Memoirs of a Minyan: An Officer and a Gentleman
The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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