Memoirs of a Minyan: Animal House
The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.
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."
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.
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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