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Getting Your First Career: We All Start Somewhere
Level 2: Value Investor
Welcome Avatar! Based on a lot of the questions we have gotten, several of you are new and are looking for ways to earn the most amount of money with the least amount of effort (in a career or job). Things have changed over the past ten years but a lot of the strategies we’ve created still hold today. We’re also going to update everyone on the way we’d execute the strategy if we had to start over in 2021. As usual. We can give you the blueprint, but we can’t execute for you.
Part One Getting an Income Stream
Choosing the Career/Job: As a quick reminder: Job = time for money exchange hourly wage; Career = performance based income and Business = earns money while you sleep. Our focus is getting everyone into a career as soon as possible: Sales, M&A on Wall Street or Engineering/Coding type role.
If you’re looking for your first job/career, we’ve got some good news for you. In the 21st century you can now spot the companies that are smart enough to adapt. If you cannot find a role in something that allows you to work from home… you’re going to fall behind. The only reason (at least that we can think of) to show up to some sort of office is that you desperately need the money. In almost all circumstances we’d choose a position that is remote.
Putting some numbers around it if you have to choose between a $60K a year job/career or $100K a year job/career… We’d honestly take the first one. The first one allows you to get yet another work from home job/career or it allows you to take your first steps into e-commerce/affiliate marketing. When you’re young and nimble like a jet ski, always choose the options that open the most doors for you.
Getting the Career/Job: Not much has changed. Employers are risk *averse*. They will choose the person who is most likely to not screw it up. This is because people hate headaches and hate being seen as the person who hired the headache. Put yourself in their shoes. You want someone to simply show up and require the least amount of training and do their jobs good enough on day one.
To flush this point out even more… Why would a middle manager want to deal with someone who is “high risk”. He is the person hiring the individual so if he does a bad job with hiring he will be seen as the issue in the Company! He likely has a family and by making a bold decision all he does is risk getting fired. Also. If the big risk he took pays off, he is going to see less than 10% of the credit (his boss and everyone else will jump in to claim credit like vultures).
Get The Resume Ready (submit a PDF): Knowing this you want your resume to be one page in length. That is it. A good example is this resume format: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d1/54/0a/d1540a9be1362b8be75ce1357d972547.jpg (the only real issue we see with it is the second black line across appears to be larger than the other two, not sure why that is). Either way, that word template is perfectly fine just sit down and create something similar (a good skill to have anyway). Also. Convert to PDF. If the person has a different version of word the format *could* get screwed up and that isn’t worth the risk.
Point of emphasis. During any application, you want to make sure that your resume goes straight to the most important items. If you were in school, the first thing to show up should be your school name. If you *already* have work experience, you want to put education at the bottom of the resume and move all work experience to the top, just below the header. Experience wins when comparing a 4.0 GPA student to even a 3.4 GPA student. Go back to the first paragraph: “who can do this job with the least amount of errors on day one”
Networking/Career Events: These events surely died due to COVID-19. If they come back to your campus it’s the usual step by step sell pattern: 1) hello my name is XXX, 2) I am interested in XXX specific position because I have XX and XXX experience and 3) I’m graduating in 20XX and would love to hear more about the application process for XXX specific position.
As you can see, networking/career events are not really “networking”. It is more like a sales funnel where people show up to get their faces seen. If you simply send resumes into Human Resources, they will miss a good 90% of the candidates (they work in human resources so they are likely lazy!). Autist note, if you are forced to have an HR team for your business you’ve really hit it big (you are forced to waste money).
Get Through The Interview: The entire interview process is essentially the same thing “What do they want to hear”. You simply need to put yourself in their shoes and sell yourself in a way that implies “less headache if you choose me”. At this point we do not know who you are interviewing with so we’ll have to stop there. If you use the wayback machine you can find the answers to all investment banking questions under our old website (will appear in a different form later).
Now before moving on, the classic “which position do I choose!”. It all circles back to the same answer. Do you want to get rich or do you want to live a upper middle class lifestyle. If you want to become rich you choose the one with the lower amount of hours with similar pay. If you want to live an upper middle class life with less *perceived* risk, you choose the most prestigious company. Using examples: if you have two M&A offers and one requires 80 hours a week and the other 60-70 hours a week, choose the 60-70 hour a week one unless there is a massive difference ie. Morgan Stanley vs. complete no name. Always choose the one that offers a bit better lifestyle so you can focus on building an affiliate marketing income stream, e-commerce income stream or something else. It will *EASILY* make up for the $10,000-20,000 pre-tax total compensation difference.
Part Two Getting the System to Work for You
Ah yes. If you haven’t learned the above from BTB you might go into work thinking “If I just work hard and follow the rules to the T… I’ll be well liked and loved!” Wrong.
In the real world, every office has a political structure and it is your job to understand how that structure works. As usual. Follow the money.
Impress the Winners First: If you are the new guy on the team you do *not* want to become friends with every single person above you in the pecking order. You want to be well liked by the guys bringing in the most money. If you are the “support” guy for four people and you know that person A and person B bring in 80% of the office revenue… you get the idea. Work extra hard to make sure person A and person B love you and work slightly less for person C and person D.
As usual, there are always exceptions. If person C is seeing revenue growth of 100% you could gamble on this person being well liked in the future. However. We’re keeping it simple and usually there are only 2-3 people who matter if you’re reporting to 6-7 people.
Autist Note: In fact, even your government works the same! The people who earn the most end up paying the majority of the taxes (due to deductions etc.).
How to Impress: While you may think it is all about work quality, it isn’t. You want to make the person “feel good” around you. This is a natural balance. Start by doing everything absolutely perfectly and you will find out that your work is basically the same as the person sitting next to you (particularly for entry level tasks). The next step is just to feed the ego. The person you are taking orders from will believe he is better than you at everything (literally everything) and you want to make it seem like this is true as well. Everything he/she does is “gold” and you’re always impressed by them. So on and so forth. There is nothing to be gained by shrinking his/her ego. Only make it bigger and always be impressed. Smile, nod and agree if he/she says something wrong. You get *nothing* by pointing out that he/she is wrong. Even if it is a fact! If the guy says that body builders are 100% natural and never use steroids/drugs you agree and never reveal how crazy that comment is. So on and so forth.
About Six Months: Many think they have to continue putting up all the right signals: showing up early, schmoozing with the right people, etc. Reality? It takes about six months to put in a solid foundation. After that you should take your foot off the gas a bit and simply maintain your good standing with the winners at the firm.
In the meantime, since you do have to suck it up for a few months to make sure you’re well liked, here are some extra tricks: 1) make the life of the assistant easier – all expenses should be error free and done to save him/her as much time as possible, 2) organize all of your passwords with either 1password or an excel sheet that is locked with all of your passwords, 3) figure out the highest ROI places to eat for your meal expenses if you work in a high paying career, 4) research and make sure you’re taking advantage of all perks – 401K, medical, dental, discounts etc. and 5) front run all of the annoying internal things you may have to do – standardized tests for example.
For your desk set up you also need to begin organizing for your eventual exit. Remember. You’re not there to be the “company man” forever. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this website anyway. So. Here is what you need to have ready: 1) a clear desktop background so when you hide all your screens it appears that you are still working, have the standard background show an excel sheet, 2) you should have one tab open with some obscure normal spread sheet – in investment banking this would be a comp sheet. If you have to suddenly change to a document, you have a real one that seems relevant if someone walks by, 3) figure out your internet situation – hot spot ability to work from your desk and 4) get PDFs onto your computer to begin reading about copywriting/affiliate marketing/e-commerce or the other venture you plan on starting.
Enough to Get Promoted: At the lower levels, the only effort you need to put in is “just enough” to get promoted. If you are ranked #1 in your class, you are doing it wrong. You want to be in the top performer group. No difference than being the guy who gets an A in the class and the guy who gets 100% and receives the same letter grade. Sure. The guy who gets ranked as numero uno might make $10,000 extra, but he’ll be working for McDonalds level pay at that point (each hour in a salary position decreases your hourly wage, misaligned incentives).
Autist Note: ideally you are out and doing your own thing by the time you’re in a meaningful role. That said, if you do make it up the chain, the company typically does a *better* job of aligning incentives (IE. you actually do get paid more if you make the firm more money). The lower levels – no P&L – will definitely not see significant benefits for being #1 versus #3 in a pool of 50 people.
One Last Thing… If you are the #1 performer you are going to have a harder time moving up later on. Why? Your peers will view you as a threat. If you’re crushing it at everything, the guys above you will eventually view you as a massive threat to them. This puts you into a terrible “right hand man” situation where you’re essentially doing someone else’s job with no pay raise.
Conclusion: Steps to gaming the system: 1) focus on relevant experience and make sure your grades are good enough 3.5 GPA, 2) to make sure it is roughly there, 3) get the position and play politics to get ahead, 4) at your mid-year review if you’re in the top group, you’ve done enough, 4) being #1 just means you’re doing too much and are being abused, 5) start ramping up your side income, 6) if you do make it to a revenue generating role where you’re heavily incentivized the game gets trickier… Ideally that doesn’t happen to you.
Remember. Choose the remote job if you’re serious about getting rich!
Part Three: The Ghost
It’s time to close the loop and finish off the career. At this point you should be doing just enough to be seen as a top performer but spending all of your time building up another income stream. This is where patience and effort is required. Here are some basic tips: 1) go into something recurring or 2) go into something that is consumable - such as diet pills.
If you try to become an influencer it *usually* takes far too long (even after 10 years of writing, the income from being a writer is still 1/15 of running a ecommerce store - rough math)
That said here is the most important part: it will take at least three or four years. Everyone asks us “how long until I make tons of money and can leave!” the answer is cold blooded “depends on how smart/talented you are”. Some people can get to 2x their annual income within a year or two! Other take 5-6 years and 90%+ just give up since it isn’t easy. To be clear. The 3-4 year metric assumes you’re pretty talented and will only quit if you are making 2x your career income. You *never* quit until you’re making at least double from your business line.
The Ghost: Ah yes. We have no idea if you work in sales/tech/finance. The thing we do know? It takes practically no talent at all to be a middle of the pack performer. If you were skilled enough to be seen as a top performer you can move to the middle of the pack by doing 50% less work! While you’re in transition phase (ready to quit/move on) you want to take your foot off the gas but remain in neutral standing. Don’t make it obvious and drastic. As you take your foot off the gas you’ll learn two things: 1) middle performers get paid a ton for producing very little and 2) you can collect a lot more income by slowing down vs. suddenly quitting or trying to get a severance package.
Naturally, some people may be inclined to get a severance package instead of being a mediocre performer. We’ve noticed that being mediocre is actually higher ROI. You can probably put in about 15 hours worth of work per week and remain in the middle of the pack. Your call.
Note: Now that the DeFi substack is launched <— LINK we can answer various questions on each post. So if you’re a paid subscriber you’re free to ask questions related to getting a job/career in this post. We’ll get back to as many people as possible, thanks!
Disclaimer: Per usual, none of this should be deemed legal or financial advice but rather thoughts from an anonymous group of individuals.