This is the final part of Patrick's two part interview series. In part one, Patrick and I talked about his time in investment banking, private equity, and at Wharton. This time around, Patrick candidly discusses a little more about WSO's initial development, where WSO is today, and the future of this glorious website.
Thank you for all your suggestions for more interviews, hopefully some of our more experienced users will not mind me pestering them for similar Q&A sessions.
MF: When did you begin realizing that WSO was a real opportunity for growth? What made you think, "I might have something here?" What were your initial goals with the project?
Patrick Curtis : Honestly, I have always believed in it. Even when we were only making a few thousand $ per month, I could see the usefulness of an open community and the need for detailed and specific advice. The initial members were a lot of young ibankers and students in ibanking clubs around the country - I personally emailed a lot of them when we launched to let them know about the new community.
My initial goals were the same as today. To build the most useful AND entertaining finance community online.
I think we have been largely successful in that goal, but I know we can still always improve. There have been many bumps in the road and lessons learned. I've learned a lot about myself and how I manage people - sometimes I'm too nice, sometimes I'm an asshole. Overall, I think I'm a pretty fair boss though.
MF: How has WSO developed or evolved over the years? What are some of the trends that you are witnessing?
Patrick Curtis : WSO has matured somewhat in the sense that a lot of our users that were analysts several years back are now associates. We have also seen a huge influx of college students trying to gain an edge in recruiting - this is great, but without the dedication of the, I know WSO would be nowhere. I think what is most valuable is when the community helps someone land a job, and then they return the favor by coming back and giving advice to the new chimps.
MF: You, maybe more than most people, have read the countless pages of advice dolled out on WSO, what was some of the best advice you have heard, or could give to people already in the industry?
Patrick Curtis : I would say stop worrying about prestige and getting into abank. The reality is most of the members on this forum will NOT make it there, or if they do, many more will be in a role.
The key here is to find something you love doing and then excelling / impressing your superiors. People obsess over the next step and I realize in this market you have to be incredibly prepared in order to compete.
However, I think it's also very myopic to think that if you don't get a BB analyst gig your path to the Promised Land is forever ruined.
Your career will be long and there will be many ups and downs...be happy to have any job in this economy, work hard, look for professional growth opportunities, take on more responsibilities, learn tangible skills and network your ass off. If you do those, it's hard to see how you can lose - even if you aren't the sharpest tool in the shed. But seriously, network. No, I mean it. Network. The single most important determinant of success is who you know.
Also, shameless plug: practice your networking skills at the WSO Conference this summer in NYC: http://wsoconference.eventbrite.com/
MF: What is the best part of your daily work on WSO?
Patrick Curtis : I love hearing the success stories (//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/wso-success-stories), and seeing users get great advice day in and day out.
MF: Lastly, I want to open up the discussion to anything you may wish to talk about. What would you like WSO users to know?
Patrick Curtis : I thought maybe it would be interesting to show the users a Google Analytics graph to show you how far we've come and give you an idea of where we are going.
We just passed the 1 million visits in 1 month mark...I'll turn this around on you guys: we are still growing nicely, but what takes us to the next level? We are building a massive company database with Company Review, Interview Insights and Compensation Data (//www.wallstreetoasis.com/wso-company-database).
but what other content would you like to see?