How to succeed post 20's

In my early 20s, I really believed that in order to succeed all you need is work really hard. You gotta be gritty to succeed. You gotta put in long hours to be successful. You gotta be very good at technical things and establish yourself as a thought leader in particular domain. I don't think all of these assumptions are necessary wrong - they are necessary building blocks in your 20s. But if you still doing that in your 30s in this mindset, you are doing everything wrong.

Things to focus in your 30s:

Improve your communication skills:

It covers writing, speaking, and also non-verbal communications. For recently turned 30, in the last few years, I find this extremely annoying. I always thought to myself, "this is bullshit - he knew I didn't meant it this way - he is twisting my words". But as you move up in the career ladder, being able to communicate well is extremely important. This brings up to my next point.

Dress the part:

I am not saying that wear a suit all the time. In some case, that might actually be a bad idea. In order to do your job well, you really need to dress the part. Meeting with clients at outdoor (hunting season), ditch the suits. Doing a town hall meeting with local folks for your social organization - ditch the suit; put on a polo shirt with jeans or casual dress shirt (roll up your sleeve) with a khaki pant. If it were a high-end charity event, get a tux. It took me awhile to accept this. I always thought that "this is fucking stupid; why can't I wear whatever the fuck I want - I have my fucking right." Dressing the part is also an important way of communication.

Be a connector:

You have already built up your resume as a technical expert in your 20s. Your 30s is all about putting it all together. My favorite analogy is learning how to use different weapons (i.e. sword, gun, hand to hand combat, explosive) in your 20s. But when you get to 30s, it is more about thinking in term of how to use the right combinations of right weapons to get things done. Is this a undercover operation (corporate espionage)? Is this a boardroom warfare? Is this a hostile takeover (time to dig dirt against your target)? Net net, what I am saying is that your jobs in your 30s is learning how to best package yourself learning how to utilize all of your skill sets in a perfect way. Another analogy is like learning how to fight. You might have picked taekwondo, judo, karate, BJJ, muay-thai in your early 20s. But when you get to your 30s, it is all about winning the fight. No one give a shit if you were a blackbelt in taekwondo, you are in the fucking UFC. Your job is to knock your opponent out no matter how he comes at you.

Managing people:

cI have seen a lot of people who are really good analysts and associates but really terrible vps and mds. The problem is that they are still thinking like an associate. They just want to become a better version of associate - not knowing that you have to learn a whole new skill sets to move up. When you move up, you spend more time managing clients and political bickering. This is just a part of the process. Maybe a deal can be struck over a napkin scratch without going through thousand of pitches. Maybe a deal falls through but this allows you to work on your next deal. You also need to learn how to train your generals (vps) to work for you willingly in your best interest. And that has nothing to do with being an excel monkey.

Giving back to community:

Some may think that this is all pro-bono bullshit but being an important member of your community is extremely important for your success at work. If people see you taking a leadership position in your community, you will attract the right person (i.e. clients, future employees, investors, sponsors). You will be the go-to person; with that political capital, you build up your network. Your powerful network bring you news (a lot of nonpublic info that you can get a leg up against your competition) - be in deal sourcing, introducing the right partners and hiring the top executive for your firm.

Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - this comment from 8/25/15 was originally posted in the thread Hard work and sacrifice will get you only so far and we thought it deserved its own spot on the frontpage

Comments (36)

Feb 9, 2017

Great advice in here, thanks for sharing.

Feb 9, 2017

Just what the doctor ordered...

Feb 10, 2017

Solid, advice. Like the part about dressing the part.

Feb 10, 2017

Big fan of the political capital idea and dressing the part. I've been looking for ways to get actively involvd in my communities as I have seen the network development first hand for my dad. Very impressive information ring, once you work your way up that ladder a bit.

Dressing the part is something I slide back and forth on in my work place. I'm always dressed well compared to others in my office, but I still have my fuck it days and I'd like to limit those. I enjoy the confidence boost I have when I look really sharp, not sure productivity is higher compared to when I feel more comfortable though.

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Feb 10, 2017

The part about communication is key. I was shocked when I first realized the amount of time that can get wasted because someone wasn't clear in an email and a junior banker or a client went barking up the wrong tree. A half week's worth of wasted work can push a deal back 1-2 weeks, which becomes extremely frustrating to everyone when it happens 2 or 3 times in a deal.

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Feb 10, 2017

Never really thought how pro bono type work and volunteering could be used used as political capital in the future. Knocking out 2 birds with 1 stone.

Best Response
Feb 10, 2017

I'll be 31 soon and agree with all of this. I would just add that I've more recently realized just how nebulous the concept of "success" is. In my early 20s, I was more inclined to think that life was a race and that there were objective measures by which you can judge someone. I think many people in/immediately out of college think like that, which is why there are so many "which job/bank/role is more prestigious" threads here. In real life you're constantly learning about yourself, your interests, and skills. Becoming an MD for example isn't worth it if it isn't a good fit for you and makes you miserable.

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Feb 14, 2017
Hayek:

<

p> In my early 20s, I was more inclined to think that life was a race and that there were objective measures by which you can judge someone. I think many people in/immediately out of college think like that,

why do you think this is?

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Feb 14, 2017

Social media sucks, and no one wants to hear they are doing poorly compared to good ole dipshit back from high school. Information is shared far more than it ever was, and because money is often seen as the basis of success by younger people, people often validate themselves via salary comparison. Something along this line is my 2 cents.

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Feb 15, 2017

It takes a few up and down moments and experience in life to realize, and appreciate, that success is relative.

"Not me. Im in my prime"

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Feb 20, 2017

Prestigious roles could be used as an indicator for success when you're younger.

I'm in my twenties but as I get older I have to agree with OP. Occasionally I would have to work with people from Goldman Sachs, I realized even though they were in roles more prestigious than mine, that's not what I wanted out of life.

Mar 21, 2017

Probably because school is basically exactly like this, and school is all you know until you've been in the real world for a little while.

Feb 14, 2017

I am on the other side of the fence and I really do envy most of the people on this board who made it into IB right after college. IMO, it feels like you have your whole life to "find yourself" and whatever you might say, being in IB is sure as hell better than being your typical underemployed (or unemployed) millennial that has to move back home with his parents because he couldn't get a nice paying gig after college.

Grass is greener on the other side, some might say, but I envy the kids who get to work 80 hrs a week in a lucrative profession and are practically set for life. The most important in your 20s, IMO, is to get your career on track. Nothing more embarrassing and soul crushing than to be idle in your 20s when your energy levels are at their highest.

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Feb 15, 2017

Me right now.

Feb 15, 2017

This got me hard

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Feb 15, 2017

No need to share, keep that carnal excitement to yourself.

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Jul 25, 2017

The skill set developed during consulting are applicable to a variety of fields (i.e. corporate strategy, brand management, PE, entrepreneurship, etc.). Doing a 2-5 year stint at M/B/B or one of the other firms will prepare you for a variety of other fields and will open a lot of doors (esp. if you come from one of the big 3).

Jul 25, 2017
junkbondswap:

The skill set developed during consulting are applicable to a variety of fields (i.e. corporate strategy, brand management, PE, entrepreneurship, etc.). Doing a 2-5 year stint at M/B/B or one of the other firms will prepare you for a variety of other fields and will open a lot of doors (esp. if you come from one of the big 3).

Great! So I should get started on prepping for case interviews then.

Jul 25, 2017

A friend of mine made a very smooth transition from financial business strategy consulting to I-Banking at Citi. You might want to reconsider I-Banking because the core of it is consulting. At least you wouldn't come in as a professional Starbucks/takeout getter. PE and HFs might work too. I haven't heard of any McKinsey or Accenture alums moving into S&T

Jul 25, 2017
lg0718:

A friend of mine made a very smooth transition from financial business strategy consulting to I-Banking at Citi. You might want to reconsider I-Banking because the core of it is consulting. At least you wouldn't come in as a professional Starbucks/takeout getter. PE and HFs might work too. I haven't heard of any McKinsey or Accenture alums moving into S&T

The hours are just not worth it for me in investment banking. I think after you hit like the 60 hours a week thing, I would rather get more free time rather than more money. S&T has (from what I've heard) much better work life balance.

Jul 25, 2017

what are the big 3 in consulting again?

Jul 25, 2017

McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group.

Jul 25, 2017

Some PE shops love former consultants - Golden Gate comes to mind off the top of my head, I'm sure there are others.

Jul 25, 2017

It's generally easier to be a consultant in your 20s rather than 30s, but I can say for sure that at the office I work at (MBB) people have stayed on for their entire careers. As you become more senior, the lifestyle becomes more manageable and you have more control over the type of cases you work on (meaning you can elect not to be on a traveling case if you play your cards right). I know for sure three managers in my office never traveled beyond our office city - but this is driven by the type of work in that city (if it is local or not).

As someone who's worked in both investment banking (at a top firm) and at MBB, I can say that I found the work and lifestyle much more manageable in consulting. So if you are weighing these options, I found consulting to be the winner. If you look from the perspective of being at a more senior level, senior consultants (with travel) still work less than senior bankers!

Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions.

Chasing Consultants, Breaking Bankers
http://chasingconsultantsbreakingbankers.blogspot....

Nov 27, 2018

Consulting is already a terrible job in your 20s as well if you're not suited/up for it.

Feb 16, 2017

is it just me or did the "be a connector" section make no sense

Feb 21, 2017

Sorry. MMA fan here. English isn't my first language. What I am trying to say post 30s is just putting everything together rather than just doing one specific thing. Leading a project vs putting together a spreadsheet.

Feb 16, 2017

Reading these types of posts confirms that I have no inclination of working corporate for the rest of my life.

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Feb 26, 2017
Naoki Hanzawa:

Managing people:cI have seen a lot of people who are really good analysts and associates but really terrible vps and mds. The problem is that they are still thinking like an associate. They just want to become a better version of associate - not knowing that you have to learn a whole new skill sets to move up. When you move up, you spend more time managing clients and political bickering. This is just a part of the process. Maybe a deal can be struck over a napkin scratch without going through thousand of pitches. Maybe a deal falls through but this allows you to work on your next deal. You also need to learn how to train your generals (vps) to work for you willingly in your best interest. And that has nothing to do with being an excel monkey.Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - this comment from 8/25/15 was originally posted in the thread Hard work and sacrifice will get you only so far and we thought it deserved its own spot on the frontpage

Word fucking up right here. This is something I see people failing at constantly. VPs are expected to manage client (e.g. buyer/seller, issuer, etc.) and other parties (e.g. legal, consultants, internal team, etc.), while managing their time and growing the revenue streams. Not to mention still killing it at execution. Bottom line; if you can't do Project Management--I mean real PM, not just maintaining a spreadsheet and delegating, then you're probably screwed.

Oh and soft skills.

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Jul 18, 2017

I also wonder how big of a role social media is going to play for the 30 somethings of tomorrow who grew up in the Facebook, Instagram, and most importantly LinkedIn age. It seems like us millennials judge each other more by Instagram follower count than we do quality of the individual, could we wake up to a group of 30 something scrambling to get 1k Instagram followers?

Jul 19, 2017
Comment
Jun 26, 2018