Stuttering and Business (repost, lol)

Keile's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 37

So, I'm going into Ivey HBA next September, and I want to get into investment banking, but I stutter and its lead to social awkwardness. I find it hard to make personal "connections" with people, and I'm not very confident with people as a result. I'm also very quiet and only answer questions in class if really needled to do so (even if I usually know the answer). Teachers know that, and just leave me to ace the test, but how exactly does this mannerism of mine (and stuttering, more precisely) translate to IB circles? Or business in general?

Should I just give up and focus on Science?

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Comments (20)

Sep 20, 2009

Figure out what your professional goals are - which would you enjoy more?

Many people naturally stutter or pause when you talk but realize that each moment of silence is much more awkward to you than the listener. So just take an acting class or take up an activity that would allow you to build your confidence and presentation skills - that will go a long way. It will be hard work but people have gotten over it.

VP Biden stuttered as a child and later became a lawyer and now obviously a position where he has to speak publicly. So it's a skill that can be developed over time!

If finance and banking is what you want to pursue, definitely work on your professional presence - it can be done!!

Chasing Consultants, Breaking Bankers

Sep 20, 2009

I think that maybe you should check out your school's Health Services and see if they have any speech therapists on site or off site they can refer you to. Once you're able to cope with the stuttering, the next step will be to focus on your confidence, as breakingbankers suggested. If anything, once you beat stuttering, it makes for a great "weakness overcome" story in interviews.

But for what it's worth, if you go ahead and get speech therapy, it should be for your personal development, not because you want to impress some banker you've never met before. The rewards will be far greater (imho).

Sep 20, 2009

I met a quant/dev guy that stuttered pretty strongly. Top high freq shop had no problem with it. I haven't met anyone else with a speech impediment though (outside of extremely thick accents or broken English). I imagine client facing roles might be a problem though.

Sep 20, 2009

We have a person in my group that stutters quite badly. Echoing the previous comment, we typically limit his client interaction, but he is a monster when it comes to analysis and written communication, so he's very valuable despite this short coming.

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Sep 20, 2009

Would having a stutter preclude me from a career in trading or structuring? Do you, personally, know of anyone in this industry who stutters?

I know its late, but have you tried speech therapy? I know two people that it has helped immensely, though they were probably a lot younger than you.

Sep 20, 2009

Preclude, great word. Aside from term contract deals and new clients, etc, all our trading is done via instant messenger, texting or email. Will be an obvious hardship in many situations but nothing you haven't already dealt with, if you're quick and know what you're doing won't be a problem. Go for it man!

Sep 20, 2009

I don't think it would preclude you from anything, but I believe that the "stigma" that you find in everyday life will be similar in the professional world as well.

Sep 20, 2009

I have a similar story. I was raised in a household with two immigrant parents who spoke broken english with strong accents (I myself was born in the US). Because of a combination that most of the english I first heard was spoken in a "funny" manner and because I have a naturally pretty deep voice, I was diagnosed at an early age with a "tonal voice inflection" impediment or something like that. Basically the speech therapists at my school thought that I sounded funny when I talked because of a combination of those two factors. Despite pretty intense speech therapy for about 3 years, to this day I still sound somewhat odd. My mom later told me that the therapists said that their greatest concern was that my "impediment" made me sound "less intelligent than I really was." My less politically correct friends have always poked fun at me about my voice making me sound kind of an like oaf or an ogre or whatever (the fact that I'm a naturally pretty big guy doesn't help). In fact, my friends would often do impressions in my moments of anger when were all drunk. I have thick skin and a sense of humor so I don't care; in fact some of my friends do pretty good ones haha.

My recommendation is that when you interview/network, speak as slowly as you can and make sure you use a sharp vocab, avoid "likes" and "ums," and take time to think about what you say before you say it. That way, although your actual speech cadence/delivery might be off, all other aspects of your speech will be as fluid and florid as possible.

That's just my two cents, anyway. Really differs from person to person.

"Yes. Money has been a little bit tight lately, but at the end of my life, when I'm sitting on my yacht, am I gonna be thinking about how much money I have? No. I'm gonna be thinking about how many friends I have and my children and my comedy albums."

Sep 20, 2009

My best friend had a pretty bad one through elementary / middle / high school so I know how tough it can be. His has improved with time and you would rarely notice in conversation. He knows his shit cold at work and is really comfortable with himself, which has to help tremendously. Good luck, don't give up something you would otherwise pursue because of this. At the end of the day you are still living in a first world country and presumably are in good health- the world is still your oyster.

Sep 20, 2009

I had a boss who had a stutter. Considering he was my boss, I think he coped just fine.

Sep 20, 2009

Work hard and you'll be okay. Try not to talk unless you know what you're talking about. Don't try to impress by bullshitting. This gets a lot of people into trouble and when they get pressed, they breakdown. They become incoherent.

Sep 20, 2009

Give a solid try to therapy. Even if it is DIY therapy (google it). It was worked for me. I still struggle and I need to use loads of "tricks" but no one has asked me anything about my speech in four years.

Sep 20, 2009

Try to improvize your speech skillsets you can definitely Never give up your passion.

Sep 20, 2009

Definitely don't give up on trying to break into IB because you have a speech impediment. I'm sure you've done this already, but practice talking in the mirror. By no means do I consider myself to have a speech impediment, but when I get nervous I do string words together sometimes, and practicing in the mirror helped when I was going through recruiting. A lot can change in 3 years. Work hard and you can get through it and break into IB if that's what you truly want to do.

Sep 20, 2009

Agreed, don't give up. Keep pushing yourself. I'm sure you've done a ton of research on potential treatments, but I thought I would point out something interesting in case you have not come across it. While it isn't exactly a cure, Emily Blunt, the actress, said she had a severe speech impediment which she learned to control by speaking in a different accent while performing in plays. I don't know anything more than what I read from the article below and seeing something about her speech problems on CNN, but I thought I'd throw this news out there for the slim chance you have not read about her.