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I worked in the Investment Banking Division of J.P. Morgan for 3 years at the beginning of my career. It is tough for me to not compare it with my experience building my startup, Flexiple, as I see stark differences:

1. Perception vs. Reality

It mattered so much more that you are perceived as the hardworking person than actually being one. For e.g. Staying late, sending emails at odd hours, drinking lots of coffee, etc. are good ways of posturing yourself as a hard worker, even if you just chilled out the entire day πŸ˜…

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2. Fluff vs. Substance

This was one of the most painful aspects as an Analyst - even if the recommendations to a client could be conveyed in 2 slides, making 50+ slides was mandatory. This I think is a symptom of many industries which are afraid that they aren't adding enough value. They try to make it up with unnecessary fluff.

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3. Money vs. Passion

I don't think I met anyone who was passionate about the job. They just did it for money. Of course, money is a necessity, but an entire industry devoid of passion towards their work was surprising.

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At my startup:

i. We work remotely: So, only one's output talks about their effort - other pretensions don't matter.

ii. Are bootstrapped: And don't have the bandwidth to engage in fluff - only substance drives our growth.

iii. Work with passion: Β Finally, at the moment, we make much lesser than we would have in traditional jobs. But the passion for what we do ensures that we hardly notice that!

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Basically:

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Question to you πŸ˜€

Very interested to know how your experiences have been across different companies and what you have learnt about yourself as a result?


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    Spent 5 years in corporate finance/m&a in an analyst capacity (at US MNC but based in Japan & Korea) before shifting into operational roles at startups and SMEs (in e-commerce, edtech, SaaS). In a nutshell, I'd say I personally feel more satisfaction in the work I do post-corporate; but there are trade-offs that I think really depend on the person (their goals, expectations, personality type, etc.). Just sharing my own thoughts and adding some nuance below (to proscrastinate per usual πŸ˜‰) on the points you raised.

    1. Perception vs. Reality

    Posturing as a hard worker is definitely something that exists in IB and management consulting. But to be fair, I also had colleagues who put in the hours because: 1. performance expectations by bosses; 2. tight deadlines resulting from price competition to get business; and 3. they were/are legitimately driven hard workers who thrive on that kind of pressure no matter where the work. Also, in industry, I often sensed the people who worked there really did like their jobs even more than in services (just my feeling, not sure if true haha).

    Having said that, when I left corporate, it was after a last-minute project where I (and another colleague) didn't leave the office for three days + had to come back in on the weekend because the director I was under was insisting the prospective client needed a proposal by the following Monday. Turned out this guy just wanted to impress the partner at our firm who was actually in charge of the engagement and there wasn't any urgency at that level at all 🀯

    2. Fluff vs. Substance

    Ha, for sure, I have many painful memories of the hundreds of corporate templates that we needed to follow in order to make get any kind of work to flow - externally AND internally! I think my chrome extensions are bad now, but you just made me remember the giant lists of extensions and scripts in the custom company ribbons that were installed across all employees' MS Office apps!

    Having said that, I feel I did learn to become very process-oriented as a result of this and I took away many good practices in terms of being organizational and operational (even if the work itself was certainly not πŸ˜‚).

    3. Money vs. Passion

    Definitely enjoyed the money part (nice office, fun parties) for a bit in the initial years as a younger guy but I think for some of us we learn that there are other things that motivate us as well 😝 For me, it was the feeling of needing to climb corporate ladder to feel success that became less and less appealing.

    Re: passionΒ  - While I wouldn't say I was passionate about the financial services work/industry, I learned a lot professionally and it was interesting to regularly be exposed to and learn about different industries and businesses. And while I can't speak for IB, at least in financial advisory, I felt many colleagues were actually very passionate about the work they do, they enjoyed adding value to clients and making transactions successful.

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      Sorry for the late reply, Justin. Beautiful write-up.

      I actually read it yesterday itself and started thinking if I am a really bitter person and always only see a lot of negative in things πŸ˜… - thanks for that :/.

      But on a serious note, I have observed that you generally have a very positive outlook about a lot of things and quite like that. Something for me to learn.

      To be fair to myself though, I honestly did observe that no one in my peer group was happy. To date, only a couple of them still work in IB and even they have told me multiple times that they intend to quit - the money doesn't allow them to.

      Turned out this guy just wanted to impress the partner at our firm who was actually in charge of the engagement and there wasn't any urgency at that level at all

      These are the kind of things that used to really annoy me. I remember when we had a meeting at 6:30 pm basis the presentation I had made. It was then decided that my manager's vision on the presentation didn't align with his boss.

      So, the entire presentation had to be redone (close to 70 slides) and they just casually said that they will have the meeting with the updated presentation next morning at 9:30 am. They just assumed that I will have it done by then.

      In hindsight, I should have been more vocal about the madness. But then again, if only time travel was possible 😜

      but you just made me remember the giant lists of extensions and scripts in the custom company ribbons that were installed across all employees' MS Office apps!

      hahaha, JPM's PowerPoint plugins were so buggy. I remember using them and all my formatting becoming a mess, with there being no way to undo all of that too. Painful memories indeed!😒

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        > But on a serious note, I have observed that you generally have a very positive outlook about a lot of things and quite like that.

        ^ Perhaps my one redeeming character trait out of many flaws πŸ˜‚

        FWIW, I don't think you're bitter πŸ€ͺ and there's definitely truth to the observations you shared, particularly the fluff part haha. But for me (and maybe for you as well?), it ultimately served as a good platform to move onto the the things I'd rather be doing (meaning, I can't imagine being able to do what I do now without that experience before). It's all a big journey in the end, right?

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          ^ Perhaps my one redeeming character trait out of many flaws πŸ˜‚

          haha, a bit too modest :)

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          meaning, I can't imagine being able to do what I do now without that experience before

          Fair point. I don't know if I am not giving my experience enough credit because I already have it, but I don't feel this strongly about it. I did get a lot of my work ethic from JPM though I can't really say that I wouldn't have got it from some other company. But then again, the grass is always greener on the other side πŸ˜†

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          It's all a big journey in the end, right?

          Totally, I agree. And frankly, I have no regrets about any of my past decisions. However, if someone were to ask me for advice (not that many do πŸ˜…), I wouldn't have many nice things to say about that career path.Β