luck with everything!
In reply to zeropower
4/25/12
zeropower:
Commuter:

IB4 Media

^ This

haha, who will pick it up first?

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

4/25/12

Anyone else ever wonder how these MDs actually STAYED in banking for that long? I don't mean this to be offensive but are these the guys that actually like banking as a long-term career or are they the guys who weren't able to exit somewhere and decided it was better financially just to stay until they make MD?

I hate victims who respect their executioners

4/25/12

love this...best of luck, stephen!

4/25/12

Fantastic story. Wish I had something I was as passionate about as you.

4/25/12

I think i should pack my bags and head out to Vegas to the adult industry. I mean i'm endowed with a really giant member.

All kidding aside, this is a really inspiring story. People can hate on you and say that you have talent and they don't have it but it takes balls to go out and follow your passion. As that can be seen in your performances.. I'm actually going home in 2 months and will evaluate if i want to spend the rest of my life in the corporate world. I really miss goofing around and having a ball. Goof luck OP and don't forget WSO.

4/25/12

Great story and very inspiring, thanks for sharing. I admire you for ditching the security of a large paycheck to go chase your dream. I'm still a student, but am in a similar boat to you in the sense that my true passion is music. But at the same time I want financial security, so for that reason I'll be pursuing corporate jobs after I graduate. However I hope that one day I'll be rich enough to the point where I can just quit my job and make music full-time. This kind of reminds me of Peter Muller.

4/25/12

Need a drummer?

In all seriousness, congrats on the life change. Nice Black Keys cover.

4/25/12

Inspiring story. I'm glad you had the courage to find something you love and leave the safety of you job. Thanks for sharing.

Best of luck!

4/25/12

Congratulations! Very glad you shared your story. Quite inspiring. There are a million paths to happiness in life and very few of them require a massive bank account.

CompBanker

4/25/12

Holy fuck. I am at a loss for words. What a fucking story. Best of luck, Stephen.

4/25/12

Congratulations, I am glad you found something that you are passionate about. Thank you for the interesting read. Great piano playing skills as well.

As someone who is still in uni and pursuing IBD, I can only hope that I don't share the same sentiments a couple of years down the line.

4/25/12

Nice. Stories like this really hit home as i am a recent grad with a completely unclear path ahead of me. I've been hammering away trying to break into IB but I always revert back to thinking like this. The problem is that I have no idea what I have a passion for. Like I hear so often "Just do what you're passionate about". I completely agree, but wat about those ppl who are yet to discover what they have a passion for? I can't chase my passions if I dont even know what they are. I feel like this is a lot of ppl's problem

GBS

In reply to SonnyCrockett
4/25/12
SonnyCrockett:
anonymousman:

I wanted money. I wanted respect. I wanted to be a somebody in the eyes of myself and others.

You still do. This is why you're 'sharing' your story here. You want to read all of the 'good for you' replies and feel special. Now you've switched your focus from money to fame/attention.

Banking was just too hard for you. Good for you if you're happier and doing something you love, but the last bit was a little condescending. Most analysts don't need a knight in shining armor to help liberate them from the banks because we're "miserable but too scared to leave". Come on man.

Don't get me wrong, of course money and respect are important, most people (myself included) feel indignified without them. I'm just saying that I've come to understand the true nature and value of them, and before I placed (what I now see as) a ridiculously high value on them (I valued them more than fulfilment and happiness). And yeah, of course, I want to be 'a somebody'. But how I have come to define what 'being a somebody' is has radically changed and is much less vacuous now.

As for the 'you didn't have the stones' thing... Banking wasn't 'too hard' (I've been through worse and made it), but I didn't have anything to prove to anyone sticking myself to a life which brought me unhappiness.

And I certainly don't want to patronise or condescend, and I apologise if I have done. I just met a lot of miserable people when I was there, and I just wanted to extend the same push I've personally given them to other people in their situation.

As for my motivation to post this, it isn't for attention. Though I can readily admit that I like attention and don't shy from that, I just wanted to put something on here that offers a different point of view to the 'banking or die' baller baller shot caller posts on this website, and share the blunt realities from my experience, and yeah, hopefully inspire some other people who are maybe a bit lost to go on and hopefully find happiness!

4/25/12

We've seen a lot of miserable musicians, too--Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and the list goes on. Joy isn't conditional, or at least it shouldn't be. If you're a miserable person, playing music isn't going to change that for anything more than the immediate future. Long-term joy isn't found in your work.

In reply to WSOusername
4/25/12
GoldmanBallSachs:

Nice. Stories like this really hit home as i am a recent grad with a completely unclear path ahead of me. I've been hammering away trying to break into IB but I always revert back to thinking like this. The problem is that I have no idea what I have a passion for. Like I hear so often "Just do what you're passionate about". I completely agree, but wat about those ppl who are yet to discover what they have a passion for? I can't chase my passions if I dont even know what they are. I feel like this is a lot of ppl's problem

My advice would be to travel if at all possible. The more you move, the more you move. When you take yourself away from the daily routine (whatever that may be for you), you find yourself challenged whilst being exposed to new people who live completely alien ways of life to what you might have ever imagined, have different value systems, see different traits in you than perhaps your friends and family see in you. You'll learn a lot about yourself and moreover, it's a hell of a lot of fun and you'll blow your mind! You got nothing to lose bro, life is short. Your young, your old, your dead!

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:

We've seen a lot of miserable musicians, too--Kirk Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and the list goes on. Joy isn't conditional, or at least it shouldn't be. If you're a miserable person, playing music isn't going to change that for anything more than the immediate future. Long-term joy isn't found in your work.

They were fucking crazy people outright though. But I agree with you, happiness is subjective. Could be writing, music, sports, teaching, etc.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

4/25/12

I just bought your album.

4/25/12

Damn dude, you're a baws. Your piano skills are sick. Bought your album for support!

4/25/12

I just re-read the post word by word, this is f-ing brilliant and inspirational, great story

I have never felt lighter, than that moment. I was free. I was free. I was so fucking free I could taste it!

i've been there, not to the level of you have because your suffering was greater than mine, but I am lucky enough to know the feeling.

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

4/25/12

Won't let me edit--met to write "Kurt Cobain" not Kirk.

Streetwannabe, the point is you can do finance and not be miserable. I've been there, done that--thought quitting my job that I hated would bring me joy/happiness. If you're an unhappy person that joy/happiness that you feel doing something else is temporary. Entirely temporary--and conditional. You don't have to do something that society deems worthy--writing, poetry, teaching, music--to be happy. There are all kinds of miserable musicians, poets, authors, and whale trainers.

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:

We've seen a lot of miserable musicians, too--Kirk Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and the list goes on. Joy isn't conditional, or at least it shouldn't be. If you're a miserable person, playing music isn't going to change that for anything more than the immediate future. Long-term joy isn't found in your work.

Long term joy IS found in your work!! (amongst other places). I'm not saying music is right for everyone, and maybe it was or wasn't right for them. I'm just saying that when you find something you do like, it's infectious, and all of a sudden you'll never 'work' another day in your life. Everything just feels like play. That might be writing, horse riding, being a rafting guide, being a politician, a lawyer, a doctor, a tennis player, a poet, whatever. But when you find what you love and find a way to make a living from it, it's a very lovely feeling. Of course, family, friends, travel, are all constituents (in my case at least) to happiness. But as you have to spend the majority of your life at work, it seems to me a completely ridiculous concept to do something which doesn't completely light a fire in your heart!

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

You are missing the point of this post. Don't fucking rain on his parade. I would pay WSO to dump King Kong shit on you if I could, nerd.

4/25/12

best of luck to you! thanks for sharing

4/25/12

+1 Great story, Steve. Like your style on the piano. Best of Luck!

In reply to anonymousman
4/25/12
anonymousman:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

We've seen a lot of miserable musicians, too--Kirk Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and the list goes on. Joy isn't conditional, or at least it shouldn't be. If you're a miserable person, playing music isn't going to change that for anything more than the immediate future. Long-term joy isn't found in your work.

Long term joy IS found in your work!! (amongst other places). I'm not saying music is right for everyone, and maybe it was or wasn't right for them. I'm just saying that when you find something you do like, it's infectious, and all of a sudden you'll never 'work' another day in your life. Everything just feels like play. That might be writing, horse riding, being a rafting guide, being a politician, a lawyer, a doctor, a tennis player, a poet, whatever. But when you find what you love and find a way to make a living from it, it's a very lovely feeling. Of course, family, friends, travel, are all constituents (in my case at least) to happiness. But as you have to spend the majority of your life at work, it seems to me a completely ridiculous concept to do something which doesn't completely light a fire in your heart!

With all due respect, you threw the entire industry under the bus in your original post. Obviously you're clarifying your position now, but you made it out as if nobody likes their job in finance, which is a transparently false assertion. Other than politics there's nothing else on this planet that I'd rather do.

You also made it out as if your new gig--piano--is somehow of greater importance than finance, which is a matter of opinion, at the very least, and at the most outright un-true.

In reply to BlackHat
4/25/12
BlackHat:

Anyone else ever wonder how these MDs actually STAYED in banking for that long? I don't mean this to be offensive but are these the guys that actually like banking as a long-term career or are they the guys who weren't able to exit somewhere and decided it was better financially just to stay until they make MD?

Running joke in our office - you know you're a failure when you become an MD.

In reply to Cane0180
4/25/12
Cane0180:
Virginia Tech 4ever:

This is a great story, but I wouldn't sell short the "importance" of banking--I'd argue that the drones do a lot more important work than a pianist. After all, high finance is basically the blood that makes the organs [edit: no pun intended! haha] of society work. Pianists are just pianists.

I no longer work in high finance--I work in "branch level" finance--but I work devastating hours and what I do is really hard. The intellectual challenge keeps me interested and I'd argue that a lot of people genuinely find finance interesting--in fact, I'd argue that most people in this business find finance more interesting than piano.

In any event, to each his own. If you're not happy doing what you're doing then it makes no sense to continue doing it. I mean, when I quit a job I hated I gave 6 weeks notice, but it doesn't seem like your boss gave a damn anyway.

You are missing the point of this post. Don't fucking rain on his parade. I would pay WSO to dump King Kong shit on you if I could, nerd.

Doesn't your school have another football conference championship game to not be playing in, Cane?

4/25/12

Virginia Tech, I'm not sure what your problem is. I'm a guy who lives and breathes the markets, couldn't imagine doing anything else, but still would put the creation of culture as being much more important than finance. Even if that wasn't true, the ability of one man to have an impact is so much greater in cultural realms than in finance where we are all just cogs in a machine. More than anything, your bitter line of criticism juxtaposed against the OP's non-defensive and disarming responses make a compelling case that a life of culture is a happier one.

In reply to macro
4/25/12
macro:

Virginia Tech, I'm not sure what your problem is. I'm a guy who lives and breathes the markets, couldn't imagine doing anything else, but still would put the creation of culture as being much more important than finance. Even if that wasn't true, the ability of one man to have an impact is so much greater in cultural realms than in finance where we are all just cogs in a machine. More than anything, your bitter line of criticism juxtaposed against the OP's non-defensive and disarming responses make a compelling case that a life of culture is a happier one.

If you didn't pick up on the OP's condescension toward the rest of us in the original post then I don't know what to say. The entire post was condescending. It honestly sounds like the college version of me who looked down on the people who were trying real hard in school. The difference is, ya know, I was a late teens/early 20s college student.

There's nothing at all "bitter" in my line of reasoning other than a point of view that differs with the majority of the people here. So sue me.

4/25/12

Macro - if I had a silver banana I'd give you one for that post

In reply to AndyLouis
4/25/12
AndyLouis:
zeropower:
Commuter:

IB4 Media

^ This

haha, who will pick it up first?

I have a few ideas 8)

@JustinDDuBois
WSO Company Database | Job Board

4/25/12

I absolutely agree with Stephen's advice above. During school, I had the change to go on an exchange program in an developing part of the world and it changed my whole perspective on life. Also it always helps to be open-minded. There's a world to see out there, but if you're stuck doing the same thing over and over again you may miss the opportunity to smell the roses.

4/25/12

which piano brands are the most prestigious?

In reply to WSOusername
4/25/12
GoldmanBallSachs:

Nice. Stories like this really hit home as i am a recent grad with a completely unclear path ahead of me. I've been hammering away trying to break into IB but I always revert back to thinking like this. The problem is that I have no idea what I have a passion for. Like I hear so often "Just do what you're passionate about". I completely agree, but wat about those ppl who are yet to discover what they have a passion for? I can't chase my passions if I dont even know what they are. I feel like this is a lot of ppl's problem

I (and probably many others on here) understood how you feel, man.

Only thing we can do is to keep pushing.

4/25/12

That was fucking awesome.

I needed that...I need to get out now...

4/25/12

thanks for sharing your story, stephen!
I like your music. Just wondering, how did you start playing piano? Did you play classical music or a certain genre of music, or did you just start jamming? Anyway, good luck man!

In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:
macro:

Virginia Tech, I'm not sure what your problem is. I'm a guy who lives and breathes the markets, couldn't imagine doing anything else, but still would put the creation of culture as being much more important than finance. Even if that wasn't true, the ability of one man to have an impact is so much greater in cultural realms than in finance where we are all just cogs in a machine. More than anything, your bitter line of criticism juxtaposed against the OP's non-defensive and disarming responses make a compelling case that a life of culture is a happier one.

If you didn't pick up on the OP's condescension toward the rest of us in the original post then I don't know what to say. The entire post was condescending. It honestly sounds like the college version of me who looked down on the people who were trying real hard in school. The difference is, ya know, I was a late teens/early 20s college student.

There's nothing at all "bitter" in my line of reasoning other than a point of view that differs with the majority of the people here. So sue me.

Mr. virginia football enthusiast never misses a chance to come off like a thin-skinned, illiterate hayseed with anger issues.

and yeah, john law > mozart. LOL shower us with more of your wisdom, dumb-dumb

4/25/12

John Law is one of the primary founders of modern finance. Mozart was an amazing composer. One guy laid one of the critical components of the foundation for modern western civilization, the other guy composed music that works really well with electronic synthesizers that make dance club music.

Ya know what's great about history? A little critical thought often results in the destruction of myths--and on a daily basis!

4/25/12

you're just jealous because this guy is obviously happier and getting more poon than you

nyeah!

In reply to melvvvar
4/25/12
melvvvar:

you're just jealous because this guy is obviously happier and getting more poon than you

nyeah!

Like I said, it's one thing to be stoked about your chosen career path, but it's an entirely different thing than making generalized statements about the value of another man's chosen career path. The only path that is without value is the one marked by greed or entitlement. All honest work is honorable.

4/25/12

awwww someone getting butt-hurt

sniffles for you

4/25/12

VirginiaTech4ever has not posted one untrue statement, I love how everyone is congratulating this dude but most of the posters on here are not going to heed his advice. You still want to be in finance if you aren't already in it, that is why you are on this site. OP's reasoning for getting into finance (the money) failed from the get go, most experienced posters on this site will tell you not to go into IB if you are only in it for the money because you will be miserable, and you were, as expected. I appreciate music and musicians but I also know that is not the type of individual who should strive for IB in the first place.I fully support the "follow your dreams" sentiment in your post but it did come with a condescending under-tone, you essentially said no one could possibly consider banking an enjoyable occupation and criticized all who are going through the misery instead of being a hero and adventurer like yourself and following their dreams.

4/25/12

I tip my hat to you. Had I not been obsessed with the markets, I may have wound up as a guitarist (dare I say rhythm) for a shitty metalcore band or the like. Glad you found your passion as an independent artist.

4/25/12

Firstly, OP - awesome.

Secondly, the OPs copping a little bit of flak for his condescending tone. Honestly, I think it was condescending if you're a stouch defendant of working in banking/Finance. The story hit home with me and I think a lot more precisely because at some level, we're in it because the job is prestigious, pays well and makes up appear to be ballers.

So if you love your banking gig, then just take this is a nice, light read. If, however, you're still trying to pursue the dream - this is one helluva post. Wish you a lot of luck, OP! At work so can't see the videos right now but will def do the needful when I reach home.

In reply to BigBucks
4/25/12
BigBucks:

VirginiaTech4ever has not posted one untrue statement, I love how everyone is congratulating this dude but most of the posters on here are not going to heed his advice. You still want to be in finance if you aren't already in it, that is why you are on this site. OP's reasoning for getting into finance (the money) failed from the get go, most experienced posters on this site will tell you not to go into IB if you are only in it for the money because you will be miserable, and you were, as expected. I appreciate music and musicians but I also know that is not the type of individual who should strive for IB in the first place.I fully support the "follow your dreams" sentiment in your post but it did come with a condescending under-tone, you essentially said no one could possibly consider banking an enjoyable occupation and criticized all who are going through the misery instead of being a hero and adventurer like yourself and following their dreams.

I think you hit the nail on the head--if you're a "liberal arts" type of person and are getting into finance for the money then you are setting yourself up for failure. I LOVE finance, for whatever or no reason at all--I'm just passionate about it. I wouldn't work the job for free, but I'm not intrinsically motivated by the money.

In reply to BTbanker
4/25/12
Connor:

I just bought your album.

LOL.

right after you bought oil 101?

4/25/12

Life is indeed very short. Gotta live it up.

"Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion" - Muhammad Ali

4/25/12

Congratulations on escaping wage slavery! SB to you for the inspiring post.

Most people I know who are employees in finance are pretty miserable... In finance (as in most corporate jobs) you are mostly passive, a cog in the wheel with little autonomy or control over your life... Most finance/banking/investment types don't even have that much autonomy over their work!

The most fulfilled people I know are active. They have autonomy and decide what they want in life and pursue it, not just what kind of Audi or BMW they are going to buy. They also have control over their time, the only resource that matters. Very few of these people are in finance and the ones that are, are either people who have set up their own little firms or who are owners / principals of their companies, i.e. no longer wage slaves. The exception are the ones who aren't putting in ridiculously long hours and are using their their jobs simply as a means to fund their lifestyles during their free time (weekend trips, lots of hobbies & sport, side projects/interests, etc...)

The idea that a higher paying career is the route to happiness or fulfilment is rubbish... Freedom matters.

In reply to BigBucks
4/25/12
BigBucks:

VirginiaTech4ever has not posted one untrue statement, I love how everyone is congratulating this dude but most of the posters on here are not going to heed his advice. You still want to be in finance if you aren't already in it, that is why you are on this site. OP's reasoning for getting into finance (the money) failed from the get go, most experienced posters on this site will tell you not to go into IB if you are only in it for the money because you will be miserable, and you were, as expected. I appreciate music and musicians but I also know that is not the type of individual who should strive for IB in the first place.I fully support the "follow your dreams" sentiment in your post but it did come with a condescending under-tone, you essentially said no one could possibly consider banking an enjoyable occupation and criticized all who are going through the misery instead of being a hero and adventurer like yourself and following their dreams.

mr. eternal virginia technology has trouble with basic logic. OP never said all people in finance are miserable and/or go into it for the wrong reasons. anyone reading at above the third grade level has figured that out. as the technological virginian usually does, he reads carelessly and reacts emotionally, resulting in his typical embarassing shit-show. this is a nice post and will be useful to some of the young monkeys in the bullpens, and virgintech should rightly be mocked and humiliated as the sneering dullard that he is.

4/25/12

"Sneering dullard"? You're the same guy who in this thread used the term "butt hurt" and accuses me of being jealous for not getting as much "poon." Yeah, you've contributed a ton to this discussion. For a 12-year-old you're pretty sophisticated.

4/25/12
In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
4/25/12
Virginia Tech 4ever:
BigBucks:

VirginiaTech4ever has not posted one untrue statement, I love how everyone is congratulating this dude but most of the posters on here are not going to heed his advice. You still want to be in finance if you aren't already in it, that is why you are on this site. OP's reasoning for getting into finance (the money) failed from the get go, most experienced posters on this site will tell you not to go into IB if you are only in it for the money because you will be miserable, and you were, as expected. I appreciate music and musicians but I also know that is not the type of individual who should strive for IB in the first place.I fully support the "follow your dreams" sentiment in your post but it did come with a condescending under-tone, you essentially said no one could possibly consider banking an enjoyable occupation and criticized all who are going through the misery instead of being a hero and adventurer like yourself and following their dreams.

I think you hit the nail on the head--if you're a "liberal arts" type of person and are getting into finance for the money then you are setting yourself up for failure. I LOVE finance, for whatever or no reason at all--I'm just passionate about it. I wouldn't work the job for free, but I'm not intrinsically motivated by the money.

I can't agree more with both of the above.
Through this post I can finally see people in their true colors:
1) College kids who don't know what they want and finance was their default choice
2) Disgruntled employees who are underpaid and secretly want to leave their jobs
3) Seasoned professionals who know that they got to take the goods with the bads. And in the end of the day, they still really enjoy what they are doing. They didn't come in for the money and they are not going to trade for it either.

P.S. For people especially students who don't want to be in Finance, why are you reading WSO? Don't you know that the site mostly talk about banking/ consulting?

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

4/25/12

So how many girls do you serenade on a weekly basis?

4/25/12

I think the takeaway here (aside from the usual dick measuring contest these counter-finance threads always incite) is that it's always best to follow your heart, pursue your passion. If money is your passion, you're doing it wrong. If prestige is your passion, you're doing it wrong. Find something that actually matters to you within your heart of hearts and throw yourself into it completely. You'll enjoy far more success doing something that you love, you won't care how many hours you devote to it, you'll be healthier mentally and physically, and you'll be a better person to be around.

Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

4/25/12

Good job OP, great to hear!

I opted to not going into banking as well

Everyone that I know who is in it hates it a lot, so I took it as a hint :D

Whats the matter? Scared of my little red fuzzy anus? Don't be shy,let me show you the way, give me your hand and I will take you to paradise <3

Kind Regards,

ElmElm

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