you're not special. you're just like everybody else.

In high school, all I did was read, watch, and talk about finance. When I got home, I worked on financial models in Excel. I took many courses online regarding valuation methodology, accounting, and other finance topics. I read books about investment banking and Wall Street. I knew all the Wall Street and finance jargon. I learned all about all the great finance CEOs and learned their history. I mastered my technicals and behaviorals back in high school. I knew the answers to every question that the interviewer could throw at me. I didn't memorize answers; I understood these concepts in great detail. I knew all about deals, the markets, and companies. I wanted and dreamed about getting that IB job at Goldman Sachs. I thought I knew it all. I thought I was some big shot.

I remember I was schooling people in my school about economics and finance, making them realize that they are complete idiots.

And then the moment I stepped into university and attended one of those finance club meetings and spoke to the members there, I realized I was just like everybody else. They were all the same as me; they all knew everything I knew, and I wasn't special. My ego was put in check. I thought I was special; it turned out I was not.

Just a friendly reminder that you're not special. You're just like everybody else. 

 

This is the type of mind set and lack of personality/individualism outside of WORK or finance that certainly can help you break in but keeps you from making it up the chain at some shops.

Good thing you know you’re just another cog like the rest of us because If you can’t be able to perform AND be a real human being you’ll see posts on here about some “middle bucket” guy getting the promo over the “top”.

*Disregard all of this if you’re gonna work your way up the hf/pod/buy-side trading and research background…a lot of the best fellas over on that side are waking up early Sunday to check futures and reading through the logistics and contracts while we’re drinking and watching red zone. But their passion is about that and purely a lot of fuckin $, not the company name attached to their LinkedIn.

 

Just a friendly reminder that you're not special. You're just like everybody else.

The military closed off your school’s design lab and took over your research project too? 

 

From lecturing high schoolers on financial models to lecturing WSO forum members on life advice, not much has changed eh? 

Will give you some slack in that this revelation/journey is pretty common, especially among high achievers. If you are still in college then you aren't realizing this too late. Your biggest issue though is your ego and insecurity that is driving it. I'm guessing in high school the people you were 'schooling' absolutely did not give a shit about finance. For some reason (maybe it's the promise of money) you found value in being 'the best' and most knowledgeable about this field as a way to feel superior to offset the feelings of inferiority you are feeling elsewhere. If true, then I was the same way once. But believe it or not, people dont care about the same things. You schooled your classmates on finance the same way a classmate named Bubba schooled you on the secrets of bow hunting - that is, not at all.

Which leads to next piece of advice. Based on your experiences in high school and college it's clear you are learning not for the sake of learning, but to feel superior to others. Walking into a finance club as a freshman and everyone knowing more than you should be a GREAT feeling. You have other smart and driven peers, all with different backgrounds, willing to share their perspectives. That is an amazing opportunity for growth and to connect with others. Not try to dunk on who knows the most excel shortcuts. As you get older you will also realize that hard skills/knowledge only get you so far, and that relationships / people / soft skills is what it takes to really turn on the gas in your professional life. That is, joining a club like this shouldn't be about coming armed with a trivia-like knowledge on finance topics but instead learning more about the perspectives of others and challenging your own conventions.

If you are always setting out to be the smartest in every room to protect your ego then you will be greatly limiting the number of rooms in life that you will be able to walk in. If you want to become truly great at anything you have to accept that you need to learn from others along the way. The quicker you realize it's ok to fail, get an answer wrong, struggle, etc. the sooner you will be able to make meaningful strides as an individual. You have some natural growth and personal development to do to understand some of your motivations. The good thing is you are at the perfect age for it and are on a board that actually has some good advice for youngesters (go read the recently posted 18 year old advice thread). Wish you the best of luck

 

Also good advice.

If I had to guess, OP is so focused on being a finance wiz because the promise of the lifestyle (LOL) that comes with it, and believes to some degree subconciously or not it will help raise his value enough to get women and get laid

So if he got laid, which requires being a man that women want to sleep with as a pre-requisite, then it probably would solve a lot of his issues

 

2 short comments on your predicament:

i) Dunning-Krueger effect. You thought you knew more than you actually did. This is common when you're a big fish in a small pond. Furthermore, finance is a non-linear cause-effect field. Meaning, you can't get feedback on your decisions/ knowledge often. The tennis player can see whether his shots cleared the net and thus adjust every shot, the chess player can see if he won or lost and adjust accordingly. That sort of immediate, valuable feedback isn't available in finance so it's hard to evaluate yourself - your stock pitch might've made money for a variety of random factors, for example. You can't tell.

ii) Even assuming your finance skills were actually top-notch, that in itself makes you like everyone else, because finance skills (e.g., modelling and reading) are the most commoditized in finance. Finance isn't rocket science, rmb. Having great technicals doesn't set you apart at all, it just doesn't eliminate you.

Just make sure to not turn to Tate when you're struggling thru this adjustment phase. In short, if you only take 1 thing out of this entire thread, TOUCH GRASS.

 

Assuming this isn't a troll post, this is a good lesson to learn early.

You aren't special.  There is always someone smarter than you, who works harder than you, who has something you don't.  And even if there isn't, life isn't fair - the rich kid is going to have more advantages and do better.  The client's son is going to get that internship.  Once you understand that the world doesn't owe you something merely for existing (a lesson most of the people on WSO have yet to learn), the rest falls into place.

Also, I'll note that the reason you weren't special is because you didn't do anything special.  You read the same books, the same newspapers, joined the same clubs, and all around acted like the same insufferable douche as every other person who wants a job on Wall Street.  Maybe it felt unique because not many people at your school did the same thing, and anyway teenagers are just awful at critical thinking or introspection, but there were 100,000 people just like you doing the same thing.  

Go out and find an actual passion, something you genuinely enjoy doing and which is unique in the context of your career.  That's how you'll connect with clients and higher-ups and not seem like a kiss ass try-hard; no one wants to talk about their job all day every day and then leave the office and still do nothing but talk about their job except junior bankers.  Sure, not many people may care about 80s country music (or whatever it may be), but having something shows your a well rounded person who can connect with others about non-finance related interests.  Which is really fucking important in an industry where there is very little differentiation between banks in terms of actual capabilities.

 

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