Developing a Yogi/Monk's work ethic for IB

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I think people in IB take pride in having a shit lifestyle that completely destroys their health and wellbeing (both physical and mental).
I was wondering if there is anyone who has stayed clean in IB (at least worked for 5+ years)

No redbulls, No hookers, No drugs, just a simple life of acceptance!
Basically I'm asking how a Yogi or Monk would work in IB.

If there is, I'd like to ask him about his work ethic and routine
As I'd like to develop a similar work ethic (80 hour work weeks + eating habits, exercise, yoga, hobbys, etc.)

If there isn't anyone, I shall probably not survive in IB/PE for more than 2-3 years

Also I think we can all agree that bankers who have not sorted thier lifestyle out and live on a day to day basis, are just hurting themselves, selling their soul for money, and it's just not worth it.

I think some Senior Bankers could share their experiences on any methods to the madness.

Comments (43)

 
Most Helpful
  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Aug 2, 2020 - 10:31am

I'd say the vast majority of people in IB to some degree hold characteristics of psychopathy or sociopathy. No one in their right mind would be satisfied working 100+ hours a week. Look at the people around you that are happy and satisfied with an average lifestyle (nothing wrong with it). A job like IB to them requires a level of ambition and energy that they simply don't have or care to develop because they are satisfied or can't imagine themselves achieving this higher level of performance. People in IB or other "prestigious' jobs such as pro sports all have some degree of ambition to be the best. I think most of us subconsciously choose this field because it's so fucking competitive that given our own competitive nature we want to beat others to it. Some of us like the pain that comes with the grind because it's satisfying. At Least for myself, it's a rush that other fields can't provide me with. I think people who get their bodies filled with tattoos, ride motorcycles, gamble, or do anything that aren't necessarily good for you (temporary pain of tattoos, risk of dying in a motor cycle, going broke or developing a gambling addiction) like individuals who get into IB, just love living at a higher level of life.

It's just fucking fun or at least we convince ourselves that it's fun. I couldn't ever be happy doing something that doesn't push my boundaries. The pain is accompanied by lucrative rewards. It's like anything else in life - going to the gym to get ripped or the above-mentioned examples.

But to answer your question, I'm sure there are "monk" type of individuals that last in IB but I believe they last because they're truly interested in the field or they leave because they aren't interested. Whereas the people who kill their health end up staying not because they're so passionate of IB but because they just love grinding and reap the rewards that come with it.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 2, 2020 - 12:35pm

Is it just not that deep for anyone else? I went into IB because I was studying business/finance, and got interested in it during recruiting through info sessions and just speaking to other students and professionals in the industry. Like, yea I had to do a lot of work to land good offers, but all of my friends who went into consulting, tech, medicine, etc grinded their asses off too, but had different career/academic interests

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Funniest
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 2, 2020 - 1:00pm

Yea I think that guy was just projecting, he sounds like a Patrick Batemen wannabe lol

You can be ambitious/hard-working without being a psychopath/sociopath. I don't think most ppl in IB are "satisfied working 100+ hours a week", it's just something we have to deal with for a short time.

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Aug 2, 2020 - 2:41pm

Lol how much you wanna bet if this dude ever hits the desk he's gonna get burnt out and make a "IB vs CS" post within 2 weeks. You're waaaay overthinking it bro- most people are just trying to make it through another day lol. It's really not the coke-fuelled race to the top most people think it is. If you ever work an actual 100 hour week in your life you're gonna change your tune so goddamn fast

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Aug 2, 2020 - 3:24pm

And so I'm keen on finding out whether there is a sane way to do it.

You made an excellent comparison between Professional Athletes and Bankers, both being highly competitive and demanding.

Many such athletes face problems later in their lives due to overtraining and physical trauma. So much that they have to live the rest of their lives on sedatives and drugs.

Although top tier athletes have experts to make sure they don't push too hard, I don't think senior bankers have any such expertise.

Any senior bankers here? that could let in on their secrets. 5 years of 70-80 hour workweeks is enough to drive anyone crazy...

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Aug 2, 2020 - 3:37pm

Lots of teenagers will give you a SB, but your whole argument is based on the premise that clinical psychopathy/sociopathy (antisocial behavior disorder) is correlated with ambition and/or the search for an "uncomfortable" yet rewarding environment.

That's simply not true. The general consensus is that psychopaths are born like that while sociopaths are made. A sociopath is your local meth dealer born in a dysfunctional family who never learnt to feel empathy. He has a very short attention span and will enter a "sociopathic rage" if triggered. The sociopath is the kind of guy ending up in jail or dead after a police shooting. He is unable to maintain a stable life. A good example is Ed Gein.

Now the psychopath is more functional than the sociopath, and is likely to maintain a more stable life because he has better self-control of his emotions and reactions. Like him, he has low empathy, and like him, will engage in risk-seeking activities to get an adrenaline and dopamine shot. That's why comparing motorcycle rides and staring at an Excel sheet 100 hours a week is wrong: rides provide dopamine and adrenaline, whereas an IB job is merely a way to obtain something likely to provide one with dopamine, i.e. money. However, there's no real "ambition" in psychopaths, and most of them are fucking losers.

If you want to look at IB executives from a psychological perspective, you may be more successful by putting them on an autism spectrum - most of them have mild Asperger.

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  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Aug 2, 2020 - 3:52pm

I definitely didn't mean to state that there is a correlation between ambition and psychopathy/sociopathy. Also, what you're saying isn't true.

  1. There are two types of sociopaths. You're describe a low-functioning sociopath. A high-functioning sociopath is much smarter and charming than a low-functioning sociopath. Low-functioning sociopaths are unable to disguise themselves and like you said, are easily triggered. Psychopaths and high-functioning sociopaths are two different beasts but they also have overlapping characteristics such as lack of empathy, charm, manipulative tendencies, etc.

  2. No one said running excel for 100 hours gives anyone an adrenaline rush. Working on multiple to several tasks with extremely short deadlines and intense pressure does give individuals adrenaline. Pouring yourself a cup of coffee and putting on your headsets to play your favorite beats at 12am because you know you're going to be up all night will give you adrenaline. See the difference? I didn't say the work itself gives adrenaline, it's the working environment you're in. A motorcycle doesn't give you adrenaline, the speed and surrounding environment gives you adrenaline.

*Edit: I want to also add that there isn't a correlation between ambition and psychopathy/sociopathy, but ask yourself where do educated individuals with psychopathy/sociopathy traits end up? They end up in competitive fields like investment banking because the environment they're in gives them a degree of adrenaline. Why would an educated individual with traits of a psychopath or sociopath pursue ridiculous activities that could put them in jail all just to get adrenaline? They wouldn't. They're smart enough to seek alternatives - like investment banking.

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Aug 2, 2020 - 5:39pm

I find it difficult to sit at a desk and just grind, grind, grind. Doing endless PPTs, models and writing IMs is very difficult. The essence of my mental image of a monk is someone who can just sit and grind and pump out the work. Forget the other aspects of prestige. Can you sit and focus and produce. And if you can figure out how to do so, come back and tell me how. I think it's similar for pre-med/medschool students. To succeed they have to cultivate the ability to sit for hours and absorb information.

 
Aug 3, 2020 - 10:43am

I never dove hard into the yogi/monk thing but a few small things helped me.

5-10 mins meditation when waking up every day. And most days, try to find another 5-10 mins in the afternoon to meditate again. Doing that is by far the best bang for your buck in terms of a lot of benefit with minimal effort.

Eating wise, the only healthy thing I did was minimize carbs. Otherwise I was pretty bad. But again, bang for buck. Insulin resistance lies at the heart of so many health problems that if you avoid that one thing, you're doing pretty well overall.

Last thing I did was making sleep my #2 priority after work. I was sleep deprived like everyone else, but I was willing to sacrifice other things (social etc) to get a little more sleep than most.

Those 3 small things did a lot for me.

 
Aug 3, 2020 - 3:06pm

I'm not in IB and do not work IB hours anymore. early in my career, I did (twas necessary), and I've dove into the monk/yogi thing since covid happened, read a decent amount about buddhism, more of an intellectual curiosity and seeing if I can incorporate lessons, rather than leaving my current position to be a monk

many of the lessons in the eightfold path are possible and even desirable in modern society, however there are a handful which, taken from the perspective of a monk, are simply not tenable. so let's unpack that

what's doable - right livelihood, right speech, right conduct, right effort, right mindset, right view. there are plenty of people who hold jobs in finance and check all these boxes. don't kill or steal (doing unethical deals can be thought of as stealing), meditate, eat well, and realizing that all actions have consequences and not ever being absent minded. I'd argue that many of these lessons are not just desirable for monks, but desirable for all humans, which is why many of these values are not unique to monks, they're just good values.

what's harder?

  1. right resolve. good luck not having sex or masturbating. this is where literal buddhism loses me. the idea that those actions lead to suffering and that suffering is bad troubles me. with your spouse or companion, sex is a beautiful thing that should be cherished, that attachment can be a good thing, that desire can be a good thing, and suffering (contrary to buddhist teachings) can be a good thing. I believe you must learn to suffer in order to properly love.

  2. right conduct taken literally - many people take the "not killing" thing to mean you cannot eat meat, and I take issue with that. you cannot function in this world without causing death. you use a comnuter? some of those metals were taken from a quarry and countless trees, insects, etc., got smoked. you're a vegan? well how many bunnies and rodents and insects got killed by the farm equipment to harvest that? oh, you're a vegan with your own garden and that's all you eat? well, aren't plants living things as well? hunting is killing, however that is not bad if you are not wasting that life you took. I think this value taken literally is impossible to fulfill, and so I think a middle way with this attitude is necessary

here's what you'll have to do to live a healthy lifestyle - be comfortable with discomfort. be OK not being invited to happy hours if you don't want to drink,, but also don't be that douchebag that judges everyone for drinking. I have a good friend who never drinks, yet still goes out and parties with all of us, he doesn't judge us, and we don't judge him. he wants to have fun, and so do we. part of what I've learned about buddhism is it's not your place to judge others, just like in the Lord's Prayer "as we forgive those who trespassed against us."

the idea that having a healthy lifestyle is at odds with modern society is just bullshit, what's at odds with modern society is the holier than thou attitude that because my lifestyle is cleaner than yours, we can't associate. it's about love, brother. you do you, I'm gonna do me, we can hang out so long as we don't judge each other unsolicited. my beef with vegans is not that I think they live their lives by a logical fallacy, it's because typically they are judgmental of anyone who doesn't have their worldview. my beef with people who are in your face about not drinking is that they are exhibiting one of the deadly sins (pride) and judging others for not mimicking their behavior. lead with kindness, always, and forgive others when they don't return it. acceptance, love, forgiveness, and empathy are operative here. you have those, and you can show up on fifth avenue with orange robes and a bald head for all I care.

EDIT - another thing that actually would be helpful for IB is the idea of impermanence, which is central to buddhist teachings. the reason why desire is looked at negatively is because all physical things, be they material or actual lives, are impermanent, so being attached to them is just not logical, because at some point they will vanish, or you will die and not have those things anymore. the idea of impermanence helped me through my long slogs of cold calling and working near-IB hours. the thought "this too shall pass" helped me carry on during some of the dark days. in the end, it does pass if you do the right things, but this idea, perhaps more than others, could be necessary for everyone

 
Aug 3, 2020 - 6:07pm

yea if you want to embody that and be successful easy:

uninstall all social media

block YouTube from computer

do not subscribe to any streaming services

purchase a ton of industry related books

wake up early to workout and sleep early as possible

thats a great start although obvious

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

 
Aug 3, 2020 - 6:12pm

I'm not sure if this is going to be what you're looking for, but i've been in banking since I joined as an analyst and I do think there is a sane way to survive. It really comes down to balance for me and taking my shots when I have them. I have a few staples that I live by unless shit really hits the fan: I exercise every day (except Sundays), drink tons of water and limit caffeine, I only drink on the weekends, I eat healthy Sunday - Friday afternoon guaranteed. Even if you are having a rough work week, just keeping those things in-line (along with sleeping) will keep you pretty sane and mentally sound. Also, when I have a light week then I really take advantage and enjoy it (sometimes, I will just randomly book a flight to see some friends or whatever).

I also find that people overestimate how much work they have and don't know how much time they waste (you know, like posting on WSO during the day) so I really try to optimize my time during the week and cut out a lot of BS conversations and work; that gives me the freedom to see friends, go on dates and generally be social.

On the monk lifestyle, good luck with that unless you're actually a monk or Mormon. However, is that really specific to IB? People can live like a monk regardless of their profession; the same applies to being a degenerate. I've done plenty of drugs and with a broad range of individuals from various social circles, it wasn't an IB thing. Redbull and hookers aren't my thing, but I assume plenty of people outside of IB enjoy them and plenty of people inside of IB don't. There is a persona built around people in this industry that isn't really that true; sure, some live up to this but the majority of people I work with live a much healthier lifestyle.

 
Aug 4, 2020 - 2:14am

IB is not fun or exciting. There are flashes of excitement, but the job is by no means exciting all in all (for most).

IB is a good career for those who are willing to sacrifice 90% of their life for career stability and a healthy paycheck. However, the pay in IB will by no means lead to vast amounts of wealth.. until much later in life.

This is a career for those who are averse to risk, are at least somewhat coherent, and are workhorses. You will be rewarded for the sacrifices - whether it’s commensurate with what you believe you deserve, that’s another story.

To answer your question - I have approached this work with a similar mindset as to what you’ve described. I don’t party, I don’t drink, and I work out as much as possible. I go to work and try to do a good job every day. I don’t set expectations to have much of a personal life, and it makes my life a lot more simple. It has also made me a strong performer.

Don’t set expectations, don’t get frazzled, and just take care of yourself. That’s how you get by in IB.

—-

Back to my rant.. for me, personally, I think I could do better and I will eventually. I put in the work and can always find a way back to IB, worst case scenario. It’s now time to step away, actually USE the creative side of my brain, and try to make more than 200-300k a year.

 
Aug 4, 2020 - 3:29am

I want to do a couple of years IB to accelerate my career and earnings. I have grinded really hard to make it this far and I am happy to grind away even harder as an analyst. Just trying to carve out a decent life for myself I am not a Yogi/Monk/Psychopath/Sociopath and am wary of anyone who fetishes those archetypes. Now I am going to finish my technical question flash cards for the day and have a cookie.

 
  • VP in IB-M&A
Aug 4, 2020 - 11:37am

lol @ a prospect in IB commenting above and an intern commenting "well said". So much misinformation it's scary.

SVP here. Have been in banking since college. Based on my experience, I'd say there are more people in banking with a "Monk" lifestyle you're describing vs. party hard lifestyle, especially for those who have been in the industry 5+ years. Sure, you see a lot of analysts working 100+ hours, hitting up clubs until 4am, back in the office at 9am, relying on drugs and redbulls to stay awake. I was one. But that was purely driven by ego and the excitement of being a young banker in the city with $$ to blow. Most quickly grow out of that phase. It's just not a sustainable lifestyle.

To answer your question, it's definitely doable, you just have to find what works for you. Here's what's worked for me, and btw, I'm in the camp that doesn't particularly enjoy the job. I'll try to keep it as short as possible.

1) accept that fact that you're in banking. Shit sucks. There have been plenty of posts and articles about this, but 80-100 hours isn't the norm (even at the analyst/associate level). You go through ups and downs. Some weeks are 100 hours, but some weeks are 40 hours. When you do work 100 hours, know you're at the peak. When you work 40 hours, know you're at the trough.

2) separate work & life outside of work. For me, I grind during the weekdays and reserve the weekends for family/friends/personal stuff. Front load as much as possible. Don't create BS work for jr staff. Give clear directions for weekend work. Respond to as few emails as possible during weekends. Even when things get tough during the week (multiple nights past 2am), I'm OK because I know the weekends are for me. Weekend gets blown up? That's fine because more often than not, that's not the case (see #1). Travel, spend time with family, stay away from your computer as much as possible during weekends.

3) hit the gym. I go everyday before work. I found that as long as I'm in bed by 2am, I can make it to the gym. Again, working past 2am isn't typical (5+ year bankers), so at least 4/5 weekdays I'm at the gym. Stop being a pussy and just go. Everyday doesn't have to be a hard workout. It's fine if you just walk on the treadmill for 30 mins and stretch for 10. Just go and make it a habit.

4) eat clean. Stop being a fat fuck eating donuts or bagels every morning. Start thinking of food as just fuel to help you get through the days. I don't understand people who would only feed their BMW premium fuel, or their dogs organic food, but then shove garbage down their throats everyday. You know the drill - most meals should be a mix of healthy grains, greens, blah blah blah. Have cheat meals, but make this less and less frequent. Start with 1 cheat meal for every 5 clean meals. Then make it 6, then 7, etc.

5) find your own vice and indulge once in a while. "Once in a while" can be once a week, once every other week, doesn't matter. Just start somewhere and make it less and less frequent (see #4). It can be coke, hookers, alcohol, sugar, etc.

6) find what you like to do. And look forward to doing it on weekends (see #2). Maybe it's sitting on your ass and watching anime. Maybe it's traveling. Maybe it's photography. People get older and with age, interests and hobbies change. Don't force it, just appreciate it and know you'll likely move on to something else later.

 
Aug 5, 2020 - 7:15am

VP in IB-M&A:

I don't understand people who would only feed their BMW premium fuel, or their dogs organic food, but then shove garbage down their throats everyday.

THIS THIS THIS

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