Even in just a week of starting a new routine I am starting to see the difference. I am much less sluggish during the day and my attitude towards daily tasks has improved dramatically. Still no early riser, I manage to roll out of bed between 6:15 and 6:30. I then have started to walk for 20 minutes after I read the morning news and have my coffee. Although it was difficult to push myself to do this at first, since I normally don’t like to do much of anything after I wake up, by the end of the week I was not walking for 20 minutes but running for 20 and walking for 10. I have to admit that the great weather here in California plays a part. I can expect sun and decent temperatures almost every morning so can plan on getting out there as a routine as opposed to running on the boring treadmill every morning at my old building in New York.
It has taken a few months to refine my job search as well. One piece of advice I found useful from the outplacement company I was setup with, was to try to talk to an actual person at each company that had a position I was interested in each weekday for a month. He said by the end of that month I should have a number of interviews set up. I am happy to say that this strategy is bearing some fruit. My “interview” with a large bank here in California ended up being more of an informational session but it proved to be valuable. The managing director had no positions available but he mentioned some names and staffing changes that had taken place at other banks locally and that I may want to try there. Sure enough, within a week I had a phone interview scheduled with another bank, likely due to the fact that I tracked down the Senior Vice President overseeing a group at that bank and managed to get him on the phone long enough to convince him to take a look at my resume.
Clash of Cultures
From a mental perspective as well, the time not working has given me time to reflect on my previous company and career up to the point of my layoff. I have started to realize that my personality is not as conformist as some other people and a certain degree of freedom to let my personality and judgement be able to show themselves is important. This doesn’t mean to the point of being reckless but rather embracing a style of doing business that is up front, honest and to the point. I truly believe that sticking to these qualities in business are more important over the course of your career than where or who you work for. The former company I worked for was big on emphasizing the process rather than the result. This was a cultural phenomenon for the most part as it was a foreign company, but as I progressed and moved up in rank I started to realize that my style and values tended to clash with this culture and it likely created a tension that likely put me on the chopping block.
I couldn’t help thinking about this as I read the story of the trial of “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. His analyst, who was making a $150,000 salary, testified that she stuck with Shkreli even as he started to make questionable moves with the company’s money and the chief compliance officer had quit due to the tactics being used by the Shkreli. In that type of situation, who would want to stick around knowing your career and reputation could be ruined by sticking with a job or a company that could likely be splashed all over the front page for their illegal or at least immoral activities? Even if it puts you in a tough bind economically for some time, getting out of a situation where you don’t fit or you have serious objections with the business practice of the place will benefit you more in the long run.
It also made me think of the news that has been developing lately from Uber. The CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down due to the toxic culture that seems to be endemic and has kept the company in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.
This was no surprise to me though since I had a close friend who worked for Uber a few years ago. He mentioned that he had often objected to some of the ways things were being done there. He also mentioned that the culture was a little cultish, which I also found disturbing. I recall him saying that one manager told him “hey get with the program, we are changing the world” to which his reply was “No we’re not, we’re just helping people get cabs faster and cheaper”.
Soon after he was fired from Uber, not only did he have the sting of losing his job but they fired him a day before the first phase of his stock options vesting, which today would have been worth hundreds of thousands. To do that the day before just because he wouldn’t buy into their cultish worship of the company just shows the type of place that Uber was. Hopefully they have righted the ship when it comes to things like this but culture is not something that changes quickly at a large company.
Regaining the Fire
Before being laid off I was starting to have doubts about myself. At one point I started to wonder if I had lost my passion for the work I was doing. I started to think maybe the only solution was to work for myself. I played my entrepreneurial hand which so far has had less than stellar results. However this time not working has made me realize, I haven’t lost my passion at all, the problem was that I had set into a routine and let the workplace culture box me in. I can’t blame the company for that, only myself for not making a move sooner. It also made me realize that in the go go culture of finance in New York, sometimes you need a break.
Whether that break comes in the form of a layoff with a severance package or saving up to quit and regather yourself (jumping from job to job can wear you down as much as being at the same stodgy environment for many years), a moment to reset sometimes is key to regaining the sense and the knowledge to know what you want out of your career and your daily routine.
Regaining the fire was something I also needed for this website. During the last few weeks I found it difficult to motivate myself to write and I began to question if writing was even worth my time. Considering I get very few hits on my site I have considered revising what I write about and my approach to the site many times. But it also begs the question of what I want out of this site? Am I making this for monetary gain, helping people with investing and their personal finances or is it just a portal for me to vent?
Well I came to a conclusion about that as well. Being an expert in global markets and a personal finance nerd I would like to help people with my advice as much as possible. I would also like to share my experience with people when it comes to my career, hopes, aspirations and family and how that all ties into investing and planning. If no one reads it that’s fine, if I never make a dime, that is fine too. I would at least like to keep these thoughts as a record though with the hope that somewhere down the line my thoughts and insight will help someone who may be looking for answers when it comes to something I may have written about in the past.
I had a goal when I started to be like my hero Sam from financialsamurai.com who says he wrote 3 posts every week for an entire year before his site started to make any money and gain followers, while he was working a grueling job in finance. Although I started this site last year September, my consistency has dwindled. However I have realized that this does not mean that I have to give up, or that I can’t regain that consistency. Every writer is going to have stretches where they are challenged to be able to put something down, I should look at this period of inconsistency to ask myself what made me feel that I shouldn’t write a particular day or week and what I can do to push myself in the future to make sure that doesn’t happen. Writing takes motivation and purpose, when you have that, the words flow onto the page. When you are just trying to fill a page, the blank space looks endless. The real challenge I have realized is not writing but tapping into my passion every day to record it. That is my challenge going forward.
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