Tag Archives: finance

Loving (Not) Having It All

Back in September 2008, I started this blog as an escape from the daily doldrums of the corporate world.  I originally began writing because, like many people just out of college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  The real world wasn’t charted out like the first 22 years of my life.  Before, I simply went from one school to the next.  Suddenly, on the cusp of college graduation, I was faced with a litany of decisions I had to make.  What city did I want to live in?  What career did I want to pursue?  What did I want to do with my life?

It was a great problem to have, yet I agonized over the decision: to follow the typical corporate path (finance > some cushy job > a life of picket fences and clam bakes) or to pursue some ridiculous, crazy, unclear, undetermined, unknown dream.  I wanted to have it all, but I was quickly realizing that I had to choose.

For 2+ years, I did the safe thing.  I worked at a big company in a glossy building with a stable salary.  I immersed myself in spreadsheets and statistical models, seeking refuge in the certainty of numbers.  And while this life was great, comfortable, and even enviable, I still yearned to do something different.  So throughout all of this, I wrote over 200 posts and 80,000+ words on this blog, covering topics ranging from Ryan Seacrest to friend feudalism to choosing between New York and LA.  I’d come home after long nights at work and write TV scripts.  I still held out hope for the undetermined dream.

And then it happened.  Last week, I got an offer to write for television.  It’s a small show on a small network, but it’s an opportunity to actually write words that will go on paper and then get on air.  So, on Tuesday, I quit my corporate job.  I waved goodbye to the glossy, black building, and I left behind the comfort of the safe and the known.

It’s somewhat terrifying to be heading off to the writers’ side, where there is no certainty, no tried-and-true formulas that can be applied like in the corporate world.   Yet, no one can ever have it all; at some point, we all have to choose.  And at least now, I feel like I’m much closer to answering the question of what I want to do with my life.

I have been incredibly lucky throughout the past three years, and I could not have done any of this without the support of my family, friends, and colleagues.  I suppose the theme of this blog must change, given that I’m no longer clawing my way out of the corporate world.  Still, I will continue to write on this site, rambling about grammar, technology, and growing old with cats… However, if you expect the quality of my posts to improve now that I’m a professional paid writer, please don’t hold your breath.  It’ll still be the same old drivel… unless I get this crap optioned for TV.

 

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Jokes Not to Make With Co-Workers

Tuesday, 1 PM: I’m getting water from the kitchen when I run into a co-worker gazing out the window.  There’s a beautiful rooftop garden on one of the buildings nearby.  “I never see anyone up there though,” I say.

rockefeller_center1My co-worker shrugs. “Maybe they won’t let people outside because they’re afraid they’ll jump.”  The building is owned by a financial company, of course.

I point at the window that we’re looking out of.  “Well, we could jump out here, too,” I say, jokingly.

I receive a blank stare from my co-worker, followed by a nervous laugh and a worried-for-you expression… Hmm, maybe this wasn’t a joke-able topic.  I try to salvage my non-suicidal reputation by saying, “Not like we would… merely an observation…”  This only leads to another concerned look, so I finally just blurt out: “How ’bout them Yankees?”

… But come on–like I’d really jump out a window to my death?  If I actually wanted to, I’d do it from a rooftop garden.  I gotta have a classy exit.  I’m in finance after all.

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The Worst White Collar Job in the World

Amongst my fellow college graduates, competition is often fierce in the game of “Who Has the Worst Job?”.  Here is my no-judgment, completely unbiased opinion:

  • Lawyers are slimy, rambling chest-beaters who cover up the misdeeds of their unscrupulous clients with ten-dollar words, and sometimes, poems. (“If the glove does not fit…”)
  • Investment bankers are coked up work fiends who enjoy only two activities: #1) making money, and #2) making it rain at the club.  With TARP bills.
  • Salesmen of any kind (from credit default swaps to lawnmowers) are slick, lying, swindlers who tapdance along the edge of deceit and pure evil.

Of course, these stereotypes (or some might argue, facts) only implicate the employee, rather than the profession itself.  So, if I were to only consider the job, this is what I would deem the Worst White-Collar Job in the World (that last part is to be said in an over-dramatic, Keith Olbermann way):

  • Accountants are mundane, humorless bean counters who wear argyle sweater vests and track how much money John Thain spends on redecorating his bathroom.

accountantSo, here is the rationale behind my distaste for accounting.  Over the past two years, I’ve worked in corporate finance at a large firm, where I’ve had to learn a lot of accounting.  I’ve been enlightened to the wonders of debits and credits, account receivables and payables, controllership, compliance, FASB and GAAP.  It is about as interesting as it sounds.  In general, the accountants that I’ve worked with are very nice, diligent people.  But the actual job is dreadfully boring: balancing the balance sheet, reconciling accounts, and performing audit checks.  By the second week of learning about proper T-accounting, I was ready to wring someone’s neck with an argyle sweater vest.

Another example of the staid accounting life: One day, I was out with a few colleagues at lunch.  A fellow co-worker mentioned that she had been doing SOX testing (which is short for Sarbanes-Oxley, the regulatory legislation that spawned from WorldCom, Enron, and Tyco).  “SOX testing, huh?”  I said, “So what’s better… wool or cotton?”

Silence.

I thought it was funny.

gabrielgossipgirlIn the end, just as lawyers, bankers, or salesmen are necessary, I know that accountants are necessary.  Madoff, Stanford, and other Ponzi schemers (like Gabriel from Gossip Girl) might have been stopped if they’d been scrutinized by some badass accountants. We need accountants to make sure our scummy salesmen aren’t recording fraudulent trades.  We need them to tally up how much TARP money is being thrown at strippers in the club.  We need them to confirm that our financial statements are accurate, so we can determine how to best price our cotton socks.

And hey, having the worst white-collar job in the world is likely preferable to roofing houses, waiting tables, or not having a job at all… Then again, if accounting is going to lead you down a homicidal path (hide the sweater vests!), you might think about selling lawnmowers for a living instead.

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