You Miss 100% Of The Shots You Don't Take

It was a standard Sunday for JRMM – Woke up entirely too early, ate breakfast, watched SportCenter, then had to kill time before the start of day 4 of the tourney. I had just gotten home from hitting golf balls and was about to firmly plant my ass on the couch for the remainder of the day when I caught the following tweet "in NYC with a few hours until takeoff, any blog readers want to get coffee?" The tweet belonged to a fund manager I respect greatly and whose blog I follow closely.

First thing through my mind is, "wow that's cool, I should respond." Second thing is, "wait, why would XYZ fund manager ever want to get coffee with me? What can I add to conversation?" Third thing is, "What's the worst that can happen?" So I fire off the email and sure enough, 5 minutes later, "Here is my number, call me". I call XYZ fund manager and after a short discussion he tells me to meet him in the lobby of his hotel. I hang up the phone and am ecstatic, "Holy shit, this is real, I have a super unique opportunity here." I throw on some respectable clothing (i.e. not sweatpants) and jump in a cab...

On my way downtown I started to think about what to expect. If nothing else I viewed this as an opportunity to pick the brain of someone I greatly respect. A chance to poke around and ask questions of what he likes/doesn't like, how he evaluates potential investments, and other general development questions. I went into it not expecting anything more than a simple conversation. (Spoiler Alert – There is no Hollywood ending where I say something and he is so enamored with the comment I get a job on the spot.)

When I arrived, XYZ fund manager was sitting in the corner with another gentleman. I approached them and introduced myself; a third would join us 10 minutes later. For the next three hours XYZ fund manager proceeded to discuss current trades, tell war-stories and field questions. My favorite parts of the discussion were when he broke out his laptop and proceeded to walk us though one of his shorts and his discussion of his biggest mistake of 2013. (I am a strong believer that you learn exponentially more from your mistakes/failures than from your successes). For anonymity reasons I won't discuss specifics. The event culminated when XYZ fund manager invited us to continue the conversation over dinner.

After all was said in done, we exchanged contact information, shook hands and went our separate ways. I wish I could dive into greater detail about what we discussed but I won't. Put simply, it was an invaluable experience where I got to have an in-depth semi-private conversation with a well-respected fund manager.

The point of this write up is to hammer home how important it is to take shots, no matter how improbable you think they are. After I initially saw the tweet I closed my laptop and had a conversation with myself about how ridiculous this was and that XYZ fund manager would never respond if I emailed him. At some point between the fridge and the couch I remembered how I spent my first summer after college cold calling i-banks looking for positions and had I approached that summer with a similar mind set I never would have made it out of my hometown. (This is a different story for a different thread but I had an offer rescinded 2 weeks before graduation due to an office closure and spent the summer doing everything possible to find a job) That is when I fired off the email that set off the event above. You should always take a shot at something you view as improbable because you never know when or how it will pay off in the long run.

Side note – I wasn't sure where to put this so I am dropping in in the HF section, if any of the mods think it belongs elsewhere please feel free to move it.

Comments (43)

Best Response
Anihilist, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Almost makes me think I should be on Twitter. Good story

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.
  • 3
eignenvector, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post.

"When you expect things to happen - strangely enough - they do happen." - JP Morgan
PeterMullersKeyboard, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Awesome story, love it. And agreed 100% - if you don't try you'll never know what could have happened.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
Shogun, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It is great and surprising to know there are fund managers who do things like that.

Anyway, I will join in the praise. Great story and great lesson. And to add to that, in so many cases, you lose nothing if you take the shot and it doesn't work out. If you e-mailed this guy and he didn't respond, so what? I'll take that risk/reward ratio any day.

And +1 SB!

PowerInTheMoney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

time to get a twitter account...

reaper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is awesome. Good for you for taking the opportunity and I'm glad it worked out well. I may just have to start checking Twitter a little bit more.

-- reaper
Adushe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for sharing and kudos for making that jump. Goes to show you that in life, you sometimes need to take shots on mere faith.

Death is certain; Life aint.
Bateman Begins, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Interesting post, thanks!

Twitter is about to see a small bump in its membership due to this post. Considering signing up now...

Move along, nothing to see here.
markb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Absolutely agreed, you need to seize the opps.

wallstreetdream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Awesome story. I actually landed my internship for this summer through a string of opportunities I took a shot in the dark at. Only takes one rare chance

ZB1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are afraid of failures you will never succeed, reminds us all that we have to take shots sometimes

‘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
MItchc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There's no way that this could be anyone other than XXXX. And it is. Does that make you XXX?

(Mod): Warning.

  • 3
MItchc, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Gray Fox:

There's no way that this could be anyone other than XXX. And it is. Does that make you XXX?

Not cool to out people bro. I would be smart and delete this comment. It wasn't tough to figure out but totally unnecessary to post.

I think it's fair game. Apropos to the topic of shots you don't take, if you're jealous of OP, send John an email. You won't get to have dinner with him, but he's a friendly and reasonable (and not anonymous) guy. If you write him something thoughtful, he may very well respond. Same is true of others.
boredviewer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great story. Too many times have opportunities slipped through our fingers simply because of the thought: "Why even bother wasting time trying?". Even if the chance is remote, what's wrong with trying? Just remember to manage your expectations well.

rayrissa, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great story!

ramadjaffri, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Inspiring! I am sure it was an invaluable experience for you.

Here is for taking shots!

Fortes fortuna adiuvat.
Ocralph714, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great story!!! Agree wholehearted that you miss the 100% of the shots you don't take! You have nothing to lose so go for it!

broadstbully, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wanted to +1 this post myself. I re-read this last night and decided to send a note off to another hedge fund manager (who is pretty high up on the Forbes list), and he responded with pointers/advice. Amazing how many people want to pass along knowledge.


KnivesOut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

OP, this sounds like the best possible meeting anyone could ever have (networking-wise).

I hope you stay in touch and continue to crush it.

AcctNerd, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Awesome story. Thanks for sharing.

"Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money." - Mickey Bergman - Heist (2001)
FinanceNinja, what's your opinion? Comment below:

so true, love it. Reading Warren Buffets biography i also thought the same thing, the guy just thinks outside of the box (voluntarily or not) and thus creates a whole lot of opportunities for himself. I also think it's not just about taking the shots, but also creating them in the first place.

tunpo22, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Nice post, it was inspiring!

chinchopperchinchopper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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i'm not smart enough to do everything, but dumb enough to try anything
ValueBanker14, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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