The Summer of 2000

And my dream was realized in the summer of 2000. I’d arrived.

The hiring process for becoming a broker is kind of a ritual. A right of passage. First, the firm goes through your FBI file, actually calls references, and then you have to take the ‘big’ tests; The SEC Series 7 exam & your trip to your New York.

It’s not really that hard. I mean you have to study and not be a felon or a slacker, but if you aren’t & you do, you’ll pass.

You get 8 weeks to learn paperwork & sit for the SEC exam. If you fail, you’re fired. No second chances. Of the four of us in my office, one failed. It was sad. He missed it by one point. He had a wife, and a kid on the way. I heard he took a job selling vacuums & Amway shortly thereafter. But that’s the Wall Street way, life is full of tests & sometimes there are consequences — big consequences.

But, after you pass your exam, you & the other 350 newly-minted recruits fly into New York from all over the country for three weeks of intense training. Actually the training wasn’t that bad (or good). They gave us a phone book and said, “start calling people.” We went over objection/response. They listened to our calls. We spent 3 days developing an elevator speech. We practiced at night, in the hotel & bars.

Then they trotted out all of the investment bankers who’d been put out to pasture. They said stuff that sounded smart & told us how lucky we were to be part of the family.  This was followed by a parade of Sales Directors from each of the product departments. Then for the big finale, they’d bring out the top three people from the last class (who were bright but ultimately just had rich parents & friends). This was supposed to get us ready, thinking big.

There was no talk about standard deviation, or alpha, or correlation, or charting. That’s what the grown ups in our firm did. We were supposed to now know enough to sell. Don’t worry your pretty little heads. “You’re not an analyst, you’re an advisor. You’re supposed to be the quarterback” (who doesn’t apparently analyze anything, ever).

And then, we took a personality test (but that’s another story).

That took three weeks in New York and tons of jet fuel. It was good for the hotel business. But in the end, those three weeks were really about pumping us up on Wall Street. We did the tour, walked the exchange floor, breathed the same air. We had all finally made it.

And for 6 hours a day for three weeks we were fed everything we needed to know, to go live; to start selling.

Looking back on it, I remember it fondly. The hardest part about the three weeks was actually following the easiest rules. Our hotel was in Times Square– Bus leaves for the World Trade Center at 7:30 sharp, class starts at 8; don’t be late, or you’re fired. Don’t let us catch you falling asleep, or you’re fired. When you are out on the town, you are representing our company, don’t piss in an alley or get in a bar fight (we will be watching), or you’re fired. We lost like 7 people in those three weeks; breaking those rules.

And now, we were ready. We were hot shit.

Then I remembered the speech. The one almost every single person in my class knew by heart. The one everyone kept repeating to each other for those three weeks. It was the same speech all 343 of us had heard in our conference rooms when we first started this journey. The speech our Sales Managers gave to us:

Okay, here’s the deal, I’m not here to waste your time. Okay? I certainly hope you’re not here to waste mine, so I’m gonna keep this short. Become an employee of this firm, you will make your first million within 3 years. Okay, I’m gonna repeat that, you will make a million dollars, within three years of your first day of employment at J.T. Marlin. There’s no question as to whether you become a millionaire working here. The only question is, how many times over. You think I’m joking….I am not joking. I am a millionaire. It’s a weird thing to hear, right? Lemme tell ya, its a weird thing to say: I am a fucking millionaire. Now guess how old I am…27, you know what that makes me here? A fucking senior citizen. This firm is entirely comprised of people your age, not mine. Lucky for me, I happen to be very fucking good at my job or I’d be out of one. You guys are the new blood. You’re gonna go home with the kessef. You are the future swinging dicks of this firm. Now you all look money hungry and that’s good. Anybody who tells you that money is the root of all evil, doesn’t fucking have any. They say money can’t buy happiness. Look at the fucking smile on my face! Ear to ear baby! You want details, fine. I drive a Ferrari 355 Cabriolet. What’s up?!

I have a ridiculous house at the South Fork. I have every toy you could possibly imagine. And best of all kids, I am liquid. So now you know what’s possible, let me tell you what’s required. You are required to work your fucking ass off at this firm. We want winners here, not pikers. A piker walks at the bell. A piker asks how much vacation time you get in the first year. Vacation time? People come to work at this firm for one reason, to become filthy rich, that’s it. We’re not here to make friends, we’re not saving the fucking manatees here guys. You want vacation time, go teach third grade, public school.

Okay, first three months at the firm are as a trainee, you’ll make 150 dollars a week. After you’re done training, you take the series 7, you pass that, you become a junior broker and you’re opening accounts for your team leader. You open 40 accounts, you start workin’ for yourself. Sky’s the limit. A word or two about being a trainee. Your friends, parents, the other brokers, whoever, they’re gonna give you shit about it. It’s true. $150 a week? Not a lot of money. Pay them no mind. You need to learn this business and this is the time to to do it. Once you pass the test, none of that’s gonna matter.

Your friends are shit. You tell ’em you made 25 grand last month they’re not gonna fucking believe you. Fuck them! Fuck ’em! Parents don’t like the life you lead. ‘Fuck you Mom and Dad.’ See how it feels when you’re making their fucking Lexus payments. Now go home and think about it. Think about whether or not this is really for you. If you decide that it isn’t, listen, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s not for everyone. But if you really want this, you call me on Monday and we’ll talk. Just don’t waste my fucking time……

Okay, that’s it.

Three years later, there were 33 of us left.

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7 thoughts on “The Summer of 2000

  1. That there were as many as 33 left out of 350 after 3 years, astounds me. Good business is service-based, and not greedy. Greed just prepares the recruits to fail.

  2. If any of us were at that early stage of our career; we probably started off as billionaires multi-millionaires. Or we were scorching clients with high commissions. I didn’t, I wasn’t.

    It was mostly BS.

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