Quit the Rat Race and Attempting a Comeback, Here's my Advice

TheGrind's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 3,514

Hi fellow monkeys...

I'm a brand new poster but have been reading through these boards for a couple of months to pass the time. The preponderance of posts on here regarding happiness and the work life balance have compelled me to add my own .02 cents on these issues, mostly because I think that I have a unique perspective to offer, having actually quit the rat race for some adventure. Take it for what it's worth, with plenty of salt on the side! I'm trying to get back into the game after a 1 yr sabbatical, and I wanted to share my story about what happens just after you give your boss the finger and "go out and enjoy life"

Some background about me:

Nothing phenomenal whatsoever. I've always worked just hard enough to get that next paycheck. I've never been particularly motivated, smart, distinguished, pedigreed, accomplished, or exceptional. Never cared about advancement, personal growth, potential, or any of that stuff. Where I'm from, it's a victory just to avoid getting shot or harassed by the police each day (Cliched as it may be, I'm black and from "the hood"). It goes without saying that I was just a "B" student when I applied myself.

My story:

I joined the Army at 17 after my parents died precisely because I had no direction. Absolutely hated it. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate what it taught me about life being unfair, having bosses who frequently went on power trips, doing shyt work, being a grunt, "looking" busy at all times, and having absolutely no freedom or autonomy-and these are all valuable lessons for going into Corporate America and/or banking fyi-however, the 3 yr delay set me way behind my peers, I was homesick and miserable, I hated waking up at 5am each day to go run mini marathons, I hated getting tasked out to details that included grass cutting or trash removal, and I hated having all of my weekend plans blown up at the drop of a hat at the whims of some senior NCO. It sucked hard

I took the GI Bill and Army College Fund and ran. I ended up at some tier 3 shythole college in NY (I'd say the name but you've likely never heard of it). I majored in Political Science (later added Econ). Obviously, my prospects were bleak. I didn't intern anywhere-I spent my summers selling Insurance at GEICO and Working in Accounts Receivable at Worldcom (try handling their A/R during the collapse!). My grades were decent (3.5), but I had an easy major at a shythole school and avoided math/science/computers/engineering like the plague. Goldman was not going to come calling.

Senior year I got dragged to a college fair, and "clicked" with a recruiter from the Walt Disney Co. who happened to be an alumnus. I still have no idea what they saw in me, but as I look back, I probably came off nonchalant and confident since I didn't really care about the outcome. Everyone else there was trying way too hard to impress. I was cracking jokes and asking questions that were probably a little different from your standard "tell me about the culture there" type fluff. Anyways, I was extended an offer in their corporate finance dept-and had a job lined up after college as a Finance Analyst (it is all about who you know).

The job itself was OK. It was mostly financial reporting, some valuations, some forecasting, auditing, and Sarbanes Oxley compliance work. I worked on some cool Disney properties (their entire media/TV division, including ABC and ESPN), and learned some pretty useful finance concepts on the job. I wasn't a quant by any means, but I was pretty good with Excel, and most finance "math" isn't rocket science to begin with. The sheer repetition got me up to speed in a heartbeat. Had I "made" it? Hardly. The hours were great, the money was OK for a single 25 yr. old, but I had no real life. My friends were all dead, military, or imprisoned. Chased some skirts, but that got old (and expensive) fast. My problem was that I'd never cared about anything up until that point, so had trouble really finding my passion. Books, women, trips, video games, museums, etc...all of it bored me. So I just started saving 30-40% of my income each month. I never owned any property or got married, so this started adding up fast.

After about 3 yrs at Disney, I got a call from a headhunter looking to place me into a major financial data/information firm looking to expand their media presence (I think it's fairly obvious where). I'd have basically the same exact responsibilities as before, but I'd be getting a significant pay increase with bonus opportunities as well. I figured "why not?". I would then spend the next 4 yrs in abject misery. The company itself is great, but my particular division had some real "go getters" who had set some ridiculously aggressive targets, and they started to work us to the bone. I went from 45 hour weeks at my last gig to over 80 in a heartbeat. Holy shyt.
I tried to look elsewhere in 08 but the sky was falling back then. Next thing I know it's 2012 and I'm still there! Needless to say I looked terrible and even now had high blood pressure. At that point I'd saved up a mint, and stumbled upon WSO. I read enough hard luck IB stories to realize that 1) I wasn't getting paid enough to be doing banker hours 2) I was in danger of getting locked in if I stayed there long term 3) I was in danger of getting pigeonholed as a spreadsheet bytch 4)Life was passing me by

One day it was 10:30pm and I was helping the corp dev. team price some products for an acquisition target when I got into it with my boss, who was calling from home (of course) to a)make sure I was still there and b) chew me out for missing a deadline earlier (I missed it by less than 2 hours, only because he had tasked me out to the corp dev team!) I told him to "fukk off" because I was busy and hung up on him. I quit the next morning. He tried to get me to stay but I was done. I shook his hand, though. I had enough in savings to take a nice long break and reassess, so while it was an impulsive move, I'd been thinking about it for months.

1st month I just relaxed and watched TV. That got boring

2nd month I started taking Spanish lessons on skype with someone who lived in Central America. Turns out I enjoyed it...and started to acquire the language really quickly. Could this be my passion?

3rd Month I bought a one way ticket to Nicaragua on the cheap. I spent the next 5 months backpacking in and out of various locales in Central and South America. I felt alive. It was the most fun I'd EVER had-and I even managed to become a near fluent Spanish speaker. I went all in-10 hours of lessons a day, homestay families, cultural tours, etc. Even better was that it was so cheap down there I got to live like a king (you can get a 4 course meal in Guatemala for about 7 bucks USD). The most interesting part was running into all of the expats living/backpacking out there-many of them former bankers or big law attorneys. Some of them had quit life entirely and had no intention of ever returning to the States! I also had a blast running into all of the Australian, Canadian, Malaysian, British, Israeli, and Western European folks on the gringo trail-I became part of a great community of backpackers and with Facebook and linked in it's easy to stay in touch. Meeting these people changed my life-I'd never really made friends with anyone "different" before-never really made "friends", period- but listening to their travel stories and details about their lives at home awakened something in me. Sure some were hippies and slackers...but most were on gap years and/or had plans to go home and do big things.

It got me thinking about where I wanted to be, how I wanted my life to be perceived, and what kind of legacy I wanted to leave. Sure it was fun sleeping in and waking up to the best females the developing world had to offer, but surely there was...more? Put it this way-when someone Googles me in 50 yrs, what will they see? My list of misdemeanors from my youth and a Facebook page? Is that what my life would have been worth? I Googled my parents and found nothing. It's as if they'd never existed. No one will ever remember them. The possibility of going out like that really started to bother me...

Didn't realize how long this would be. I'll split this into 2 parts and detail what I've done since the return from my "pilgrimage", along with the actual advice on the next installment!

Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday, this interesting tale was originally posted 3/7/13

Comments (49)

Mar 7, 2013

Good story. If you are basing your life worth on what people will find out about you on a Google search then that may be a problem.

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Mar 7, 2013
Cruncharoo:

Good story. If you are basing your life worth on what people will find out about you on a Google search then that may be a problem.

You're right, of course. I didn't mean that in the strictest sense-but moreso wanted to establish how important legacy building has become to me at this point. I don't expect to be a historical figure by any means, but I'd like to have impacted enough people that everything about my life and life's work doesn't simply disappear from existence entirely a short time after I'm gone.

Mar 7, 2013

cool story - excited to read more

Mar 7, 2013

I believe his being a bit metaphorical regarding his Google search. I'm in the same boat minus the backpacking trip south of the border. I won't lie to you and shower you with success stories, but I can tell you what I did. I was stuck in a similar hell hole and if that wasn't enough they underwent some management restructuring and my manager was replaced with some totalitarian, unscrupulous and myopic individual, that believed her promotion was a State of The Union invitation. I addressed my concern with my former superiors and long story cut short after a month I handed in my resignation letter. Tough times, competition is fierce and the only reason unemployment seems to be dropping is because claimants are being dropped from the benefits received. I quickly realized that first I never want to be stuck behind a computer for 10 hours a day and get mind fucked by the echo of the mouse click. I quickly realized most people there do exactly the same redundant work every day for YEARS!. That literally sent shivers to my bones. I quit my job and knowing the difficulties ahead of me started my micro fund with a few investors I managed to meet during my tenure. That isn't a rat race, it is rather insanity to have a dead end job right off the bat. Times have changed and are rapidly changing. Globalization and shift in balance is taking place across the world. Before an undergrad degree was satisfactory, now an MBA is even questionable (everybody brings the same set of skills to the table). What's left is your ability to be self taught, identifying exactly what it is you see yourself doing and putting all your heart and effort into pursuing that and becoming an expert at it, while finding means to survive at the same time. Don't get me wrong I can sit behind a screen for hours and do research, but the nature and the outcome of such is worth the time input. I see myself working for a consulting firm because its project based and not exactly redundant. Former world bank president address the following " engage yourself in the things other than the straight business course, you will find that, not only does it enrich your life, but the truth of the matter is that it'll enrich your business because you engage yourself in people". In order to escape the claws of the system it requires a lot of intelligent effort and that is what I believe everyone intends to do, but how they do so is the key to actually being successful or not. Should you have the opportunity to earn enough capital to be able to save again, partner yourself with a like minded individual that has its own niche and invest your money. Truth of the matter is the right investment gig can return your whole year's salary on a compounded bases. Finding the right sources and people involved is the difficult part, always keep your eyes open for opportunities and put your accumulated capital to work. Don't forget, do your due diligence and don't believe in fairy tales :)

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Mar 8, 2013
Scitor:

I believe his being a bit metaphorical regarding his Google search. I'm in the same boat minus the backpacking trip south of the border. I won't lie to you and shower you with success stories, but I can tell you what I did. I was stuck in a similar hell hole and if that wasn't enough they underwent some management restructuring and my manager was replaced with some totalitarian, unscrupulous and myopic individual, that believed her promotion was a State of The Union invitation. I addressed my concern with my former superiors and long story cut short after a month I handed in my resignation letter. Tough times, competition is fierce and the only reason unemployment seems to be dropping is because claimants are being dropped from the benefits received. I quickly realized that first I never want to be stuck behind a computer for 10 hours a day and get mind fucked by the echo of the mouse click. I quickly realized most people there do exactly the same redundant work every day for YEARS!. That literally sent shivers to my bones. I quit my job and knowing the difficulties ahead of me started my micro fund with a few investors I managed to meet during my tenure. That isn't a rat race, it is rather insanity to have a dead end job right off the bat. Times have changed and are rapidly changing. Globalization and shift in balance is taking place across the world. Before an undergrad degree was satisfactory, now an MBA is even questionable (everybody brings the same set of skills to the table). What's left is your ability to be self taught, identifying exactly what it is you see yourself doing and putting all your heart and effort into pursuing that and becoming an expert at it, while finding means to survive at the same time. Don't get me wrong I can sit behind a screen for hours and do research, but the nature and the outcome of such is worth the time input. I see myself working for a consulting firm because its project based and not exactly redundant. Former world bank president address the following " engage yourself in the things other than the straight business course, you will find that, not only does it enrich your life, but the truth of the matter is that it'll enrich your business because you engage yourself in people". In order to escape the claws of the system it requires a lot of intelligent effort and that is what I believe everyone intends to do, but how they do so is the key to actually being successful or not. Should you have the opportunity to earn enough capital to be able to save again, partner yourself with a like minded individual that has its own niche and invest your money. Truth of the matter is the right investment gig can return your whole year's salary on a compounded bases. Finding the right sources and people involved is the difficult part, always keep your eyes open for opportunities and put your accumulated capital to work. Don't forget, do your due diligence and don't believe in fairy tales :)

Now this is what i'm talking about! That microfund is your baby-the insane hours you're putting in are to build it (and your legacy), and you might even make a few bucks while you're at it, heaven forbid! But it took balls to get off the beaten path and take a shot, and the experience itself is worth its weight in gold. Well done!

The greatest trick the system ever played on us making us feel as if it was the only game in town.

Quick addendum to my story: the day I quit, my boss, who had been a major league a-hole for 3 yrs, was suddenly begging me to stay. He needed me, but still had no trouble rolling me at every opportunity prior. But it was important that he still BREAK me first even though I was already a team player. Just found that interesting. I'll say it again...no job is permanent.

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Mar 7, 2013

Part II
So it's month 5 and I'm sitting in a cafe in Bogota talking to an American who's passing through on break from B-school (Yale SOM). This person proceeds to tell me that they did an internship in IB and were contemplating an offer to return. We exchanged stories, and they suggested that I apply to B-school. Whoa, buddy, B-school? I didn't even like College much. They explained to me that B-school wasn't nearly as academic, valued work experience and interesting work/life backgrounds, and offered a network for career switchers. The idea had a certain appeal, but at my age (32) didn't seem sensible. I had made it up to this point debt free, and had no real interest in piling on a mountain of servitude just to hobknob with some overachieving rich kids looking to take over Wall Street. But this person was relentless. Sure H/S/W were out of the question, they said, but a top 15-20 wasn't too big a stretch.
I was skeptical, but definitely considered it because of this person's CV. He was a lower middle class puke like me, but already had a Masters from NYU prior to B-school, went to an Ivy League undergrad, interned at the World Bank and IMF while in college, and was now on the IB path. This guy did more in his sleep than I do in a day, and I fully expect him to be the head of the IMF or Federal Reserve one day, lol. That's the type of potential legacy that makes you sit up and take notice. He was also extremely humble and was genuinely a "do gooder". Although I was WAY behind the curve, I figured I could make up some ground in B-school. Was I really trying to go back to the grind for the sake of legacy building? I guess I was.

I bought a ticket home and started trying to transform myself into an overachiever. Not really, but I needed to make it seem as if I was a go getter myself!
1st order of business was addressing this gap on my resume. My first month back I studied for and took the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam. Since I had no management experience, I figured that re-inventing myself as some sort of project manager given all of the ones I'd worked on could only help. Spent a grand on a week long bootcamp, studied for 2 more weeks, and nailed it. My first official "credential", lol.

Step 2 was getting my Spanish proficiency certified. I went to Berlitz and tested pretty high. It qualified me to officially work in a predominantly Spanish speaking country, and I could use that as part of my story-economic development in some of the less heralded Latin-American countries (Portuguese is next).

Step 3 - find a job with reasonable hours. I killed 2 birds with one stone here, because I got a role as a Project Manager within a month-and am using it to also run a Six Sigma project. I'm going for my Six Sigma Green Belt (yup, another credential, lol). I decided that Ops will be a secure fallback option in case I get dinged everywhere within the next couple weeks.

Step 4, study for the GMAT. I've been out of school a decade and was never a quality test taker. Oh boy. I used every available hour after work to do practice tests and review what I didn't know, which was basically everything for 2 months straight. I ended up with a 700 flat, not impressive for WSO, but given that I started with a 520, and got a 640 on my first attempt, I was more than satisfied. My breakdown was embarrassing though...huge imbalance in quant/verbal. Ah well. I'm in the game late, so I aim for Round 2

STEP 5...APPLICATION PROCESS. Jesus has this been a nightmare. I had to beg my old bosses for letters of rec, write a bunch of shitty essays, and regurgitate my life story to a bunch of HR hacks in admissions who are holding my future in their hands. How the fukk did I end up here?
I somehow got interviews with all 4 of the places I applied. Good sign.

At this point I'm starting to burnout, though. Keep in mind that I HATE working for the sake of working, and that I'd gotten used to my life of leisure. I'm working, taking days off and trekking to God knows where just so I can tap dance for some second year students who see an old man sitting in front of them, hat in hand. Well fast forward to today and I didn't get into Yale SOM (waitlisted-but let's be real) and I'm still waiting on decisions from 3 other schools. Prognosis fatal. I know this because while interviewing, there was not 1 instance where I wasn't the least accomplished individual out of any of my competition. At one point during my interviews, I sat next to a FUKKING FORMER WHITEHOUSE SPOKESPERSON who was also there for an interview. WTF???

But I might give the GMAT another shot, and will sign up for one of those mbamath services in case I have to try again this fall, and will try to stockpile a few more credentials in the interim. CFA level 1 perhaps? Yup, I'm back on the grind for real.

But I learned some really valuable lessons throughout:

-If you're some 23 yr. old slaving it away in IB, ENJOY THE FUKK OUT OF IT. Remember, you could be a 42 yr. old working stiff slaving it away for 72k a yr. or a 22 yr. old soldier slaving away for less than 30k a year. At this point, I couldn't do IB, PE, S&T, or Consulting even if I wanted to. Those of you who can have got the keys to the kingdom! It's all in what you do with it.

-No job is permanent. Yeah so you eat shyt for a few years but you get to write your ticket shortly thereafter...H/S/W, PE, McKinsey, GS, KKR etc....from there you can do anything. Just figure out your exit figure early and don't spend your money on bullshyt . You'll know when it's time to move on. Don't let your career or other people's expectations define you. You need to know your endgame, though. Or else you'll be that 38 yr. old burnout whose career stalls in the middle of the next recession. I take some comfort in knowing that from now on, I can afford to work ONLY when I want to.

-Be wary of getting "locked in". Once you've got a mortgage, student loan debt, wife, kids, private school tuition, etc...you're not getting out unless you have millions upon millions. Don't kid yourself otherwise. All I can say about that is, there's nothing wrong with waiting to start a family. I can stretch 10 mill at age 37 easy...don't know about the rest of you. So why not wait a bit to settle down?

-Pursue great things. You only get one shot at life, and it's hard to be remembered. I have a lot more respect for the MD who left to become a vice principal because he wanted to make a difference than I do the Hedge Fund Manager who's in a race to make a few billion-but doesn't use it for anything substantive. Neither is the wrong path, though. All depends on your tastes and ambition. I'd love to have a billion, but diminishing returns and marginal utility both set in at some point. I'd rather be the guy who raised the standard of living for people in Honduras and brought opportunity to Guatamaltecos by introducing a microfinancing initiative. I don't need a private jet, Ferrari, or St. Tropez vacations. Give me first class, a Lexus, and a hostel in Vietnam.
As it stands I'm kicking myself for not having applied myself while younger. There's nothing I can do about the years I lost-but you kids with your lives ahead of you-why not go for broke? You've got all the talent and brainpower in the world. Pay your dues, and then exploit any opportunities you see. You will only get but so many. TRUST ME on that. Tutor some kids. Go into public service. Create programs. Pursue philanthropy. Enter politics. Or make a few billion. Whatever you do, just don't think "small". If your biggest worry is a formatting error on a pitch book, you've got upper middle class problems, kid. Those are great to have.

-Constantly push yourself. Yes it's hard. Yes, it leads to burnout. Yes, money isn't everything. Yes finance is a lot of shyt work. Yes, enjoying life feels great. I loved my experience. But I left a TON of potential on the table, and now, regardless of the outcome with b-school, I will be way behind the curve compared to what you all are doing/will get to do. So I'm going to be making up for lost time non-stop. Yeah, once in a while I'll take a nice little expedition-but the goal is to be as well rounded as possible for enjoyment's sake. I will learn a few more languages, go a few more places, try on a few more careers, help a few more people, and really try to leave a mark. If all I can say over the next 50 years is I partied and enjoyed my friends and family, I'd consider it a life wasted, to be honest. Especially when guys out there like Dr. Ben Carson, Bill Gates, Obama (hate him or love him), Mitt Romney (Ditto) etc. get to do that WHILE building legacies. I'm not saying you need to be Gandhi (or can be), just that you should maximize your opportunities no matter how difficult the position you're currently in. Think about it.

Mar 7, 2013

wow great story, thanks for sharing, will homepage this later on

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Mar 8, 2013
AndyLouis:

wow great story, thanks for sharing, will homepage this later on

hyfr. Thanks man. I really appreciate your post! I'm from the burbs and have trouble straight grinding sometimes.

Mar 7, 2013

+1 to you.
Enjoyed the read, thanks.

Mar 8, 2013

These are the two best posts I've read in 6 years on this forum. If you're an undergrad or recent grad, there is more to learn here than in most of the rest of the forums combined (which are valuable in their own right). The only other post(s) in this category is theSquared, whom I haven't seen in a few years. Good luck to you theGrind. Wish I could hire you into my group right now.

Mar 8, 2013

Sweet story, I feel like you're definitely way ahead of most people in the experiences department. Great advice too

Mar 9, 2013

When I sober up I'm going to read the shit out of this.

Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

Mar 9, 2013

Really unique story. Good luck with everything.

Mar 9, 2013

Appreciate all I've read thus far, folks. Thanks for taking the time to sift through all of that.

My biggest regret, the one that keeps me grinding so much now, was not spending my 20s building my "brand". I fell into that dead end middle class trap early and stagnated for nearly a decade. By your 2nd year of college (if not earlier), you've got to start seeing yourself as a "startup", complete with specific growth targets and milestones. You won't necessarily hit them all (few could), but it doesn't matter. The idea is to aggressively position yourself to seize opportunities as they come, and create ones that may not be visible or within reach to the average joe. You'd be surprised at the sheer level of skill and accomplishment you accumulate almost incidentally while your bankroll rises. Internships, learning opportunities (learn math early on!!!), fellowships, interviews, networking (meeting people is actually fun, guys), etc Who knows where I'd be today had I known this shyt earlier? My last 6-7 months have been surreal.

Whenever you feel yourself sacrificing your health, sanity, dignity, etc...then you know it's time to ease up on the gas and take a breather. No job is permanent. Kind of a longwinded way of saying "play hard, but work harder"

If you're not necessarily interested in getting a memorial or your name on a building like I am, fuck it just work on meeting that exit figure. I met a good number of "retired" 20 and 30 something yr. old bankers and traders while in Central America. They were their own demographic! Guys walking around in ivy league t-shirts and flip flops not even bothering with spanish, just living off the interest lol Or you can settle down to a 9-5 and a nice family knowing you got serious "rainy day" bank at your disposal. Whatever, just do the heavy lifting in your 20s. You don't want to hit 40 and find yourself still going out on interviews for 70k a yr gigs while wanking off to the idea of a 3% 401k match. I saw enough of that during the meltdown.

Mar 9, 2013
TheGrind:

Appreciate all I've read thus far, folks. Thanks for taking the time to sift through all of that.

My biggest regret, the one that keeps me grinding so much now, was not spending my 20s building my "brand". I fell into that dead end middle class trap early and stagnated for nearly a decade. By your 2nd year of college (if not earlier), you've got to start seeing yourself as a "startup", complete with specific growth targets and milestones. You won't necessarily hit them all (few could), but it doesn't matter. The idea is to aggressively position yourself to seize opportunities as they come, and create ones that may not be visible or within reach to the average joe. You'd be surprised at the sheer level of skill and accomplishment you accumulate almost incidentally while your bankroll rises. Internships, learning opportunities (learn math early on!!!), fellowships, interviews, networking (meeting people is actually fun, guys), etc Who knows where I'd be today had I known this shyt earlier? My last 6-7 months have been surreal.

Whenever you feel yourself sacrificing your health, sanity, dignity, etc...then you know it's time to ease up on the gas and take a breather. No job is permanent. Kind of a longwinded way of saying "play hard, but work harder"

If you're not necessarily interested in getting a memorial or your name on a building like I am, fuck it just work on meeting that exit figure. I met a good number of "retired" 20 and 30 something yr. old bankers and traders while in Central America. They were their own demographic! Guys walking around in ivy league t-shirts and flip flops not even bothering with spanish, just living off the interest lol Or you can settle down to a 9-5 and a nice family knowing you got serious "rainy day" bank at your disposal. Whatever, just do the heavy lifting in your 20s. You don't want to hit 40 and find yourself still going out on interviews for 70k a yr gigs while wanking off to the idea of a 3% 401k match. I saw enough of that during the meltdown.

Thanks for sharing...some GREAT insight in your posts. Best of luck in your B Schools apps and keep us updated!

Mar 10, 2013

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Mar 9, 2013

Great advice. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Enjoyed reading your thoughts
For what it's worth, you sound like you're in a good position to maximize your 30's. And your 20's weren't exactly shabby either (teaching yourself Spanish while backpacking through South America; work experience in F500 companies; Positive Net Worth!!)
Let us know how it turns out with the Business school applications.

Mar 9, 2013

Very interesting read. Thank you!

Mar 9, 2013

Awesome! Let us know how b-school turns out.

Mar 9, 2013

that's pretty awesome read, gl in the future

Mar 9, 2013

Great read. as someone who is looking to find his passion and road this was quite helpful. Thank you

Mar 9, 2013

Gee that story turned out way different from what I was expecting. So instead of freeing yourself from the rat race, you realized you should have gunned harder in the beginning? I think most of us appreciate the high-potential jobs we have, even if we bitch about it from time to time. The trouble is finding a sustainable source of meaning and motivation to do this until we accomplish our financial goals, and how to deal with the lifestyle in the meantime. Can't always be looking ahead and hoping for the future your entire career right?

Good points on wanting to help people and not miring yourself in debt, though.

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Mar 9, 2013

@Whalesquid123....Yeah, it's better to do as much as possible prior to freeing yourself so that regrets don't haunt you/ send you rushing back.. You don't want to leave anything on the table when it's time to walk away. Also, much as I enjoyed my time off, I didn't exactly save 50 yrs of living expenses (50 yrs in Nicaragua, maybe)However it was enough that I get to decide how and when I work from now on, so, to the extent that I can control it, the work I do will at least be interesting to me and rewarding. Granted they call it work for a reason so I have no illusions of rainbows and cupcakes, but it's always better to do something that at least excites you. You guys who are all crushing it right now doing jobs you hate will still get to walk away much, much earlier than the rest of us-most of whom are stuck for good-if you play your cards right, and don't lock yourselves in. That alone should be worth a few yrs of misery while young, lol

Mar 9, 2013

Awesome post.

I think I may steal your living in South America idea from you when I have a free month. It's like a vacation but I also would become proficient in another language. I got a 97 on the Spanish regents in high school but forgot most of it,I'm hoping it comes back to me.

Competition is a sin.

-John D. Rockefeller

Mar 9, 2013

That's great stuff man - I'm not sure how familiar you are with the structure of investment banking, but I'm currently a second year analyst at a BB in a niche coverage group that I have little interest in pursuing in the long-term and really don't want to stay for a 3rd year, but I don't have anything else lined up. I was thinking about testing out unemployment for a while and "exploring" different opportunities and just living my life, but your post has given me some pause. Best of luck wherever you land.

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.

Mar 9, 2013

Great post, man! I completely agree. I'm in the same situation, well, mindset anyway. Everyone understands the concept of being an entrepreneur, but while contemplating this future for myself, I always try to keep an intrapreneur spirit while working my current job.

A wise man once told me that you're not working for the company, you're working for yourself. While doing my current job, I noticed a host shit we could be doing better as far serving our clients and growing business. I tried to voice these concerns as a team player to no avail. Manager probably afraid I'll out shine her (smh?) and mad hate from co-workers scared of letting someone learn the business. So I started jotting my ideas down and next thing I know I got a 20 page business plan. Chase the responsibility, the money will come.

My friend, stop being too hard on yourself. You've accomplished a lot. To be honest, given the nuts you have shown, I kinda felt let down that you decided to re-enter this whole race from the traditional sense. Dude you way ahead of the game already! IMO, I think the only thing you lack is just knowing exactly WHAT you wanna do. But you can find that. But being truly real, on a whole nutha level, you already know. It's inside already. Just listen to it and follow it. Heed knowledge from others, keep making contacts, and keep your eyes open for the right opportunity for manifestation. You've got worldwide connections, credentials, hardcore financial analysis skills, and direct access to developing markets. Man, you already set up. Who's to say you don't start a consulting company. You'll learn about investment banking when you hire one to help you raise capital to grow it and when you sell it for $10-20 million years from now. What about that micro fund? You just connected with someone in this post who did it!

Again, keep on pushing. And in the immortal words of the great Shawn Carter, "Far from the Harvard student, just had the balls to do it....."

Mar 10, 2013

Awesome story, thanks for posting! Just what I needed on a dull Saturday night.

Mar 10, 2013

Thanks for posting, interesting story with some good takeaways. I agree somewhat with whalesquid123, your concluding thoughts are not really what I thought they would be - it DOES sound a bit like you're saying that your main takeaway was that you should've entered the rat race sooner. Nonetheless - I do get what you're saying. Had I considered building up my brand in my junior year, I'd have perhaps been in a better position career-wise and financially. I also liked your line about first class and a lexus over private jet and ferrari, because to me both seem fairly luxurious, just to different degrees!

Again, thanks for sharing, it was an illuminating read, and I appreciate and respect your positive outlook on life.

Mar 10, 2013

Its rare that I post on this site but your post was too amazing not to reply. Specifically, I took out of your post that you need a legacy.

IntlPlayer said it all.

I have friends that have hit the big league - they are working in O&G for muli-nationals on $100k packages as graduates. Although highly qualified (in no league to your world bank intern friend), I am no way near them; in fact I am unemployed. I have good experience and a good CV but am thinking, what does life amount to? My entire life I have chased the career, the dream and money. Now I have met a girl that I really life for the first time and think, is any of this really that worth it?

I totally agree with IntlPlayer, you know what you want to do - you need to go with your heart. I am pretty sure that I will get a management consulting offer this week but will not take it. My dream is investments and finance. I wont make my money working for someone, I will make money by taking risks and going for it myself. I want more life education and capital before I go for it. You got to follow your heart. If it doesnt work out, at least you know that you have lived your life fighting for what you want. You dont need an MBA to reinvent yourself. You have enough skills - the language knowledge is massive. I guess you could chase the MBA but only if you want it. At the end of the day, think about how many people have MBAs? People go for the MBA option when they dont believe in themselves and think that they need someone else or a reputable corporation to succeed. You have the life education, skills and experience. If you have a vision go for it.

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Mar 10, 2013

Great post - but I think your conclusions are a bit obvious to the WSO crowd. Most of the people on here are way above average in intelligence and ambition. Kids in high school coming here wanting to be portfolio managers...

Good luck out there.

Mar 15, 2013

your story has inspired me. that is very hard to do, since im not at all the most motivated, or overacheiving, or smart. i've realized that i've got a great starting position and that the world is in front of me and is just waiting for my dick to thrust in it.

Mar 15, 2013

you are possibly my favorite monkey on WSO as of now

Mar 15, 2013

Thank you for this post. Very good read.

Mar 15, 2013

To be honest I feel like you just took some strange and somewhat sad lessons away from it all. You talk about noble ambitions and to not let your life be defined by others. But then you talk about how you want to be remembered by a google search when you're dead. How is that living your life on your own expectations? Unless your own expectations are to do things that make other people remember you; but that seems contradictory.

Then you talk about how you had these amazing experiences, and as a result people in IB should be happy. But that's not a compelling argument. If I told you some child soldier in Nigeria had it way worse, and that being in the US Army isn't a bad problem to have compared to them, that wouldn't instantly give your life meaning or make you happy.

You go on about the need to be 'ahead of the curve' and how you wasted your life. You certainly came from a different background, and I do have respect for you. But at the same time you seem caught up with this idea that 'making it' is being in one of the prestige brands. I'm having trouble making the connection between the life you have lived so far and working at Goldman Sachs or in PE... Okay sure, you wish you had. But why is this profound? In fact, I find it all horribly anti climactic. You have this big revelation where you go to South America and learn new languages, and your revelation is to get an MBA and work in banking? There is nothing wrong with ambition or banking, but I don't really think this follows. But you intersperse it all with platitudes about 'giving back.' Except none of that follows from what you are actually saying.

To be honest, I think you diagnosed your life properly, but stumbled upon the wrong solution. You lost your parents, joined the military, lacked direction, and found yourself unhappy. So you moved to South America and reinvented yourself, okay I'm with you so far. You want to get an MBA? Yeah that could be reasonable. And go into a career in banking perhaps? Sure... I mean, why not? But do you think this is why you were unhappy? Because you were working for Disney instead of BANKING INC.?

I mean, I can't help but think what you need are some close friends, a community, a hobby (whether it's athletic or artistic) a feeling of belonging, and even a romantic partner/family. Is a career--are credentials--the solution to your problems? I think it is great you are applying yourself and focusing on self-improvement, but this is just one small part of the puzzle of a successful life. In fact, if you spend all your time and money for the next half decade working on credentials (project manager, CFA, 6 sigma) you will waste your time. To be honest, getting all those is over the top. Just going for a CFA all on its own, not even including an MBA, could be sufficient to help turn your career around. It's certainly not a walk in the park. Adding those extra project ones is like adding frosting to an already sweet cake and making it sickly sweet. Suddenly you aren't selling a story about interests, but just bombarding people with everything. But I digress...

My point is going for an MBA or CFA is sufficient. Going for a better career is great. Moving to find yourself, in your situation, sounds wonderful. But this isn't all life has to offer. It's one of the smallest things. And banking/consulting isn't the only set of great careers. There are tons of brilliant people who go into less mainstream careers, and live quite and content lives. You act as though all you have missed out on is a career. But perhaps you have missed out on real romance and love. I don't want to extrapolate too much, but just saying you "chased skirts" and that they were "too expensive" doesn't exactly make you sound like a stand up guy. A true partner isn't supposed to be chased or cost money. Rather, it should be someone that gives you the self-courage to face the world, and fills you with excitement towards a shared life. And close friends are people you have BBQs with, and shoot the shit, but always know they will be there for you. A community of friends look out for each other. I think you've missed out on this as well, and still haven't quite set your eye on what it is you're missing.

Best of luck.

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Mar 15, 2013
jjmoneysupply:

To be honest I feel like you just took some strange and somewhat sad lessons away from it all. You talk about noble ambitions and to not let your life be defined by others. But then you talk about how you want to be remembered by a google search when you're dead. How is that living your life on your own expectations? Unless your own expectations are to do things that make other people remember you; but that seems contradictory.

Then you talk about how you had these amazing experiences, and as a result people in IB should be happy. But that's not a compelling argument. If I told you some child soldier in Nigeria had it way worse, and that being in the US Army isn't a bad problem to have compared to them, that wouldn't instantly give your life meaning or make you happy.

You go on about the need to be 'ahead of the curve' and how you wasted your life. You certainly came from a different background, and I do have respect for you. But at the same time you seem caught up with this idea that 'making it' is being in one of the prestige brands. I'm having trouble making the connection between the life you have lived so far and working at Goldman Sachs or in PE... Okay sure, you wish you had. But why is this profound? In fact, I find it all horribly anti climactic. You have this big revelation where you go to South America and learn new languages, and your revelation is to get an MBA and work in banking? There is nothing wrong with ambition or banking, but I don't really think this follows. But you intersperse it all with platitudes about 'giving back.' Except none of that follows from what you are actually saying.

To be honest, I think you diagnosed your life properly, but stumbled upon the wrong solution. You lost your parents, joined the military, lacked direction, and found yourself unhappy. So you moved to South America and reinvented yourself, okay I'm with you so far. You want to get an MBA? Yeah that could be reasonable. And go into a career in banking perhaps? Sure... I mean, why not? But do you think this is why you were unhappy? Because you were working for Disney instead of BANKING INC.?

I mean, I can't help but think what you need are some close friends, a community, a hobby (whether it's athletic or artistic) a feeling of belonging, and even a romantic partner/family. Is a career--are credentials--the solution to your problems? I think it is great you are applying yourself and focusing on self-improvement, but this is just one small part of the puzzle of a successful life. In fact, if you spend all your time and money for the next half decade working on credentials (project manager, CFA, 6 sigma) you will waste your time. To be honest, getting all those is over the top. Just going for a CFA all on its own, not even including an MBA, could be sufficient to help turn your career around. It's certainly not a walk in the park. Adding those extra project ones is like adding frosting to an already sweet cake and making it sickly sweet. Suddenly you aren't selling a story about interests, but just bombarding people with everything. But I digress...

My point is going for an MBA or CFA is sufficient. Going for a better career is great. Moving to find yourself, in your situation, sounds wonderful. But this isn't all life has to offer. It's one of the smallest things. And banking/consulting isn't the only set of great careers. There are tons of brilliant people who go into less mainstream careers, and live quite and content lives. You act as though all you have missed out on is a career. But perhaps you have missed out on real romance and love. I don't want to extrapolate too much, but just saying you "chased skirts" and that they were "too expensive" doesn't exactly make you sound like a stand up guy. A true partner isn't supposed to be chased or cost money. Rather, it should be someone that gives you the self-courage to face the world, and fills you with excitement towards a shared life. And close friends are people you have BBQs with, and shoot the shit, but always know they will be there for you. A community of friends look out for each other. I think you've missed out on this as well, and still haven't quite set your eye on what it is you're missing.

Best of luck.

Not interested in banking at all, actually-my intent was to let those suffering through it know that, bad as it is, it's a stepping stone that gets you ahead of the curve, and it's only a temporary stop-not the endgame. My regret was not in being as driven as those who get to do it-because I ended up "stuck" in the land of corporate servitude and wasted 8 yrs doing something I hated just because I wasn't looking at similar exit opportunities-nor was I aware of any. Jobs I was up for were more of the same. I was on track to work a bunch of years and then die, like my own parents, and their parents before them.

I was also careful to point out that I saved a ton before quitting, so my move wasn't really all that "risky". without quitting, I wouldn't have reinvented myself, met that kid who did more at age 27 then I have my entire life, applied to b-school, etc...It's a shame you only see banking and consulting but trust me, i will only do work that interests me, for as long as it interests me from now on. Once it gets like my old life I'm done. It's easy because I live cheap and have no family, and am happy to delay marriage until I've correctly positioned myself. My friends are all married now, and that's perhaps why it's easier for me to get on with my own life. They have other priorities. I love them to death, of course-but life happened to them, as it will me.

The part about doing something great and meaningful? That's just my latent ambition finally showing its face. About time, don't you think? I'm only a few yrs off from where my own parents were when they died (their 40s), so i'm alot more aware of my own mortality these days. You can lead a comfortable life and be happy and I don't knock it-but I want my life to have meant something as well for my own fulfillment. I was careful to say that you don't have to be Gandhi, though. I do want to make sure I leave nothing on the table, perhaps help improve some communities, and maybe make a few bucks while I'm at it. That's it. My Presidential aspirations, sadly, are on hold, lol

But I do get your point. There is more to life that I have not seen because of my narrow focus and set of experiences, and there are more efficient ways to make up lost ground. But I'm still learning yet...

...best of luck to you as well!

Mar 16, 2013

Those are good points. And grats on Tuck!!!

I see your point. In my own personal philosophy I think we can do things great and meaningful even if they aren't the type of thing that immortalize you. My dad is a successful doctor--he worked very very hard--but ultimately 'just' runs his own private practice. He studied, worked, and accomplished tons. But he's also not exactly famous or 'google' famous. At the same time he has provided immensely for his family (myself included) and been a great person. I think what he has done is great and meaningful, even if only to those he loves and a small circle of people. He has gone on trips before to offer his medical services for free in developing nations. And that's noble, but ultimately he doesn't do it for recognition.

Personal aspirations are great. I cannot relate to what it's like to lose two parents like you did, and I do really admire your work ethic and ability to work to improve your life. Like many WSO kids, I was born with so much opportunity, educated parents, and immense support from family.

As one last side note, don't put off relationships until you are 'settled down.' In my experience, the best relationships are those when you are partners facing life together. Perhaps hold off if you need to move soon and dramatically. At the same time, don't wait until you meet a checklist to go find a proper women. Make sure you don't write off the next 5 years as 'work in progress.' In the end these years are still years of your life, and years you need to enjoy. Too often people, particularly when it comes to working or studying, just try to put their life on hold. As though they are waiting to actually enjoy life in a few years. Don't do that! Enjoy all it has to offer now.

I do admire you. Keep up the awesome work. Grats on your MBA. I'm always happy to see people who aren't from a traditional path.

Mar 15, 2013

Hey, guys...just wanted to give you all an update. I got into Tuck! I wasn't expecting to get in at all and was actually going to move ahead with plan B...but now I'll take the next few days to reassess...the key is not to lose any of this momentum I've built. The opportunities that a b-school like Tuck can afford me...well...you already know. I'm strongly leaning towards going.

This amazing train-ride continues. The past 6-7 months have been the absolute greatest time of my life and I still feel as if I'm just scratching the surface. If only I'd wised up earlier...

I can't reiterate it enough....put in as much work as you can to maximize opportunities-they're few and fleeting. Once you've made it...then you can ride off into the sunset (this is me talking to myself out loud, not lecturing you guys).

Don't fall into the trap of "job security" and be stuck doing something you hate for longer than you need to. No job is ever permanent.

Don't ever be married to your "plans". Your plans should be a general guideline, not an absolute. Case in point...one of my frat bros (and best friends) was all "Consulting or bust!". He went to Princeton. He didn't get into Harvard or Stanford for his MBA-and was miserable for 3 weeks- until he got into Wharton. He started off in MBB and ended up getting shytcanned. He then went to the Broad Residency program, which places MBAs in Education Administration roles, and is over at the Board of Ed in MA. making 200k plus with his summers off (which he uses to travel- he was the one who got me thinking about going to Latin America). Point is his plans blew up in his face-repeatedly- but he kept at it and leveraged what he could get into opportunities that keep him happy to THIS day. He picked up a ton of skills along the way that afford him that freedom.

OK, I'll be celebrating a bit this weekend, and then back on the grind come monday.

Mar 15, 2013

Great read and you have a great attitude. Congrats on Tuck.

Mar 15, 2013

That's what's up man. I think you handled that like a G.

Mar 17, 2013

Same here SanJose4. Also congrats on getting into Tuck OP!

Mar 18, 2013

Yeah. I too know how that goes. Sometimes you gotta step away. Work hard, play hard.

They say that it is everybody's idea of success to be able to do whatever they what to do with their own time. I completely agree with TheGrind about working on his terms. This man said fuk it. Im outta here. That took guts. Kudos to you sir.

Kemmons Wilson said that he only worked half of his life. He worked nonstop during the early part of his life so he didn't have to in the latter part of his life. I see his point, but dont over do it.

Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment......- Yoda.

Mar 18, 2013
TheGrind:

I joined the Army at 17 after my parents died precisely because I had no direction.

The syntax of that sentence made my morning. Please forgive me.

Mar 18, 2013
Aimez:
TheGrind:

I joined the Army at 17 after my parents died precisely because I had no direction.

The syntax of that sentence made my morning. Please forgive me.

Haha forgive me for writing that!

Mar 19, 2013

what a heart warming and great story...congrats for the TUCK admit but mostly for the amazing experience you have had over the course of ur life post ur finger up to professional life!......great and all the best for the future....and i do second ur thought that taking a break and enjoying every moment of it by learning things you enjoy will always have a positive dividend over the long run and should never be seen as a "risky" bet you shouldn't be indulging in!

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." ~George Moore

Mar 20, 2013
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Mar 21, 2013