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Memoirs of a Minyan: An Officer and a Gentleman

By

The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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Editor's Note: "Memoirs of a Minyan" is a first-person account that follows Minyanville founder Todd Harrison as he weaves his way through Wall Street and beyond. This e-Book will publish each Wednesday over 18 weeks. Click here to read previous Memoirs chapters.


Chapter 5: An Officer and a Gentleman

Following the Letter I fiasco, management watched the way I traded like a baseball manager watches a slugger beaned by a fastball. It took a while to regain my confidence but after a few solid strokes, I found my rhythm.

I've never figured out if A.D.D. people made good traders or if the assimilation of a sensory overload environment made traders A.D.D. Either way, the Letter I debacle quickly faded in my rear-view mirror.

When bonus season rolled around a few months later, my compensation again doubled to $300,000. I was also promoted, becoming the youngest vice-president in the firm at the age of 26.

I couldn't help notice the symmetry. At 13, I was standing behind a counter serving bagels to affluent classmates from the other side of town. Thirteen years later, I could afford to buy the bagel store.

Todd A. Harrison, Vice-President, Global Equity Derivatives, Morgan Stanley.

My business card became my favorite possession. That was the way I was programmed; my net worth dictated self-worth and money defined success. I wasn't arrogant or cocky but in hindsight, my sensibilities were surely skewed.

Outside the office, I had the type of fun you might expect a twenty-something making a lot of money to have. I summered in the Hamptons, treated myself to a few Porsches and migrated from one girlfriend to the next, keeping an eye out for a wife but not looking particularly hard.

Inside the office, I noticed a subtle shift in the general perception. Older salesmen and traders who were passed over for a promotion adopted a different attitude. The mornings I rumbled in with a hangover were no longer cute or funny. I was an officer of the firm that took home a larger slice of the bonus pie; it was suddenly considered unprofessional.

It was my first real taste of Morgan Stanley (MS) politics, the nasty sub-culture that exists in most big companies. I knew if I continued to produce, the critics would be silenced. The innocence was gone but it was replaced with power and that was a trade I was willing to make.

After years of reaching for the brass ring, my grasp around it firmed and I liked the way it felt. I upgraded my wardrobe, dined at fine restaurants and took care of my family. Life was good, or so I thought, as I had the types of things I was conditioned to aspire to.

Perhaps I was blinded by the promise of bigger and better things but I didn't care.

As 1996 rolled around, I was certain they were right around the corner.

Welcome to the Jungle

As I climbed the Morgan totem pole, I took tremendous pride in what I did and how I did it. The equity floor was a financial juggernaut and the derivative desk was the center of it all.

We wore MORGAN across our chest like a badge of honor. It was us against Goldman (GS), two titans on the Street in a rivalry that made the Yanks and Sox look like high school sweethearts.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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