Thursday, 22 July 2010

Funny old game

Funny old game, investment banking. And not only because it nearly destroyed the global economy a little while back. It happens to contain some peculiar characters.

Unfortunately many of them are versions of this nutty bunny:
I typically work 70-80 hours a week. I'm also married, raising two children, I work out 3-4x per week and I make sure that I spend no less than 20 days a year on the ski slopes. I'm also on the Boards of three not-for-profit organizations in healthcare, arts and education and I still have dinner with my parents every Sunday night. (Let me repeat that for all of the Moms and Dads out there.... I still have dinner w/ my parents every Sunday night).

So how does she manage such a precarious work-life balance?
I've actually come up with a model that helps keep me on track in this regard. In business school, we learned about the "weighted average cost of capital" and the "capital asset pricing model". My idea is built on the same concept -- it's called the "weighted average week".
For a Type A person like me ... and I suspect I'm not alone here - it's hard to even consider not being outstanding at everything I do every day. But the truth is, that's just not possible. There are too many competing demands: a career, a husband, a family, volunteer work, recreation, friends... and so I've learned to accept that I cannot be an A+ at everything every day ... but I've also learned that I CAN be an A, on average, over the course of a week in my life.

Are you allowed to mark your own work? She's at Goldman Sachs so I guess anything might be possible.

Another, less partial view of the over-achieving woman investment banker from the same article:
One buddy, a vice president in hard-charging, testosterone-filled M&A, spent the better part of a weekend lying on her side on the floor of her office, reading deal documents. She kept reassuring concerned colleagues that she was fine, until the pain got so bad that she relented and called her boyfriend. He came and took her straight to the hospital. The doctors operated immediately, assuming she had appendicitis. They found instead diverticulitis, which usually afflicts the elderly, and she was so close to a colon rupture that they had to remove half of it.
The partners at her firm instructed her to not to return until she had recovered fully. But this was September. Bonuses were paid at year end, and as she read the unwritten code, and knew that staying away too long would be seen as a sign of weakness. She was back at the office three weeks later, looking wan.
She later became the first woman investment banking partner at her prestigious firm. Her instincts served her well. Or maybe not. She later lost 90 percent of the vision in one eye to glaucoma, an easily treated disease, because her overloaded schedule made eye exams seem like a luxury.

But in addition to this species of cult victim you also get the occasional very wise person. This, written by an investment banker, happens to be the wisest thing I've read this week.

4 comments:

malty said...

The poor wee lassie needs to visit a zoo and spend some time watching the monkeys with zoo fever, constantly wandering back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, Goldman and Sachs, Goldman and Sachs. Sink estate thieves are locked up, this lot are given bonuses.

worm said...

my god, she sounds about as attractive as roadkill. Bet her kids turn into strippers.

Sophie King said...

Tee hee. She sounds like the woman who used to run the PTA at my niece's school in north London. She was an American lawyer who wasn't working so found other outlets for her energy. My sister in law showed me an email from this woman in which she hysterically demanded that, in spite of protests from other members of the PTA, each child should come to the school fair with AT LEAST FIVE LARGE CAKES to sell on the cake stall. It was a very long email containing many other demented ideas plus an elaborate justification for each one. I was overjoyed to hear that some time later, her extremely expensive house in Hampstead was found to be infested with rats.

Gaw said...

What sweet revenge, Sophie. By the way, have you ever thought of writing? I'd read it.