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Memoirs of a Minyan: Animal House

By

The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

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There I was-bartending at my favorite pub as I excelled in school, enjoyed fraternity life and did the sorts of things college kids should be doing. I had it all, yet I wanted more, the fatal flaw of a classic over-achiever.

The Ace of Spades

During my junior year, I aced my finance midterm and blew the curve. Pride would have been the appropriate reaction but I studied my few wrong answers and loathed the lack of perfection.

That was my style-set the bar too high so if I missed, I was still ahead of the crowd. It wasn't the healthiest approach; while it pushed me to bigger and better things, it never allowed me to feel a complete sense of accomplishment.

After that midterm, the professor called me to his office. I allowed myself a rare moment of satisfaction as I rushed across campus to accept some praise. When I arrived, he grilled me with questions and after a few minutes, I realized what was happening.

"You think I cheated?" I asked, humbly at first but then with increased agitation, "I busted hump for this class and you're going to accuse me of cheating?"

Following an intense discussion, the conversation eased into a healthy dialogue. He ran the Department of International Programs Abroad (DIPA), and there were several internship opportunities overseas that summer-most of which were geared to MBAs-and he began to gauge my interest.

I asked him what was available and he listed them in kind. Manufacturer's, Hanover. Saatchi & Saatchi. Morgan Stanley (MS).

"Morgan Stanley?" I asked, recognizing the name of the biggest cash register on the Street. "If you can get me the job at Morgan, I'll gladly hop the pond for the summer."

London Calling

When I accepted the internship at Morgan Stanley, I had no idea it was the only paying position. That's good news for a young kid living abroad and staring at tens of thousands of dollars in college loans. I packed my bags and headed to London for the summer of 1990 between my junior and senior year.

I was placed in Operations Control and was the kid who told the producers on the trading desk there were errors in their accounts. As an intern, I was low man on the totem pole. Given that I worked in Ops Control, I was low man on the lowest totem.

I lifted weights in college and had the muscles to prove it. That was helpful in the bar but provided little utility in business. I felt very small when I stepped onto the trading floor each day and wove my way through the verbal barrage. It was scary yet exciting, unlike anything I had ever experienced.
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