1/1/15

Note from Patrick: I'm excited to introduce Ben as a new contributing writer at WSO! A Wharton graduate, Ben has worked full-time in both investment banking and private equity.

Today I woke up at 10:30am. Right on time.

I stayed up later than I planned last night because the party was way better than expected. That happens a lot in Brazil. But I still had time to write for an hour and walk Copacabana beach for a bit before my yoga class. Now I've got a solid two hours to get some work done before heading to the gym at 3pm.

At age 26, I live on the beach in Rio de Janeiro with some of my closest friends. I have 100% control over my time. And I am happy every single day.

I can't say that about myself when I was in finance.

If you are on this site, you are one of the most intelligent, driven, hard-working people on the planet. You can succeed at anything. Which means if you are interested, you can live your dream life.

Not in 5 or 10 years. Starting today.

It was an old WSO post by Eddie that inspired me to pursue my dream life. I'd like to help do the same for you.

It wasn't always this way.

For years I would wake up every weekday at 7:45am, put on a suit and tie, and sleep-walk from the subway to the office. Sometimes I only worked a 10 hour day. Other days I worked through the night and into the next morning. If I was lucky, I'd find time to slink into our office's unlit coat closet, lay down on the floor, and sneak one hour of glorious sleep.

My worst 7-day stretch I worked 136 hours. If you do the math on that, it isn't pretty.

In banking, a week like that is completely unremarkable. It's normal. Thousands upon thousands of the world's best and brightest sign up to do the same year after year.

The most dangerous part is, you get used to it.

I adjusted to my new normal. I got used to cancelling plans, being in the office on the weekend, and working during vacations.

But occasionally, I would get an entire weekend free. I would remember how enjoyable life could be. And when it would end, I'd begrudgingly put on my suit and tie, commute to the office, and ask myself "WHY AM I DOING THIS WITH MY LIFE?"

I didn't start college wanting to be an investment banker. But the pull of finance recruiting is strong. When recruiting came around, I saw all my friends and peers competing for these jobs. It made me want one too. Plus no other job really called to me, and I thought finance would be a great way for me to keep my options open and learn about a variety of industries.

Fast forward two years and I'm at Blackstone doing M&A. Fast forward two more and I'm at a PE megafund.

I was living the Wharton dream. Both companies were stellar. Truly the best I could have hoped for in their respective industries.

But when a new assignment would roll in, I didn't get excited. Reformatting the colors in a powerpoint deck, calculating cash repatriation costs by country, I didn't take joy in my day-to-day tasks. I didn't hate it, but I couldn't look someone in the eye and tell them "this is the best year of my life, I've never been happier".

So I started asking myself questions.

What do I care about? What makes me smile? What makes me feel alive?

Was I living in a way that allowed me to spend my time doing those things?

Nope. And if I kept on this path, I wouldn't live that way for a long, long time.

What did I want? I wanted to enjoy my days, have complete control over my time, and be able to live where I wanted and travel when I wanted. And I wanted to make enough money to cover all my expenses without passing up on any experiences because of cost.

I started thinking, what could I do to get my dream life ASAP?

I found a friend with the same aspirations and we started writing together online. We wrote about courage, charisma, confidence, honesty, anything we thought was important to an awesome life. How to become the type of guy people are drawn to.

Eventually, we created Charisma On Command. I left my job and started coaching charisma and confidence full-time. We moved to live on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

I stopped making decisions that conform to expectations and started making the decisions that my dream life requires.

How are things now?

Money is totally up in the air and I have absolutely no idea how much I'll make this year. My job has zero prestige. I've added chaos and uncertainty into my life, to the point where I have no idea where I'll be living 12 months from now.

And I've never been happier or healthier in my life.

What about you?

What percent of your time are you happy? Really happy, as in you have a smile plastered ear-to-ear.

When do you feel most alive?

The majority of people I met in finance in their 20's and 30's do not love their jobs. Many would admit as much. But they take solace in the doors it leaves open and the money, and they talk about how life will be better a few years from now.

There are other avenues for money generation. Life can be good today AND years from now.

I'm not saying that everyone should start their own business. Definitely not. For some of you, entrepreneurship is not for you. For some of you, travelling the world is not for you.

But for some of you, waking up at the same time every day and going into an office where somebody else tells you what to do is not for you.

I don't know what your ideal is, but you do. So, what is your dream life?

You are the rare type of person that can actually succeed at whatever you put your mind to. If you go hard at what you want, you will get it. Don't chase anyone's dream but your own. Life is yours to design however YOU want to.

Enjoyed this post? Click here for more.

Comments (148)

1/21/14

You are a super inspirational dude, and you genuinely make me want to be a better person. Keep up the great work and all the best for your business and lifestyle.

1/21/14

Cool stuff, two questions: do you think you could have done this with a job that had less hours and kept both? And also, howd you convince your friends to move with you? I can't imagine getting 3-4 friends to move to antoher country.

Good stuff - I work at a MF but in a hf team that has a very good lifestyle, and have too many friends/family nearby to move...but I wish that like 3-6 months of the year I was doing my own thing sometimes. Especially when its full-on blizzard outside.

1/21/14

Thanks!

I know people that have done it both ways. I think there are definite advantages to going all-in on something and making it your singular focus. More than just the extra time you can spend on the business, I have found it gives me an extra fire inside to succeed.

That being said, I have friends that worked 9-5 jobs and created really successful businesses in their free time, so it can definitely work if it's prioritized. If you're considering trying to create a life where you have 3-6 months to do your own thing, starting something on the side might be a great way to start. Sounds like your current job has a great setup for it.

As for the friends, I get asked that a lot. People think it's crazy! Honestly, I didn't really convince anyone, I just had conversations with a lot of people that were similar to the content of this post. All the guys I live with in Rio wanted to live like this on some level. I think all I really did was bring it out of them by asking questions and made it seem like a real possibility. Plus it was a once in a lifetime chance to do it together, because who knows where we'll be in a year or two. I think that helped spur action.

1/21/14

Off topic: You look like a blonde haired blue eyed guy from the picture. How has this influenced your experience with women there?
Also, have you had any scary experiences with muggings or people targeting you since you don't appear to be a native of Brazil?

1/21/14

Haha I am indeed a blonde(ish) blue eyed guy, but I actually get less initial attention from the women down here than some of my more handsome brown haired friends. It's honestly pretty similar to the U.S., everyone has their own taste and aesthetic. I think the #1 thing that has helped me has been learning Portuguese so I can actually communicate.

Zero scary experiences to date for any of the guys I know down here. Great question! Many people in the U.S. think of Rio and they think City of God. For me, it's only been six months, but the areas my friends and I go to feel very safe. I've walked around at night in Copa, Ipanema, Leblon, etc. and never had any issues. It feels similar to New York in that way, it all depends on where you go. The biggest impact of being an obvious gringo that I've seen is a general interest by some people (not all) in what I'm doing down here. Especially outside of Rio, people are super friendly and curious when they meet a gringo

1/24/14

You probably don't know much about Brazil. "blonde haired blue eyed" may not be common in Rio but is normally seem in other regions. In the south it is relatively common and some cities (Blumenau, Pomerode, etc.) even makes up the majority of the population.

1/21/14

This will inspire me later when I read the whole thing, but dude, as I read those first two paragraphs, I was angrier than when I watched Richard Sherman's post game interview. Argh.

In all seriousness, good for you and welcome.

1/21/14

Dude, congrats! So glad that I could contribute even something as minor as a link to a free audiobook to your happiness and success. You never know what spark might light the flame. Well done. +1

1/21/14

100% Eddie, it can't be overstated, that post changed the course of my life in a way I'm incredibly grateful for. You definitely lit the flame.

1/21/14

Great story! Very inspirational. What made you choose Brazil over other countries around the world?

The error of confirmation: we confirm our knowledge and scorn our ignorance.

1/21/14

Thanks man! It was actually a really, really close call. I thought about several different places and in the end it came down to a choice between Rio and Bali.

I don't remember everything we considered, but my co-founder and I wrote down a lot of different things we wanted in a city and ranked them from 1-10. Some of them that I remember off the top of my head were friendly people and a warm culture, weather, outdoor things to do (beaches, mountains, etc.), dating culture, nightlife, commercial/money making opportunity, etc.

In the end, Rio seemed to me to be an incredible place to live, work, and play, with some of the most loving, friendly, happy people I've ever met. Plus I love beaches and MMA, which Brazil has in spades. It was the city I was most excited to try.

1/25/14

Ben_KickassAcademy:

Rio seemed to me to be an incredible place to live, work, and play, with some of the most loving, friendly, happy people I've ever met. P

This cannot be understated enough. Rio is an amazing city. I studied abroad there and the culture is second to none. First of all, there are lots of tourists and ex-pats, so you are always meeting new people. Secondly, where else can you be sitting on the beach at 2pm on a Tuesday talking to a partner at one of the biggest law firms in a country?

You are in the place I hope to get to someday. Given that I now have a wife, financial stability is important and I probably will be unable to take on that type of abrupt adventure. I'm hoping to buy a business (with leverage obviously!) and exit the finance arena at some point.

Definitely an inspiring story.

1/25/14

Totally agree, it's truly amazing, I feel so lucky to be here. Part of the reason I left now is because I knew timing is never perfect and things would get harder in the future if I had a family. Good luck with your enterprises, hope you get here soon!

1/21/14

You say money can't buy happiness? Look at the f**king smile on my face! EAR TO EAR BABY!

Your parents don't like the life you live? F*** YOU MOM AND DAD. See how it feels when you're making their f**king Lexus payments.

1/21/14

It's okay, this is the internet, you're allowed to curse here

1/22/14

monkeyleverage:

You say money can't buy happiness? Look at the f**king smile on my face! EAR TO EAR BABY!

Your parents don't like the life you live? F*** YOU MOM AND DAD. See how it feels when you're making their f**king Lexus payments.

Go back to play WOW online and don't interrupt adults during a discussion...

1/21/14

Where are you living in Copa? And what took you there of all other places?

I'm Brazilian-born and do operations consulting.. been lucky enough to be at the Othon Palace, Caesar Park, and Copa Palace for extended periods of time on some easier projects (and expense accounts, of course). Visit the city usually twice a year in my travels around Brazil and my cousin lives pretty close to you. Huge fan of Rio.

Keep up your positivity.

1/21/14

Othon, Caesar, and Copa Palace - fancy! I live in Arpoador at the southern tip of Copa, so right nearby. It's a great place to live.

1/21/14

Great story! How do you take care of the tech side of things in running your website?

1/21/14

We started by trying to make it as simple as possible. Wordpress + a bunch of plugins, cheap or free widgets, etc. As the business has grown, we've learned more about it and also invested in a few simple tools and have a few outsources we turn to for coding. My co-founder does a lot more on the technical side than I do, but we didn't start with any coding experience or anything like that.

1/21/14

Great post!

1/21/14

@Ben_KickassAcademy loved the post. Have been grappling with how to reconcile my lack of happiness in the current path with a bridge to a more inspired, 4HWW focused lifestyle. Always good to see someone likeminded carve out their own unique path. Hoping to hear more in the future. Maybe a future collabo could be arranged as well...

Keep up the great work. +1

1/21/14

rufiolove:
Maybe a future collabo could be arranged as well...


great idea...

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

1/22/14

Absolutely, I'd be happy to connect, I love talking about this stuff. Current path vs. a more 4HWW lifestyle is something I have thought a LOT about. Depending on the format we can work with Andy on sharing it here as well.

1/22/14

Ben_KickassAcademy:

Absolutely, I'd be happy to connect, I love talking about this stuff. Current path vs. a more 4HWW lifestyle is something I have thought a LOT about. Depending on the format we can work with Andy on sharing it here as well.

You should definitely pull me into the conversation as well, if for no other reason than to keep those two animals under control.

1/22/14

Haha... Yeah Eddie, we should definitely all sync up on some future thought piece. Simply too many good ideas floating around to not consolidate for the site. I agree that @"AndyLouis" and I have been known to get a little out of hand when we meet up... But then again, You aren't exactly chaperone material...

@Ben_KickassAcademy we will have to catch up for sure.

1/26/14

I think this "thought piece" would extend for well over a dozen pages.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

1/27/14

Brevity isn't my strong suit.

1/27/14

Ben_KickassAcademy:

Absolutely, I'd be happy to connect, I love talking about this stuff. Current path vs. a more 4HWW lifestyle is something I have thought a LOT about. Depending on the format we can work with Andy on sharing it here as well.

Thanks Ben, I emailed you. It would be great to collaborate between our sites! I can't believe you escaped the corporate rat race in your 20s...

My finance blog: AdviceAboutFinance.com

Twitter @samleefinance

1/21/14

ben do you ever come chill in sao paulo w/ all the other whartonites launching companies over here? ;) or are you too carioca for the paulistano lifestyle now haha. ill probably send you a message we may know some people ;)

1/22/14

Haha Carioca through and through! But I am overdue for a trip to SP...

Just don't tell my carioca friends ;)

1/21/14

There's life after finance? Woohoo!

1/21/14

Ben, if you could go back in time, would you still choose IB over other less demanding careers?

1/22/14

I get asked this a lot by folks considering a career in banking, so I've thought a lot about it. First, let me start by saying that going into IB definitely had some positive impacts on my life. It was probably a net positive on my life. But if I could go back I would not do IB again.

The thing is, IB had a very large time opportunity cost. I think that while it was a net positive for me, I could have done something even better with those two years.

The one big variable I haven't nailed down is if IB was an integral part of pushing me so hard towards my current desire to work for myself. If I'd gone to work at Google, maybe I'd have just stayed at Google. The hard hours in IB made me stop and re-evaluate in a way that other jobs might not have. But with my current brain in my 21 year old body, I would not choose it again.

1/22/14

Thanks for the input Ben. I hope you have more great times to come in Brazil and the rest of South America if you feel like travelling to other countries in the region!

1/25/14

.

1/21/14

I was halfway expecting this to be an online poker career thread after the first few lines. Regardless, great write up.

Listen, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.

1/21/14

Pretty much sums up my mentality. I was a fixed income trader, saved up my money and went backpacking/island hoping across the philippines, traveled to korea, japan, china, met some of the most amazing people...But I ran out of money and came back to the US.

Read this because it is relevant to this topic, I wrote it. I also started this website while traveling too: http://adviceaboutfinance.com/2011/11/25/lessons-from-tyler-durden-working-jobs-we-hate-to-buy-shit-we-dont-need/

You seriously are more creative when outside the office drone environment btw...

But now I just started working in IB at a boutique in SF so I guess history repeats itself, but when can you leave everything and go travel the world? When you are young with no kids. Ive done it so now, ive changed to "making money" mode :)

Thanks for this post, made me remember the good times while traveling. Ill be sure to sign up for your kickass academy.

My finance blog: AdviceAboutFinance.com

Twitter @samleefinance

1/22/14

@"Ben_KickassAcademy", thanks for sharing a new perspective - I think stories like these are a great way to keep prospectives grounded. IB is not the end all be all...and neither is PE, no matter what anyone tells you :-)

1/22/14

Wow, thanks for making me insanely jealous...enjoy a silver banana from me, and cheers.

1/22/14

Awesome post

1/22/14

Great buddy, seems you made some big life decisions and you are ecstatic about them, so congratulations and good luck with the new business!

Telling your story should be especially fun in days like today, 90F and sunny in Rio, gorgeous ladies walking around the streets in mini-bathing suits, while all you see on your Facebook timeline is people bitching about the cold and the snow in the northeastern US. At least that's how I feel. =)

Btw, I'm a hedge fund manager based in Rio, offices in Leblon. Hit me up if you want to hang out and have a couple of post-work beers one of these days.

1/22/14

@"Ben_KickassAcademy" : Brave decision to enter PE, and an even braver one to leave. I look forward to seeing more of your story as inspiration for my own side project! You're welcome at a NY Happy Hour anytime. Along with Eddie, Andy and rufio, of course.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

1/22/14

The introducing video on your website is like The Game 2.0.
Honnestly I am bit disapointed by this video after reading your first post.

1/22/14

Awesome post!

1/23/14

hey Ben, can u detail out how expensive (or inexpensive) it is to live in Rio? very interested!

1/23/14

Sure. Obviously it depends on where you decide to live, certain areas are much cheaper than what I'm about to describe, other areas are much more expensive.

I live in one of my favorite parts of Rio, in Southern Copacabana. My rent is roughly $500 USD a month. Food is about $30 USD a day and I eat very well. Overall, it's about 30% of what I was spending while living in NYC.

Hope that helps!

1/23/14

Mind giving an idea of what your income looks like monthly to compare to how much you spend living? Maybe how your business is structured in terms of how much these lessons cost, and how many clients you take per week, or month? Thanks, awesome story

1/24/14

Sure thing. We're a super young business, so it's hard to say exactly what we'll make this year. I charge $250 an hour for Skype coaching. I coach one-on-one, I take on up to 4 clients at a time, and we do 1 hour of coaching per client per week. But I may have less than four Skype clients at any time depending on when people sign on and when they graduate out of the program. My goal is to eventually create a waiting list of applicants and only take clients from that list or from referrals, to cut down any delay there and also to cut down on client acquisition activity on my end. I also have four in person clients in Rio. The other side of the business is the online products side of the business. It's the less costly products, but it's zero time for me beyond product creation. We have one book and two video courses right now. We are writing another book sometime this year and we are launching our first Portuguese product in February. Hope that helps!

1/24/14

$500/month in the south zone ?! It's way too cheap... Are you sharing a big apartment with someone else ? The average is $1000 for a 540 square-feet apartment.

1/24/14

Yep, exactly, I have a 6 bedroom apartment that I split with 5 other guys

1/24/14

Ben_KickassAcademy:

Yep, exactly, I have a 6 bedroom apartment that I split with 5 other guys


Doesn't having 5 roommates sort of ruin your game? I would think a girl would think that having 6 guys knowing she's a slut instead of just 1 (you) would decrease your odds of sealing the deal.
1/25/14

DickFuld:

Doesn't having 5 roommates sort of ruin your game? I would think a girl would think that having 6 guys knowing she's a slut instead of just 1 (you) would decrease your odds of sealing the deal.

Great question, also curious.

1/25/14

Just responded :-)

1/25/14

My friends and I don't use words like "slut". I'm not sexually judgmental and I think that word is a lame double standard that penalizes women for the fact that, just like men, women are sexual beings. Why would I or my friends judge a girl negatively for hooking up with me?

The fact that I don't judge people comes across in a lot of my conversations, so women know they aren't going to be judged negatively for anything sexual that happens between us. It helps make people more comfortable.

1/25/14

Reminds me of an old saying:

A slut fucks everyone, a bitch fucks everyone but you. +1 on not buying into slut shaming.

1/25/14

Ben_KickassAcademy:

My friends and I don't use words like "slut".

Even if true and, more importantly, you don't actually think they're sluts (which I highly doubt), you are the only 6 guys on the planet that think like this. Women wouldn't know they stumbled upon this unique tribe of men who don't think women who easily give up sex are sluts. (It's not like these ideas have no base in our history/genetics: Phrases such as 'you can't turn a ho into a housewife' have a strong element of truth to them; I recommend reading the following link as to why women are considered sluts for doing the same thing as men, since it seems this is something you have not considered before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mating_strategies)

Also, you never answered the question: do you think it impedes your game having 5 roommates compared to living alone? I wasn't as concerned about you and your friend's faux enlightened superiority complex about not using the word 'slut'.

1/25/14

Conversations similar to the one we're having right now tend to come up in most of the conversations I have with girls I'm flirting with. So I she would know that she's stumbled onto this unique tribe of men who don't think women are sluts for having sex.

I also don't share the mindset of "if she sleeps with me the night she meets me, she'll sleep with anyone".

I really don't think it hurts having roommates.

1/27/14

im with ben on this one...guys who think of girls as "sluts" because they sleep with you are generally either a) bitter dudes who are still raging over girls who turned them down in high scool or b) sheep who say stuff like that because they are conformists and want to fit in with a herd of other guys. Girls are into sex just like guys are...even ones you dont think of as sluts. In fact most of those girls who you believe are respectable are likely doing all the stuff that you would judge as "slutty" they just don't do it with you or tell you about it because they get that you can't handle it.

1/28/14

Here's my question: if you don't think there's anything slutty about women sleeping around, do you encourage your Mom, sisters, or daughters to do so?

1/28/14

Not to speak for @"Bondarb", but what business is it of yours what your mom or sister, or I daresay even your daughter does? You're absolutely powerless to stop it anyway. Hoping that they're being safe is pretty much the extent of your involvement in their private lives.

You should grab any little bit of happiness you can find in this all too often shitty life and run, and you shouldn't begrudge others for doing the same.

1/28/14

The world is a harsh place, I'm just vocalizing what almost everyone thinks besides you, bondarb, Ben and his friends.
It's hard to fight nature.

1/30/14

DickFuld:

The world is a harsh place, I'm just vocalizing what almost everyone thinks besides you, bondarb, Ben and his friends.

It's hard to fight nature.


We're not fighting nature, we're embracing it.

Colourful TV, colourless Life.

1/30/14

Bonus:

DickFuld:

The world is a harsh place, I'm just vocalizing what almost everyone thinks besides you, bondarb, Ben and his friends.

It's hard to fight nature.

We're not fighting nature, we're embracing it.

Sure you are, chief. Clearly, you didn't read the link about human mating strategies.
1/30/14

It's a pretty decent article...here's one of the best gems from it:

One classic study found that when college students were approached on campus by opposite-sex confederates and asked if they wanted to "go to bed" with him/her, 75% of the men said yes while 0% percent of the women said yes.
1/27/14

DickFuld:

Ben_KickassAcademy:

My friends and I don't use words like "slut".

Even if true and, more importantly, you don't actually think they're sluts (which I highly doubt), you are the only 6 guys on the planet that think like this. Women wouldn't know they stumbled upon this unique tribe of men who don't think women who easily give up sex are sluts. (It's not like these ideas have no base in our history/genetics: Phrases such as 'you can't turn a ho into a housewife' have a strong element of truth to them; I recommend reading the following link as to why women are considered sluts for doing the same thing as men, since it seems this is something you have not considered before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mating_strategies)

Also, you never answered the question: do you think it impedes your game having 5 roommates compared to living alone? I wasn't as concerned about you and your friend's faux enlightened superiority complex about not using the word 'slut'.

/endthread

Dick strikes again. Bros never lose.

1/26/14

I lived with four other guys (so total a house of five guys) for awhile and never had an issue with this. If they are in to you, most chicks don't care and will hook up with you regardless of who else is in the house. Having roommates probably helps your game, as it means there will probably be more social activities at your house, which means more opportunities for hook-ups.

1/24/14

How do you plan to get back into the game after your extended startup/vacation?

1/24/14

I assume by "the game" you mean finance? If not, please correct me.

I don't really view this as a vacation, more like the next chapter of my life. I'm a big believer in the phrase "never say never", but I don't have any immediate plans to return to finance. Does that answer your question?

1/24/14

Thanks for the MS, and blow me.

1/24/14

Congrats and good luck Ben. If you're ever over here in Sao Paulo, it'd be great to connect. Hopefully you've found the Gringo Cafe in Ipanema for those comfort American foods you miss.

1/24/14

Thank you Ben. Your words are very inspiring.

1/25/14

Thank you, that's amazing feedback to hear :-)

1/25/14

Ha, DickFuld is 100% correct here...also it's not so much what 6 guys think of her necessarily but more what she thinks of herself based on her own actions, which potentially include broadcasting her hookup to 5 other guys instead of just 1.

1/25/14

Anyone else a little disappointed that the OP left his PE job to teach people charisma on youtube?

I probably don't love PE any more than you did, but if I were to leave it wouldn't be to do that

1/25/14

abcdefghij:

Anyone else a little disappointed that the OP left his PE job to teach people charisma on youtube?

No, I wouldn't say 'a little disappointed'.

More like 'very disappointed' and not that he left PE to teach charisma, but simply that he's teaching charisma at all.

1/25/14

Sorry to hear that. I don't think everyone should leave PE and I certainly don't think everyone should do what I do. The point is really just to find something that makes you happy and makes you feel like you're making a contribution in a way you like. Depending on the person that could be any of a million possibilities, including PE.

1/25/14

@Ben_kickassacademy your story completely resonates with me. I too worked in PE in a nice job, left to setup some businesses (they're still not running - long story) and ended up after having to get a job at a bank a few months later to pay the annoying bills (that somehow I didn't properly estimate hehe). However, it's nice to see someone being entrepreneurial on here and jumping ship from a stable job (main problem about setting up my businesses is how damn uncertain everything is, lack of support financially and from other people not believing in the ideas)..... My reason for setting up my business is just like yours too- it's because we all want to be free from having to work for some unknown life sucking force and be financially free as well as not having to report to others hehe...I wish you the best of luck, hopefully we will both be very successful in the coming months :):).

1/25/14

That's awesome, I hope you stick with it! Nothing wrong with starting something as a side hustle while working at a bank. Don't let the dream die :-)

1/25/14

Yep def agree dreams keep us alive...

Hate the "outside business interest" clauses that are standard in every contract/ compliance "pact" in any company that means I might be not allowed to do this (but still will ;))...I have my ways to legitimately circumvent these clauses without being in breach of them so all good, here's to startps:)

1/26/14

what were your hours, culture, responsibilities like at megafund PE compared to banking? you always hear there's less BS formatting, better hours and control over your time in PE vs. banking but I've also heard some of the megafunds are still pretty tough

1/26/14

The hours were definitely better and the culture was really great. Honestly, BX M&A has a good culture as well. The big thing is just finding something that makes you happy, where you enjoy what you do. That's really my point: that everyone here is so smart, they should really only work a job if they enjoy it.

1/26/14

Congrats. Brazil is a great place to live in. I just cannot believe people pay $250/hour to get coached on how to get girls. But, hey, you found a niche, so congrats to you.

Best Response
1/26/14

I don't want to rain on your parade, just give perspective a few years (gulp... already? time accelerates with age!) down the road of having done the same. I gave up a shot at a commodities trading career (not futures, the proper physical stuff a la Glencore, etc. - posted a bit about it here already) to move to Asia and learn entrepreneurship and understand equities (the excuse I made myself at the time).

At first you get this immense sense of freedom and happiness. I remember walking barefoot up the Northern Beaches after arriving, and on Balmoral Beach in Sydney after being fired from my first post-trading job, alone on a workday both times. The beautiful sun, the extraordinary clean and sweet smelling air, the crystalline water. Happiness. I chalk it up to the removal of stress, both that of working long hours and that feeling Western culture teaches you that you are "wasting your youth" if you don't spend it partying and travelling the world in your 20s.

Then comes the learning curve. You've basically given up a hyperspecialized position and now need to add value in order to trade it for cash. For the OP, this is coaching people on Skype. Whatever. You rapidly learn not to judge people. Everybody has their own story, and making money is hard work. You realize that you need a new career now, and you figure out what it might be by feeling around, and eventually you pick a path and learn the skillset which will teach you to succeed there. For me, that was learning to program and lead software team, which is super low hanging fruit since any decent computer scientist or manager is busy in PE or a hedge fund these days. It's tough starting at the bottom again, when you tasted the top (sure, commodities is less well known; it's however very, very well paid, especially compared to banking and even more so in terms of work/life balance).

I wish I could say "if I could do it all over again I would". The reality is more bittersweet.

My boss gave me a long speech when we left saying he still regretted not going to Asia to seek adventure when he graduated, instead choosing a string of increasingly better paid trading jobs until it was too late and he was kid-locked in Europe. That made me feel really good at the time. But I look back, and the guys from my year are now travelling to cool places like Kenya or Argentina, and the guy who replaced me on the desk probably made over half a million in 2013. Their bosses are on first name terms or at least dinner buddies with prime ministers. They mostly work 9-6, and the problems they deal with are international and enormous in scope: a single of my trades might have been worth more than our total funding post VC round C. Another colleague from university is leading multibillion dollar PE deals, and celebrating with massages and Dom by the straw. I simply won't have a shot at this level in society again for at least 10-15 years, and even then, the odds are firmly against me. The most likely option will be to become a well travelled middle class guy in the suburbs with 2.5 kids and 1.2 dogs or however the saying goes. Meanwhile, my coffee trading buddy might be able to go to Vietnam for 2 weeks way outside the tourist track, get blind drunk off banana wine with local traders and farmers, go surf a beach and still come back to his Porsche and villa in Lausanne.

At the same time, when I head back to Europe for the traditional twice a year family hello, I get depressed in hours by the sadness of people, the low light, the greyness and the cold, and the slow speed at which everything progresses. There's certainly something to be said for living in a part of the world whose history is still to be written. But I would like to leave a warning for those of you feeling like the OP: think hard about what you are giving up. You're just on the runway. Another 3-4 years and things will improve. Might still be worth a jump.

1/26/14

EURCHF parity:

I don't want to rain on your parade, just give perspective a few years (gulp... already? time accelerates with age!) down the road of having done the same. I gave up a shot at a commodities trading career (not futures, the proper physical stuff a la Glencore, etc. - posted a bit about it here already) to move to Asia and learn entrepreneurship and understand equities (the excuse I made myself at the time).

At first you get this immense sense of freedom and happiness. I remember walking barefoot up the Northern Beaches after arriving, and on Balmoral Beach in Sydney after being fired from my first post-trading job, alone on a workday both times. The beautiful sun, the extraordinary clean and sweet smelling air, the crystalline water. Happiness. I chalk it up to the removal of stress, both that of working long hours and that feeling Western culture teaches you that you are "wasting your youth" if you don't spend it partying and travelling the world in your 20s.

Then comes the learning curve. You've basically given up a hyperspecialized position and now need to add value in order to trade it for cash. For the OP, this is coaching people on Skype. Whatever. You rapidly learn not to judge people. Everybody has their own story, and making money is hard work. You realize that you need a new career now, and you figure out what it might be by feeling around, and eventually you pick a path and learn the skillset which will teach you to succeed there. For me, that was learning to program and lead software team, which is super low hanging fruit since any decent computer scientist or manager is busy in PE or a hedge fund these days. It's tough starting at the bottom again, when you tasted the top (sure, commodities is less well known; it's however very, very well paid, especially compared to banking and even more so in terms of work/life balance).

I wish I could say "if I could do it all over again I would". The reality is more bittersweet.

My boss gave me a long speech when we left saying he still regretted not going to Asia to seek adventure when he graduated, instead choosing a string of increasingly better paid trading jobs until it was too late and he was kid-locked in Europe. That made me feel really good at the time. But I look back, and the guys from my year are now travelling to cool places like Kenya or Argentina, and the guy who replaced me on the desk probably made over half a million in 2013. Their bosses are on first name terms or at least dinner buddies with prime ministers. They mostly work 9-6, and the problems they deal with are international and enormous in scope: a single of my trades might have been worth more than our total funding post VC round C. Another colleague from university is leading multibillion dollar PE deals, and celebrating with massages and Dom by the straw. I simply won't have a shot at this level in society again for at least 10-15 years, and even then, the odds are firmly against me. The most likely option will be to become a well travelled middle class guy in the suburbs with 2.5 kids and 1.2 dogs or however the saying goes. Meanwhile, my coffee trading buddy might be able to go to Vietnam for 2 weeks way outside the tourist track, get blind drunk off banana wine with local traders and farmers, go surf a beach and still come back to his Porsche and villa in Lausanne.

At the same time, when I head back to Europe for the traditional twice a year family hello, I get depressed in hours by the sadness of people, the low light, the greyness and the cold, and the slow speed at which everything progresses. There's certainly something to be said for living in a part of the world whose history is still to be written. But I would like to leave a warning for those of you feeling like the OP: think hard about what you are giving up. You're just on the runway. Another 3-4 years and things will improve. Might still be worth a jump.

Pat or Andy please allow me to give this comment 10 SBs.

patternfinder:

Of course, I would just buy in scales.

See my WSO Blog | my AMA

1/26/14

EURCHF parity:
But I would like to leave a warning for those of you feeling like the OP: think hard about what you are giving up.

This is a fair point, but I think that every station in life has its flaws, and change almost always involves giving something up. I think it is all about the best personalized fit, not only in terms of who you are, what you value, and where your talents lie, but also what stage of life you are in, both physically and mentally.

1/26/14

This is a beautifully phrased and perfect answer. I 100% agree.

1/26/14

On the contrary. What I am saying is precisely that there are irreversible actions that lead you off branches of the tree, not that various positions will fit various persons independently of their previous actions just because their personality is a fit.

The thing to realize is that the status, comparatively high salary, etc. that young bankers, traders and consultants get is not per se a reflection of their actual quality and skills. It is a reflection of their NPV at this point in time adjusted for uncertainty. Only 2% of the traders will make money, maybe 10% of the bankers will continue in finance, maybe 40% of the consultants will make it at least to EM, etc. But which ones are they? You can't tell ex ante which guys will drop out and move to a tropical country (thus severing the value they get from association with a powerful organization and high title earned from years of trials). So you suck up to all of them which costs you little and has an outsized payoff when the baller MD remembers those who from the early days believed in him (ah, how I miss those sell side bribes, sorry, lunches and other perks). This is something few of the young bankers really get (or at least think about). Discussion is always about which bank has the highest relative starting salary, which has good work/life balance, etc. and much more rarely about which group is good to work for, which MD you should try and talk to, and other growth oriented things. It's fine, of course, since the system is designed like that, but you should be aware that you're not "working" but "on trial" for the real work in 5-10 years. That bitch work can be outsourced.

I realized after a few months that people in finance have outsized egos because many believe in the inherent superiority of their way of thinking (this is apparent in the form of style drift with young managers, one of the most common ways for a PM to fail). It makes sense if you are looking at economics (Michael Pettis is a much superior economist to Paul Krugman, in my humble market-scarred view, and thanks probably in large part to his time at MS). It makes less sense when you are looking at IT (which is medieval in most banks, due to regulations and empire building by CTOs) and absolutely no sense when looking at personal life habits like diet or exercise, or non-related business like thinking you can run a pizza stand better than Mr. Poulos or a laundrymat better than Mr. Kim because you spent three years in M&A. The outsized ego is actually justified (in terms of social market pricing, if you will) by the sucking up that society generally provides towards you as a result of your future value as a potential baller.

Understanding the value of networks and social class and connections is something that I've seen most of my peers fail to do, both those with ("I got this job purely from merit" "my promotion is totally justified, even if I knew the guy from Harvard - he knows I'm good") and those without ("Wall Street is completely meritocratic, and since I got into GS, I must be hot stuff. I can take a 2 year sabbatical and hedge funds will still beg me to work for them.").

1/26/14

A corollary to that is the value of an alumni network. There is an incentive for those in power to hire from within the network all else being equal, because of the self-reinforcing value of hiring and providing favours within the network (the more you do it the more valuable the network). Americans are much more into this than the Brits, I found my Oxbridge degree of relatively small value compared to the way Harvard or Yale graduates can just phone up alumni and get fast tracked.

The worst offenders are Italians, especially abroad. I've seen a company where the Italian (ex-McKinsey Milan) managers literally hired completely retarded people in the place of much more competent locals or Americans, simply to build themselves a pyramid of compliant people dependent on the connection and the worthless promotion. I think the reason it didn't work was because unlike a network like Harvard, where the desirability of the network means there is competition to enter that filters somewhat for actual ability (in theory), a network like a country does not filter for talent and is thus vulnerable to attacks from a network where status results from competence. This is pretty much what happens when you see gigantic tech firms get killed by a tiny upstart. The power of connections simply isn't enough to justify (to shareholders, or whoever holds power, such as the CEO in a non-tech organization from the POV of a CTO) the enormous gap in value and cost between the incumbent and "disruptor".

1/26/14

EURCHF parity:

On the contrary. What I am saying is precisely that there are irreversible actions that lead you off branches of the tree, not that various positions will fit various persons independently of their previous actions just because their personality is a fit.

I understood before that this is what you're saying, and I wasn't specifically focusing on just personality, and your points are well taken, but what I am saying is that perhaps the tree itself is not a good fit for a handful of reasons.

On the one hand you say that "You're just on the runway, things will improve in 4 years", but on the other hand, you say that "Only 2% of traders will make money", "Only 10% of bankers will stay in finance", etc. So that seems a bit contradictory.

1/27/14

It's heterarchic. Depending on your POV or personality you will do more or less well. But to go Bayesian, the probability that you are part of the 2% if you stick around through the hard times and try to learn is much higher than if you do not. In commodities, sticking around and genuinely trying to improve, I would estimate it at over 60%. Can't speak for banking but by and large all the people I know who quit did it for lifestyle reasons - I don't know a fired banker (except a couple of guys from Lehman when it went bust).

I'm still ambivalent as to what the best trade is, from a personal POV, but I do think that there's a reason these jobs are in so much demand. Collective wisdom of crowds - bubbles excepted - is pretty powerful. Having to develop a life edge to stay relevant is hard and probably harder than being a well connected generalist in a power position.

Cf this: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/look-ahead-a-likely-explanation-for-female-disinterest-in-vc-funded-startups/

He speaks about Silicon Valley in particular, but I think it applies to other industries as well vs the "high rated" jobs (med, finance, law, etc.).

1/27/14

+1, best comment I've read here.

The Auto Show

1/30/14

EURCHF parity:

I don't want to rain on your parade, just give perspective a few years (gulp... already? time accelerates with age!) down the road of having done the same. I gave up a shot at a commodities trading career (not futures, the proper physical stuff a la Glencore, etc. - posted a bit about it here already) to move to Asia and learn entrepreneurship and understand equities (the excuse I made myself at the time).

At first you get this immense sense of freedom and happiness. I remember walking barefoot up the Northern Beaches after arriving, and on Balmoral Beach in Sydney after being fired from my first post-trading job, alone on a workday both times. The beautiful sun, the extraordinary clean and sweet smelling air, the crystalline water. Happiness. I chalk it up to the removal of stress, both that of working long hours and that feeling Western culture teaches you that you are "wasting your youth" if you don't spend it partying and travelling the world in your 20s.

Then comes the learning curve. You've basically given up a hyperspecialized position and now need to add value in order to trade it for cash. For the OP, this is coaching people on Skype. Whatever. You rapidly learn not to judge people. Everybody has their own story, and making money is hard work. You realize that you need a new career now, and you figure out what it might be by feeling around, and eventually you pick a path and learn the skillset which will teach you to succeed there. For me, that was learning to program and lead software team, which is super low hanging fruit since any decent computer scientist or manager is busy in PE or a hedge fund these days. It's tough starting at the bottom again, when you tasted the top (sure, commodities is less well known; it's however very, very well paid, especially compared to banking and even more so in terms of work/life balance).

I wish I could say "if I could do it all over again I would". The reality is more bittersweet.

My boss gave me a long speech when we left saying he still regretted not going to Asia to seek adventure when he graduated, instead choosing a string of increasingly better paid trading jobs until it was too late and he was kid-locked in Europe. That made me feel really good at the time. But I look back, and the guys from my year are now travelling to cool places like Kenya or Argentina, and the guy who replaced me on the desk probably made over half a million in 2013. Their bosses are on first name terms or at least dinner buddies with prime ministers. They mostly work 9-6, and the problems they deal with are international and enormous in scope: a single of my trades might have been worth more than our total funding post VC round C. Another colleague from university is leading multibillion dollar PE deals, and celebrating with massages and Dom by the straw. I simply won't have a shot at this level in society again for at least 10-15 years, and even then, the odds are firmly against me. The most likely option will be to become a well travelled middle class guy in the suburbs with 2.5 kids and 1.2 dogs or however the saying goes. Meanwhile, my coffee trading buddy might be able to go to Vietnam for 2 weeks way outside the tourist track, get blind drunk off banana wine with local traders and farmers, go surf a beach and still come back to his Porsche and villa in Lausanne.

At the same time, when I head back to Europe for the traditional twice a year family hello, I get depressed in hours by the sadness of people, the low light, the greyness and the cold, and the slow speed at which everything progresses. There's certainly something to be said for living in a part of the world whose history is still to be written. But I would like to leave a warning for those of you feeling like the OP: think hard about what you are giving up. You're just on the runway. Another 3-4 years and things will improve. Might still be worth a jump.

This is why I come back to this site.

1/30/14

EURCHF parity:

I don't want to rain on your parade, just give perspective a few years (gulp... already? time accelerates with age!) down the road of having done the same. I gave up a shot at a commodities trading career (not futures, the proper physical stuff a la Glencore, etc. - posted a bit about it here already) to move to Asia and learn entrepreneurship and understand equities (the excuse I made myself at the time).

At first you get this immense sense of freedom and happiness. I remember walking barefoot up the Northern Beaches after arriving, and on Balmoral Beach in Sydney after being fired from my first post-trading job, alone on a workday both times. The beautiful sun, the extraordinary clean and sweet smelling air, the crystalline water. Happiness. I chalk it up to the removal of stress, both that of working long hours and that feeling Western culture teaches you that you are "wasting your youth" if you don't spend it partying and travelling the world in your 20s.

Then comes the learning curve. You've basically given up a hyperspecialized position and now need to add value in order to trade it for cash. For the OP, this is coaching people on Skype. Whatever. You rapidly learn not to judge people. Everybody has their own story, and making money is hard work. You realize that you need a new career now, and you figure out what it might be by feeling around, and eventually you pick a path and learn the skillset which will teach you to succeed there. For me, that was learning to program and lead software team, which is super low hanging fruit since any decent computer scientist or manager is busy in PE or a hedge fund these days. It's tough starting at the bottom again, when you tasted the top (sure, commodities is less well known; it's however very, very well paid, especially compared to banking and even more so in terms of work/life balance).

I wish I could say "if I could do it all over again I would". The reality is more bittersweet.

My boss gave me a long speech when we left saying he still regretted not going to Asia to seek adventure when he graduated, instead choosing a string of increasingly better paid trading jobs until it was too late and he was kid-locked in Europe. That made me feel really good at the time. But I look back, and the guys from my year are now travelling to cool places like Kenya or Argentina, and the guy who replaced me on the desk probably made over half a million in 2013. Their bosses are on first name terms or at least dinner buddies with prime ministers. They mostly work 9-6, and the problems they deal with are international and enormous in scope: a single of my trades might have been worth more than our total funding post VC round C. Another colleague from university is leading multibillion dollar PE deals, and celebrating with massages and Dom by the straw. I simply won't have a shot at this level in society again for at least 10-15 years, and even then, the odds are firmly against me. The most likely option will be to become a well travelled middle class guy in the suburbs with 2.5 kids and 1.2 dogs or however the saying goes. Meanwhile, my coffee trading buddy might be able to go to Vietnam for 2 weeks way outside the tourist track, get blind drunk off banana wine with local traders and farmers, go surf a beach and still come back to his Porsche and villa in Lausanne.

At the same time, when I head back to Europe for the traditional twice a year family hello, I get depressed in hours by the sadness of people, the low light, the greyness and the cold, and the slow speed at which everything progresses. There's certainly something to be said for living in a part of the world whose history is still to be written. But I would like to leave a warning for those of you feeling like the OP: think hard about what you are giving up. You're just on the runway. Another 3-4 years and things will improve. Might still be worth a jump.

Bravo Sir. The few posts you made here are worthy of being published as op-eds on the WSJ/FT or at least promoted to the front page of WSO.

Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep.

2/5/14

Wonderfully well written post. Puts things in perspective. I've always had similar feelings but wouldn't be able to put it this well for my life.

Read my blog: Bateman Begins

1/26/14

Dude, I'm jealous. Lived in Rio for one year while on exchange and it was by far the best year of my life. I remember going to Zozo on a lady's night and seeing a 50 meter line up of ridiculously looking women waiting to get in, I honestly had never seen(or have since then) such concentration of gorgeous women like that anywhere.
Great story, and have fun there man, it's a fantastic city. Plus you got the world cup coming!

1/26/14

Great post, thanks for your candid thoughts on "the track". I don't work at MF, but I did work in one of the top IB groups in the country for my industry and am in PE now. I'd like to provided my experience from the opposite perspective.

I too have done the +120 hour work weeks. Day after day of little to no sleep, being a spreadsheet zombie data mining for info that isn't there. However, I was lucky to get involved in an industry (Oil & Gas) that I've really grown to enjoy and develop a passion for. I have a long way to go from being an expert in the field, but I've worked extremely hard at being as sharp as I can in my little corner of the business. I've gotten to a point recently to where at a relativity young age, my opinion is respected by my bosses and have developed a good reputation with the industry guys I've worked with in the past.

It does suck many days. I'd definitely prefer being out fly fishing with my dad, or being an international / globe trotting entrepreneur who lives by "his own rules". But, when I fly out for a board meeting for one of our companies in OKC or Dallas, I really enjoy connecting with our partners and learning from their experience and being able to contribute to their growth. We did an exit late last year for one of our E&P companies that sold into and MLP structure. It was great deal; we backed the management team when they had no assets and had a lot of geological risk involved. With a lot of hard work on both sides, we grew that business and now they have +50 FT employees and have proved-up a huge acreage area to the point where they have a +97% success rate. Our fund's cash-on-cash return was just under 4x and had a monster IRR. Sure I didn't feed any starving kids in Africa, but we all made a lot of money and almost 30 people in Oklahoma have good paying jobs now that they wouldn't of had, had we not done this trade.

I'm not always getting instant gratification from my day to day work or get of working on Sundays, but I like my teammates and have been able to see hard work and tough process's come to fruition. I hope to continue to learn the business of drilling wells and building oil & gas companies for a long time to come. This may never change the world, but it just might help everyone's electricity bills and price they pay at the pump be a little more reasonable. To quote that cheesy ipad commercial where they play the Dad Poets Society clip, I'll be happy with my little verse about wildcatting oil wells in south Texas at the end of my days.

Ace all your PE interview questions with the WSO Private Equity Prep Pack: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/private-equit...

1/26/14

Great comment, awesome to hear from the opposite perspective

1/26/14

Stringer Bell:
Sure I didn't feed any starving kids in Africa

This idea that third world charity is "usually" more than just social climbing or a drop of water to a man about to die of thirst is quite noxious, I think. If you want to help the worst off countries in Africa (like the DRC), there's really only two ways to do so:
1. hire a mercenary company to invade the country, destroy the parasitic leaders thereof by killing them all, then find a leader with good ethics and back him militarily as he builds a Lee Kuan Yew-style "incorruptible" government, then continue to provide ad hoc protection against neighbours during moments of weakness;
2. influence the culture of the country such that the people themselves take arms and overturn said leaders and power infrastructure, at enormous cost of life (although not always - Simon Mann pushed RUF out of Sierra Leone with 2 rusty Russian attack helicopters, a handful of Buffalo Battalion vets and only 1 million GBP of funding, and generally asymmetric power results in rapid peace agreements), and set up a US in the 1700s style self-governing, incorruptible government.

Whilst realizing that in both cases you are directly going against both commercial and international interests (to refer back to Mann, he was imprisonned in Zimbabwe in part because of the US interests in EG, and he fought DGSE-funded Moroccans in Angola) who have long arms and much power.

A small argument could be made for free trade eventually prevailing out of providing the working/middle classes with more and more economic power; but I think Argentina has convincingly showed that it is very easy to stop this from happening. Very few "emerging markets" actually emerge, despite people like Jim O'Neill's marketing of that being the case.

Just a small aside close to my heart.

1/27/14

@"Stringer Bell" this is the flip side of my internal struggle. Our paths are fairly similar, and though some of the monotony of day-to-day deal execution/diligence/et al can be taxing, I have yet to find more satisfying feeling than to know that you found a management team that had an idea and you helped take them through the life cycle to from infancy all the way to actualization, and did so not by buying and firing, but by building and creating value. I guess sometimes it gets hard to assess whether I am tolerating a sub-par response to my work life 80-90% of the time for a near euphoric response 10-20% of the time. Yet, to wit, I have been unable to justify taking a large scale bet on myself in an entrepreneurial endeavor because I'm worried about the lack of a safety net. I presently feel (quite possibly wildly inaccurately) that building my "career capital" for a few more years and establishing a strong reputation that may allow me to return if a future entrepreneurial risk were to fail is the more prudent move. However, the most successful people rarely played it safe when it came to making a bet on themselves and would probably laugh at the use of "prudence" for justification of not doing what they wanted to do.

Ben has taken, in my opinion, much unwarranted criticism in this thread. It's easy to sit back and rationalize the moves someone else has chosen to make as being shortsighted and foolish when one is too afraid to make a similar move themselves. At the end of the day, it isn't the specificity of Ben's choice that resonates so strongly to elicit my admiration, but rather the conviction driving it. Ultimately, the negative opinions of others are irrelevant. Part of living a life that is gratifying to you is to make choices that are congruent to you and what you believe and want to accomplish. If you approach life with openness and sincerity, great things often happen, but not without challenges. What's interesting is that people living a dynamic... and to use Ben's vernacular here, charismatic lifestyle, are often met with strong opposition from those who are not. This reminds me a bit of an old parable about creating value... There are two ways to have the tallest building in town. The first is two build the tallest building. The other is to tear down all the buildings that are taller than yours..

Food for thought.

1/27/14

rufiolove:
the most successful people rarely played it safe when it came to making a bet on themselves

This is true. But, it is also true for those who were the biggest failures. It's not surprising that those who took the biggest risks have the widest dispersion of outcomes and you will generally only read about the successes.
1/27/14

THAT.

And there are very few successes. Go hang around the Valley's cheaper bars and talk to the older guys. The guys in their 30s to 50s who didn't make it and now need a salary to live. Very different to the Tales of Zuckerberg. And considerably more numerous.

I've hired enough of them to have heard the other side and it's not pretty.

1/27/14

Agreed... and that is the main reason for my aversion. If I had encountered something I felt strongly about by now, I likely would have made the leap, but if you're going to take the risk, you have to be willing to bet the farm and still believe that the odds are in your favor. I, like most people in finance am risk averse, so for the time being, I grind...

1/27/14

I got an honours degree in Actuarial Science in Australia, didn't really enjoy it, so I went to finance. Now I'm in Shanghai interning at an IBD, I don't know where it will take me, I don't know what I will be doing or where I will be in 6 months time.

I've only worked on Teasers and Pitch books. But it still seem exciting so I will keep doing it until I stop learning.

Eventually I want to be in a business that makes things and makes everyone happier.

Throwing myself into the deep end of every encounter has made my life exciting and interesting, the chaos is great.

1/27/14

Prolonged sleep deprivation also does lasting damage to the brain, thereby intellectually neutering many of the 'best and brightest'.

Get busy living

1/27/14

Interesting post and replies...two things:

1) On the original post, I am curious about the actual business model. Do young people really go down to brazil and pay u guys 250/HR to teach them how to pick up girls? It would seem to me to be a very limited market as I doubt many locals are paying this type of money and I doubt many people young enough in the states would have the money to fly down on top of that coaching fee. I would imagine setting up shop in NYC would be easier even with the higher cost of living given the pool of young people with money. This is not a criticism I am genuinely interested in this business....it seems like "life coaching" that is geared toward getting laid is something that is seen as more and more a mainstream thing.

2) On the debate over the entire concept of going to "pursue your dream", this is obviously an age old question and there is no right answer for everyone. However, I will say that if one really does strive for independence in their life that IS definitely possible in finance. If I wake up at 1030am tomorrow nobody would care...in fact nobody would even notice. if i called up the people I worked with from Brazil and said I felt like going there nobody would care either...in fact i have done that from places in europe and prefer to do it about once a year to make sure my reputation for being an "out of the box thinker" is intact. However, this lifestyle took a long time to create and it wasnt an accident...not only did it take hard work but it took being focused on the right job and even presenting myself correctly once i had that job (not in a corporate way in fact just the opposite). I may be an outlier (and no doubt i got lucky in many many ways) but by doing something like this you are basically eliminating that possibility and unfortunately u will never really know what "could have been"...which is basically what EURCHF is dealing with now.

Also i am not married. Once you are married ideas like this are over no matter how committed you are to "pursuing your dreams". "Your" dreams become "our" dreams and those do not include setting up a pickup school on the beach in brazil.

1/27/14

Bondarb:

Also i am not married. Once you are married ideas like this are over no matter how committed you are to "pursuing your dreams". "Your" dreams become "our" dreams and those do not include setting up a pickup school on the beach in brazil.

Words are inadequate to express the level of gospel truth in this statement. If true freedom is a priority of yours, then marriage is a very bad idea and kids are completely out of the question.

1/27/14

Great question. One clarification: we coach in person in Rio and Skype in the U.S., so the U.S. based clients don't fly to Rio. Almost all of them are highly paid and/or successful entrepreneurs, so a few grand isn't life changing for them.

Another clarification: It's broader than just getting more comfortable talking to women, it's really about become super charismatic and confident all the time. For example, one of our clients sold a company to google and wants to start another company, but first wants to work on his leadership skills and ability to give a compelling speech that motivates and captivates a la Steve Jobs. A lot of guys are super compelling most of the time, but in areas outside their comfort zone, they feel like they're sometimes a bit off or tight. So we've helped guys before they go to speak on television, public speak, meet a high status man such as a potential investor, potential mentor, etc.. Women are a part of it, because truly beautiful women sometimes make guys freeze up, but it's basically any big moment where guys start to feel out of their comfort zone. We are working on redesigning the website to better reflect this, because I hate the current one.

As far as NYC vs. Rio, the business would definitely have been more successful in NYC, at least in the short term. No doubt. The decision to move to Rio was made knowing revenue would take a hit short-term, but with the hypothesis that I'd really love life down there and be happier if I moved. So far I think for me it was a good call.

1/28/14

Ben_KickassAcademy:

Another clarification: It's broader than just getting more comfortable talking to women, it's really about become super charismatic and confident all the time. For example, one of our clients sold a company to google and wants to start another company, but first wants to work on his leadership skills and ability to give a compelling speech that motivates and captivates a la Steve Jobs. A lot of guys are super compelling most of the time, but in areas outside their comfort zone, they feel like they're sometimes a bit off or tight. So we've helped guys before they go to speak on television, public speak, meet a high status man such as a potential investor, potential mentor, etc.. Women are a part of it, because truly beautiful women sometimes make guys freeze up, but it's basically any big moment where guys start to feel out of their comfort zone. We are working on redesigning the website to better reflect this, because I hate the current one.

If this is true then you really need to change that video. Because it is a really big leap for any high level executive (or person) to watch that video of your pony tailed friend giving some random girl in the store a really sophomoric line and talking about how many girls you guys get into thinking that you guys could help them motivate/captivate Steve Jobs.

1/27/14

I really liked your ideas and thought this was something pretty inspiring until I actually looked at your website and watched video on the homepage about Kickass Academy.

What is your passion then? Talking to girls in random places? You left financial stability for life and a dream career so that you could teach people on skype how to talk to girls?

Maybe I am missing something but that's what your video seemed like to me, if I didn't know better I would guess it was just another one of those ads about "getting girls with one weird trick".

1/28/14

My mom and sister are both married with kids so I probably wouldn't encourage them to sleep around as it would create tremendous headaches for me. However if they were single I would recognize the reality that yes they would likely be having sex with people. What is your alternative, pretending that your sister isn't human and doesn't have any sexual desire? Believe me, she is going to be sleeping with guys if she is at all attractive so you should just accept it and not freak out...this isn't 1953.

1/28/14

Encouraging acceptance of girls actively sleeping around is obviously beneficial from a guy's perspective who are programmed to have as many sexual encounters as possible. But to pretend like a girl doesn't think that she having the same attitude doesn't fly in the face of thousands of years of evolutionary biology and doesn't decrease her social value, is just plain silly. There's nothing 'wrong' or 'immoral' about any of this necessarily, it's just the way it is.

1/28/14

I agree which is why girls who are socially adept simply do not sleep with or talk honestly to guys who are going to be judgemental or gossipy about stuff. If you want to set back your ability to sleep with a girl quickly, just mention that some other girl you know is a slut and you will immediately be put in the category of guys she will not sleep with without some form of commitment in her mind. In fact she will probably agree with you, implying that she shares your values, even if she just got done getting nailedin the bathroom of the bar by a dude she met 20 minutes ago. Communicate the opposite and she will behave the opposite way. Girls like to have sex and they are much smarter then guys socially so this actually comes pretty natural for them.

1/28/14

I don't necessarily disagree especially in terms of being a guy and accomplishing the desired goal...I would just emphasize that there is a key internal conflict at play with regards to girls: on the one hand any girl will have physical desires, but on the other hand she wants to preserve a self-image of not being seen as a slut, which is bolstered by the viewpoint of either guys or especially other girls. Even if no one else is watching that internal conflict is built-in. It's why they call it the 'walk of shame'...it's why when you ask a girl how many guys she's slept with she'll tend to underestimate...it's why she'll tend to feel bashful/uncomfortable when a guy is clearly staring at her chest even though she's wearing an obviously provocative low-cut top.

1/28/14

No woman ever left my apartment on the "Walk of Shame". After a night with me it was always the "Stride of Pride".

1/28/14

Edmundo Braverman:

No woman ever left my apartment on the "Walk of Shame". After a night with me it was always the "Stride of Pride".

Lol, looks like you're a 'game' changer...no pun intended.

1/28/14

let me also impart some wisdom as a slightly older person on this whole slut thing: When I was in my early 20s I had plenty of girls I was friends with who were hot...albeit not too many of them wanted to hook up with me but they were hot and no doubt had every guy from age 17 to 75 trying to get with them when they went out. I never heard them talking about doing things that were "slutty" such as hooking up with older guys or sleeping around. Back then I also had a bit of the DickFuld thing going onhad where I might have some hang-ups about girls being "slutty" and other stuff like that which is immature and which I no doubt communicated to these girls either consciously or subconsciously.

Fast Forward a few years, I am now in my early 30s, my ability to attract women is way better, and I will hook up with girls that age who are attractive pretty regularly. What is interesting is that it takes a long time for them to introduce me to their friends (which is fine with me)...and usually if they do introduce me to friends they start with just a few girls who they really trust and I only meet guys they know if the girl thinks it is getting very serious. The reason why, I have figured out, is that these girls generally do not even tell their friends that they are hooking up with me because of judgement like DickFuld throws out. In retrospect, I guarantee that most of my friends back in the day who I thought weren't "slutty" had a ton of shitt going on but they just didn't say it to me because they read me as someone like DickFuld who might judge them. So the bottom line is that you can say "girls I like aren't slutty/promiscuous" but you are most likely wrong...in reality they just aren't promiscuous with YOU. The "secret tribe" comment from dickfuld was meant to be sarcastic but there is truth to it...yes there ARE a group of guys that aren't judgemental about women and girls know that and are much less hesitant to sleep with those guys.

1/28/14

Now that is a major reason why I prefer professional escorts/courtesans over civilians. When you meet a random girl (or guy) in NYC you don't know who has she been with, how often does she sleep around and what nasty STDs she/he might have caught in this whole process. With professionals you get the peace of mind as the upscale courtesans (as opposed to the craiglist/street walkers) get regularly tested and you can readily ask for STD test results, something that would be considered taboo when dating civilian girls.

Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep.

1/28/14

Hahaha...to be fair you can always hire a private investigator, the good ones can get their paws on all sorts of medical records in no time at all.

1/28/14

Going Concern:

Hahaha...to be fair you can always hire a private investigator, the good ones can get their paws on all sorts of medical records in no time at all.

You can certainly do that. But then the money can add up very quickly in between the hourly retainers of a competent investigator and the money you spend directly on the girl in question. It is much more effective for one to simply pay a flat rate to a professional and get the deal done. Plus with an escort as opposed to a random civilian girl, in addition to eliminating the STD adverse selection/moral hazard risk, you also eliminate the uncertainty re: whether said civilian girl would consent to sleeping with you even after you have spent/wasted all that money and time (and we are know that time= money, lots of money in the case of folks in finance!) on her, and also the uncertainty that, even if she consents to sex, being an amateur slut, she might not deliver the level of performance that meets/exceeds your great sexpectations.

Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep.

1/28/14

Lots of valid points here, but can you really count a 'professional' as a notch? Almost seems like it's cheating the game...even if it is sextacular.

1/28/14

Bondarb:
you can say "girls I like aren't slutty/promiscuous" but you are most likely wrong...in reality they just aren't promiscuous with YOU.
Whoa, what I said is being taken incorrectly. I never said I didn't like sluts (when I was single).
1/28/14

This brings up a good point...there's a distinction between gals a guy would want to potentially hook up with and those that he would even consider for a serious relationship when he is done being single. The girl that just got railed in the bathroom stall is probably not on the short list of ladies he would consider making babies with and settling down in the suburbs with a patio and a pool and some sort of domesticated animal they call a pet.

1/28/14

Going Concern:

This brings up a good point...there's a distinction between gals a guy would want to potentially hook up with and those that he would even consider for a serious relationship when he is done being single. The girl that just got railed in the bathroom stall is probably not on the short list of ladies he would consider making babies with and settling down in the suburbs with a patio and a pool and some sort of domesticated animal they call a pet.

Neither should be on the short list, because there should be no short list.

Go read Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.

1/28/14

Ha I might check it out, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it seems to be a structured attack against the institution of marriage, lol.

1/28/14

Thanks for sharing this article. Happy to see WSO offering positively framed alternatives to the competitive fast paced main stream that attracts many of us in the field of Finance. I think your advice is timely and poignant, I hope people are inspired to introspection by your writing. I look forward to your future articles.

1/28/14

I didn't expect this thread to get into a debate over the word "slut"

1/28/14

Meh, decent story but not nearly as good as Eddie's...sorry bro. You had a good job and didn't like it so you quit and now do lifestyle coaching for the hell of it to occupy your time. Glad you're happy though.

1/28/14

i think you missed some of the point...I am saying that plenty of girls who have done things like blown a guy in a bar bathroom ARE on your short list you just dont know it because they just won't tell you about that stuff because they know you would be judgemental. I know guys who say things like "I would never marry a girl who did XYZ" when I literally know for a fact that their actual wives have done the stuff they describe as being a deal breaker! The same girl who would tell you she has slept with 2 guys in her life and wouldnt sleep with you until you practically proposed to her would tell another guy who she judges to be more open/cooler the truth about how many guys she slept with (or at least something closer) and would sleep with him much sooner. Girls are very good at this type of stuff and especially in their early 20s they are playing way ahead of the curve vs. most guys their age...especially very hot ones who for better or worse have been getting male attention since they were in their mid to late teens and have a much better grasp of reality.

1/28/14

No, I didn't miss that. I knew exactly what you meant. If you get serious with someone, the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy about your history is the best. That being said, if a girl admits to sleeping with over 100 men (especially depending on their age) or you fucked her while she was dating/married to someone else.....you might be dealing with a problem.

1/28/14

Bondarb:

i think you missed some of the point...I am saying that plenty of girls who have done things like blown a guy in a bar bathroom ARE on your short list you just dont know it because they just won't tell you about that stuff because they know you would be judgemental. I know guys who say things like "I would never marry a girl who did XYZ" when I literally know for a fact that their actual wives have done the stuff they describe as being a deal breaker!

Ha, and there's also a reason that you have not told them yet...ignorance is bliss.

1/30/14

Hi, Ben,

I am curious. Have you thought about retirement? Bankers I know want to retire in the early 50s. You can always go back in if you have to. Were you a VP when you left?

1/30/14

How old is DickFuld? I think that clarification may help with this discussion...

1/30/14

valuationGURU:

How old is DickFuld? I think that clarification may help with this discussion...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_S._Fuld,_Jr.

67 years young

1/30/14

It all makes sense now.

1/30/14

By his WSO posts, it looks like he's going strong

1/30/14

valuationGURU:

How old is DickFuld? I think that clarification may help with this discussion...

Not relevant, because human nature never changes. I could be 1,000 years old or 16 years old and it wouldn't change the dominant strategy for each of the sexes.
1/30/14

Ben can we meet up? I'm in Rio now, working in Finance (a truly funny combo!) and it would be amazing to get your insights in person! Hit me up - ws2337(at)columbia.edu

1/31/14

@"DickFuld" Why would you even call a girl/woman a slut though? What's the point? Not talking about human nature and if it is true or not.

1/31/14

valuationGURU:

@DickFuld Why would you even call a girl/woman a slut though? What's the point? Not talking about human nature and if it is true or not.

To their face? I would never do that. But, I would think it or say it to my friends in many instances. If I fucked some woman and she became annoying, Would I tell my friend to fuck her so she might leave me alone? Yes, I would. If she fucked him, I would think she's a slut. That being said, I would do the same for my friend (because I care). I don't think women who get passed around as party favors are wife material.

Does anyone?

2/1/14