Changing friendships when becoming successful

Recently I've had to think a lot about how some old friends, who have been close to me in the past, have greatly changed their behavior towards me after I have received life changing opportunities in my professional career.

I come from a highly non-traditional background (think sports, arts, military, etc.) and have recently received the most amazing opportunities which I honestly couldn't have dreamed of one year ago. I was accepted into a top target school in Europe and received an early internship offer for one of the most famous firms on this forum. My life is taking a drastic change for the better. This has truly been amazing for me and I am very grateful for these opportunities!

In spite of all these incredible things that have happened to me, a lot has changed in my social life as well. And not always for the better. Some of my old friends who are still following my previous (not even closely as prestigious) career path have started to perceive me very differently. I'm feeling as though my every word is being monitored for clues of arrogance and I have to be cautious all the time about how I present my recent life-events in order to come off as humble. It also seems as if some people are actively trying to find clues that im not as intelligent as the opportunities I'm getting would suggest. All of this is starting to be a real pain in the ass for me.

My original plan was to always stay true to my background and not forget where I come from. I really wanted to retain my old friendships from my past career but im now having doubts about wether it is such a good idea after all.

My question to you is if you've also had similar experiences after getting those truly life changing opportunities? It's really hard to be genuine and share your successes with someone if he or she is not really happy for you. Will people be jealous of me regardless of my behaviour or could it be that I'm just not accustomed to presenting my new self? Or should I just ditch my old friends and be done with it? What was your solution to the problem?

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Comments (38)

Best Response
Jul 24, 2017

Only 2 of my childhood friends have kept cool. All the rest, of which there were quite a few, turned into fucking retards. From people who doubted my ability and would always have some snide commentary, to others who refused to understand that I knew what i was talking about, all of them couldn't even comprehend the notion that someone they knew wasn't a complete idiot. These are people who never went to college or at best went to community college, yet they just could not grasp the idea that there was something beyond their experience.

This is going to sound harsh, but I've come to the conclusion that the best strategy is a one-strike strategy. The minute they piss you off, forget about them. Don't say or do anything overt, just stop paying attention to them. It'll take them a while to notice, and they will, but you just keep doing you. Do not slow down, do not stop, do not divert even the tiniest unit of your attention to thinking about people like that. Focus on making new friends as you go.

Words I live by: "friends come and go, just make sure they do for the right reasons."

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Jul 24, 2017

I have 2 criteria for friends:
1. Being a genuine and good human being (empathetic, kind, helps others when no one is looking, etc.)
2. Pushing me in the right direction (I like people who work harder than I do, it makes me push myself more).

The second criteria is usually optional, all of my oldest friends who meet the former but not the latter I still consider to be my best friends. If someone isn't genuine and doesn't motivate and help you chase your dreams, then candidly, I don't think they meet the definition of friend. If you find that to be the case, put your blinders on and keep working hard.

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Jul 24, 2017

I completely agree with you, those are the two things I look for in my friends too.

Jul 27, 2017

Love this point man. Absolutely +1 SB!

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Jul 24, 2017

I'm not in IB and my profession is a few rungs down in terms of "prestige" or compensation, but even still can relate. More a testament to the fact that 95% of people on this earth have zero ambition or desire to truly better themselves than to my own intelligence, motivation, and professional success.

Nonetheless, my background is definitely blue collar grinder. I actually went to a semi-decent public high school, and objectively speaking I'm still probably more professionally successful than 90% of my classmates. The last three people I recall running into from my HS class were 1) working as a bank branch manager and had gained literally about 100 pounds since last time I saw her; 2) working as assistant manager at McDonald's (can't lie, I dig their sausage and egg breakfast burritos); and 3) the "president" of a software development company, a.k.a. unemployed and living rent free in his grandma's house. My university cohort has not proven much different.

My overall strategy is to not even bother keeping in touch with people who I don't feel add any value to my existence. There will always be haters, whether you're Gordon Gekko Jr. or the tradie who picked up all the overtime hours he could and just pulled into the subdivision with a new Ford F-250 King Ranch. If your circle is really that negative and toxic and can't process your success, consider taking an inventory of your "friends"; chances are you don't need that many friends. I deleted my Facebook years ago and have otherwise whittled down my circle of people I consider friends to three or four who I know I could ask for a ride to the airport or for help moving. The rest are either family or professional acquaintances.

That being said, I'm not a complete sociopath and still struggle with family. I made more money last year than my dad has saved in his 401(k), and my parents still refuse to let me pick up the check at Outback Steakhouse (not my first choice but they love that place). So, I just let them. Whether they pay now and let me save my money, or I pay and let them save my future inheritance, it's one pocket vs. the other.

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Jul 27, 2017

Not my first choice either but I will say I love that goddamned bloom n onion

Jul 24, 2017

Some great advice from my fellow monkeys again!

I've been thinking that it must be really hard for my old friends to see someone from the same set of circumstances become really succesfull. They must find some kind of way out of their dilemma. Hence, they try to rationalize everything for their little brains by attributing it to luck or talking me down.

Jul 24, 2017

While that's probably the reality, those are things you should never actually say lol. Many things in life are like this: think it, don't say it.

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Jul 24, 2017

Personally, I wouldn't talk to my friends who come from low economic status, its just weird because they're technically up to my level.

-MikeFromBaruchII
Son of a VP at a Boutique
"If you cant work transactions why not advisory?" - Quote
Leverage Leverage Leverage - Motto

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Jul 27, 2017

Is this guy a troll? Most of his posts suggest so.

Jul 27, 2017

Yes he is most definitely a troll

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Jul 27, 2017

Your friendship should be true and real and the same should reflect from the other side too.

Jul 27, 2017

I think I know this guy lol. Lemme take a shot at who you are:
1.) Background - Arts (Music)
2.) School - LSE/Bocconi (MFin)
3.) Internship - Qatalyst

As for your question, sure, people get jealous, bitches get hornier over the extra moolah, etc etc. Your job is to make sure that it does not get into your head, that you stay away from money grubbing bitches (and maybe collect trophies from them too - like their panties), while ensuring that the friends who stick around with you through your journey are kept in touch with. Everybody wants to know somebody successful, and let other people know that they know such a person. You'll be making your true friends proud by just staying in touch with them.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Jul 27, 2017

I have experienced similar phenomenon and I've realized that the more you climb up, you have to change your social circle because generally speaking your old friends either 1. becomes super jealous and tear you down 2. or they stay true and encourage your success. Obviously #2 is harder to come by as most people are very jealous in nature. Once you find that one or two old friends, you don't need more.

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Jul 27, 2017

I think, while so much in my life has changed for the better in such a short time, I was somewhat hopeful that personal relationships wouldn't. This is obviously almost impossible since all of this has changed me as a person and how I'm being perceived. My old buddies have for sure started to see me as that guy who made it to xyz-uni and xyz-firm. It's very difficult for them to see me without that label. Summa summarum: I've learned a great deal about life, other people and myself during this very short period.

Still, I wouldn't go back to how my life was before all of this...

Jul 27, 2017

get you a wicked good friend like ben affleck

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Jul 27, 2017

I know what you're going through. A little about me, I come from a historically, economically depressed region of the US - roughly 5% of people in my hometown have bachelor's degrees or better.

I worked and received a good scholarship, went to the best (private) university in my state for my major, and slaved away for 5 years after graduation in public accounting. I am now a M&A analyst for a rapidly expanding, multi billion dollar company.

This is going to sound brash, but the further into "this world" you get, the less you will be able to relate to your old friends. This isn't to say that you're "arrogant" or consider yourself better than them. It's that your life is going to give you such a different experience than what they know that you're going to have trouble making conversation beyond small talk or nostalgia.

I no longer keep in contact with anyone I went to high school with. There's a small handful of guys that I know I could call and they would be up to help me out in any way that they could, and I hope they know that I would do the same. But as far as hanging out, watching the game, anything else of the sort, nah. It's awkward.

College friends are slowly but surely becoming the same, and I was in a fraternity. There's a few that I will always keep up with, the rest will simply stay in the Rolodex. I feel like I'm closer to people that I worked with at past employment stops than most anyone else aside from my fiance.

If you ask me, you're better off keeping your circle small.

Also, the less you actively participate in social media, the happier you'll be. There are better ways to get your dopamine.

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Jul 27, 2017

As much as you have changed, you need to change the way you think of friends.

When you're five, it's easy to find friends because you yourself are pretty simple, maybe you like the same TV show, video games, or sports.

As you age, it's hard to find someone who aligns to every one of your interest. For example, maybe you have a buddy you play golf with, but won't be someone you would want to discuss music/politics with. So you have another friend who likes music, but doesn't care about golf. That's okay.

I'm pretty similar to above and the OP, people change and that okay, just don't be snobby and know when you're talking over someones head. If you're in this business, most people think you sit around yelling buy and sell all day.

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Jul 27, 2017

no room for puppy dogs in the wolf pack

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Jul 27, 2017

Wolf Pack of One

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Jul 27, 2017

I have old friends who are like that. Then they follow you on IG and add your FB when you make one. They can't live with themselves, that's all. I'm sure if you threw a yacht party with hundreds of hoes, they will tell you how much they have always loved you through a wide smile, drooling your champagne.

Jul 27, 2017

Its not necessarily like you make an effort to change, your schedule changes, your routines change, and you end up hanging out with people in different circles.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 27, 2017

Similar story here. For some "friends," our victories are not their victories.
I remember when I was accepted to a target school that my friends wanted to get into, I did not receive any congratulations or any happiness from my friends. I know that it's tough for them, but at least be a good sport. Whenever I wore my school's shirts etc., he got super bitter and shit. It's super sad that he ruined a friendship due to his insecurity.

My advice is just to be courteous with them, but distance yourself. You are on a different life path than they are and if they are not happy with your success then they should not be your friend.

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Jul 27, 2017

if your "friends" are acting that way towards you, they're not really your friends. I came from a lower-middle class background and plenty of my blue collar childhood friends are genuinely happy for me. Just be sure you're distinguishing between ribbing/friendly shit talking and genuinely hoping someone fails

Jul 27, 2017

I don't keep people in my life that are toxic. I remain in decent contact with one person from my high school and three people from undergrad.

I will say it is going to be hard not to overly show your enthusiasm for your new career path. Your true friends will be happy to hear it and be supportive...up to a point. Make sure you remain interested in them and their goals as well. Nobody wants to hear a half hour speech every time they see you about WHY your group is more prestigious than the same group at Y bank and what all the exit opportunities are.

My best friend from UG and I started at the same job during school. I just finished at a top 5 b-school and am going into a top consulting firm; he has a house, wife, two kids and is a firefighter - he just got promoted to run crews on the trucks. I'm proud of my friend, his family and the life he's carved out for himself, he is proud of my career path and that I've been able to accomplish my very different goals. I try not to talk about my career for more than 5-10 minutes when we meet up, because I know that he's generally interested in my well being, but it's just a different world that he can't fully relate to. When your friends DO try to relate and respond to your stories with comparisons from their own life, don't look down on those comparisons even if they sound ridiculous to you, they're important to your friends (it's easy to start explaining why things are such a big deal, but when you do that, it invalidates what your friends are saying).

Long story short, take care of the relationships that you keep and let the other ones fall away. It opens the opportunity for new friendships that are more aligned with your lifestyle and career interests. Everyone else you can see at the 10 year reunion.

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Jul 27, 2017

Already imagining myself trying to explain to someone at my 10 year HS reunion why my PE gig at a MF he's never heard of is more prestigious than IBD at GS. Hahaha

Jokes aside. Well said and can definitely relate to your advice. +1 SB

Jul 28, 2017

If it's a megafund, how come he would never hear about it?

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Jul 27, 2017

I've been through this- am quite a bit older than you now so here are a few lessons I've learned. Stay humble. Enjoy the great opportunities and be proud of yourself but if you are dedicated to keeping these friendships keep the office/school life out of the friendship and keep the friendship based on things you both like and/or like to do together. I made the mistake (realized in hindsight) of flaunting my success to those who didn't have the same tangible level of success in my younger years and didn't realize that by talking about my experiences all the time (which is self centered if the person you are speaking to can't relate). Now when I sense that people are jealous or a little insecure of my success when compared to theirs by comments they may make- I say things like "it doesn't matter"- to put them at ease- the same way I would want someone to say it to me if I was in their situation. Hope this helps.

Jul 28, 2017

Great points.

Another tip - offer to pick up a round now and again, but don't make it the routine or continuously grab the check. Especially with guys, it can be emasculating to be on the receiving end of this, its a constant reminder that you're now in a different socio-economic class. Don't stop friends from buying a round when they want to either, just graciously thank them.

Bottom line is, be extra humble with those not on your career path. Bragging is for your parents and your spouse.

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Jul 27, 2017

You should surround yourself with people that will push you to keep making more.

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Jul 27, 2017

Welcome to a different league boy. models and bottles.

Jul 28, 2017

This post hits close to home. I have issues with family. I come from a URM background and was raised by a single mother. I was the first in my family to go college and later grad school. In undergrad I struggled: didn't focus on school as much as I should have, didn't have the proper finances, and did not come in with a plan.

I graduated & got boutiques IB internships, earned a full-ride into grad school, and my gpa is a 3.6. I'm a solid contender for MM & BB summer analyst positions. In addition, I started traveling within the US/Asia/Europe/Latin America, and am really starting to enjoy life, BUT WANT MORE. I also started developing a keen sense for how people behave and what motivates them. This is where the polishing comes in; that "he gets it" factor needed to be successful in IB.

I've lent money in good faith to family members with financial issues. Not only did I not get paid back, but they were offended I even brought up being owed. This only further pissed me off. I've come to terms with this write-off. My mother attempted to sabotage my goals, friends made snide comments, and have faced other sorts of negative encounters up until now.

What you need to do is figure out if these attacks are a phase, deep jealousy, is this behavior affecting you, and is the relationship salvageable. My mother's deep jealousy has resulted in increasing attempts to manipulate. I can't cut her out of my life completely but I can severely reduce my personal investment. I'm no psycho so I will have her back in any emergency no matter what as well as anybody in my family. I began to invest more of my time in my great-aunt who is the sweetest old lady and supports my goals OPENLY with AUTHENTICITY. I have a friend w an ROTC background who works for a Big 4 firm. He's a solid guy inside and out. I was always the skinny guy but I began to put on muscle mass and at 1st he made occasional snarky remarks but later we became closer as we worked out together. Case 2 was just a phase. He just wasn't used to seeing me different. Case 1 was deep and resulted in calculated attacks. There's a profound difference.

These are growing pains and very natural. These people are struggling with taking accountability for their life and fear the hard work that is required to become successful. I also noticed how quick people were to ask for financial favors and spend that money. However, when I tried to plant seeds of how to be financial independent, advocated an importance of a good education, and how to network to position yourself better ALL this information was disregarded. In fact, some people will claim you're "controlling, arrogant, trying to change them, etc."

I like @Kassad one-strike method. Family/really close friends typically get 3-strikes. Colleagues or other personal relationships that don't benefit my goals or well-being are on one-strike method for sure. Don't be afraid to cut anybody off just handle it swiftly and quietly.

Work hard, work clean, & most of all do not give up.

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Aug 1, 2017

This thread definitely resonates with me. Good luck to you OP.

Aug 3, 2017

Definitely relate on this one. To be fair, I feel a big mistake taken by those in our position is that alot of the times we starting thinking under the assumption that everyone is experiencing the same thing as us. Maybe at times, I could have been arrogant, or said some things that came off very boldly to those that didnt have what I had.

Back to the situation, I had worked at two large name banks (one in IB) by my sophomore year. I came back to my school with lots of stories about my times, but no one wanted to hear a lick of it. I found that whenever they did come to me, was for advise on how to get into banking, or nothing substantial at all. It came a point where basically I felt that people around me were just giving me hateful eyes, finding any way to bust my balls, & just wishing my downfall in general. When junior year recruiting season came along, I couldn't believe the two-faced sadistic sides of the close people around me that came out. I was heartbroken. & when some of these friends that I felt I was really supportive towards got jobs, they all seemed to forget who was their real friend that actually wanted them to succeed with him all along. The only thing they seemed to remember me as, was someone that had more at a time than they did which I assumed hurt their egos. From that moment on, I felt that the treating me like shit habit, continued.

I came to realize that a hefty majority of people want you to do well, but not "better" than them. I continually try to see and understand that there could have been times where my excitement for my situation pissed some people off. I also came to accept, I needed to tailor myself and realize that my success wasn't so important to others.

But for the most part, as mentioned before, majority of people don't want to "push the envelope", move out of their comfort zone, and take the necessary actions to be successful. It takes someone in their social circle whom they use to attribute their personal self worth, to be more successful, thus, pressuring them to follow the same. I have always been the type to try to improve constantly, & i came to the realization that alot of the people around me didn't look to this as inspiration, but instead was intimidated by it. THIS particular aspect I noticed in my friends broke my heart more than anything else. I felt when going into college, that the friends I would gather on my journey towards success would be the people that I could trust and collaborate with.

After long thought on the issue, I came to the decision that I needed to see through my friends insecurities but understand that I couldn't let their actions dictate my potential trajectory. It made me think about relating more to people that arn't or would never be in my fortunate situation. It made me look outside of my social circle to understand that there was a whole sea of more potential friends that could bring so much more color to my life. I feel that pursuing the finance & banking route tends to make people elitist and very prejudice to those not in the industry. I felt strongly that I needed to be different.

Lastly, it made me understand that only a very select few & most importantly your family should be the ones in your inner circle.

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself

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Aug 3, 2017

In regards to banking & if these friends of yours are looking to do follow the same route as you, another thing to understand is that that alot of people pursuing this false dream have this idea that its the ultimate path to super happiness.

I personally like to look at senior MDs at big banks or those that hold positions that I could only dream of & ask myself, "Are they really that much more happy than I am on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis than I am?" Alot of times these people are super miserable. This is the potential path that you, me, many pursuing this field could fall into if not done right & with a sane mine and perspective.

I've spoken with numerous MDs, PE professionals, & CEOs to see that these people are not that much more happy than you or I are. If any thing they are more stressed.

The most notable experience for me was a time I had the rare chance to have lunch with a BB bank CEO of one of their foreign arms, and the first thing that went through my mind when chatting with him/her, was, "Wow, this face hasn't smiled for at least a decade." Id crack a joke here and there, just to see that a very subtle smirk of his/her face would tremble. I really questioned, "is this the career path I want?" " What is the purpose of making millions of dollars if it comes at the cost of even being able to put a simple smile to your face." Maybe I was just that fucking ugly to him/her lol.

Point is, I feel that most if not all of us pursuing this career path need to audit our expectations, and that unfortunately alot of people looking towards banking or success as a be all end all are walking into a trap that could hurt themselves and anyone that comes around them. A job in Banking should be a means to an end that helps enrich your life, bring value to the economy, and put you in positions to make dreams happen for the ones close to you (financial freedom, travel, improved perspectives, more).

Don't break yourself on the way to making yourself

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Aug 3, 2017

Really well articulated in both comments, both deserve the +1 SB. I would emphasize that most of my oldest friends never wanted to see me succeed on a level that surpassed their own. Many were very supportive of me when I had no financial experience, but when I called up a couple close friends and spoke with insatiable excitement and happiness, their responses were cold, and most hardly offered a congrats. They were doing high level consulting or IB internships, and saw me as someone who in one foul swoop surpassed them. I earned my position, and went above and beyond on a case study, had no connections, etc., but in their eyes I was suddenly competition. Being cognizant of who your real friends is one thing you have to constantly do as you move up in the world of finance. I went from having a circle of 50+ "good" friends to roughly 15, only 2 of which I talk about my career goals, successes, and failures.

TL:DR : most people may say they want you to be successful, but the moment you start to make it and become competition, everything changes.

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Aug 4, 2017
Aug 4, 2017