Thoughts From a MF PE Associate

What's shocked me about PE is that the people have nearly all been much nicer than the ones in IBD, but for some reason, I actually dislike them even more.

More or less all my friends from IBD who are now in PE have the same exact thing to say about their VPs, Principals, and Partners: "nice guys/gals on the outside and people always treat me with respect, but I truthfully can sense they don't really care about me at all and neither do I". 

Everyone pretends to love their job (or actually does), and I legitimately feel like I'm living in some kind of dystopian psy-op or movie. There was a certain shared understanding in banking that everyone had. I'm not even talking about analysts complaining in the bullpen, but even VPs and MDs in IBD would realize how heinous this industry was at times. Yes, there were a handful (or quite a few lol) seniors who took themselves and the job way too seriously, but overall, I found that folks realized the trade-off that was "high finance" and the "air" or culture of banking very much embodied this trade-off; we get absolutely worked for a good paycheck, and we "work hard play hard" and will joke around about it / poke fun at ourselves once in a while.

Almost 1.5 years into the job now in PE, I still find it just so strange how working dynamics are here. I thought this was just my firm (which to be quite clear, has pretty strong "culture" for what it's worth), but after asking around 10+ friends, I've found this to be the case in so many places. 

I feel like I'm in the movie Office Space, and it's utterly soul-crushing. I actually quite enjoy many aspects of the job and recognize that PE allows you to learn things and gain exposure to situations and decisions that perhaps no other 25-26 year olds in the world could otherwise get. But the daily repetition & the fake conversations are torturous. Every Monday, I am asked how my weekend was and what fun plans I got up to. I respond with the same bullshit: "Oh you know, just some good dinner and drinks with friends". They'll respond where. I'll say West Village. And they'll follow that up with some commentary on some of their favorite restaurants in "that part of West Village". Thursday rolls around, they'll ask about weekend plans, and I will respond the exact same way. Every single conversation between those two will largely be about work, and pretending to be utterly passionate about some prospect, opportunity, or workstream. The smiles and head nods as you awkwardly pass them in the hall. Again and again and again.

These things suck as they are, but add on top of that a PE deal sprint and you have weeks (or months) where you quite literally are on the verge of having serious health issues and need to have these fake conversations and smiles. If you know I've worked 100 hours and until 3am on Friday and Saturday, please do not start a 10 minute conversation about our deal and pretend to be all excited about a positive diligence finding, or talk about the readouts from the consultants. I'd like this deal to close as well, but frankly, I don't give a shit at the moment and every additional minute of you talking to me right now is a minute of sleep I will be losing tonight. Smiling through the heart palpitations, the indigestion / stomach acid from lack of sleep, and hair that suddenly seems to fall out faster during high periods of stress. It's so eery and quite honestly, just really strange, that people (myself included at times) are just completely indifferent to this. 

I know you probably read the above and think "I don't have my shit together", but speaking candidly, I don't even know if that's true. Over the last nearly 4 years of IBD/PE, I've been working out 5-6x a week on average (haven't had a single week where I haven't lifted at least 4x, excluding vacations), eating healthy, managing my mental health, etc. But those who have been in PE know this just as well as anyone - some weeks/months, you just can't get around it. And to be clear, overall, I actually feel and look quite healthy. But my mental state seems to be declining by the day. Not even because of deal sprints or long hours (which come and go), but just the monotony of this job. The soullessness. The repetition. The lack of life and energy in the people I work with. Saw a post / comment on here recently about following your dreams and never losing that fire, and man, there isn't a single person in my office who seems to have that energy of life to them. It's like seeing that one intern in your class during IBD who was the life of the party but by their second analyst year, they were a shell of themselves. Except that's almost everyone I work with. They say "that's just adulthood", but is it? Luckily, I still have my "childlike" hopes and dreams (and a clear path / industry that I like to get there), and I'm counting down my days in PE, but for some reason, this industry will occasionally tempt me into staying. I don't know why.

I see life and energy every weekend when I go out. From my med school friends, my startup friends, my dorky ass software engineer friends, and just about people in every industry. Even fucking people in HR, which I despise. Sure, there are underachievers and to put it crassly, there are of course "boring and lifeless" people in every field. But man, I don't remember the last time I ran into someone in PE during a night out and left that conversation feeling truly inspired or laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.

It's always the same shit - someone subtly asks me what I do so that he can respond and tell me he works in PE. Then asks me where I work. "Oh wow you're at a MF? That's sick. I'm at a MF as well". Then talks about if I want to get my MBA. Then asks me about certain investments and "the current market". Then asks me what school I went to. "Oh sick dude, I have like 3 close buddies who also went to your school. Ones at Warburg and the others at TPG, do you know them?". Yes, to be fair, many of these nights are often a good time. We'll bond over the shared pain, share a shot or two, and drunkenly dance/sing for a few hours...but that's really the extent of it.

The saddest realization is probably that I've become like this to a large extent as well. I think the saddest part of this all is that to a certain degree, we all have these same conversations because we've to a large extent shut down our emotions and our emotional capacity. And it's hard to blame myself for that; when plans are constantly cancelled, 3am nights are common, physical and mental exhaustion is common, it's easier to just not feel the lows and the pain. And to be quite clear, I actually think there's actually a lot of good in doing this (i.e., not sure if I prescribe to modern liberal thought where we should "always be feeling our emotions and seeing a therapist"). Sometimes, you just need to power through shit.

But there is a flip side to that, particularly for doing that for a prolonged period of time. You get to shut down and not feel the lows, but that also prevents you from feeling the highs. From being present to the moment. I think there's a lot of good in being happy and being present in and of itself - many would say there's nothing better in life than that. But for you idiots that are just thinking, "he just doesn't get the grind", what you don't get is that not being able to be like this is robbing you of your potential (including your financial potential). Nearly all successful entrepreneurs I've seen are sharp, present, active, able to think laterally, able to tap into certain emotions (with control of course), etc. And that's something that's hard to do when you're just numbed down. 

So that's where my thoughts end. The endless repetition. The same model cases, with the good ol upside and downside cases. The same conversations. The same "investment thesis", sprinkled with what seemed to be "unique" aspects of the company your first few months on the job. The same people. Every morning, I think to myself, "let's just get through today". Most Fridays, of course not including deal sprints, I think to myself, "we did it". And yes, the Friday and Saturday nights are glorious. Dinner with friends. Drinks with friends. Good conversations. Free flowing, enjoying the moment. And every Sunday, I'm filled with dread. One week after another after another after another. Until one day, its 8:42pm and you're on your Uber back home from office and you realize that it's been nearly 5 years since graduating. You scroll through photos from years ago. You see the smile, the energy in your eyes. Which you realize you still have, but a much much more numbed down version of. You smile fondly, let yourself marinade in those emotions for a minute or two, then get snapped back to reality. You've arrived at your destination.

 
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The point is that the sprint to traditional success is also a path to accelerated spiritual death - so the grass is not greener. Once you realize this, you have to evaluate the strength of your golden handcuffs - is this worth the complete loss of “self” in terms of all the fun unique things that made you this driven, go getting person in the first place that you must let go in order to continue on the path?

It doesn’t provide an alternative but I would take it as a warning to truly evaluate what will matter to you in your life long term before mindlessly going from banking to the golden land of PE to your MBA…then what? There’s plenty alternatives but that’s dependent on what you actually find fulfilling. Maybe it’s corp dev to do transaction work with enough hours to live your life outside of work. Maybe it is starting your own business that would effectively be your baby - so the work is equally hard but it’s something you actually give a fuck about. Maybe you exit the industry entirely and just become a lowly coffee barista and travel on a budget to different hostels around the world.

The point is you have to stop force feeding yourself a path that others have taught you all your life will bring you the most success and happiness. Nobody on this forum can tell you what to do next, only what the next thing is realistically going to feel like. If you continue to seek someone telling you what you should do next, prepare to feel like OP until you decide enough is enough.

 

People need to be more open to finding unconventional paths to success instead, the traditional paths to success is going IB -> MF PE -> MBA -> More PE which is a great path but probably makes some people feel jaded and empty like OP.

I think some people in his group genuinely do enjoy finance and deals though. That's the type these types of places like to take, although I'm sure others aren't truly that passionate about investing.

 

If you want what is viewed as a “successful traditional career,” ie - the things that a normal person would be like wow you are clearly successful / wow you do cool stuff, there is always some element of this.

IB has this. PE/VC/HF have this. Fashion has this. Engineering has this. Entrepreneurship arguably has it the worst of all. Even at a staid old utility, if you want to make it to senior ranks, there is some element of this. There are obviously degrees to this but this will always be present if you want that type of “success”

 

Not much to add other than to say it’s just a job. I can promise you that your associate, VP, or MD in banking didn’t give a shit about what you did on your weekend either. I often hear from college friends in other industries that they have coworkers they connect and go out with but they aren’t relationships filled vast amounts of substance either. I encourage you to not associate who you are with what you do and try to cultivate bonds outside of the workplace. Do you not have normal non-finance friends to connect with?

 

This is overly cynical. I worked at an incredibly good set of teams at an EB before a soulless MF and I can name four people at the VP level and up (I'm including group heads and MDs) who I still make an active effort to FaceTime or keep in touch with on a genuine human basis once or twice a year after I left the bank. I'm talking zero chatter about finance, but sports, politics, food, holiday recs, even memes. I am incredibly close to a few folks in my analyst class, the one above, and the one below me. Now that I'm older and out of finance (excuse the dated account tag), I've even become drinking buddy with my former Associates.

The reason why there's a stark difference and I'd honestly cross the street than feign a head nod to my earlier bosses in PE is because the bankers gave a shit about me as a person. That means heavy shit like what I wanted to do in 25 years, not just on-cycle recruiting (no shock, it's not finance). That means inviting me to drinks with their SOs or hosting group outings with analysts (or just, like, grabbing a beer after we hit submit on vF of a Board presentation) once every month or two. That means legitimately asking how I waste time with sports or podcasts, whether I've listened to some new trap album, etc. In other words, basic human being shit.

This wasn't just soft cultural bullshit or raging group alcoholism either. There are 1-2 seniors and 1-2 peers who I either consult or keep informed of every major life decision I have made since I left banking--and they do the same. Some have offered me tangential opportunities to invest in their buddies' startups, and some have just been a sounding board or called me out of the blue when they see what I've been up to on LinkedIn or are visiting my city.

Most importantly, all this culture made these bankers better leaders. Anyone can treat a junior like a resource or toss him an extra workstream like circulating the lender dial-ins once they're "trusted" enough to do so. It takes more empathy to actually get to know the mosaic of what a person wants to do with their lives with or without PE; I've had a small minority of Associate buddies, for example, who rave about being staffed on a particular type of healthcare deal after mentioning they wanted to learn more about that sphere, or about being given free rein to help out with a fund's charitable arm or volunteer activities when they've mentioned causes they care about. Or even the basics: I greatly enjoy the pleasure that comes from a Principal talking to me like a fucking human being about our deal and how iffy or not they feel about it, outside the context of the weird echoing-the-Partner thing they have to do in team meetings for firm politics reasons. I actually appreciate that much more than a lackluster comment about how my undergrad team had a great college football game last night.

All in all, and it may not seem like it up to this point, but I am pretty bearish on the idea that work needs to give people some kind of fulfilled meaning so it doesn't feel like work anymore. I think only sports broadcasters and the like ever feel that (even artists and athletes complain about those jobs being too job-like). But it sure as a hell is a lot easier to endure work when people at least go through the motions of remembering that we are human beings on a team with, yes, occasionally repetitive work and long hours, but also wildly different, disparate, and interesting stories, interests, backgrounds, and personal aspirations. We all knew how to get that message across to each other in college, but somewhere along the way that level of connection got lost and it's fucking sad. So yes, I value the people who decide to make the 2-5% of our days chit-chatting more meaningful than pablum, and I refuse to believe that species is just gone.

Of course, PE principals and MDs are the type who have sacrificed time with their families, better WLB jobs, etc. to get to those roles, so there's some survivorship bias that adversely selects for what I'm talking about. But I hope that there's some bright eyes among the medium and senior ranks that can break out of the doldrums OP and a massive number of Associates like him are going through.

 

Being at a small firm has actually helped me not get too close to my coworkers. You want to be friendly, polite, and do appropriate small talk. But don’t reveal too much because there are only six other employees and you want all of them to like you. Can be fairly high risk to tell them who you really are. Much easier to say “yea tried a new restaurant with college friends in meatpacking” versus “I was boofing blow in the bathroom of a Brooklyn club 29 hours ago”.

 

Pretty well written and I share a lot of those feelings.

Similarly, I had pretty high hopes when I got into PE and I kinda enjoy most of the job for the same reasons. However, what kills me the most is the fakeness and soullessness, despite people trying to convince themselves the opposite. The countless number of chit chat conversations in the corridors or at the coffee machine with awkward moments where people feels almost obliged to have a discussion with you to make you feel part of the 'culture'. Well, buddy, thanks but no thanks, I have zero interest to talk about your latest weekend in the Bahamas (true story) or all-inclusive long weekend in Courchevel (French alps). The other part that is truly annoying is that you cannot trust anyone, I tried once, well, let's say it did not end well.  Spending so much hours but not being able to open freely without having in the back of your mind whether it will backfire in 1 week or 1 month, that's tough in the long run. Perhaps I just got lucky but in IBD, never felt this way with my analyst and early asso classes, we shared really good moments and had a sense of camaraderie in the bad and good times which created a really strong bound (still super close to them today).

Now, how I deal with it? I personally try to keep me head down and see the silver lining. There are a lot of cons' but equally some good pros' and a lot of people would love to get our seats. I used to care a lot about my job (way too much actually, at a point I felt almost responsible for a PortCo having to layoff a bunch of people) and I now got to the point where I don't throw 200% of myself into it, I still do the job and perform accordingly. Finally, I also found a hobby outside work with a clear purpose/goal to work to and this has been a real game changer in my day-to-day. 

 

Lol OK Andrew Tate. All jokes aside (OP here), I do get your point and actually do agree that people should try to escape the matrix, but that term is so often used with the connotation of just quitting your job and to "be free" without having any actionable concrete plan on how to do so. And no, dropshipping doesn't count. Most the people having done this have also built zero credible, defensible, and tangible skill sets and that's why so many of these people just try to become Tiktok / Youtube / Twitter famous (not to say that doesn't require skill, because I genuinely believe it does, but you get my point. These people usually aren't building the next Ramp or the next SpaceX). 

For every successful college dropout you see there's 1000x more that utterly failed. I think its all about developing your skillset up to a certain point where the risk of actually trying to "escape the matrix" and failing is significantly minimized and the return rate of succeeding is significantly increased as well..

 

Personally I just feel like anyone who goes to an ivy or caliber school has the ability to make a successful business model and has crazy good skill set. For example you op. You are a great writer and I think you can do very good at that. Like imagine if you put the amount of time you put into your career in mfpe and ib into your writing passion I cannot see a way you fail and you will figure out how to turn it into a profitable business. But some peoples minds personally have this beaten out of them by the matrix. It’s fine I just hope you use time and really fine tune this and come up with a way to use your writing and story telling skill to make you a scalable business. I think to many people in finance sell them shorts of their passions just for the money that’s not enough in the grand scheme of things. But to each their own

 

Personally I just feel like anyone who goes to an ivy or caliber school has the ability to make a successful business model and has crazy good skill set. For example you op. You are a great writer and I think you can do very good at that. Like imagine if you put the amount of time you put into your career in mfpe and ib into your writing passion I cannot see a way you fail and you will figure out how to turn it into a profitable business. But some peoples minds personally have this beaten out of them by the matrix. It’s fine I just hope you use time and really fine tune this and come up with a way to use your writing and story telling skill to make you a scalable business. I think to many people in finance sell them shorts of their passions just for the money that’s not enough in the grand scheme of things. But to each their own

 

Personally I just feel like anyone who goes to an ivy or caliber school has the ability to make a successful business model and has crazy good skill set. For example you op. You are a great writer and I think you can do very good at that. Like imagine if you put the amount of time you put into your career in mfpe and ib into your writing passion I cannot see a way you fail and you will figure out how to turn it into a profitable business. But some peoples minds personally have this beaten out of them by the matrix. It’s fine I just hope you use time and really fine tune this and come up with a way to use your writing and story telling skill to make you a scalable business. I think to many people in finance sell them shorts of their passions just for the money that’s not enough in the grand scheme of things. But to each their own

 

Personally I just feel like anyone who goes to an ivy or caliber school has the ability to make a successful business model and has crazy good skill set. For example you op. You are a great writer and I think you can do very good at that. Like imagine if you put the amount of time you put into your career in mfpe and ib into your writing passion I cannot see a way you fail and you will figure out how to turn it into a profitable business. But some peoples minds personally have this beaten out of them by the matrix. It’s fine I just hope you use time and really fine tune this and come up with a way to use your writing and story telling skill to make you a scalable business. I think to many people in finance sell them shorts of their passions just for the money that’s not enough in the grand scheme of things. But to each their own

 

Personally I just feel like anyone who goes to an ivy or caliber school has the ability to make a successful business model and has crazy good skill set. For example you op. You are a great writer and I think you can do very good at that. Like imagine if you put the amount of time you put into your career in mfpe and ib into your writing passion I cannot see a way you fail and you will figure out how to turn it into a profitable business. But some peoples minds personally have this beaten out of them by the matrix. It’s fine I just hope you use time and really fine tune this and come up with a way to use your writing and story telling skill to make you a scalable business. I think to many people in finance sell them shorts of their passions just for the money that’s not enough in the grand scheme of things. But to each their own

 

Personally I just feel like anyone who goes to an ivy or caliber school has the ability to make a successful business model and has crazy good skill set. For example you op. You are a great writer and I think you can do very good at that. Like imagine if you put the amount of time you put into your career in mfpe and ib into your writing passion I cannot see a way you fail and you will figure out how to turn it into a profitable business. But some peoples minds personally have this beaten out of them by the matrix. It’s fine I just hope you use time and really fine tune this and come up with a way to use your writing and story telling skill to make you a scalable business. I think to many people in finance sell them shorts of their passions just for the money that’s not enough in the grand scheme of things. But to each their own

 
Controversial

I love all these crying posts because they always operate under the pretense that the person in PE has no options to leave, like it is indentured servitude lol.

I guess at least this OP knows what it must feel like for the poor blue collar worker who eventually realizes no matter how hard he works, he will never ever pay off his student debt and mortgage lol.

 

First of all, you definitely missed your calling as a writer— this was excellent to read.

What you are experiencing is probably more emblematic of NYC on the one hand and UMM/MF PE on the other. I've worked in PE in NYC and in secondary/tertiary markets, and the latter tends to be a lot less numbing than the former. I think the numbness is tied to both size of deal and geography, and it's probably more influenced by the former.

When you think about the deployment model, that makes some sense: Most MF and UMM are playing an AUM game, which selects for deployment above all, which in turn selects for DealTron9000 robots who make the same 5 lame jokes, go to the same dozen or so St. Regis/Aman resorts, and who make me want to kill myself when I run into them in Jackson.

I've found that LMM tends not to have that same robotic monotony. There are at least three reasons for that: (1) DealTron9000 does not mesh well with a good ol' boy selling a $7mm EBITDA business; (2) We are playing a MOIC game, which is (in my opinion) more fun and selects for gregariousness and grit rather than financial intelligence/political savvy; and (3) Teams are smaller and less institutionalized, so there are more opportunities to authentically shoot the shit. The trade offs lie primarily within the fact that the work can be awful (L5Y PDF monthly income statements with inconsistent line items, portfolio companies are woefully unsophisticated, you're probably grinding add-ons in hope that the multiple arbitrage model isn't dead).

I also saw a shop where I spent a good bit of time transition from the LMM model to a much more MM/UMM model. A lot of those "rough edged" moments where a partner and I went rock climbing, crushed beers, and missed our 6am flight the next day were sanded off as the focus became on growing AUM rather than on capturing MOIC. In some sense, the sanding is natural: LPs are investing in an institution and demand consistent results; it's just that those consistent results drive the Prozium monotony of smiling through the umpteenth revision of IC materials to reflect updated SG&A synergy drivers that move IRR 0.3%. Many partnership groups of LMM funds follow this transition, get their billion dollar fund, and continue on their own hedonic treadmill in search of upgrading from a NetJets card to their own plane.

Where do I find joy? My children's smiles because I am always at soccer games. Quiet moments with my wife as we walk the dog in the mountains. Sending the Fingers at Squaw. And I will walk away from this business the second that those joyful moments are compromised. I hope anyone would.

 

My sentiments regarding LMM precisely. I assume you work in this capacity.

I wrote a longer comment below. You seem to have the same mindset about PE I have, same mandates. I'm 20 and am searching all over for learning opportunities from people who are taking a more entrepreneurial and dynamic approach to investment, more on the human element. I want to work in smaller teams and observe what exactly driving growth looks like operationally, to experience the nuances and subtleties of the work in the context of the human element. I want to learn from your experiences. 

If you are looking for interns message me.

Let me know. I'm more than happy to come down to Mississipi for a learning opportunity like this.

 

You are an amazing writer. This brings to mind my favorite quote from Atlas Shrugged: 

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It's yours."

It's never too late to change your course. 

 

To be clear most of this is because of the last 3 generations that have corporatized the shit out of the workplace. I have worked at large cap sponsors and seen in front of my eyes every last drop of culture squeezed out as HR expanded its grip in the face of the changing winds of culture. The firm calls it "professionalization".

Every Monday the partners used to ask who got in the most trouble this weekend and the stories shared would get you me tood instantly today. Then the makeup of our teams changed and we couldn't do that anymore. 

 

Would highly, highly recommend doing something different on the weekends as others have mentioned. It’s completely changed my emotional ability to do this job. Trying new stuff out, whether that’s a restaurant, coffee shop, etc. keeps me sane. Sometimes I’ll fly or take a train just to do a day trip or quick overnighter somewhere new, just to travel and get out of my own head. Cost is easy to rationalize if you convince yourself it’s necessary to maintain your ability to do this job, which for me I genuinely think it is. When I feel like I wasted a weekend and just doing the same thing all the time it makes my whole outlook on the week negative vs. planning a quick trip all week and having something to look forward to on a Saturday.

For example, I’m doing banking in a T2 city (think SF / BOS) and typically have 36 hours between Friday at 9pm to Sunday at 9am to do whatever I want most weekends. I spend the week searching for new outdoor activities (could be hiking a new trail, camping in a new geography, traveling to a nearby city, going to a new park or museum in my city, trying a new restaurant along the way, etc.) and making an itinerary for those 36 hours. The more cool and new shit I can do that’s not on my phone and not in my apartment makes those 36 hours feel like much longer. Highly recommend getting a hiking backpack, tent and gear, and if you have the time go hiking and camping one weekend. I think it’s one of the best ways to refresh before having to clock back in on and stare at a screen for the next 6 days.

 

OP here. Appreciate all the thoughts / responses, and overall agree with everyone. Recognize reading the post back that it was pretty dramatic lol so want to add a few more thoughts here, but I do think that in many ways that embodies the reality of many of our emotional states. Most days, everything is fine and things are by no means horrible. As a matter of fact, by all measures some days are actually quite good or even great. But it's really the slow, almost invisible, change. 1 inch a day until you really only realize months later that overall, you're not doing all too well - and even that realization only marinades for a few moments until you're back "zoned in", because you know you need to be in that headspace to function at a high level.

As for next steps, most likely will be going into a Series C startup to get some operating exposure and then hopefully down the entrepreneurship route. For those saying I'm "just realizing" corporate America or that this is the result of "not knowing what you want", what's interesting is I fully was aware of this coming out of college, but given how niche and specialized the industry that I am passionate about is, I knew it wasn't a space where I could just start a company right out of college (i.e., I'm not in consumer / tech, though I recognize many sub-verticals within those require significant specialization as well). Knew that one of (but definitely not the only) the fastest way to accelerate my career and to start entrepreneurship in a situation that maximized my risk-adjusted return was banking/PE. And to be quite honest, it was worth it and more. And having specialized in my industry for both IB (coverage group) and PE, I was pleasantly surprised at how much about the industry I learned as well (despite many aspects of the job I feel are absolutely hilarious / idiotic, such as the mental gymnastics we go through when modeling just to show the firm our analysis and conclusions are "data-informed"). 

If I could just say one thing, I hope it's that no one here thinks that I feel sorry for myself or regret anything. Truthfully, when I look back at the last 4 years, I'm really only filled with gratitude and it really does feel like a movie (yes - a horror movie and a psyop many days but overall an inspiring one). It's really true that you can't grow without pain, and as long as the pain doesn't jade you permanently, it forges you into someone you never thought you'd be! A close mentor of mine who became an entrepreneur after leaving PE (and made quite a shit ton of money doing so) told me that after IB/PE, "you will never be this stressed again; you'll be stressed, but not in the ways you are right now". I certainly am starting to see what he meant by that and assume he was alluding to the stress associated with the numbing repetition, the cold soulless asks and conversations, etc. 

If I could sum it up, its that I wouldn't trade this for anything, but god damn do I need a break. 

When I take a step back and think of my (and our) situations calm and collectively, it really is clear there is just so much that is wrong and twisted. All around me I see seniors/VPs that are lifeless, or just robots. I'm sure the reason this website is so popular and has created a such a strong subculture as well is how shockingly similar many of our experiences are. Seeing someone in PE with spark and energy and purity and a good heart is just rare. But like someone above said, maybe that's not just PE. Maybe that's just corporate America. Maybe that's just what happens as we age, as people (regardless of industry) lose hope and interests and become completely satisfied with "just staying afloat" and medicate with endless scrolling and Netflix. And to go against everything I said in my original post, maybe it's these people who have been beat down and are numbed down, but continue to execute and execute and execute with a fake smile on their face, whether its rainy or sunny or whether they just got divorced or gotten dumped, who are the commendable ones. Who knows. I just hope that "numbed down" or "dark" version of those people is just temporary and a moment in time. A coping mechanism, a way to stay afloat. Not something to fall into permanently. 

 

One thing I'll note about the startup life, I would highly suggest pursuing exclusively roles that are fully in person. I am a top tier Series C startup (e.g., raised 2x up round last year from consensus tier 1 VC, despite the funding environment). After the honeymoon period of 9 months, it is absolutely soulless to have your manager be in a different timezone and connect for 30 min a day and have most of your colleagues remote. I am in our HQ but it doesn't matter if 60%+ of the company is remote.

This will actually severely limit your options but the selectivity is worth it from an engagement perspective imo. At a minimum, make sure your entire team is in the location you are.