Why are we the way we are today?

packmate's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,302

After reading SouthernAlpha's post on failure, I was inspired to write my own. I've been reflecting a lot lately and often wonder why I am the way I am today. Like most users on WSO, I am a college student motivated to succeed and hope to start my career in investment banking. However these jobs are tough to get and require a high level of drive that most college kids don't have. I constantly question myself, often wondering if I have what it takes to make the cut. And while the odds are stacked against me, I do believe I have what it takes. While I am confident, I am not writing this post to brag or flex my Internet muscles, but rather to tell my story. I hope in telling my story, I will inspire others to tell theirs.

A little bit about my background without getting too specific: I go to a non-target and interned at a big 4 my freshman summer and will be interning in the MO of a BB this coming summer. I somehow managed to get the big 4 internship through a cold call to partner and got the BB offer through an on-campus interview. My goal is to get into a SA program next year in IBD.

To start I should say that the most influential person in my life thus far, both good and bad, is my father. While I know my father loves me and my brother, he is the definition of an asshole. He's one of those guys who are quick to criticize and point out your weaknesses, which is never a good recipe when raising a kid. I would fight with my dad on a fairly consistent basis, which resulted in a rocky relationship. However, he would always enjoy talking to me about business and we bonded over our mutual interest in it. In fact, my father had owned several small businesses over the years and decided at one point to purchase a small retail store around 2007. At the time, this business was pretty controversial in my family because my dad had to take a second mortgage on our home. Being a teenager at the time, I had absolutely no clue what was so risky about the purchase but my mother understood the risks and objected vocally to my father about the purchase. My father accused my mother of trying to hold him back and ended up purchasing the store. While my mom was upset at his decision, she decided to support him in every way she could.

Then the financial crisis hits and the shoe store was hit severely. Sales dropped dramatically and my dad couldn't afford to buy anymore inventory. I was about 15 or 16 at the time and I would say that this was a major turning point in my life. My dad had to file for bankruptcy and it destroyed my family. My mom was not only upset at my dad for not listening to her, but she also feared that we would lose the house. My parents would fight every night for weeks and it was stressful for my younger brother and me.

Unfortunately this story doesn't have a good ending. My parents ended up getting a divorce at the time I was in my senior year in high school. I knew it was probably for the best, but it was very sad. While I was able to understand the circumstances, it was a lot tougher on my younger brother. He would enter high school with both his older brother and father leaving the house and I cannot even begin to understand how he felt.

My father also changed. The confidence he had during my childhood completely disappeared. I speculate that losing both his business and family humbled and hurt him permanently. We don't fight anymore though. As I've grown older, I've realized that he was just trying to provide a better life for us. Also, how can you hate someone who tried to better himself?

These hardships have both strengthened and hardened me. Having a ground level understanding of financial hardship motivates me and drives me to succeed and I know, with confidence, I will do everything I can so that my future children won't have to go through the same ordeal.

So what drives you?

Comments (20)

Apr 7, 2014

im truly sorry to hear what happened to your family man
i hope you find success where your father didn't
the financial crisis sucked dick

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Apr 7, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Apr 7, 2014

Brutal dude. I can't help but draw parallels to my family's situation and how easily it could've gone that way. Best of luck to you and I'm pulling for ya.

Apr 7, 2014

Thanks man, I really appreciate it!

Apr 7, 2014

My story is similar to yours as my dad lost both his job and our family home as I was midway through college. Don't get down on yourself or him that is just how life is sometimes. Keep working hard and hustlin and hopefully you can provide some help in the near future.

Apr 7, 2014

Sorry to hear your story, I know where you're coming from. There was definitely a time where I was real angry at my dad and everyone in general, but I eventually figured out that being angry doesn't make the situation any better. So I'm just working my ass off everyday to achieve my goals

Apr 7, 2014

I know where the OP is coming from. Part of the reason why I am motivated is when I was younger my father, who lacked even a high school education, had become a plant manager for a food company through sheer seniority. Even though I didn't see him much due to his hours this afforded us the luxury of living in a very white collar suburb with an excellent public school system. Since no one in my extended family held a professional position it was my first exposure to people with college educations.

Most of the people that lived there were successful doctors, engineers, lawyers and real estate brokers. They went on family vacations, which was quite a shock to me, they had all kinds of big boy toys and their homes were wonderful. Not to mention they seemed to lack the constant financial bickering and pressure that I was use to in my family. This made me yearn for a life like theirs in the worst way. Even though I was able to go to college and obtain a degree in Finance I lacked a lot of guidance a place like this or educated parents can offer. I erroneously believed that a college education was college education. Even though I know I received a solid educational background I had no clue that a school with strong name recognition, alumni support, and career fairs that attract the types of employers I was after is worth the price of admission.

Combined with my terrible timing with graduating during the downturn I still have not found my way into a position that I have always wished to be in. My first position out of college was in an industry and I didn't want to be in and has haunted me since (insurance sales). But I needed a roof over my head and food in my belly because my parents, who had lost their main source of income and had mounting medical expenses, sure as hell couldn't support me. But now that my significant other has a strong source of income I can now once again focus on snagging a position that puts to use my finance degree and pays me a wage I can live on.

So I hope you read that and realize that you are in a pretty solid (comparatively) position! And I wish you success in your professional goals.

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Apr 7, 2014

Hey dude my situation was pretty similar to yours growing up. Not to such an extreme as your situation, but I grew up in a very wealthy neighborhood and my parents were working middle class jobs just to get me the education i needed. good luck man!

Apr 7, 2014

Thanks buddy. I hustle everyday but it can be quite frustrating!

Apr 7, 2014

Wow. Incredible story. Glad that you and your Dad have found peace. I hope he can regroup and make a great comeback and regain that confidence.

Apr 7, 2014

Hey thanks man! I definitely worry about him because he lives alone, but he definitely has rebounded over the past few years. He's actually working on a pretty cool business idea and trying to get into real estate now.

Apr 7, 2014

Good to hear.

Apr 7, 2014

It's interesting to me to see how many people on this forum who have had rocky relationships with their father growing up (Esp. when your father is a businessman) I too, can understand what it's like to grow up in an upper-middle class family that went through extreme hardships during the financial crisis. I can also draw some parallels from your story Packmate. My dad & I had an extremely rocky relationship growing up. I never felt like I could impress him. Anyway, after high school, my motivation in college was to impress him. Now that I have gone through most of my college (Currently a Senior), I realized the strain in our relationship was caused by my insecurities as a kid. My projects in business school have provided us with a lot of conversations where we can deploy different ideas back & forth. It's interesting we both aren't really into sports even though we both played sports growing up. Instead we talk about money & business. Anyway, what motivated me years ago is different than what motivates me now. Now that I am almost done with school, and gone through a serious 4 year relationship (recently ended) my motivations are two-fold. 1) achieve my maximum potential and 2) provide for family in the future.

Thanks for sharing your story


Apr 7, 2014

Yeah, I'm pretty similar myself. I don't crave to be super rich, but rather I want to reach my full potential and be able to provide a happy life for my family.

Apr 7, 2014

Similar story as many of you, led to a lot of arguments with my dad over his decisions'. Now that I'm in college, he's stopped trying to push his ideas on me, and we bond over politics. Every day I realize that most of the advice he was giving me was actually exactly what I'm figuring out today but I still do like making those decisions for myself.

Apr 7, 2014

Inspiring and very interesting, My dad, my family, or even my urban poor community, have no idea about business, I wonder how I was thrown in here. Most of you guys seem to be upper middle class white guys,
my meeting with Business was very accidental, but once I learned about Business I was instantly hooked, I am a curious driven person so whenever I discover something I like, I try to learn everything I can about it.

'The critical investment factor is determining the intrinsic value of a business and paying a fair or bargain price." W.B."
we venture the motto, Margin of Safety." Ben Graham

Apr 10, 2014

If the OP's mom left the dad because of the store's failure/bankruptcy, then that is shitty in my opinion. I hope it wasn't that simple.

Apr 13, 2014

It wasn't that simple. As I wrote, my dad was an asshole

Apr 13, 2014

Thanks for sharing man. I hope things work out for you.

Apr 14, 2014
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