12/31/16

I've received a lot of emails from members asking for advice on how they can have a great career. Before I get into that, let me give you my back story so you know where I am coming from: I came from an Emerging Market country, I didn't speak english very well when I arrived in the US and I didn't know many people here. So a lot of what happened to me was about trial and error, making lots of mistakes and learning along the way. This is the advice I wish someone had given me in the beginning.

Read - Read at least 2 books a month (college text books don't count !). Thats only 25 pages a day. Just doing this for 5 years will make you one of the smartest people around. If you don't know where to start, shoot me an email and I'll create a custom list for you based on your needs.

Write - Write stuff down in a notebook. This will transform your life. Get a simple journal, write in it every day. Some things I use mine for: writing my thoughts, what I just read, what I just listened to, what my goals are, what I learnt, what I want to do, what I am feeling. Journaling has magical powers. It will increase your memory, improve your thinking, clarify your ideas and thought process. This is even more important in a world that is mostly lived on our screens and away from pen and paper.

Serve Others - Have face to face conversations. Meet new people. Put yourself out there. Reading and Writing are important, but your friends and network can completely alter your life. Focus on people and how you can serve them. Adding value to others, will make you more valuable. It's easy early on to ask yourself "what's in it for me ?' Think about capitalism functions, the people and the businesses that succeed are the ones building a solution that solves a problem for their clients. Take the same approach in life. What are you doing to help people, what skills and knowledge are you acquiring that can help others ?

Manage your Career - In the current market, your economic security is based on your skills and reputation. The way to solve this problem is to develop abilities and skills that can't be automated away. Talents like critical thinking, writing effectively and problem solving. Sometimes this will mean moving around and finding the next job, the next role that will give you the skills you need to learn. Don't be afraid, as long as you are improving every day, you will win

Diversify - Things are moving quicker than ever and opportunities abound. If you focus on just one thing or one job you are putting yourself at more risk than you should. Don't rely on any one source of income or opportunity. Diversify your friends, diversify your assets, diversify your income, diversify how you learn, diversify who you spend time with. Not only will this expose you to positive black swans but also reduce the anxiety from any one thing not working out.

Get a Mentor (or two) - Find people who will help you on your journey. Help them, push them even higher, get them to like you and feel invested in you. Then ask them to advise you and mentor you. Some of the best advice I ever got was from older colleagues when I was starting out. Advice I still go back to. Most of life, success, happiness is about trying new things, building a library of experience. If you can take advantage of someone else's experiences and failures than hopefully there are fewer dead ends you need to go down.

Time - Value your time. When I was young I felt I had all the time in the world. I didn't. I used my time badly, did things I shouldn't have, was in relationships that weren't good for me. One day I was 22 having just started my career, the next day I was 37. Fifteen years had passed in the blink of an eye. Value your time, this is your only life, spend it wisely doing things that you really want to do, with people you really want to do it with. I go back to this quote from David Whyte often:

Life is to be taken at the tilt, you do not have forever, and therefore why wait ? Why wait ....to become a faithful and intimate companion to that initially formidable stranger you called your self? - David Whyte

Many people helped me along in my career, now I want to help you. I've started a blog to help you become smarter, happier and richer. I'd like to ask you three questions that will allow me to help you:

A) What are the problems you are facing in your life, career, relationships ?
B) If you solved those problems what would your life look like ?
C) What are the obstacles in your way to achieving your goals ?

Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #24 for the past year

Comments (42)

1/24/16

Another great post. Your blog is also excellent. Thank you.

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Best Response
1/24/16

I'd love to hear about your reading list (s). I'm trying to read a lot more but after taking time to read the paper/news everyday I'm not sure where to start.

1/25/16

Also interested in the reading list

1/25/16

Hell, I read at least that much and I'm interested in the reading list. Always open to new books.

1/25/16

I can attest to the journaling bit. It helps tremendously in structuring your thoughts in a cohesive and logical manner. Great post +1.

1/25/16

I am also interested in the reading list, figured you might post a broad list across genres to save time.

1/26/16

Thanks for sharing, really hope to read more quickly than what I am able to now. which are the books you'd recommend for a generalist research associate wannabe? Thanks!

1/26/16

Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day!

1/26/16

Thank you for your comments and direct messages.
I would recommend checking the following two links:

http://wilowallstreet.com/how-to-get/what-to-r...

Read some of those books, then direct message to tell me which ones worked for you, which ones didn't. In return I will tell you the next set of books you should try based on your preferences.

What I Learnt on Wall Street

1/26/16

Loved the quote. +1.

, that's why they win.

1/26/16

I love the advice to serve others. Not only do I love this as a personal mantra from an individual-contribution/personal fulfillment standpoint, someone who manages with a "servant leadership" perspective will always be an amazing person to work for. They are the ones who truly and authentically want to see their staff grow and develop.

1/27/16

Thank you for your continuously great posts!

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1/27/16

I LOVE IT, Always Be Closing.

5 responses zeroing in on the reading list and the guy posts a landing page with referrals to Amazon for his books.

You're a killer.

1/29/16
Ruskii:

I LOVE IT, Always Be Closing.

5 responses zeroing in on the reading list and the guy posts a landing page with referrals to Amazon for his books.

You're a killer.

Nice catch on the affiliate / referral revenue generation. I've been out of the game for too long and don't see these things anymore :(

1/29/16

Can you send me your email so I can get a reading list and I can send you my likes and interests.

1/29/16

interested in that reading list. 8 years into the career so guidance helpful

1/29/16

Thanks for the reminder, this helps make this more fulfilling it's just to easy going through the motions these days.

1/29/16

Thanks for your post. It's very inspirational.

1/29/16

Another great post by wilowallstreet.

1/29/16

Thanks a lot for the great advice. I am also interested in the reading list.

1/30/16

Good points. But how did you mange to get in IB as a guy from outside?

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

1/30/16

Think & Grow smart (rich). Knowledge comes from reading.

1/30/16

Time, Time, Time. I am with you on the books, I will have to check your blog out! Thanks for the post!!! @wilowallstreet

hi

1/30/16

Time & Books correct.

1/30/16

Great advice.

1/30/16

How do I know if I am wasting my time in this field? Just got my first finance gig, and I feel like this is not for me.

1/31/16

1.) Your first job is not necessarily your second job or your third job.
2.) There's a reason they call it work. Work is not as much fun as school. Hey-- be happy-- you're getting paid!!
3.) The more money you have saved, the more work becomes a choice rather than an obligation. This is why I always run around saying that the kindest thing people on WSO can do for themselves is to live well within their means.
4.) I see audit on your title. I'd be bored as hell in audit too. Again, your first job is not your second or third or last job.

1/31/16

TLDR: don't do IBD lol. Do S&T, ER, or QR and have a life outside of work.

Look, you either have a passion for doing deals and working 80 hours a week for years on end, or you don't. The best advice I can give anyone is that if you aren't one of those people, stay out of IBD. You can make six or seven figures in those other fields too, and most of them have a pretty nice work-life balance.

1/31/16

Very enlightening. Would like to have a reading list who is about to start a career in banking.

2/3/16

Sure, I'm going to focus on the soft skills, since the modeling stuff you guys know where to go, and for me personally it was the soft stuff that would have helped early on:

http://wilowallstreet.com/how-to-get/what-to-r...

For markets specifically, please read:
Intelligent Investor - Ben Graham
The Most Important Thing - Howard Marks

History of finance:
When Genius Failed
Too Big to Fail
Liars Poker

Start there and let me know how it goes

What I Learnt on Wall Street

2/3/16

Thank you, I actually am buying "Intelligent Investor," for my first collection series. I have heard of, "Too Big To Fail," so that will be 2nd after "Intelligent Investor."

Hiten

2/1/16

Thank you! I love the idea of pushing yourself everyday and allowing that drive to alleviate fear.

2/2/16

I would also add that you constantly need to be on the pull - reeling in some slappers. a good bonk goes a long way to clearing your head and keeping the wood polished.

2/3/16

Thanks for the insight! I would be open to hear about your reading list. I am in college now and am looking to find out more about the fields I am interested in (Investment banking and trader/broker).

2/4/16

Great post! Thank you. Interested in the reading list too!

2/5/16

Thanks for the great post. I looked at the reading list on your blog; Having read most of them, I agree with them all but would like to add a few:

-The Big Short by Michael Lewis, for obvious reasons.

-The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson-covers the beginning of money since early Mesopotamia, the evolution of banking from its beginnings in Italy, the formation of the stock market, and the bond market and the Rothschild funding wars.

Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough. It's an in-depth look at the leveraged buyout world as it relates to the former mega conglomerate, RJ Nabisco. When I say in-depth, I mean it. The book was absolutely thrilling to read; I couldn't put it down.

I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi. Sounds gimmicky, but it's really about transforming your personal finances. Teaches you how to build your credit, save your money, set up your 401k, and invest. The best part is it's specifically for millennials.

Thanks again for the great post.

2/8/16

A number of you emailed asking for a reading list for hedge funds.
I put one together here: http://wilowallstreet.com/smarter/what-to-read... me if you think something else should be added

What I Learnt on Wall Street

2/10/16

Very interesting read. Thanks.

2/14/16

Long time lurker, first time to post a comment. the finance club at my school put out a guide for the members that includes a very extensive reading list. i'm not sure how to post it because it's in pdf format, but here are some selected sections. If anyone knows how to upload photos or a pdf, let me know and i can get the whole doc up. Or, just PM me and I can send it to you.

Investing and Trading

* The Intelligent Investor
* The Little Book of Value Investing
* Security Analysis
* The Art of Value Investing
* The Essays of Warren Buffett
* Margin of Safety
* Dhandi Investor
* One Up on Wall Street
* The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Common Investor
* The Manual of Ideas
* Creating Relevance, Differentiation, Energy, Leverage, and Clarity
* Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
* Reminisces of a Stock Operator
Contrarian Investment Strategy
* Options Market Making
* The Market Wizards

Concepts and Theory

* Throwing the Elephant
* The Black Swan
* The Gervais Principle
* Fooled by Randomness
* Road to Serfdom
* The Tulip
* Guns, Germs, and Steel
* A Prehistory of the Cloud
* Irrational Exuberance
* The Alchemy of Finance
* Extraordinary Exuberance and the Madness of Crowds
* Manias, Panics, and Crashes
* American Mania
* Mankiw's Principles of Economics

Stories

* The Big Short
* Liar's Poker
* Red Notice
* When Genius Failed
* Boomerang
* The Way of the Turtle
* Barbarians at the Gate
* Young Money
* Den of Thieves
* Bonfire of the Vanities
* The Buy Side
* Monkey Business
* Other People's Money
* The House of Morgan

Strategy, Lifestyle, Growth

* Never Eat Alone
* Marcus Aurelius' Meditations
* Awaken the Giant Within
* The Art of War
* The Four-Hour Work Week
* The Prince
* Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
* Future Edge
* Wolf Hall
* How to Win Friends and Influence People
* Superbetter
* Wonderful Life
* The Startup of You

Also, I'd add The Ascent of Money to the "stories" section

12/31/16

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12/31/16
12/31/16