How to Get What You Want

Last week I was on a panel in front of a room full of college students. A few of them have since reached out to me asking for tips on how to get into the financial industry. Unfortunately, I’m not the best person to give this sort of advice because I experienced a lot of trouble when I was in their shoes. I’m very lucky that things worked out for me because if it wasn’t for a chance encounter, I might never have gotten my foot in the door.

I didn’t do much to prepare myself for a career, so when it came time to enter the job market, I was unequipped with the requisite skills. I knew I wanted to be in finance, but because I didn’t know anything, I didn’t have the confidence to do what was necessary for somebody in my position. What I needed to do, and what all young people need to do, is, in the words of Steve Martin, be so good they can’t ignore you.

I want to talk about two young people who are the embodiment of this.

Last week at dinner we were talking about Tom Bruni, one of the world’s youngest chartered market technician. I first met Tom in 2013, when he was just 18 years old. He would come around the office to spend time with J.C. Parets, who loves technical analysis like Jack Bogle loved index funds. Whenever we went out to a meetup and J.C. was there, so was Bruni, before he was even old enough to get into a bar. It’s rare for someone to know what they want at such a young age, but with Tom, there was never a doubt.

Tom knew jobs on Wall Street for chartists aren’t easy to come by, so in college he studied accounting and afterwards landed a job at one of the big four firms. Over the years whenever he asked me for advice, I would always tell him that he was on the right track, reminding him of what he already knew- that there are more career opportunities in accounting than there are in technical analysis. But he didn’t listen to me, he listened to himself instead. He couldn’t ignore where his heart was leading him.

Bruni followed the advice of Steve Martin. He put in the time on nights and weekends and got so good that J.C. could not ignore him. When he decided to leave the corporate world to follow his passion, J.C. said it was an easy decision to hire him.

In July 2018, Jamie Catherwood sent  myself and a few other people direct messages on Twitter. He told me about his background and asked me to critique his blog post. I begrudgingly obliged but to my surprise  he had “it.” Jamie has a unique insight about the history of financial markets that I’d never seen before. His talents were obvious and his rapid ascent in the blogosphere affirms this.

Jamie has been absolutely relentless, and as anybody who has dealt with him knows, this is understating it. There is a fine line between being relentless and being annoying, and Jamie toed that line to absolute perfection. He made it impossible not to root for him. It’s only been eight months since he first started knocking down doors, and now he’s working for a world class  firm, O’Shaughnessy Asset Management, a world class organization. Jamie was so good they could not ignore him.

Jamie and Tom are great examples of how to step up to the plate and make things happen. Nobody is going to go to bat for you.

There is no secret to getting what you want. There is only hard work. When people email me looking for advice, they’re going to get a link to this post. My advice is to be like Jamie and Tom who knew exactly what they wanted and conspired with the world to make it happen.