Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Two Week Reset

The brilliant words of Bob Dylan have never been truer than ever before at this point in my life. “The times they are a changin’.”

I have a ton to update you on and I offer my sincerest apologies for starting out this quarter’s blog flat. The first bit of news which I want to unpack with you today, that has caused me to be giddy with delight, is that I have officially made a vocational change. It was tough for me to keep this bit of news quiet as I was awaiting final confirmation, but now that it’s here I am very happy to share this with all of you.

Later this month I will be transitioning to the next chapter of my professional career and am trading in a U.S. anchor for a certain Swiss investment bank. After months of searching, interviewing, hunting and praying, I feel like I have finally found a great place to start the next phase of my (optimistically) young finance career. The I’ve taken on is essentially providing operational support for the firm’s traders based in Chicago.

During the interview process which spanned just about 2 months in length, I met with the entire team I will be working with including lower and upper level management within the division and I was pretty impressed. Now I won’t be naïve and think that everything will be peachy and not have a care in the world. I’m realistic enough to know that every role at every firm has it’s ups and downs and successes and challenges. But what captivated me with  this particular role was that everyone, from newbies to the division’s head honcho, are on the same page concerning best practices, how to provide the best service to internal traders and the elevated responsibility levels expected from every team member regardless of title. Plus the head honcho was a fan of Jim Collins’ excellent book “Good to Great,” so there was that too J And when an offer letter came through it really was a no brainer.

But I still had to say goodbye. Given that my wife and I are blessed to be in the financial position that we are, I opted to finish out the week I was working and take 2 weeks off to start anew having taken a breather. On the technical side for the month of October, my wife’s paycheck will cover our living expenses and any residual income that I bring in will head to our taxable brokerage account.

But on the personal side I found that it was tough to say goodbye. For the last 5, almost 6, years I went nearly everyday to the firm’s South Loop office. I started there broke, without work experience, single and heavily in debt. I emerged and left having put myself on the road to financial peace with the help of their paychecks, married, an experienced finance professional and debt free. But it was more than just the paychecks.

I spent my last few hours there as an employee making the rounds to old divisions that I had worked in and bid adieu to an All-Star list of my favorite colleagues. It left me feeling like the last 5 years had gone by very fast. And also that I really enjoyed and was grateful for having had the pleasure to work with some pretty incredible people.

Many had a wealth of experience and took time out of their days to teach and help a young kid who couldn’t spell finance when he got out of college. Among those I worked with, I would say we were a rather eclectic bunch. There were semi-pro football players, ex aerobic instructors, art history majors, a few enlisted in our armed services, aspiring nutritionists, freelance DJs and finance professionals whose previous employers had shut their doors.

And believe me, our South Loop office was anything BUT glamorous. But for 5 years in this little building that looks like a prison, in a building full of seemingly the most random people, there gathered together a group of people that did the best job they could with excellent client service. We laughed, shared our stories, shared heart break and celebrated life together. Sometimes with food, sometimes with drinks.

I shared with my wife that the entire building was kind of like a business professional version of the “Bad News Bears.” We weren’t flashy and there aren’t spiffy white collar executives pacing the halls. Instead there was a ragtag bunch brought together to steady the anchor, and they did a damn good job of doing it. And as I headed towards the elevator and the eventual exit I had Simple Minds’ classic 80s hit “Don’t you Forget About Me,” blasting on my ipod, and tears began to well up in my eyes.

I was/am incredibly happy to have had the experiences that I’ve had for the last 5 years. The people I met, the challenges faced, the goals met, the frustrations felt, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It helped shape me into the person I am today, and for that I will always owe a debt of gratitude to my first employer.

So with that said, I’m 3 days into a 2 week “reset” as I refer to it. I have time to write and share my life with you, as well as get myself rested and ready for this next chapter in life.

Gone will be 6am start days, replaced with trading hours that will go roughly from 8am to 6pm. I will be working in the Loop for the first time in a fancy pants building. And on top of that our household will need to stay sharper than ever when it comes to our personal finances. Previously our household earned an income that had us right in the middle of the 25% tax bracket. With this new role we will be (in my opinion) dangerously close to crossing into the 28% bracket. And with a bonus structure and overtime available in addition to my salary, that very well could be a possibility. So we will do a thorough check up to ensure we are maximizing all pre-tax savings vehicles available to us to lower our taxable income and you can bet I will pass along the advice to you!

For now I’m going to kick back on my fold out chair and take in this stunning view of the city on this beautiful day. Because very soon, the Lake view near where we currently live will be traded out for one on the Edge of the water J But more on that later.

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