Getting Crushed is Paradise
You're sitting at your desk in the office at 2PM on a Tuesday. It's now been over an hour of aimlessly browsing through Factset in an attempt to look productive.
After hitting the desk of your coverage group just over three weeks ago, you're itching to get staffed on a live deal. While you've been assisting 2nd year analysts with mindless internal credit memos for the LevFin team and updating research materials for VPs, you've fantasized about proving yourself with a "real" deal and earning the respect of your fellow analysts in the bullpen. After all, nothing says "grit" like sitting in front of a computer screen until 4am.
You look past the four rows of desks between you and the windows and squint at the view of the 57th floor across the bustling NY street below. You lower your gaze and begin to salivate after noticing the two deal toys on a 2nd year analyst's desk. Just then, as if you're hearing the tone of a Tinder notification from one of the 7/10's you've been messaging, your lizard brain instinctively snaps back to your monitor at the sound of a Microsoft Teams ping – a message from your staffer.
Staffer: Hi Analyst. Are you free to help with an M&A pitch? Would be for a pretty big sponsor looking to exit one of their stronger portcos.
You: Of course! I'd be happy to help, sounds like a great learning experience.
Staffer: Great. MD is lead. VP will message u with details.
You lean back in your chair for a moment. This is what new army privates must feel like when they set their boots on the ground in enemy territory 5,000 miles from home, ready to blast the faces off some jihadists. The calm before the storm, you muse.
"You look like you're having a good day, any reason Analyst?" says a female voice from behind you. Jolted out of your daze and realizing you've been trying to conceal a smile, you whip your chair around to meet the gaze of an associate 0.
"Just got put on an M&A pitch, Staffer said it's a really great opportunity," you remark enthusiastically.
"Is that the pitch MD is running? One of the other analysts said he got pinged about it too, but told Staffer he was at capacity to avoid getting staffed with him. He's a nightmare – you're about to get crushed."
After brushing off the comment and a bit more small talk, she wishes you good luck as you rotate your chair back around to your monitor. While initially passing off her rumor about the MD as an exaggeration, you nervously adjust in your seat as you wonder if you're like a deer that's about to morph into a bloody meat-pancake at the hands of an oncoming Ford F-150.
You recall a quote from your role model David Goggins from his appearance on The Joe Rogan Podcast: "You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft that you will die without ever realizing your true potential". Gotta stay hard. You're a warrior after all – and warriors run towards the fight, not away from it. Getting "crushed" earns the highest level of respect among analysts. Besides, after the Tinder girls find out you're working on Em An Ay deals and are flaking on dinner plans to lead heated board room debates, they'll be begging for your attention as their dreams of becoming stay-at-home moms start to seem within reach.
With newfound resolve, you begin opening old pitchdecks to study the art of what those sagely analysts before you have perfected.
As you finish off the bland, subpar Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl you ordered alongside the other analysts in a meager attempt to fit in, a mid-30s VP pats his hand on your desk. "Got a minute?" You grab your notepad and follow.
You and an associate, who appears to already be balding at 27, are ushered into one of the smaller conference rooms at 7:23pm for a drafting session.
"Sorry I couldn't grab you guys sooner, the team for Project Nova is getting crushed after the newer analyst botched the dataroom launch over the weekend. Wasn't able to get a senior analyst here, but I'm thinking this shouldn't be too big of an ask given MD's relationship with the client – 30, 35 pages max and we have a lot of precedent materials. We're going to go through some iterations, but for now let's take the intro pages 1-10 from Project Atlas, pages 8, 13, and 15 with updated charts from Project Mustang…"
With the expectations of a first draft due mid-morning tomorrow, you get to work at 8:05pm. You ignore the subtle nagging in your mind that says it seems inefficient to start putting together an entire pitchdeck without even a modicum of input from the MD; nonsense -- after all, the president of the investment banking club on campus said that these people are the best and brightest and know what they're doing. There's no better place to start a career you remind yourself. Reassured, your smile fades as you look back down at one of the comments from your VP: make sure multiples globally are NTM not TTM, and hand-spread the comps from recent 10-K's and press releases so they're pro forma for any acquisitions.
What the hell does hand-spread mean?
Despite the comments about MD yesterday, you're feeling optimistic. You were up until 2:05am painfully piecing together a first draft, and although you know it isn't perfect, it's a first draft, right? As you walk into the conference room at 10:00am sharp, you see VP reading an article "Top 5 most valuable estates in Montana 2022." After noticing you, he proceeds to immediately alt + tab back to his Outlook.
"Thanks for pulling this together, this is just a preliminary deck that I wanted to frame for the MD to give him a directional outline." I nod. The balding associate stares soullessly at the VP, then back down at his phone.
The MD walks in, you force a half-smile – he doesn't. Not even acknowledging your existence, he looks at the pitchdeck. You can see that this guy's gravitas, coupled with the ghastly face of someone who's paying alimony to an ex-wife, must earn him the trust of CEOs and board members across the industry. He doesn't make it past the title page before he pulls an Investment Bank & Co. blue pen from his pocket and scribbles over the subtitle.
He starts listing off what seems like 15 edits per page. Around page 7, he flips the whole copy over, pauses, and then says "this is not going to work. We're selling our expertise here, and this makes us look like the JV team." As he explains what he's looking for, you fervently tap away at your ThinkPad's keyboard as he rambles off banker jibberish at a speed that could rival Eminem's studio recording of Rap God.
After eight days of satisfying relentless comments until 4am every night, including one to "add in a few pages that benchmark all 25 of the closest competitors for products, financial ratios, and every other metric we can throw in there" only to subsequently remove them the next day, you can't help but feel worn down. But hey, this is what you signed up for. They don't call investment bankers "the Navy SEALs of finance" for nothing. Gotta stay hard.
You're learning from the best – becoming an industry expert, you think as you read a comment from VP on page 49 that reads: is there an extra space in footnote 2 between 'Latest' and '10-K'? Please run through the deck and make sure there are no double spaces anywhere.
Just then, Baldy pings you at 11PM,
Baldy: Hey I'm getting crushed on this IPO I'm on rn, do you think you can handle VP's comments tonight? Not urgent but please get to me for review before sunrise tomorrow
With your head already spinning trying to sort out the potential buyers which include, among others: Stone Rock Capital, Ridge Stone Capital Partners, Stone River Associates, and Blue Rock Capital, you muster a 'thumbs up' of his message on Teams. Turning back to your list, you wonder if any brilliant-minded private equity founder has snagged "Sedimentary Riverstone Bedrock Capital" yet.
15 minutes later, you notice your associate's yellow 'Away' status on Teams. Third time this week.
Three weeks of getting crushed.
After a needless 5:30am night to turn last-minute comments, it's Friday afternoon -- your MD and VP departed on a plane earlier in the morning with the pitchbooks bound for scenic Madison, Wisconsin. You've made it. All that pre-banking time spent listening to Jocko Willink podcasts and reading Ryan Holiday's "Ego is the Enemy" have finally paid off.
By this time, you've had enough 4am nights (including on the weekends) to be past the five stages of grief, beyond apathy, and straight to numbness. You've modeled every possible scenario of an auction process, from over-levered private equity buyouts to impossible reverse morris trusts with competitors, to know that this company is a steaming pile of shit. After 10 different M&A case studies of other shitcos that Investment Bank & Co. can list as deal creds because your DCM team were joint bookrunners for the financing packages, you've created a masterpiece 117-page pitchbook (50%+ located in appendix.)
On the bright side, you've heard through the grapevine that Morgan Stanley's BSD MD has a much stronger relationship with the management team, and that no one else in the bake-off really has a chance. You can only pray for that outcome. Maybe the Morgan Stanley MD is so desperate to win the pitch, he lets Shitco's entire management team fuck his wife to seal the deal. If only.
Heading out early on Friday night, you overhear two analysts preparing for a long night of comments gossiping about how the VP on Project Evergreen said that the clients didn't get past the fifth page in the Project Windsong pitch.
As your first night to recover after three grueling weeks, you feel a sense of accomplishment. It fills you with pride when your roommate starts interrogating you about "where you've been" and "if you're okay" on the first evening you're home before midnight in three weeks. "It's what comes with the job, some weeks you just get crushed" you say alongside a choreographed chuckle, "investment bankers work hard and we play hard." Although it's easy to feign confidence to your roommate, this pitch has left doubt in your mind on whether this is really how you want to spend the next two years of your life. You open the WallStreetOasis app on your phone and begin scrolling for some much-needed confirmation bias that you're on the right path.
You get to the 5th thread down when your heart stops:
Tech vs. IBD Debate
You can feel your face getting hot as you read the nonsense replies from likely two-figure IQ, five-figure salary software engineers at tech companies who were too lazy or stupid (or both) to get into prestigious investment banking jobs. These lowlifes are just jerking each other off as a twisted attempt to justify their fledgling, insignificant careers. What a bunch of losers, you think as you tap the "Add a comment…" button.
To help them better understand their transgressions, you begin listing out and explaining, in order of most important to least important & with bolded subheaders, links to other threads, supportive evidence, citations, eyewitness testimonies, and a blessing from the rabbi at your childhood synagogue, why banking is obviously superior to software engineering for 15+ reasons. Feeling your heart rate begin to settle from that brief fight-or-flight response, you breathe a sigh of relief as you get a notification that you've already received one Silver Banana on your comment.
Just then an Outlook notification appears at the top of your screen reading "(No Subject) – Sender: MD"
Won the bake-off. Kick off meeting in four days, take the shell of the pitchdeck and use that to build brief 20-page breakdown of process from here. Here's what we need…"
You use five whole thumb swipes to scroll to the bottom of MD's email comments. You log into your laptop, navigate to the pitchdeck folder, and Ctrl C + V "Project_Windsong_Pitch v57" into a new folder. With a cathartic exhale, you rename the .ppt file to Project_Windsong Kickoff v01.
You smile – at least you didn't go into tech. Getting crushed is paradise.
Fun read lol. Would love to read a specific post-MBA IB is paradise post one day.
loved all of it but this was my fav. thank you dear sir
This was a masterpiece
HAHAHAH this is straight golden. I need to make a thread to hopefully convince ppl it's actualy not that bad
Loved the "this company is a steaming pile of shit."
Sedimentary Riverstone Bedrock Capital made me laugh out loud.
Some brilliant lines here. Particularly the ridiculous fund names and the decks way too long to ever fit in the timeslot for the meeting (while your MD inevitably spends the first 10 minutes talking about themselves and the firm).
Easily the worst for me is having to run through a deck after the associate/VP refuses to provide comments for the entire book because they spotted a single error. It completely wastes the entire turn because then I'm spending time looking for errors without a second eye to help me review - making it more likely that I miss other errors.
I think some of the associates/VPs forget that analysts are staring at dozens of changes over dozens of pages that we look at dozens of times over a few hours, and we need that second eye.
Please do a gLoBaL check that your mom is not gay
this isnt even satire, or funny to me. its just brought me deep sadness.
for any interns or students, this is VERY real
I think that is the funniest part. That this is reality
This is awesome, lots of truth in here. Brought back memories from IB.
Fuck man this hits way too close to home. Sad to admit that reading this gave me anxiety. This job has ruined us
Same here. Heart rate increased reading
Keep these threads coming lol very entertaining.
Lol very high quality
Anyways it's just two years of the career, it's a worthwhile sacrifice when the rewards is long-term career growth. No need to be whiny
Getting crushed right now, needed this lmao
This hits way too close to home holy shit
Reading this kept me going. Please post weekly!!!
This is scarily accurate lol, one of the best ones yet
This was so good and spot-on. Legit having nightmarish flashbacks from my junior days.
Why do MDs do this to juniors if they still remember their own days as analysts? There must be a better way.
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain"
On a serious note, I'd say I do things differently than my superiors at the time but you'd be amazed at how time has a way of making some people numb to it all
Nice touch - double space after the comment from the VP about eliminating them.
Thank you for the laughs as well as the PTSD afterwards
I loved the 27 year old associate who apparently had started balding lol.
This is me lol
BRAVO - brilliant.
literally scary accurate. 2 years of hell, but it pays dividends in your career.
Hahaha "are you okay" from the roommate. Also the project names and needless turns, and MD not having any input beforehand. And 25 competitors pages lol
Incredibly bad attention to detail OP.
This is a masterpiece holy
I don't usually love this kind of thread but this one was particularly well written and realistic. This is IB 101 really.
Well done. Worked with VP before on another project. He can't dictate or delegate but the man can smell a venetian plaster finish or elevated outdoor furniture from a mile away.
The data room being botched and the VP looking at Montana real estate are callbacks to yours!
respect brother, way to up the ante!
I see what you did there thanks to ptsd
It's the subtlety that enhances the cleverness
Is this any good? 5.1 IMDB and no Rotten Tomatoes
Did ChatGPT write this?
They don't call investment bankers "the Navy SEALs of finance" for nothing. Gotta stay hard.
Love all the military references haha you are like me
This brought back a lot of memories... well done.
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Not even out of January yet and man drops what will end up being a contender for post of the year.
this was so well written like wow
the suspense build up and everything, reaching the climax with "won the bakeoff"... it was like i was cheering for this analyst
That what I m doing now. hahahehe
Everyone has been there before. Copying a new model or deck to v01. This truly brought back some memories.
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