If you were to start all over again, what would you pursue and why?

The title basically says it all. What would you do differently if you were freshly out of school today versus back when you started your career if your goal was just to make as much money or be successful as possible? Curious to hear from people on WSO who are further along in their career then most.

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Comments (206)

Best Response
Oct 19, 2017 - 3:41pm

I'd probably go for being a Connect 4 champion. Not just to gain local fame and dominance in bar games and bar chicks, but to discover what it truly means to connect four.

"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

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Oct 19, 2017 - 4:14pm

I was a first gen-student at any ivy league school, and I didn't even understand what the difference between hedge funds, IB's, PE were, or how/when they recruited at my campus. I guess that's what happens when your parents didn't attend college and were poor lol. I wish I knew all the shit I know now when I was a college freshmen back in the days.

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Oct 21, 2017 - 6:40am

I was a practicing MD (medical doctor), did a rotation in Forensic Pathology with a Coroner many years back. The job gets old pretty fast. Being surrounded by dead bodies, and then cutting them open for an autopsy, is not something I'd want to do for rest of my life. However, a rotation there does give you a perspective on life.

Also, a few of my friends found the environment pretty queasy.

Oct 20, 2017 - 11:37am

wouldn't change dick
edit: should have fucked even more before marriage

heister:

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

https://arthuxtable.com/
  • 10
Oct 20, 2017 - 5:04pm

have a few, one that comes to mind: lived near Shanghai after graduation (2005-06), entrepreneur opportunities seemed wide wide open back. we started a business teaching business-english at companies for ~30/hr, couldve scaled that easily imo, no one was doing anything similar in my city at the time

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Oct 20, 2017 - 6:19pm

This... had I started a chain of private preschools in Beijing in 2009 I would be on 30-under-30 by now.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
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Oct 20, 2017 - 6:35pm

yeah it was easy easy money back then, but I wasn't ready, no regrets. not sure what the environment is like now, and i'm sure there are other countries with this type of potential (eg Myanmar) just depends on your willingness to hunt it down

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

Oct 27, 2017 - 10:52pm

I fucked up here... started looking into it in spring 2013, around $60 per bit coin...

Oct 21, 2017 - 9:23am

Graduated in Electrical Engineering first and always wanted to work around my passion - cars, trucks, motorcycles or anything like that. After IBD I had a few years in the automotive industry but ended up back in finance.

My other interest area would've been casino, hospitality and gaming (innovation). Needless to say that opportunities in this space are rare and very much depending on the region.

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Oct 22, 2017 - 6:41am

My old professor did that for years (he sold mobile technology and patents to large blue-chips in the 1990s/2000s) - it is very lucrative but also low-stress. Also not very competitive because you are one of the few in your area of work.

Oct 23, 2017 - 10:16pm
Gumball3000:

it is very lucrative but also low-stress

don't you mean AND, that can't be a bad thing

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Oct 22, 2017 - 7:47am

Probably would've been an Econ, IT, or management major. Finance dept is dog shit at my school lol. From a curriculum standpoint it really makes no difference considering you can learn everything you need from Rosenbaum, WSP, WSO, etc. I still would've ended up in the same spot. Accounting is really overkill outside of the major courses relevant to finance. I'd probably have more fun with the non-finance students. Finance students here are weird hardos who think frats will get their low gpa and zero experience to GS IBD or something even more difficult like HF/PE.

Oct 23, 2017 - 11:41am

I definitely would have golfed more as a kid, but I doubt it would have made a difference.

Honestly, I would aim for the exact same goal, I would just go about it far better and achieve it faster as a result.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Oct 23, 2017 - 2:51pm

Three things:

1) I would've applied to more universities. I only applied to the best in my province.

2) Taken the opportunity to go abroad during my studies / in general travel more.

3) Learned a second language earlier.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw
Oct 23, 2017 - 10:14pm

Cared to find out if I had gotten into my top choice where I was on the wait list lol.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Oct 24, 2017 - 9:35am

I would have put more effort towards figuring out what I wanted to do in life while I was in school. I pretty much just focused on grades and having fun without networking and working on career stuff. I kind of 'woke up' after starting work. My friends at school were all non-finance majors so I didn't think much about my career in finance, and I regret not putting more time in

Oct 24, 2017 - 9:48am

went to community college for two years. Go to the best public college I could. Majored in Info Sys, minor in Econ. Go into tech sales right out of college in NYC/SF

Oh, and avoided love in college and just worried about studying and smashing.

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Oct 24, 2017 - 11:03am

I know a lot of people end up going to CC before and then transferring into good schools, but do you need more than just stellar grades? I'd imagine you'd need to do something else to stand out from other applicants, but idk what sorts of extracurriculars CCs offer.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Oct 28, 2017 - 12:21am

Oh shit this one hits me spot on! I've been having regrets lately. I'm 23 years old and ~2 yrs out of college, had a stint as FX Trader in Int'l Treasury. Graduated at 20 since we start early here. I didn't have my head in the game so I burned out and resigned. Now I realized I wanna be in IB but even though I'm from a target school my grades are not stellar - GPA 2.9. and how I fucking wish I could go back to college, set my academics straight, practice financial modeling and making pitch books, network like hell and get IB internships.

I was actually interviewed in a boutique IB here back in college but I wasn't dead set so I didn't actively follow up or anything and just took another non-related internship offered to me. It's not to late but I got a lot of catching up to do. Shit

Oct 28, 2017 - 2:34pm

Gone to my home state school to study engineering for half the price of my useless poly sci degree from a private liberal arts school.

"That was basically college for me, just ya know, fuckin' tourin' with Widespread Panic over the USA."

Oct 28, 2017 - 3:42pm

Would have been a patriots fan ;P

There's a closer meaning to my user name. Try reading it quickly. Perhaps you will then understand ;P
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Oct 30, 2017 - 1:33am

My dentist was a financial planner before. He clearly made the right career transition.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Oct 29, 2017 - 2:17am

Assuming I retain full knowledge of my career to date, and can re-start now, in 2017?

I'd return to school - either primary or secondary - and get my dyslexia diagnosis as a child, rather than as a 44 year old career changer.

This would get me the support I need to excel in my favourite subject (mathematics) instead of washing out with an average grade. I'd then do a BSc in Mathematics, possibly with a Cognitive Science minor/elective to harness my interest in psychology and computer science (this was possible only by a long and twisted route of MSc.s in the 1990s). Then I'd go straight into a neuroscience PhD, probably specialising in neuroinformatics (which pretty much didn't exist until after I had completed my PhD and begun post-doctoral work).

I'd be doing post-doctoral research at about 24 instead of 30, and - because I'd have got the support I needed for dyslexia - I'd have had a work-life balance instead of spending 100+hrs per week in my underground lab, painfully working through the mathematical side of my research, to the detriment of my health. As a result, I might have had a social life in my 20s and 30s, and probably wouldn't have been an elderly prima at 39 - and my one-and-only babe might have had the brother or sister he longs for.

Huge, major changes. I might even still be doing research, instead of being disabled.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:34am

If you could start over... - What would you do differently? (Originally Posted: 07/28/2010)

If you could start over, right from the 9th grade, what would you do differently?

Would you still go into your career in banking/consulting/finance - and if so, what kind of decisions would you make to maximize your chances and set yourself up for the future?

I understand that a lot of efforts begin early, and an early start gives a HUGE advantage to students who start off knowing what they want to do. If you were to have another chance, or the opportunity to talk to yourself when you were just beginning high school, what advice would you have for the younger you?

Might help if you describe your current background as well.

I've done fairly well, but I know there's certainly a lot of things I would change in retrospect - for starters, determining a major earlier, reaching out for work opportunities, and working my ass off (as the benefits of partying diminish very quickly).

http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

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Oct 30, 2017 - 1:35am

The title of this thread makes it seem like you're a middle schooler asking for advice, haha. I was about to freak out.

"If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars." - J. Paul Getty
Oct 30, 2017 - 1:36am

In order:

High School:
-I would have picked one of my two HS sports to do and done only that one. I was good at both of them but never truly spectacular at either. Furthermore, they both killed a ton of my time.
-With the new found time from quitting one of my sports, I would have studied way more.
-I would have taken the SAT one more time.
-I would have volunteered more.
-I would have tried to get a summer internship at my Dad's AM firm.

-I would have petitioned one of the schools that denied me and gone to a better University.

First year of Undergrad:
-I would have taken a few econ/accounting classes sooner.
-I wouldn't have worked at a Law Firm or a non-profit the summer after first year.

Second year of Undergrad:
-I would have done better. Taken a couple classes more seriously, etc.

"If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars." - J. Paul Getty
Oct 30, 2017 - 1:38am

I wouldn't have been a huge jerk to the hottie who I could have gotten with. I would have done homework. I wouldn't have broken a girl's heart junior year, as I'm stuck in the friend zone now. I would have hit up the CEO of an MM that went to the same HS/ Country Club for an internship. I would have hooked up with the 2 MILFs at said country club rather than being conscientious.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:39am

I would've tried, actually done homework, and probably finished top 10 overall in my class if I gave any effort. I was lazy and finished top 10% but not that high at all. Oh yea, then I would go to a target school instead of this current non-target.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:42am

I would of played lacrosse and joined a frat.

Thats probably it.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:43am

I would have had sex with erica, vanessa, sandra, skai, melissa, melissa, maja, kate, laura, larissa, jenna, courtney, alessandra, liliana, amy, martina, martina, nicky, katie, bianca, magda, natalie, taylor, steph, paula, natasha, and mimi....

I'm sure there are more but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

Oh and I would NOT have had sex with krisha.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:44am

Joining a was one of the best decisions of my life.

I would of gone out with this girl who I later found out was a virgin at the time she liked me. She later lost her virginity to her next boyfriend. The best part of it all would of been 4 years later interviewing with her dad at a financial advisory firm before I actually knew what they did there.

I would of tried to convince my parents to send me to a top notch prep school.

Learn to LOVE Trump in less than 3 minutes
Oct 30, 2017 - 1:46am

High School:

  • Stopped being a complete waste of time and actually done a lot more studying.
  • picked better courses and focused more on joining clubs.
  • Instead of doing the British system, done SATs and APs and gone to an American College where 'education' is better.
  • Worked towards getting into an Ivy College.
Oct 30, 2017 - 1:51am

I pledged a frat and I wish I hadn't. Guess it's one of those grass is greener things.

http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:52am

I had a pretty dazed and confused type of high school - no question it shaped who I am, and I've had a great time from hs to college. Prob would have gone to a bigger party school for college - but ive done pretty damn well career wise so i cant complain (and I got a huge scholarship, so debt free living in nyc now)

Kids - banking will always be here for you - your youth and period of carelessness will not. When I was an intern, I had every miserable associate and VP tell me how lucky i was to go back to college for a year. When I went into M&A full time - the only times I felt good were when I thought about the fun I had in high school and college.

No job, degree, salary can seriously replace the fun, carelessness, recklessness and joy of being in high school. The shenanigans I pulled and insane stuff (for a 17 year old) is priceless - and most importantly, those experiences shape who you are later in life.

For the record - in one of my interviews, an MD asked me what was the craziest thing I had ever done. Story about some absurd high school prank had him in tears laughing - offer shortly after.

Oct 30, 2017 - 1:54am

i would have aced every class, regardless of the partying

-- "Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say."
Oct 30, 2017 - 1:55am

-I would have done all my homework in HS to get all A's since most of our grades came from it and I never did any of it.
-I should have banged the teacher that asked me out to dinner.
-I wish I took all my engineering courses at an acredited school, never thought I'd be persuing finance until I got a partner position at a Mechanical company and realized I wanted way more.

"The higher up the mountain, the more treacherous the path" -Frank Underwood
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:03am

Tell parents to send me to a prep high school that places well into top universities
Know about the field of consulting or finance in high school
Study hard in high school and go to a target univ on a scholarship, grants, minimized loans
Major in economics/finance
Graduate with no student loan debt
Meet more girls

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:06am

-Stuck to my internet business instead of selling it for a couple thousand bucks back in the 10th grade. The guy who owns it now is rolling in dough...that piece of shit. I wouldn't even need to be in I-Banking now (probably wouldn't even be working at all).

-Volunteered more during all that free time

-Taking up a major that I would have found enjoyable (Astrophysics, history, philosophy, etc..) instead of finance

-Be nicer to all the kids I picked up

-Not be a complete jackass to my parents during my teen years

Theres more but those are the major ones.

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:10am

I would have worked harder in college. My undergrad GPS has created an uphill battle since, though I was able to overcome it.

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:16am

I still bang 18 yr olds just because its legal

"The higher up the mountain, the more treacherous the path" -Frank Underwood
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:21am

Seems like the general consensus is getting grades and playing around... I'll have to dissent and say there were two girls I'd really liked to have to settled down with. That being said, there's a ton of experiences that have shaped who I am and none I truly regret - though it's difficult to say except in the very long run.

http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:23am

I'd have learned more languages sooner. If I were to reallocate just a fraction of the hours I spent watching tv / playing video games growing up, I'd be fluent in multiple languages.

Outside of that, I really can't complain too much.

CompBanker

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:25am

What would you major in if you could go back? (Originally Posted: 10/23/2017)

If you had to redo undergrad, what would you major in? I'm interested in banking or consulting and am planning on studying finance but I also like econ, history, stat, and math. However, some of these are more practical than others.

So what would you study if you could do it all over again? Most versatile degree?

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:26am

In general, the more quantitative, the more versatile. People will be more impressed and take you more seriously if you have a more quantitative/difficult degree. So CS or Math recommended

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:30am

being an econ major at my school is like taking upper-level math classes, and i knew i wouldn't get a good GPA in it once i started taking departmental courses. so i'm majoring in english and getting a good GPA, playing to my strengths. if it were offered at my university, i would have considered majoring in business or finance.

i will say that i have no regrets about majoring in english though. definitely made me a more interesting, introspective, thoughtful person than i was before, and i think i'm better at communication.

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:36am

I would've started juicing earlier.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:38am

I might have just started a nice sports bar and grill in Chicago or a suburb. A few times now I've said something about the lack of a good place to go in a specific area and sure enough, each time a place has come in and been very successful. Plus, I know its not all glitz and glamor, but I'd love to have a place to call mine and be able to enjoy a nice cash flow from a successful place.

I know it's not too late, but with a wife, house and good salary I'm getting pretty risk averse these days.

Otherwise, I would've networked a lot more and pushed my own boundaries.

Ohh, and studied abroad/traveled more.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:40am

I would have gone to an Ivy league college and then military OCS. I took the advice of people I liked but didn't really respect and became one of them: I wasted the period of life from 17-26. Never again will I let anyone make ANY decision for me, or choose a relationship over my own development.

Get busy living
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Oct 30, 2017 - 2:39am

Not waited this long to go to college :-p

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:42am

Started networking during high school.

no way kimosabe, this is my house now --Brennan Huff
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:44am

I am still an undergraduate student, but if I could do everything over again, I would get my head together in high school and make sure I get into a target. My problem was not that I was not intelligent enough, it was more so me not knowing anything of the real world. I would also make sure to find this website a lot earlier than I did.

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:47am

The bottom line is that you can't "start all over again and do something differently." All you can do is change now.

I completely understand where you are coming from though, because I've definitely thought about this question (I mean hindsight is, well, 20/20). I'm just saying it's an unhealthy road to travel and only detracts from your current pursuits.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - DT
Oct 30, 2017 - 2:55am

I wouldn't change a thing. Went to a CUNY school and graduated with no debt, in fact 5k in my bank, got a job immediately, then got a wall street offer and I've been here for 5+ years now. Alhamdulillah.

Oct 30, 2017 - 2:57am

I would change my high school girlfriend's face.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:08am
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:12am
financialmanagement786:
If you were to start all over again, what would you have done differently in college or jobs or relationships or whatever?

Honestly? I would have gone to a strong, public, in-state liberal arts school like UVa or the College of William & Mary and opted for 1 of 2 paths:

1) Would have majored in history and anthropology and become a history professor
2) Would have majored in history and political science and gone to law school to become a real estate attorney or a corporate lawyer

My strengths are in the "left side" of the brain stuff but for some reason opted for a mathematics heavy direction and now I do stuff in that. It is what it is...

Array

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:15am

If you could start your career all over, what would you do? (Originally Posted: 10/22/2013)

So I am about to graduate college this spring and I was just wondering for those already in a career, what would you do differently? What area of finance/banking would you want to get into after the experiences you have now?

And of course any other comments/suggestions would be awesome.

Thanks!

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:17am

Still what i'm doing now, but would have gone about it a whole lot different.

"After you work on Wall Street it’s a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side.” - David Tepper
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:19am

I would have focused more on what company I would have wanted to be with for a few years as opposed to opting for a few extra thousand while knowing I was going to hate the firm and jumping ship early. Money is alot but it isn't everything about a job. Funny to be making that statement on this board.

giddy up
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:21am

I'm a Big 4 auditor, so obviously, I would have tried to do consulting out of undergrad. But this is the proverbial rabbit hole, because to do that I would have had to go about college differently, which means getting into a different one, which means doing high school/volunteer work differently, which means likely erasing and rewriting a lot of what makes me who I am.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:25am

I probably would have been even more aggressive, covered more in less time, gotten to where I am now 2 or 3 years ago.

Array
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:29am

work harder so I could be a megafund pe analyst rather than having to go through ibd first.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:32am

I would have started networking when I was 16.

I would have also liked to take the entrepreneurial route to the top rather than finance. I still want to start a HF one day but that's not typically something you can do while you're young and most people that start HF's are rich by other means before they started. I'm talking about the feel good stories about the guy that dropped out of high school and and is now worth $10+ million from a business he built with his own hands. Think house flipper, construction, etc.

Competition is a sin. -John D. Rockefeller
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:33am

I wish I knew what I wanted to do about 1.5yr earlier so I would've prepared better, hit fewer bumps along the way and stressed a little bit less. I have to admit, though, that I made it as far as I wanted to so these are just "minor nits", as they say.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:35am

Go out more than I did during training. I remember coming in kind of nervous wanting to impress and not going out as much as I could have. Granted, I still went out 2-3 times a week but there were times I held back/said no 'cause I was worried about this or that assignment or thing we had to do the next day. In reality, no one really gave a crap as to how we did in training (as long as you weren't failing the tasks).

This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:37am

Petroleum Engineering > Big Oil (while working less than 50 hrs week) > MBA > Profit

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:38am

Go to a top public school and not give a shit about "how nice the campus looked."

Start driving towards finance from the getgo, and not "explore" other majors.

Rest would have fallen in line...

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:40am

I would have gone into technology.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:43am

I would not have eschewed the girl of my dreams for my career.

Oh wait, we're talking about professional career - well I would've been the biggest tool in the world in order to earn million and buy my way to true happiness.

speed boost blaze
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:45am

I am graduating in the spring as well and landed a job at a top boutique. While I always worked extremely hard in school towards keeping a high GPA, I certainly took the time to "explore" other career paths before deciding that I wanted to do IBD. My route went from pre-med to accounting and then to IBD. I had a Big 4 internship which I absolutely hated and then had an IBD internship which I absolutely loved. It is easy to look back and say that you wish you had focused more in one area but I believe that is was very beneficial for me to explore multiple career options and I think that current and future undergrad students should as well. I am genuinely excited about the place I will be working knowing that I have had multiple work experiences and was able to evaluate each one based on past experiences.

I would agree with what everyone else said about having a good GPA, maintaining a strong network, and using this site as it has certainly been an asset in determining my career path. My advice for younger undergrad students is to explore any career interests that you might have while in undergrad because this is the easiest time to do so in your life and it is also the time when changing your mind creates the smallest setback. No matter what you think your career path will be in undergrad, strive towards a strong GPA from the first day you get to school and also develop a network as early as possible and start developing relationships with people that can boost your career.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:46am

I wish I figured out what I wanted to do earlier and had a clear focus from the beginning.
I wasted a shit ton of time exploring majors that I wasn't interested in at all. However,mistakes like these make me
more aware of the choices I make now so I avoid doing something that I will regret in the future.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:49am

I would have been more serious about extracurriculars, athletics, and other opportunities to practice my teamwork/leadership skills. Even (to some extent) if it came at the expense of my grades. This would have left me better prepared to hit the ground running when I started working, instead of feeling like it would be months before I could gain respect as successfully as my peers do.

Also, fighting bad habits like the plague. Relax all summer long? Go out drinking 4 times a week? Addicted to poker? Never exercise? Once you go down these roads you just start digging a hole for yourself - in worse performance of your responsibilities sure - but even more importantly, in repeatable decision-patterns stored in those neurons in your head. You then have to work even harder to rid yourself of them.

Having said that, it's all one continuous journey. We all make mistakes and we make them consistently. Then we wake up early the next morning, set a new action plan, and get it done now.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:50am

Just an observation, wisdom comes too late for action. But that's a good thing. If you aren't hacking your way through the jungle without a map you aren't living. And if too many things go right you never find out who you are.

Oct 30, 2017 - 3:51am

Tried harder in high school.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Oct 30, 2017 - 3:52am

What's the point? Would have been probably answering the same question and saying "Investment Banking". I mean who knows, right? :D

This part of my life. . .is called "Running"
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