Then and Now: @Layne Staley

Layne Staley's picture
Rank: Almost Human | 7,237
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Inspired by the recent return of some all-time great WSO members, we will begin featuring a series of posts from forum favorite 'superusers'. This "Then and Now" series will let people share a bit of their story through a handful of questions that touch on their career progression and how this site has supported that.

See posts made by CompBanker, WallStreetOasis.com, thebrofessor, APAE, and expect more to come from @Frieds", @brotherbear", @CRE", @IlliniProgrammer", and if we're lucky, even @Eddie Braverman".

When did you first join WSO?

I started browsing and learning in late 2013, but it was a while before I started commenting & contributing. I managed to get all the way through school without ever having touched a business course or concept, and by this time I was trying to get up the learning curve in my investment banking stint. WSO had a lot of answers to questions I couldn't seem to get answered either by my colleagues or from other sources. That led into broader conversations about career paths and some camaraderie that I really enjoyed.

Why did you join?

I was hungry for a community that thought about and cared about the same things I was trying to explore. I didn't have any friends who worked in investment banking (save my colleagues, and it would be a stretch to call them friends). I didn't create meaningful connections into the industry when I was in school, since I am a natural introvert who was nose-deep in engineering coursework and trying to balance that with the demands of NCAA athletics. At this point, I didn't have anyone I could ask basic questions of.

Where were you in your career then?

Getting my teeth kicked down my throat as an investment banking analyst. Even today I find myself sometimes avoiding diving into a model or working on slides, even for a personal project I'm excited about, because it brings back a lot of negative memories of work I hated and people I'd like to forget.

Where are you in your career now?

I'm a VP in the capital arm of a merchant bank. Most of the work our firm does is traditional boutique investment banking - solving capital structure problems for middle market business owners. Debt placements, recapitalizations, minority equity sales, exits. We do some buy-side work too. But we have a capital arm that can place creative equity into special situations, which is where I spend most of my time. It's very non-vanilla, which means I only look at things that have weird valuation methodologies and/or payback structures. If there's a good business for sale represented by a banker and looking for a 100% buyout, I'll be nowhere near it.

I'm fairly autonomous in my day-to-day life, so I haven't had much heartburn over micromanaging since we've gone home-based. But anything we do is subject to an investment committee that holds final say.

Looking ahead, I love what I do and the situations I get to be a part of. I haven't butted heads much with our IC about deals, so as long as that's the case, I'm inclined to keep doing what I'm doing. If we ever diverge, though, then I'll likely split off and hang a shingle.

As an aside: I'm big on alignment of autonomy and responsibility as a delegation paradigm - in other words, if someone is responsible for (measured on, compensated on, etc.) an outcome, then they need to have autonomy over the process by which that outcome is achieved. If someone doesn't have the skill set to have autonomy over a project or a task, then it's unfair to give them ultimate responsibility; and if you delegate an outcome, then you have to also delegate the process. A lot of battles between management and subordinates come from a disconnect in this concept. Ever since I realized this framework, I've been really sensitive to missteps, and as a result, I really struggle to work for anyone that doesn't share my worldview.

What can you share about your personal or family life?

Married, offspring, that's about it.

If you passed me on the street, or walked by my house, you'd never guess what my career path is or what I do now (or what our combined income actually is). I'm a pretty private person, and it's hard to describe the relief it gives me to not draw attention to myself. My dream is to have a quiet house in a nice neighborhood and have a portfolio of companies that throw off more cash than I'll ever need, and none of my neighbors would ever have any idea. Some of my best friends are people that I met in elementary school, and I would like to keep it that way.

Looking back on your career, is there anything that you thought you knew starting out which turned out to be wrong?

Just about everything. My vision of what I thought I wanted when I was 25 was absolutely nothing like what you see above. I had always known, on some level, what I wanted my life to look like - but it seemed like my immediate circle and society tried to beat that vision out of me. So I did what most 25-year-old recovering athletes did, and I worried about making money and showing others that I made money, and I worried about my body count, and I worried about what my bosses thought of me, and I worried about if I was behind on buying rounds at the bar, and I worried about all the things that are a straight ticket to being unfulfilled with your life.

I remember my first month at business school, I was on edge. I was going to show all of these mouth-breathers how I could out-think circles around them. I remember an alumnus who came to talk about his business - after spending seven years post-MBA at McKinsey, he had left to start his own practice (doing something, I don't even remember what). He was making about a fifth of what he had been and he said he couldn't be happier and wished he had done it sooner.

I thought, "what a fucking loser." I was sure that he was protecting his ego by convincing himself it was okay that he hadn't made partner - that he had failed. My tunnel vision for what I thought everyone's career goal needed to look like was crippling.

So I accomplished what I thought it meant to "win" - I got into a private equity role from a business school outside of H/S/W, I had the highest annual comp of anyone from my graduating class, and I did it. I won. I showed everyone how much better I was than they were. I reached my mountaintop.

And it was empty. Turns out I was satisfying someone else's picture of what a successful life should look like, not mine. The great name on my business card and the social recognition and the validation just didn't add up to what I thought they would.

Lucky for me, I've found a role that allows me to live my life the way I want to live it, while working on interesting things, and making a comfortable living for me and my family. Had I known at 25 that this is how I would find happiness, I would have taken a wildly different path (and probably could have gotten to a different solution without so many twists and tangles). But who knows, maybe it's the path that showed me what I really wanted.

Were there any opportunities that presented themselves along the way that you didn't take? With the benefit of hindsight, do you wish you had taken one of them?

Just a couple. There's an opportunity that I could have taken out of business school that in retrospect, would have been a great fit for me, but I couldn't get myself to take it seriously because it wasn't a private equity role. Knowing what I know now, I would have at least given it a shot.

I also passed up a threesome in high school because I was too chickenshit to recognize that these girls were into me - it was much easier to live under the protection of "not being in their league." It took me about five years to realize what had happened. Shoot your shot, guys.

What do you think has made you successful in your career? Are there any particularly interesting or unique challenges that you've faced along the way?

This one is a double-edged sword, as the thing that has been the greatest source of my success has also been a hindrance in plenty of situations.

Put simply, I'm a truth-seeker. I have a sometimes-unhealthy need to find out the truth at the heart of something. It's a benefit when the goal of a group is to find what's really going on - at a company level, or at a scientific level. I often have people get frustrated with me because they think I just like being right. They're correct, kind of - I like to have earned being right. I have no emotional attachment to a position or an answer, and I'm happy to be proven wrong. If someone comes along with a better argument, then ... now it's my argument! But if someone presents an argument or a poorly-structured sequence of facts and gets frustrated when they don't change my point of view, that's when it stops being fun.

It's been a challenge because not everyone is incentivized to find truth. If there's a guy that isn't very productive at work, but is a great personality that can win any board meeting, then it's not in his best interests to institute more transparency and accountability in tracking work initiatives. If the real answer to a question you're probing someone on is "I don't know and I didn't take the time to think through how to find the answer," and they're afraid of saying that, then they're going to feed you some bullshit to send you in a different direction. I have had a lot of difficulty in my career in working with people and in organizations that don't value truth and honesty the same way I do.

It's why I like weightlifting so much. There are no style points in weightlifting. 150kg is 150kg, anywhere in the world, any time of day, same as it was yesterday, same as it will be tomorrow. Success is binary, and whether you make the lift or not, no excuses or explanations are needed either to an audience or to yourself. The iron doesn't lie.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I am indebted to this community. Someday I hope to have given back as much as I've gained from it. I have a long way to go.

Comments (28)

May 29, 2020

Truth and weightlifting, kindred spirits. Solid read, thanks for taking the time.

    • 1
May 29, 2020

B/S/D ?

Seriously though, appreciate the post Staley. As a fellow engineering major(ChemE not BioMed!)/ex-athlete I can relate to balance those demands while exploring an industry that was new to me.

Question - how do you think your beginning years of your career pre-MBA set you up or fell short of teaching you things that were instrumental for where you got now? I'm thinking of soft/hard skills, professional network, or anything else. Sounds like you already had the work ethic down.. ;)

Thanks again for posting and giving back to the community. I'm looking forward to doing it myself.

May 30, 2020
TheFlyingKiwi:

Question - how do you think your beginning years of your career pre-MBA set you up or fell short of teaching you things that were instrumental for where you got now? I'm thinking of soft/hard skills, professional network, or anything else.

It took me a while to rearrange my thinking on informal education. For some reason I thought paying for classes - GMAT classes, or modeling, or MOOCs for any of the business concepts most people got in undergrad but I had never been exposed to - was weird and I shouldn't do it. I was fine with paying for business school, but for some reason I had a mental block about paying for classes piecemeal while employed.

That was harmful to my development. I would have benefitted greatly from designing my own education with courses (or tutors) of my own choosing, and paying out of pocket, and not caring if I got a degree from it, but getting the benefit of being able to do my job better.

For someone who has spent a lot of time in class, I don't value formal education very much. The skills (both hard and soft) that have helped me get to where I am now have very rarely come from any of my classroom experiences.

    • 3
May 30, 2020

Very helpful. I'm the same way and have a mental block that won't let me pay for those modeling courses. I figure there's so much good free stuff out there.

Do you have any helpful modeling courses you've done? WSP/WSO seem the be the gold standard.

May 30, 2020

Any advice for someone about to enter the job market?

May 30, 2020

Sure - you will get more engagement and more actionable information from those willing to give advice if you ask specific questions with enough background context that they can personalize the response.

I've found that in general, people love being helpful - but they don't like being given assignments. Help someone to understand your situation, your goals, your concerns, or other specifics, and you'll get great responses.

    • 3
Most Helpful
May 30, 2020
Layne Staley]
[quote=:

Looking back on your career, is there anything that you thought you knew starting out which turned out to be wrong?

Just about everything. My vision of what I thought I wanted when I was 25 was absolutely nothing like what you see above. I had always known, on some level, what I wanted my life to look like - but it seemed like my immediate circle and society tried to beat that vision out of me. So I did what most 25-year-old recovering athletes did, and I worried about making money and showing others that I made money, and I worried about my body count, and I worried about what my bosses thought of me, and I worried about if I was behind on buying rounds at the bar, and I worried about all the things that are a straight ticket to being unfulfilled with your life.

I remember my first month at business school, I was on edge. I was going to show all of these mouth-breathers how I could out-think circles around them. I remember an alumnus who came to talk about his business - after spending seven years post-MBA at McKinsey, he had left to start his own practice (doing something, I don't even remember what). He was making about a fifth of what he had been and he said he couldn't be happier and wished he had done it sooner.

I thought, "what a fucking loser." I was sure that he was protecting his ego by convincing himself it was okay that he hadn't made partner - that he had failed. My tunnel vision for what I thought everyone's career goal needed to look like was crippling.

So I accomplished what I thought it meant to "win" - I got into a private equity role from a business school outside of H/S/W, I had the highest annual comp of anyone from my graduating class, and I did it. I won. I showed everyone how much better I was than they were. I reached my mountaintop.

And it was empty. Turns out I was satisfying someone else's picture of what a successful life should look like, not mine. The great name on my business card and the social recognition and the validation just didn't add up to what I thought they would.

Lucky for me, I've found a role that allows me to live my life the way I want to live it, while working on interesting things, and making a comfortable living for me and my family. Had I known at 25 that this is how I would find happiness, I would have taken a wildly different path (and probably could have gotten to a different solution without so many twists and tangles). But who knows, maybe it's the path that showed me what I really wanted.

Man I really hope more people on this forum, especially students/interns, read this and think critically about it. As great as this forum is (and as entertaining as Finmeme IG accounts are), it does a lot of young kids a disservice by perpetuating a myth that the only path to success/happiness is the one defined by this forum as being most prestigious/well-compensated. A lot of people will end up throwing away their early-mid 20s doing something they don't enjoy and aren't passionate about because they are trying to live someone else's definition of a successful life. Once you're past your associate years, nobody really participates in the dick measuring contest of who has the best/most prestigious seat. I'm fortunate to have realized very early on that I did not want to take that path, and now the track I'm on looks very differnet from what I imagined I'd be doing at this point when I was in college and just starting my career. I couldn't be happier with where I'm at and where I will likely be heading.

    • 7
May 30, 2020
Thomas Pynchon:

A lot of people will end up throwing away their early-mid 20s doing something they don't enjoy and aren't passionate about because they are trying to live someone else's definition of a successful life.

I appreciate the comment and I'm glad you've found a track that seems like it will bring you happiness.

I did want to qualify my thoughts on the above. I hope people don't take my story and think that the takeaway is that you always have to feel fulfilled, 100% of the time, from graduation onward. Had I taken a different path, I still would have done things I didn't like, as an investment in myself, and to preserve optionality for doing other things down the road.

I am not disappointed with the track I pursued. Yes, I would have done it differently if I could do it again, but the track that I pursued offered me a ton of options if at some point I decided to change directions.

The thing I would be most concerned about as a 22-year-old would be whether or not my path would help me develop skills that would enable me to have options later - doing work that was fulfilling would be important, but would very much be in second place. Those priorities switched for me once I had developed a skill set where I was confident that I could earn a living for the rest of my life, regardless of economic catastrophe or technical obsolescence, but not before.

The terrifying mental picture is putting a decade into training for a career, finding out it wasn't what I wanted, and then having precisely zero "escape routes." I don't know how people become doctors without incredible conviction, faith, or willful ignorance.

    • 4
May 31, 2020
Layne Staley:
Thomas Pynchon:

A lot of people will end up throwing away their early-mid 20s doing something they don't enjoy and aren't passionate about because they are trying to live someone else's definition of a successful life.

I did want to qualify my thoughts on the above. I hope people don't take my story and think that the takeaway is that you always have to feel fulfilled, 100% of the time, from graduation onward. Had I taken a different path, I still would have done things I didn't like, as an investment in myself, and to preserve optionality for doing other things down the road.

I am not disappointed with the track I pursued. Yes, I would have done it differently if I could do it again, but the track that I pursued offered me a ton of options if at some point I decided to change directions.

The thing I would be most concerned about as a 22-year-old would be whether or not my path would help me develop skills that would enable me to have options later - doing work that was fulfilling would be important, but would very much be in second place. Those priorities switched for me once I had developed a skill set where I was confident that I could earn a living for the rest of my life, regardless of economic catastrophe or technical obsolescence, but not before.

The terrifying mental picture is putting a decade into training for a career, finding out it wasn't what I wanted, and then having precisely zero "escape routes." I don't know how people become doctors without incredible conviction, faith, or willful ignorance.

I 100% agree with this, and thought about making a similar point in my original response. You really do have to learn what you don't like or want to figure out what it is that you enjoy and want out of your life and career. Unfortunately, that requires time and sacrifice, and it may be the case as you alluded to that you don't figure that out until it's seeminlgy "too late." Simply put, you don't know til you know, and hindsight will always be 20/20 haha.

I also agree with the focus on skills-building as a junior professional. While finance roles may seem to be a dime a dozen, and the skillset you begin to develop at Firm A may seem from the outside to be the same you'd develop at Firm B, that is likely untrue and improbable, even for what seem to be similar roles. This is truer outside of the realm of investment banking and more applicable on the buyside, given the experiences are less commoditized. I'm still fairly junior, but I imagine this effect becomes even more pronounced toward mid-senior levels as you begin to find your niche.

Optionality is also important, especially considering all the above. I truly believe optionality to be one of the biggest undervalued benefits to a career in finance. Personally, I tend to struggle with more of the existential, grass is greener issue of "is finance really for me or would I be better off taking a risk and doing something" as opposed to the "am I in the right seat/on the right track within finance" issue. As mentioned before, I'm comfortable and content and thus realize that means I should stay put given being "comfortable and content" is miles better than I felt in my last job.

Anyway wanted to thank you for all of your valubale insights over the years; realized I failed to do so in my original comment. Thanks for being such a great asset to this community!

    • 3
Jun 1, 2020

What bands are you listening to these days, besides AIC?

Jun 2, 2020

"As an aside: I'm big on alignment of autonomy and responsibility as a delegation paradigm - in other words, if someone is responsible for (measured on, compensated on, etc.) an outcome, then they need to have autonomy over the process by which that outcome is achieved. If someone doesn't have the skill set to have autonomy over a project or a task, then it's unfair to give them ultimate responsibility; and if you delegate an outcome, then you have to also delegate the process. A lot of battles between management and subordinates come from a disconnect in this concept. Ever since I realized this framework, I've been really sensitive to missteps, and as a result, I really struggle to work for anyone that doesn't share my worldview."

I think this is a really reasonable management philosophy. I wish more managers thought this way--not just in finance, but everywhere. I'm sure everyone has heard the adage that people tend to get promoted above their level of competence. For a lot of people, being an excellent analyst doesn't translate into being an excellent project manager or people manager. And it's sometimes difficult for a great former analyst to delegate responsibility for work he used to be great at doing. This is quite common among quantitative/tech people, and it's why they so often make poor managers. I have this problem sometimes. I guess it's a trust issue to some degree.

On another point you made regarding optionality in your career and the sacrifices you have to make early in your career regardless of what you do, I think that's worth highlighting. In any job, some percentage of that job will involve tasks you don't enjoy. I'm not sure there is a job where 100% of all tasks within that role are things I'd like to do everyday. If you find a job where you like 70-80% of what you do on a day-to-day basis, that's pretty much as good as it's going to get.

I know a great investor who recently (last couple years) made the jump from MD to CIO at a large fund. He thought he wanted the promotion and is still happy he got it because his compensation jumped, but the percentage of his time that he now spends on board meetings and non-investment work has greatly increased. In speaking with him recently, he expressed some regret. He said that he realizes now that he probably would have been happier in the long-run as a managing director because he enjoyed the day-to-day more.

I think a lot of people (myself included) imagine they want to be in the C-suite one day, but don't fully appreciate what that means. It doesn't necessarily mean you have fewer bosses. As a managing director my friend had 1 boss--the CIO. As the CIO, he now has a dozen bosses--the CEO and the whole BoD. If you like board meetings, executive committee meetings, LP meetings, etc., then the CIO role might suit you. If, however, you really like investing and doing deals, then it might make more sense for you to stop when you make MD. I think it's important to be fully honest with yourself and come to understand what you enjoy most. It's obviously hard to be introspective and come to intelligent conclusions about what you like if you haven't had the opportunity to try a lot of different things. That's why I encourage people to accumulate as many different experiences as possible early in their careers. That way, as they advance through the ranks, they don't have a 'grass is greener' moment in their 40s when they can't do much about it.

    • 5
Jun 2, 2020

A lot of battles between management and subordinates come from a disconnect in this concept. Ever since I realized this framework, I've been really sensitive to missteps, and as a result, I really struggle to work for anyone that doesn't share my worldview.

I really loved this part and think I need to get better at delegating responsibility at WSO :-)

Also, just want to say thank you for all the advice you've given the WSO members over the years...you have more than paid it back!

-Patrick

    • 2
Jun 3, 2020

Layne, love this. I am curious on your day to day. while my wife & I have no children, it's something I've considered and from a biological standpoint, if we don't start in 3-4 years, that ship will have sailed. I have a really hard time wrapping my head around how to balance being a good person, being a good husband, being a good advisor, and then adding being a good father on top of that. I know life is about choices, maybe I have to sleep less, maybe I only work out 3x a week instead of 6x, or maybe I knock it out before the kids wakeup instead of at 6pm like I do now. I'd imagine you keep the same or worse hours than me, and you seem to be a man who tries your hardest to do all of those things well. can you shed some light on that?

Jun 3, 2020

When I was starting out in management consulting, one of the partners told me: "you're going to want to be successful in your career, in your marriage, and as a father. Pick two."

Now, like with many consulting frameworks, the truth is more complicated - there are more things to be good at than just those, and we aren't all limited in the same way. But the concept sticks, in that there aren't enough hours in the week to spread around.

Being a good dad means more to me than anything. I don't struggle with my priority list or the implications of putting that first, because that's an easy choice for me. The other things important to me - my career, my wife, my extended family, my health - are in a consistently evolving balance.

When I learned to stop beating myself up over not excelling at each "life element" simultaneously, I both felt better and started to be better. Imperfection is a given, and instead of internalizing shame or guilt about being an absent husband in the late stages of a deal, I acknowledge that I've been out of balance and adjust. Dissociating being "out of alignment" temporarily from "failure" makes it way easier to continually manage the priorities.

I'm an enormous believer in the "work expands to fill the time you give it" phenomenon. I don't measure work output in hours, because hours are a poor proxy for productive actions, and it reinforces (and glorifies) the wrong behavior. My work time is intentional - I have sprints through the day where I try to knock off as many high-value "work elements" as I can, and then I'm on to the next "block." Cal Newport's and Tim Ferriss's books have been really useful to me in helping me learn to adopt this mindset.

I also outsource as much as I can, both to conserve time and to avoid decision fatigue. Some of that stays within the family (my wife and I outsource things to each other, basically awarding the other autonomy to make decisions, with the understanding that we won't micromanage or Monday morning quarterback later), and some of it to service providers (I don't do my own yard, taxes, travel planning, house cleaning, home maintenance, and so on).

Part of why I've gravitated toward a mostly-autonomous investing role is that it minimizes the amount of time I owe other people and it maximizes my own freedom to structure my day as needed. I'd much rather be judged on outcome than on process, so if we have a good result, it matters less how I got there.

But at the end of all of my time-maximizing tricks, the truth just might be that I have to decide between a great deal and being available for bathtime, and my choice is bathtime.

    • 7
Jun 3, 2020

thanks! bookmarked for use later. love the work blocks concept, and yes, work will expand the more time you give it like trying to put out a fire with pinestraw

Jun 4, 2020

Bathtime, one of the highlights of my days. Playtime, learning skills, the big smile and scream "paaaapa!" when dad is back and open the door... Just pure gold

    • 1
Jun 3, 2020

Great stuff. Really heartfelt, useful, honest.

Jun 3, 2020
Layne Staley:

So I accomplished what I thought it meant to "win" - I got into a private equity role from a business school outside of H/S/W, I had the highest annual comp of anyone from my graduating class, and I did it. I won. I showed everyone how much better I was than they were. I reached my mountaintop.

And it was empty. Turns out I was satisfying someone else's picture of what a successful life should look like, not mine. The great name on my business card and the social recognition and the validation just didn't add up to what I thought they would.

I love this part! thanks for posting your story

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

    • 1
Jun 4, 2020

Always love your content.

You switched from PE to some other type of creative equity investing and clearly went from disliking the role to finding something you really loved, which is great. What is it exactly about the new role that you enjoy that much more? Is it more than just the work life balance / autonomy and would you say it's more a function of the industry or the specific firm that you landed at?

I'm in PE now and considering an MBA. What was your networking strategy to get into PE (leading up to MBA, while attending)? While not what you ended up loving, clearly impressive to get into PE from outside HSW. Not sure where I'll get in, but if I do go, I certainly won't be someone who sits back and expects these jobs to come to me just because of where I'm going to school, so it sounds like your experience could be relevant.

What are you doing during quarantine to keep your lifts up?

    • 2
Jun 6, 2020

Thanks for the kind words - always nice to hear that someone finds value in what I'm sharing.

I think the reason I'm happier where I am now has almost entirely to do with cultural fit. As far as industry or investing criteria go, I loved (and am sad to have left) the industry focus of my old firm. They were a more traditional private equity structure, with committed capital from a sophisticated LP base. We had the resources and budget to participate in auctions and bid on well-run businesses. From that perspective, the actual investing was easier there than it is now. I'm forced into creative situations today because I can't compete with better-capitalized and -equipped investors on middle-of-the-fairway opportunities. I enjoy the challenge, but sometimes it would be nice to invest in a good company with a competent team and spend the money on a big diligence crew and let everyone do what they're good at.

The thing that makes it all worth it is the autonomy. At my old firm, I was tasked with executing opportunities that I was assigned and to produce a good result (a defensible investment thesis and a well-diligenced, completed transaction at a price and terms that support the thesis). Those of you that have been through deals know that not every opportunity can be had at a price that makes sense. I didn't get to decide if a deal made sense or not - I was tasked with executing the project. That's fine, except that I was also responsible for defending the project to the investment committee - not the partner who championed it.

There's a nasty circularity there if you're assigned to a deal (or deals) that don't make sense, quantitatively or qualitatively, yet it's your responsibility to convince the group who assigned you the project that they're right. As stated before, I'm big on truth and accountability, and this model is only sustainable for people willing to play a role I wasn't comfortable with playing.

In my current role, I just get to be honest. It's a giant relief and at least for me, it's worth the other challenges and giving up some of the advantages I used to have.

--

My networking strategy was to target firms that weren't large enough to have formal MBA recruiting processes. I knew I was an "off-market deal" myself, so I didn't waste time with large firms with structured recruiting. I did a lot of free work - I made decks and built models and shared them for free to show that I'd be an asset from day one. I targeted anyone who was investing, regardless of what they called themselves, and although I finally caught on with a more traditional private equity firm, I touched a lot of independent sponsors and family offices that were on the fringes of equity investing. I was willing to travel and look in second- and third-tier cities without easy access to people like me.

Basically, I tried to imagine what barriers would keep an equity investor from hiring someone like me, and then targeted firms with the highest barriers, and then did the work for them to eliminate the barriers.

--

I built a weightlifting platform in my basement and invested in some good equipment several years ago, so I'm one of the rare few who hasn't had to adjust my lifting much in the midst of a global pandemic. Also, being able to lift later than first thing in the morning (a result of my WFH flexibility) has been wonderful. Hopping on a call after a grindy 5RM deadlift set lends a certain perspective to challenges.

    • 4
Jun 6, 2020

Thanks again for all you do - content is always money.

Would love to expand a bit more on your networking strategy. I find myself in a similar position. Untraditional background trying to break into PE (I'd be pre-MBA).

When you say you made decks or built models, are you saying that you approached these firms with potential investment ideas (sectors, entry strategy, etc)? And that by creating a short investment thesis on a sector and a model that you got good traction when networking with folks?

Similarly, did you target anyone in particular when networking (i.e. moreso partners since they'd have the pull to recruit someone who's untraditional)?

Thanks again man - love the home gym. Bucket list for me to build as well.

Jun 6, 2020
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