How I Survived Wall Street

How I Survived Wall Street

Wall Street is a hard place. I got knocked around a lot.

In my twenties, near deal closings I would often break down and need to cry in the toilet.

If it wasn’t an abusive boss or team member it was the environment. You are surrounded by intelligent, assertive people, and for me it was easy to compare myself to them daily and feel inadequate and underpaid.

If it wasn’t those things then it would be the occasional feelings of being lost, of being alone, of not having a clear path forward, of not knowing where I was headed.

After almost two decades, I’ve slowly figured some ways to deal with it. 

Here are the big lessons I’ve learnt about making sure you don’t let Wall Street break you.


Ask better questions:
When you don’t succeed, don’t get down on yourself. Step back and make sure you are asking the right questions.

What’s the difference between the right question and the wrong question?

Easy – rather than “asking why am I not successful?”, ask “what can I do today to be more valuable?”.

The right questions control your destiny. 

Whenever you hit a problem, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is great about this problem that I have encountered?
  2. What is not perfect yet?
  3. What am I willing to do, to make it the way I want it?
  4. How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?
  5. How can I use this opportunity?

Better questions create better answers. Better answers create better emotional states.


Control your Emotions:

How you feel determines how you perceive events and how you react to them. If you can get your emotions right you can change your reactions.

There is no point in feeling negative emotions like anger, sadness, envy, or tired. These feelings don’t accomplish anything. 

The solution to this is to prepare in advance.

Know the typical emotions you go through during a week, and know what you need to replace those negative emotions with. 

Sometime during the week you will feel angry at yourself, maybe you’ll wish you had done something else, or acted differently Prepare in advance to tell your self the following:

I am happy and grateful for all that I already have and that I forgive myself for any mistakes I have made



Use Goals:
Set up big goals across all parts of your life.

Decide the key ones and when you will achieve them.

Commit to why they are important. Then take the 1st step. On a daily basis think about your goals.

Focus on solutions, not the problems

Personally I have found writing my big goals down on a piece of paper and always carrying them around in my pocket to be super helpful as a reminder of what I need to achieve.

Now I view each action and decision under the lense of whether it is moving me towards my goals or not. I try to make more decisions that move me towards my goals and less of others.

If you don’t have weekly, monthly and annual goals, your life will just be a function of other people achieving their goals. You’ll be a tool, rather than a creator


Make Decisions:

Think about what you don’t want in your life anymore – remove those things. It sounds simple, and it is. So many of us do things that we really don’t want to. Start removing things you don’t like. Start removing distractions.

Start small and use the 80/20 principle – what are the 20% of things you do, that produce 80% of the results – this is called the Pareto Principle.

Focus on the core things, because guess what, in the end most things you do, don’t matter. Just decide to focus on the things that do.

What do you aspire to do, to have, to be – take the 1st step towards those goals. 

Decisions are only powerful if they create action. Take the first step. Then keep making decisions.

What are the things you afraid of doing, afraid that you might get them wrong. Don’t worry take the leap, Failure is important.

Keep learning, stay committed to your decisions, but be flexible in the approach.


Compound Daily:
Decide what you want to focus on, where are you today, where do you want to go. Write down the next five steps to get you there.

Then go get the tools to help you get to your destination, find the best mentors and teachers. Find the people who have already done what you need to do. Go learn from them, don’t re-invent whats already been invented.

One trick I have used for seventeen years that has allowed me to have hundreds of mentors is to: try to find one thing in everyone I met that I think is amazing. 

If you can find that one thing to admire everyday in each person you meet you can keep improving by borrowing the best in others

Another trick I’ve found useful since we can all get tied to certain identities, is to think about the person I want to be, describe that person in detail, how would they act, how would they behave, how would they handle situations…..Now act like the person you have described. That is your new identity, try to be more like your new identity and less like who you were. As Amy Cuddy said in her TED talk:

Fake it till you become it.


What are all the things that someone with this identity does ? I will they deal with obstacles, challenges, and failure ?


Here are books that helped me achieve my dreams:

Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz


Go ahead, see what you have been missing. 

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